Archive for distracted driving

Defensive Driving: 5 Tips That Could Save Your Life

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Defensive driving is the process of taking precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and your passengers when you are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. This means going above and beyond the rules of the road to remain alert and one step ahead of possible dangers. Preparation and practice will lead to a style of driving that gives you the best chance of avoiding an accident or other hazards. In order to improve your driving habits, here is a list of five defensive driving precautions and tips.

1.    Eliminate Distractions

While you can’t control every distracting element that can pop up while you drive, you can certainly take precautionary steps to prevent many of them. Avoiding food in the car, keeping music volumes low and staying away from multitasking are just a few ways to eliminate distractions while driving.

This also means avoiding cell phones, one of the most dangerous distractions while on the road. This is a mistake that drivers make every day despite laws that make talking or texting while driving illegal. Save your cell phone use for when you reach your destination in order to avoid reckless driving, an expensive ticket or worse.

2.    Avoid Other Driver’s Blind Spots

Checking your blind spots is a basic and well-known driving safety tip. While this is an important precaution, there are two sides to this coin as you can make it easier on other drivers by avoiding their blind spots. No matter how careful you are, there’s no way to ensure that another driver will check their blind spot before changing lanes on the highway. Avoiding this area will ensure that your safety doesn’t depend on the awareness of another driver.

3.    Avoid Tailgating

Once in a while you might find yourself frustrated by traffic or the speed of the driver in front of you. While your first instinct is likely to tailgate behind this individual in order to save time and encourage them to speed up, this is a dangerous habit. Tailgating decreases the time and space that you have to brake if the driver in front of you comes to a stop. It also decreases your visibility of the road ahead as you are too close to another vehicle.

This tip is especially important if you notice that the driver in front of you is driving erratically. Keeping your distance from unpredictable drivers will keep you from having to suddenly brake, swerve or make other adjustments while driving.

4.    Always Yield

Although rules exist dictating which driver has the right away, other drivers often ignore these rules. Rather than assuming that another driver will respect your right of way, airing on the side of caution is the best approach. Four-way stops, intersections and situations in which another driver has a yield sign are all instances that should be approached with caution. Taking the time to see whether or not another driver plans to yield for your vehicle can be the difference between having an accident and continuing on your way.

5. Take a Defensive Driving Course

While making a conscious effort to drive defensively is certainly a good start, taking a defensive driving course is the best way to improve your driving habits and knowledge. Just as you might seek out the best web design company to create a website or the best carpenter to build your kitchen, defensive driving classes present themselves as the best option available.

Defensive driving courses are usually offered by schools and can also be found via your local Department of Motor Vehicles. They offer a mix of instruction and driving practice that will make defensive driving habits second nature. The certificate that these classes produce will also reduce your insurance fees, ensuring a safer and cheaper experience on the road.

Connecticut Distracted Driving Laws Getting Stricter

Connecticut put distracted driving laws into effect in 2006, which made it one of the first states to do that. Back then, the state banned all drivers from using hand-held cell phones and texting while driving. Since then, several changes to the distracted driving laws have been made, making them tougher and proposing more severe penalties for those violating them. However, since these changes haven’t done much to help reduce distracted driving accidents and improve traffic safety, legislators have continued working on improving and toughening the laws in order to make drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel and avoid distractions.

As of October 1st, 2013, distracted driving laws in Connecticut became even stricter, adding demerit points and higher fines to the set of penalties. Distracted driving has now become a moving violation, which makes it a serious traffic violation. Prior to October 1st, driver’s weren’t getting demerit points to their licenses for violating distracted driving laws, but now, everyone who is convicted of distracted driving will receive one or two points, depending on where they have committed the violation.

If you get convicted for distracted driving in a highway work zone, two points will be added to your license. You receive one point for distracted driving in areas other than highway work zones. These points will stay on your license for two years, and if you receive more than 10 points within 2 years, your license will be suspended.

Furthermore, if you are convicted of driving over 75 mph in a work zone, you will have to complete an operator retraining program. This applies to commercial drivers convicted of driving over 65 mph, as well. In addition to that, every knowledge test will include questions on highway work zone safety and driver responsibility, as well as a question on cell phone use bans, which should raise drivers’ awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and make them drive more carefully.

As far as fines are concerned, they have been increased, bringing the texting and hand-held cell phone use ban for first time offenders to $150. Second-time offenders will have to pay $300, and the fine for third-time offenders has been increased to $500. These are pretty severe fines and should help deter drivers from driving while doing other activities that reduce their attention. High fines have always been one of the most effective measures for preventing people from violating the laws. Before these changes were made, the fine for all offenses used to be $100.

One of the most significant changes to the Connecticut distracted driving laws is that car insurance companies will now be able to take distracted driving violations and demerit points into consideration when determining insurance premiums.

Lastly, the new laws make it illegal for drivers to use their cell phones while their vehicles are not moving, meaning that you can’t compose, send, or read a text message you are at a red light. These new laws have made Connecticut one of the harshest states when it comes to the enforcement of distracted driving laws, and legislators are hoping that they will contribute to reducing the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers.

Tips for Decreasing Your Risk of Distracted Driving

Remaining attentive and staying focused are important factors in promoting driver safety. While we are well aware that becoming distracted while driving is dangerous, it is something that happens far too often. Cell phones and other devices stretch our attention while passengers and multitasking also take our focus away from the road. In order to avoid distracted driving, here is a list of helpful tips.

Avoid Cell Phones

Given the increasing number of laws preventing the use of cell phones while driving, it is no secret that cell phones are one of the leading causes of distraction in a vehicle. You’ve probably seen the commercials presenting terrible stories of accidents in which a cell phone distracted a driver. While these commercials are dramatic, they raise a valid point.

Talking on the phone or texting takes away from the amount of attention that we can allocate to the road. Instead of having all of our senses focused on the task at hand, they are skewed as we attempt to simultaneously operate our vehicle and carry on a conversation.

Rather than running the risk of getting a ticket or causing an accident it is a wise choice to avoid cell phone use in the car. While certain things may need our immediate attention and demand cell phone use, there are ways around this. For instance, if you needed to make an important call to your boss at Bortek Industries you could pull over to make the call or call before you begin driving.

The same concept goes for sending text messages and checking your phone for email and other information. If utilizing your phone is important, take care of your business before you begin driving or pull over. This is your best bet for ensuring the safety of yourself and those around you.

Avoid Other Devices

While cell phones may be one of the central culprits for distracted driving other electronic devices are also dangerous. iPods and navigation systems are examples of distracting devices that are commonly utilized in vehicles.

In order to avoid the risk of becoming distracted behind the wheel, taking precautions with these devices can be beneficial. Rather than trying to input information into your navigator while driving you can do so before beginning your trip. The same goes for iPods as you can select playlists prior to driving on the road. These preliminary steps will prevent you from needing to take your eyes off the road to select songs or to input your desired destination.

Multitasking

Aside from operating an electronic device, there are multiple other dangerous forms of multitasking when it comes to operating a vehicle. Reaching for an object, doing your make up and eating food are all examples of tasks that take your attention away from the road. Also, tasks of this nature require you to take your hands off the wheel and make it difficult to adjust to situations.

It’s pretty difficult to swerve away from debris or to when your hands are busy eating French fries or reaching for an item you dropped. Whether or not you choose to perform one of these miniscule tasks while driving can be the difference between a safe trip and having an accident. The positive aspect of this issue is that these are all things that can wait until you reach your destination. Pick up your wallet later, fix your make up in the parking lot, wait on enjoying your fast food and devote your attention to driving.

Passengers

Ensuring that your passengers don’t become a distraction is another important aspect of safe driving according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Encourage friends to be respectful of your current task and teach children that driving is a serious activity that needs your full attention.

In terms of pets, keeping them in the back seat or utilizing transportation crates are methods for preventing them from interfering with the driving process. While we all love our pets, having your dog or cat crawling around beneath your feet while you drive presents a risk that you don’t need to take.

Decreasing the number of factors that distract you while you drive involves decreasing the number of activities, objects and companions that you allow to influence you. Keeping your car free of distractions and choosing to perform other tasks before or after your drive are keys to encouraging safer driving. While the aforementioned tips only cover a small number of issues in terms of distracted driving, they serve as a solid starting point for making your car a distraction free zone.