Defensive Driving Blog

Fastest Speed Limits in USA

yeehaw85

Texas is always eager to lay claim to being the best. To be number one drives this state to many extremes and one of them is speed limits. Out of all 50 states, Texas ranks first in the fastest posted limit on a single highway as well as having the greatest overall top speed when you average all of the highest allowable speeds on its rural interstates, urban interstates and other limited access roads.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Organization, a non-profit that represents all state and national highway safety offices, states that Texas’ 85 mph speed limit on Texas State Highway 130, from Austin to San Antonio is the highest in the nation. In addition, Texas can claim the highest overall top speed (78.3) when averaging the highest allowable speeds on urban interstates, rural interstates and other limited access roads. The next in line would be Idaho with an 80 mph top posted speed limit and an average of 76.7.

speedlimitmapTX 85mphsignTX

These outer regions in speed limits represent quite a change to Texans who have been driving for decades. In an effort to fend off an oil crisis in 1974, Richard Nixon signed a law mandating that 55 mph be the highest allowable speed limit in the U.S. This greatly discouraged cross country travel and spawned the Sammy Hagar song “I Can’t Drive 55” in 1984. But thankfully that law was repealed nearly 20 years ago and we have seen speed limit on the rise ever since.

If going slow is your thing, there are places where you will find happiness. Head on up to Alaska or the District of Columbia where the top speed and average top speed is 55. Almost as slow are Delaware, Hawaii, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont with top speeds no more than 65 and average speeds in the upper 50’s.

Whatever the speed limit is in your part of the world it is a good idea to stay within those boundaries. If you find yourself with a ticket because you did not, then log on to WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

One Last Tip Before Labor Day

As we get ready to hit the roads for the unofficial “End of Summer” celebrations, we at WirelessDefensiveDriving.com want to help you avoid getting a ticket. One law our students are surprised to hear about pertains to what to do when approaching an emergency vehicle with the lights on or flashing. Do you know? There are laws on the books since September 1, 2003 designed to help protect our law enforcement officers. If you don’t follow the rules, you could get a ticket of up to $200.00, and if there is property damage, make it $500.00.

The law is: if you are driving and come upon a stopped emergency vehicle that has it’s lights activated, UNLESS otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer , you have to get out of the lane closest to the emergency vehicle. If they are pulled over on the right shoulder of a highway with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction of the emergency vehicle, the lane next to them, the right lane, needs to be empty of traffic so move over safely.

But what if traffic is backed up or extremely heavy and you can’t safely get out of the lane next to the emergency vehicle? The you MUST slow your speed to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. For example, if you are on a highway with speed limits of 55 mph and you approach an emergency vehicle pulled over to the side, you need to lower your speed to 35mph or less as you pass the emergency vehicle. If you are on a street that has a speed limit of 25 mph or less (a neighborhood street for example) you must slow to 5 mph or less as you pass the vehicle.

You can see how this helps protect our law enforcement officers. Be careful out there and don’t do anything to get a ticket. Hopefully this one tip will help you have a safe holiday weekend for you, your family and our law enforcement officers everywhere. Happy Labor Day from all of us.

New Law in Time for Labor Day

“Lone Star State” is not the only new law that went into effect on September 1st.  Long considered the state’s nickname, it was made official in this last session of the Texas Legislation. Also signed into law was House Bill 2246 aimed at stopping repeat drunk driving offenses, just in time for the holiday weekend.

This law, signed by Governor Abbott on June 19, requires that before driving privileges can be restored to a drunk driving offender they must install an ignition interlock on their vehicle.  This bill also gives judges the discretion whether to allow offenders to use the devices.

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 40% of all Texas traffic deaths are caused by a drunk driver. In 2013, 1,337 people were killed by drunk drivers in Texas, making it the leader in drunk driving deaths that year in the country. The law requires the interlock be installed for first time offenders with a BAC of .08 or greater if they want to continue to drive after a DWI arrest during license suspension. Drivers arrested for DWI apply for an interlock 15 days after the arrest or just choose not to drive. The interlock restricted license period is at least 90 days for first time offenders and 180 days for repeat offenders.

Previously the law allowed DWI offenders who were arrested to get a non-interlock restricted license following an arrest.  There is great hope that this new measure will reduce the number of offenders that re-offend thus reducing the number of deaths due to drunk driving. MADD is in support of the use of ignition interlocks for all offenders because license suspension has been shown to be difficult to enforce and is often ignored. This law will help protect the public while allowing offenders to continue to be able to get to work and fulfill other obligations.

On this Labor Day weekend stay mindful of the fact that there will be drivers on the road who have had too much to drink. Drive defensively and for more information on drinking and driving and its impact, log on to WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

LABOR DAY NEED NOT BE PAINFUL

Ah, the Labor Day weekend, our final farewell to summer; picnics, boating, family and drinking. It’s that last part that is cause for concern and should be for everyone. There were 28 traffic fatalities on Labor Day weekend in 2014 in Texas and twenty-two of those deaths had alcohol involved. Sobering statistics, at least we hope so.

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To crack down on drunk drivers during this holiday weekend, the DPS will be out in force using road checks and stepped up enforcement to minimize the number of drunk drivers on Texas roads. To eliminate fatalities completely is the goal of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign.  Aimed at protecting drunk drivers from their own destructive behavior, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established this program nationwide to educate people on the facts about drinking and driving and ways to protect yourself and others.  Go to nhtsa.gov/drivesober to see videos and get more information.

If you are planning a celebration on Labor Day there are things you can do to minimize alcohol consumption and keep people safe. Here a just a few:

*Keep people active with outdoor sports and events.

*If you serve alcohol be sure to serve plenty of food as well so that drinking is not the focal point.

*Make sure to have plenty of water and soft drinks on hand as an alternative to alcohol.

*If someone drinks too much DO NOT let them leave.  Have someone take them home or call a cab or one of the many free alternatives for rides, such as SaferRide mobile app that will call a cab or friend for a ride home or SoberRides.org. that helps you arrange transportation ahead of time or on the spot plus it has a lot of good information about how much is too much.

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*Pace yourself if you are drinking. Be the one that makes sure everyone else gets home safe.

Make it a fun transition from summer to fall and keep yourself and your loved ones safe by paying attention to alcohol consumption. For more information on the effect of alcohol on driving just log into wirelessdefensivedriving.com.

Drinking and Driving Crack Down During Labor Day Holiday

backyard BBQlake

Labor Day is next weekend. The un-official end of the summer brings with it backyard BBQ’s, pool parties, going to the lake one last time, fun with family and friends, and a heavy police presence looking for drunk drivers. Increased enforcement will run from Friday August 21st until September 7th, 2015. That’s over two weeks and covers 3 weekends.

TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) and all of us at wirelessdefensivedriving.com wish to remind everyone that might consume alcohol not to get behind the wheel and drive. “Last year in Texas, 21 people were killed and 42 were seriously injured in 338 alcohol related crashes over the Labor Day holiday” according to a recent TxDOT statewide news release.

“Too many people are killed on our roads each year – especially during holidays – due to impaired driving. These crashes are inexcusable and 100-percent preventable. We are grateful to our law enforcement officers who will be keeping Texans safe by pulling over and arresting impaired drivers.” said TxDOT Executive Director Lt. Gen. Joe Weber, USMC (Ret).

drink keys                            no tolerance sign

Impairment of the most important skills can occur at a very low blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The skills involved in driving a motor vehicle include psychomotor skills, vision, perception, tracking (steering), information processing, and attention. All of these functions are impaired by alcohol, although they differ in the extent of their impairment at any given BAC as taught in the wirelessdefensivedriving.com course.

TxDot goes on to say that “Many Texas communities implement “no-refusal” programs over Labor Day weekend, authorizing law enforcement officials to obtain blood samples from suspected drunk drivers and motorcyclists. Drivers convicted of DWI in Texas face costs up to $17,000 plus possible jail time, limited career prospects and loss of driver’s license.”

If you plan on consuming alcohol, just don’t drive! Take a taxi, have a designated driver, plan to stay where you are overnight, or use mass transit. Plan ahead. You can also go to SoberRides.org to locate other alternatives to driving after having a “few”.

Have a great holiday and let’s make sure everyone gets home to loved ones alive.

Back to School: Children, Buses & You

School buses

“Children are our future.”

I wonder who first said such a seemingly obvious quote, and who of those listening seemed previously unaware of this fact. Perhaps I take for granted the basic level of biological understanding we receive, but the fact remains: the health and well-being of children, whether our own or not, is a paramount concern. While it’s not something we should need to be reminded of often, it most certainly never hurts. Now, when the countrywide-chaos of school starting arrives and fleets of yellow 36-footers descend upon the streets, could be an especially poignant time to be reminded of how to stay safe when it comes to school buses.

Aside from the unavoidable growing pains the inside of an elementary, middle, or high school bus can bring, it’s actually the safest way to commute to and from school. While dealing with a bully on the bus is for a different blog, the odds of being in a fatal traffic accident on a bus is significantly less when compared to other forms of transport (walking, by car, by bicycle, etc.). In fact, the odds of being in a fatal accident when a teenager driver are 58-times worse than when compared to a bus.

Statistics aside, it is advisable to give your kids some basic rules to abide by when taking the school bus. Their behavior is as important as any other variable in the overall safety of the situation. Encourage them to do the following:

*When waiting for the bus you should stay out of the street.

*At the bus stop, line up at least 10 feet back from the curb.

*Wait until the bus stops completely and the driver has said it is safe to board.

*If you have to cross the street to board the bus, wait until the driver has the red lights flashing and the STOP sign out. Always look both ways.

Drivers have their own set of rules when it comes to school buses and in Texas some rules have changed with the latest legislation. The basics that have not changed are these:

*If you approach a school bus from either direction and it is showing alternating flashing red lights you must not pass until:

1) The bus has resumed motion, or

2) The driver signals you to proceed, or

3) The lights are no longer flashing.

Failure to do this will result in a fine of $500 to $1250.

Many Texas cities are equipping school buses with cameras to record infractions.

Bus Camera

In Texas there are two new laws in effect: One banning teen drivers from using cell phones and text messaging devices; the other prohibiting drivers from using handheld cell phones in school crossing zones. It does not apply to vehicles that are stopped, or drivers using a hands free device.

Educating our children includes teaching them how to be safe in and around a school bus. Keeping them safe includes all of us following the rules of the road. For more information on this and all other driving topics, log into Wirelessdefensivedriving.com.

BE PREPARED FOR HOT SUMMER DRIVING

hot weather tips

Is it hot enough for you? These August days in Texas are predictable but not comfortable. We worry and stress over keeping ourselves cool and hydrated, but do we give enough thought to how hot weather affects our cars? If you don’t, there can be a big price to pay so take note of these hot weather tips:

HOT temp guage

Your coolant is your friend! Check your coolant level because a low level could cause your engine to overheat. But be sure not to open a HOT radiator to check the coolant level because you can get badly burned. Always wait until the engine has cooled. If your level is low add a 50/50 mix of coolant and water to the radiator, never just straight water. The coolant helps to raise the boiling temperature in the radiator and protect against corrosion.

overheated car

Check your A/C.  Nothing makes hot weather worse than a poorly functioning air conditioner.  If you are not getting cold air from your vents then the refrigerant may be low. Your system may need to be checked for leaks before adding refrigerant.

Check that oil.  Fresh oil can increase the lubrication for your engine and help it to run more efficiently. If you have an older, high mileage vehicle it can be helpful to switch to heavier viscosity motor oil during hot weather.  Synthetics can be even better for high temperatures.

oil light

Be alert to your battery.   The life of a car battery is 4 to 5 years. If yours is 5 plus years old it could need replacing soon.  Hot weather is harder on batteries than cold weather because of the rate of evaporation of the liquid electrolyte inside the battery (if not a gel type battery). You can look at the date code on the battery to determine how old it is.

Change out the windshield wipers.   Wiper blades have a limited lifespan and summer can be hard on them. Sun exposure and extreme heat age the rubber and cause it to be brittle and crack. If you notice streaks or smears when used then it is time to replace them.

Inflate those tires.  Underinflated tires can make them run hot and increase the chance of a blowout.

Wax on protection.  Like sunscreen for your car, wax or spray protectant helps to shield the paint from the ultraviolet rays.

Taking just a few steps to protect your car in the summer heat can help you have a more carefree and safe summer. For more tips on driving or any driving related matters, check us out at WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

The First Traffic Light Anniversary

red light old

Hard to believe but it has been 101 years since the first electric traffic light was used in the U.S. Installed at the corner of 105th and Euclid in Cleveland, Ohio, these first lights only used red and green so drivers had to be quick on the brakes. Engineers installed a pair of manually operated green lights and red lights facing each side of a four-way intersection.  Some people don’t understand the rules of a four way stop but its goal was really to relieve the police of the dangerous duty of standing in the street directing traffic. They could sit in a booth next to the intersection instead of standing dangerously in the middle of it.

policeman booth

 Gas traffic lights were actually introduced in London in 1869 outside the House of Parliament, but were abandoned because they had a tendency to explode, once badly injuring a policeman.

Need more traffic light trivia? The first three color traffic light was built in Detroit in 1920 and the first “Walk/Don’t Walk” traffic lights were installed in New York City in 1952.

So let’s give credit where credit is due. Lester Wire, a former detective in Salt Lake City, is the innovator responsible for this revolutionary idea in 1912. It wasn’t long before they were springing up all over the states. Early models used bells to signal the changing of red to green to alert drivers of the need to stop soon. This was later replaced with the yellow light we all know and love.

Today we use traffic signals, signs and markers to help provide for the orderly movement of traffic. Drivers must obey these signals except when an officer is directing traffic. You must obey a traffic officer at all times even if he or she is telling you to do something which is ordinarily considered against the law.

So we at wirelessdefensivedriving.com give pause and tribute to the often hated, frequently cursed and seemingly always red, traffic signal. Now quit looking at your phone and drive, it turned green half a second ago and you are just sitting there!

For more history on the traffic light, please go to http://heavy.com/news/2015/08/traffic-light-first-installed-cleveland-lester-wire-patent/

red light bunch

Seat Belts Save Lives

I was reminded the other day of how important seat belts are. While traveling on the highway I observed the minivan in front of me that seemed have a lot of action going on inside. It was apparent to anyone in the vicinity that none of the 3 children in the passenger or back seat were wearing their seat belts. As I watched in astonishment I saw them hopping from one seat to another and generally causing chaos. What was this parent thinking?

kids no belt

In 2012 about 12,174 people lived because they wore seat belts in Texas. An additional 3,031, age 5 and older could have lived if only using a seat belt. Those are unbelievable numbers for something that is so easy to do.

In Texas we know it is against the law to not wear a seat belt. The Click It or Ticket Campaign to enforce seat belt laws has saved thousands of lives each year. It is not conjecture that seat belts save lives, it is fact. What could possibly keep an intelligent human being from using a seat belt? Here are some answers commonly given:

*”It is uncomfortable”. Compare this discomfort to spending months in a hospital or learning to walk again. Seems like a small price to pay.

*”I have an airbag”. Airbags are designed to work with seat belts, not instead of them. Airbags increase the effectiveness of seat belts by 40%. And if you don’t have side bags then the seat belt plays an even bigger role in keeping you safe.

*”I am only going down the road”. 80% of traffic fatalities happen within 40 miles of home.

*”I am a safe, careful driver”. Maybe so, but are all other drivers?

*”I will just brace myself”. You may think so but a 50/mph crash has the impact of falling from three floors.

*”A seat belt will trap me in the car if I crash”. That is exactly where you want to be – in your car. If you get ejected during an accident you are 25 times more likely to die.

Take the time and the little bit of effort to use a seat belt for yourself and your children. It is not only the law it is the smart thing to do. And if you need more information about seat belt safety or other driving topics, visit our Driving Resources section!

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Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Defensive Driving

texas leg up

The 2015 Legislative session recently passed legislation that moves the Defensive Driving and Driver Training programs from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). As of July 15, 2015, the transition has begun. This will require different offices and locations for these programs.

This information will take time to filter out to all the Texas Courts and even longer to be reflected in their paperwork, forms and language used in each court. There will be an overlap of forms and notifications that refer to the driver safety program as TEA approved course and then possibly the TDLR approved programs but the purpose and function of approved Defensive Driving will stay the same and be accepted by all courts in Texas to dismiss your moving violation.

The physical move of offices to the TDLR should be completed by September 1, 2015 or shortly thereafter but whether the courts refer to defensive driving as TEA approved or TDLR approved could take much more time to complete.

Rest assured that during this transition, wirelessdefensivedriving.com is approved for all courts in Texas to get your ticket dismissed.

We will update you as things change and help assist you with defensive driving needs.

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