Defensive Driving Blog

Starry, Starry Night.

Looking for something different to do this summer in Texas? We got just the thing, especially if you love the outdoors and star gazing. It is a little known fact that there are three state parks in Texas that are designated as Certified International Dark Sky Parks. You are probably asking “what the heck is that” and we’ll tell you.

By definition, a dark sky preserve is an area, usually surrounding a park or observatory that is kept free of artificial light pollution. The purpose of a dark sky preserve is generally to promote astronomy.  An IDA International Dark Sky Park (IDSP) is a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment. The land may be publicly owned, or privately owned provided that the landowner(s) consent to the right of permanent, ongoing public access to specific areas included in the IDA designation

Texas stars

There are 36 such designated areas in the world, 27 of those in the U.S. and 3 in Texas.  The award winning program makes designations only after a rigorous application process. Find your spot here http://darksky.org/idsp/finder/

Big Bend State Park is located in Southwest Texas along the Mexican border and became a Dark Sky Park in 2012. Enchanted Rock State Park is located just 18 miles north of Fredericksburg in Central Texas. It was designated in 2014, along with Copper Breaks State Park, 13 miles south of Quanah, Texas, in the Panhandle Plains. Copper Breaks park director, David Turner, hosts star walks throughout the year. Turner says, “The Park replaced many of its outdoor lights with more efficient, low light fixtures and retrofitted others to keep light from emanating upward, helping keep night skies darker and lowering energy bills”. For stargazing, these locations can’t be beat.

Driving to find starry nights

So if hitting the road and seeking the very best locations for gazing above is on your list of things to do this summer, check out the locations above and get going. When taking any trip be sure to make sure your car is in good working condition and you have a usable spare tire on board. Taking the time to plan ahead can insure a safe and fun trip for all involved. And if you need any information about defensive driving log into WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

Useful links:
Texas Night Sky Festival – http://www.texasnightskyfestival.org/
Texas Park Dark Sky Program – http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/programs/dark_skies/

Crashes and Choosing the Path of Least Resistance

H.D. Thoreau once said “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.” However, when it comes to car accidents, the opposite could save your life.

All of us here at Wireless Defensive Driving want you to avoid a crash if possible, but as we know, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Although, there are many ways you can try to reduce the amount of collision damage. We like to call it choosing the path of least resistance.

Basically, if you know there is no choice but to hit something, aim for the thing that will do the least damage.

For example, let’s pretend a car cuts into your lane and forces you to go off the road and into the shoulder. Now, in the middle of all of this, you have to make a choice, you can either aim to hit the street sign, or the shrub of bushes. Which should you choose? The shrub. Hitting the metal street sign will make more of an impact on your car than the shrub would.

crash avoidance

Here’s another example. If you have a choice of either swerving into oncoming traffic or hitting a mailbox, hit the mailbox. If you’re going to hit either another car or go into the ditch, go into the ditch. But, if you’re stuck between choosing a truck or a large tree, hit the truck. Because the roots of an old tree are so deep in the ground, it’s not going to budge when you hit it, putting a lot more force on your car than hitting the truck would. Neither are going to be good, but hitting the tree would be worse.

Unfortunately, the choice between what you should hit isn’t always going to be easy or obvious. There’s no set rule for what to choose every time, and like most emergency driving situations: You’ll have to decide quickly and in the moment.

Having a defensive driving state on mind, scanning the road and being aware of your surroundings, at all times, will allow for better decisions when under pressure. Please be prepared since there is often no warning for such situations. Keep in mind one important rule when dealing with a sudden obstacle, keep looking at the path leading to safety, not the obstacle itself (avoid obstacle fixation). You can practice this skill without getting in a wreck by asking yourself, “where would I go if…”. Play with the possibilities like, a guy walking in front of you, a car backing out of a parking space or a driver turning instead of yielding.

Take care, stay sharp.

WirelessDefensiveDriving.com

Methods to Deal with Road Rage

6 Best Methods to Deal with Road Rage

How many times do you see wrongs done on the road either to you or others? It is easy to retaliate but that is the first step in escalating a confrontation into road rage. You may want to practice these 6 easy steps and prevent any dangerous situation while behind the wheel.

  1. Listen to the Right Kind of Music
    Music has a huge effect on our emotions. While listening to pump up music can get you feeling all sorts of strong emotions, soothing music may just be the perfect thing to keep you cool when driving.
  2. Give Yourself Some Extra Time
    If you allow yourself some extra time to get to your destination, your drive will be much more comfortable because you aren’t in a rush. Try and keep a schedule to make sure you’ll not only arrive on time, but also have no road rage incidents.
  3. Carpool
    You’re probably wondering, how can this help me stay calm when driving? Often times if the people in the car are co-workers or acquaintances, people tend to reduce their road rage because they don’t want others seeing them in such conditions.
  4. Get Enough Rest
    We can all relate to the fact that when we’re tired, we tend to get grumpy. Make sure you have gotten enough rest each night before driving the next day. It’s more important than you think!
  5. Try to Develop Driver Empathy
    A good tip we always recommend is to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. You never really know what’s going on in their life, so before you roll down your window and start screaming, think about how they’re feeling too.
  6. Pull Over, Take a Break
    Driving while you’re road raged can often times be just as bad as driving buzzed or drowsy. If you begin to get angry or upset, take a pit stop and calm yourself down for a few minutes before getting back on the road.

You can also read further about road rage in the Texas Department of Insurance Factsheet

Texas road rage

“Two Steps, One Sticker” – Here we go again

Unless you do not own a vehicle at all, you know by now that Texas stopped issuing vehicle inspection stickers on March 1, 2015. So as of this March 1st we will be entering the 2nd year of the “Two Steps, One Sticker” program that requires an inspection to be done prior to being issued a registration sticker – a simpler process for these two very important annual vehicle requirements.

insp stick

So your vehicle has one important expiration date. Make a note of this date and do the following:

Step 1: Take your car to be inspected and pass the test no earlier than 90 days prior to your expiration date. If you need a list of inspection stations go to the Texas Department of Public Safety website.

Step 2: After you pass inspection, keep a copy of the report for your records. You can then renew your registration online, by mail or in person at your county tax office. They will verify your inspection electronically.

There are numerous benefits of this program. Because there is just one sticker and one date you don’t have to keep track of multiple expirations. And one sticker on your window actually cuts down on the clutter on the windshield and allows you to see out of it better.  It also makes our vehicles cleaner and safer because they all have to pass safety and emissions tests. And it cuts down on Inspection Sticker Fraud because these stickers are no longer required.

texas2step

Remember that your registration will expire on the last day of whatever month is on the sticker. If you take note of it early you will have plenty of time to complete the two steps involved. So if your sticker says June, 2016, it expires at the end of June. You can get your inspection as early as April 2. Planning ahead will allow you to have ample time to get registered.

For all your defensive driving needs and information on Texas laws that affect you and your car, log into WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

4 Steps to get your car ready for winter.

How to Winterize Your Car.

Winter is coming! Though some of us don’t have to worry about the freezing temperatures, many drivers across the United States should take these precautions into mind to ensure you and your car can get to and from your destination safely. Here’s just a few tips to help prepare your car for the winter season.

Check the car’s battery

Just like extreme heat, sudden freezing can also reduce your car’s battery capacity.

You should first check the level of charge left in your battery. Some batteries come with a built-in hydrometer meter that can tell you the voltage that is remaining, but if not, you can always get a handheld hydrometer to check for the same information. If it is too low, you should replace the battery immediately. Who wants to be stranded in the cold because your battery died?

winter is coming

While inspecting the battery, clean off any corrosion caused by battery acid that is piled up around the connectors. The most simple way we’ve found to clean this is to dip a toothbrush in a baking soda and water mix, and scrub away. Don’t forget to dry the connectors off before re-connecting your cables.

Watch this short video:

Replace the antifreeze

The purpose of antifreeze is to protect your car’s cooling system from overheating, freezing and corroding. Keeping old antifreeze running in your car gives you a higher chance of one or multiple of those things happening to the engine. And, let’s say your engine dies and you need to replace it, well that could end up costing more than the car is worth. Take your car to the mechanic, and if the antifreeze needs to be replaced, have them flush out all of the old and start new.

Replace old oil

Wireless Defensive Driving recommends this tip on a regular basis in order to lengthen the life of your engine. In the cold, engine oil thickens, putting much more stress on the engine to run smoothly. Whether you change the oil yourself or take it to the mechanic to do, do it often.

Consider snow tires

If you live in an area that often gets a lot of snow, you may want to consider getting a set of snow tires, or even snow chains, for your car. Although more expensive, these work better than a set of all-season tires, and could save you from getting stuck out in the cold.

Defensive driver best gift? – Here it is

Hot gift in 2015 may help a defensive driver record others’ unsafe driving (or provide evidence in case of an accident).

With the advent of smaller and smaller video sensors, these dashcams make a great gift for anyone behind the wheel. Most of the time the videos are captured on SD cards and in some instances the videos can even be instantaneously shared with Wi-Fi. While some may catch the craziness of other drivers on the road, there are also videos that are just funny and bizarre. In same cases these video are the only testimony of a unique event, including a meteor hitting earth (Russia – 2014)

The price ranges are wide and so are the features of each camera. Some of the features to look for:

  • Ignition on – camera on. These are dashcams that will automatically turn on when the car starts. No need to remember to start or stop the camera.
  • Auto screen off. A serious feature to prevent driver’s distraction. The last thing the owner of the dashcam needs is to cause an accident because the screen took the driver’s eyes off the road.
  • G-sensor to detect if the car is involved in an accident. Some cameras will sense the G forces and automatically bookmark the video for faster search at a later time.
  • A few of the dashcams work off batteries instead of power cables. This could be seen as an negative unless you need to record something by taking the camera outside the vehicle.

The top 4 best brands are listed here:

Black Box G1W

Cost approx. $50.
http://goo.gl/MA2jr9
defensive driver best friend

Mobius action

Cost Approx $90
https://goo.gl/qu9i6n
how can a defensive driver record accidents

PAPAGO P2PRO-USP 2

Cost approx. $145
http://goo.gl/QdBAfobe safe while using this dashcam

Garmin Dash Cam™ 20

Cost approx. $250
https://goo.gl/dEvc1I
garmin for defensive driving

You may witness a moment of defensive driving skills while on the road or maybe a funny situation in a parking lot. Share it with us and we will in turn share it for the rest of public. Nothing teaches a lesson like a real, original video.

Enjoy the new toy!

WirelessDefensiveDriving.com

 

 

Halloween, Kids and Defensive Driving.

Halloween night is a particularly difficult night in regards to defensive driving and driving safety in general. This is one night of the year when the streets are busiest with kids walking around the neighborhood in the dark, most times wearing costumes not designed with car safety in mind (think of a Ninja costume). Dusk is already a bad time of the day for drivers’ visibility anyway, add to that an excited, distracted kid and you have a very high risk scenario.

We have 5 tips for a safer Halloween night:

Safe driving at Halloween

1. Drive with a particularly defensive driving attitude. Scan the road consistently from one side of the street to the other. Pay particular attention to sidewalks, intersections with poor lighting and streets with cars parked next to the curb. Watch for kids darting across the street.

2. As for anytime behind the wheel, turn the phone off. Especially while driving around an increased number of pedestrians. Do not take your eyes off the road for any reason.

3. Slow down. Think of the neighborhood streets as if you are driving through a School Zone. In fact there are more and younger kids walking around the street Halloween’s night that in a normal School Zone time. Most residential streets have a speed limit of 20 mph, we suggest 15 mph. A driver reaction time is no match for a kid darting across the road.

4. Be extra vigilant approaching parked vehicles and when backing out of driveways. Some of the kids are young and small enough not to be visible in the rear view mirrors.

5.  Parents – Brighten the kids up!  Give them flashlights, led lights and anything that can make them more visible. Consider a refresher in street safety and how not to cross the road. Make your young Frankenstein or Cinderella more visible using reflective tape… their costumes will still be cool.

We wish all a safe Halloween night. Please share this post!

WirelessDefensiveDriving.com

Road Surface, Tires & Defensive Driving

 

There are many ways your tires can affect your driving but today let’s talk about road surfaces. The material and condition of road surfaces can greatly affect the wear and tear on tires. We are not talking about the most common reasons for tires to wear out – improper tire rotation, air pressure and wheel alignment, but a less obvious cause – the material that comprises the road surface.

tirewear

At TireRack.com they compare the road’s surface to sandpaper.  Some roads or more coarse than others due to age or materials used that are common to the area, such as crushed sea shells that are often embedded in the surface in coastal areas. This can cause undue stress on your tires treads but if the surface is severely grooved or uneven it can affect how your car tracks. This is called tramlining but should not be confused with tire pull, which is most likely related to the vehicle and not the road.

So what is tramlining? Generally it is considered the vehicle’s tendency to follow the longitudinal ruts and grooves in the road. It usually occurs on areas of a highway that have uneven pavement or severe rutting. Here are some tires that are most susceptible to tramlining:

*High performance tires with short sidewalls

*Wider treaded tires

*A tire with large tread blocks

*A worn tire (tires become more responsive as their tread depth wears away making them tramline).

*Tires inflated over the recommended amount stiffen the tire and add to tramlining.

Other things also affect tramlining. Suspension bushings, ball joints and shock absorber mounts can have a direct influence. As these parts age the wear and tear permit play in the wheel that allows the tire to be misdirected easily into the irregularities of the road.

roadsurface

What can be done to minimize tramlining? Changing tires based on the information above can help, especially keeping the tire pressure at the level suggested by the vehicle manufacturer. Alignment settings also are important and as a general rule your tires should be aligned with negative camber and toe settings within the factory’s specifications. The roads you choose can also have an effect on tramlining. On a multi-lane highway the left lane offers the smoothest road surface because it sees the least amount of heavy truck traffic. It goes to follow that the right hand lane can be the roughest.

If you find yourself on a road that is causing a lot of tramlining just be sure to keep your hands firmly on the wheel. This will help you control the course of your vehicle and leave little room for meandering.

For all your defensive driving needs be sure to log into WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

AS WE AGE WE SHOULD REVIEW THE DEFENSIVE DRIVING RULES

Older driver

How long has it been since you first received your license? 30, 40, 50 years or more? There have been many changes in cars and in driving rules over the years and for most of us we got our license and never looked back. A review of the rules of the road can not only bring you up to date on new safety rules but can save you money on your insurance. A lot of insurance companies will give you a 10% discount on your auto insurance for up to 3 years for taking an approved defensive driving course. Taking the course for an insurance discount does NOT disqualify you from taking it again for ticket dismissal.

As we age we experience many changes in eyesight (your vision is your most important tool for driving. About 90% of what a driver identifies in a driving environment is through their sense of vision), hearing and reaction time. Your reaction time is the time from when you first identify a hazard to the time it takes you to react to the hazard. Reviewing defensive driving rules and techniques is a good way to learn to manage these age-related issues.  The course can teach you how to handle blind spots, maintain a safe following distance behind a car, how to change lanes safely and how medications can affect your driving skills. In addition you can get updates on auto technology, air bags, seat belts and anti-lock brakes as well as how to minimize distractions such as using a cellphone, eating or smoking.

Avoiding injury to yourself in your older years should be a key goal and updating yourself on the rules of the road and learning all the safety precautions can help you stay safe behind the wheel.  Our online course, Wirelessdefensivedriving.com, is an easy, simple and affordable way to refresh you knowledge of defensive driving. Our course is mostly audio and can be downloaded to any device. Our customer service is exceptional so do not hesitate to ask us for help.

Wirelessdefensivedriving.com is here to help you stay safe on the road, no matter what age.

Is Automatic Braking in Automobiles Inevitable?

autologos

What if you could have a system in your car that is always alert, never tired or distracted, watching the road for you? Sounds ideal and could become a standard feature for cars in the future… at least for 9 automakers who have announced they will make automatic braking a standard feature for all of their makes and models across the board.

Some might say that this move is just to make cars more expensive in general, since this feature is now optional on most automobiles. But this move is in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), who will help them work out an agreement that involves the timeline for these changes. The automakers involved are Audi, BMW, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. It is expected that other automotive manufacturers will also get on board once there is pressure to comply.

“Most crashes are due to driver error”, states Adrian Lund, President of the IIHS. “This technology can compensate for the mistakes every driver makes”. NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind adds that there will always be regulations put into place to keep people safe and, “We will use all paths to save lives. The industry in this case though, hasn’t waited for regulation.”

So how does this system work? Automatic or mitigated braking systems use laser sensors and cameras to detect imminent obstacles and instructs the braking system in order to prevent a crash. The system calculates speed and distance of a perceived obstacle and alerts the driver to the need for a new course of action. The system will give some sort of audio or visual warning, with some automatically slowing down or beginning to brake. If the driver fails to respond to the obstacle, the system will bring the car to a halt.

autobrake

These systems are expensive and have only been offered on top-tier autos. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, these car makers are willing to eat some of the cost to make their cars safer for drivers. “If technologies such as automatic emergency braking are only available as options or on the most expensive models, too few Americans will see the benefits of this new era and these companies are committing to making Automatic emergency Braking (AEB) available to all new-car buyers.”

Keeping you up to date on new innovations in driver safety, WirelessDefensiveDriving.com is the place to go for all your defensive driving information.

Driving Blog

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