Defensive Driving Blog

Where Did Wireless Defensive Driving Come From?

WHO WE ARE

You should be well aware by now that WirelessDefensiveDriving.com is a Texas defensive driving course approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation for the purpose of ticket dismissal or insurance reduction. But did you know that the owners and creators of this defensive driving course go way back in the industry? Let’s take a stroll down memory lane.

In 1990 there was the development of a great little Texas defensive driving course called Comedy Defensive Driving. One of the partners in that endeavor was Kyle Collins, who, incidentally, developed the course driving this blog – WirelessDefensiveDriving.com. Kyle built Comedy Defensive Driving into a statewide success story – with franchises in most major cities. Defensive driving had never seen such a surge in students. It was a phenomenon and the TEA became familiar with Kyle and the innovation he brought to Texas defensive driving.

safety

Building on the success of Comedy Defensive Driving, Kyle and now partner, David Ianni, wrote and created the first online defensive driving course in Texas. In the late 90’s they developed and spent 2 years gaining approval from the TEA (before the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation). The agency had never had an online defensive driving course developed in Texas and spent a great deal of time assessing its credibility. The course was txdriving.com and was approved in 1999 and went online in 2000. It was a great success! During this process Kyle helped introduce legislation in Austin to shorten the required Texas defensive driving course from the eight hours taught back then to the more manageable six hours required now. He was successful and the length of the course taught today is a credit to his hard work and diligence.

Following the entrance of online defensive driving courses into the mix there was an enormous growth in the number of new courses being offered online. All other courses online owe their success to the development of that first course, txdriving.com. But there was something missing and Kyle Collins and partner David Ianni decided to innovate once again. In 2011 Kyle wrote a new curriculum and he and David launched WirelessDefensiveDriving.com. The intention of this new Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation approved online defensive driving course is to make it even more convenient to get your 6 hour requirement done. This course can be taken on any compatible wireless device and listened to anywhere. No longer do you have to sit in front of your computer or sit through a class for 6 solid hours. You can take as little, or as much, of the course as fits into your schedule. It doesn’t have to be taken in one sitting. Made as a primarily audio course, it can be downloaded to your device and listened to while you work out, sit by the pool, do housework, sit in a café, etc. For those who like to read along there is also an option for reading the text.

So, from classrooms across the state of Texas, to plugging in to your Ipod, defensive driving has transitioned greatly in the last 25 years. But one thing has remained certain – Kyle Collins will continue to improve the Texas defensive driving scene in order to make taking a course more educational and convenient.

DOES YOUR DOG WEAR A SEATBELT? WELL, MAYBE HE SHOULD!

Here at WirelessDefensiveDriving.com we are all about passenger safety while riding in an automobile. Everyone in a car should have a seatbelt, not only because it is smart but it’s the law. But when our passenger is the four legged sort we have no laws but we do have some options.

Recently on the NPR blog for the show “Car Talk” they had two experts address the issue of all things animal and automotive, focusing primarily on dogs. Dr. Sip Siperstein and trainer Melissa McCue-McGrath share their knowledge of seat belts and other restraints for our dog passengers.

Seat harnesses – There are many options out there and part of what you choose depends on the size of your pet and the size of your car. A crate is recommended over a harness but do not fit in many cars. Seat belts usually involve a harness of some type that the seat belt attaches to and that can be used outside the car as a walking harness. This can prove to be very convenient.

But seat belts as these have their limitations. These restraints can keep your dog in place before an accident occurs, which is a good thing, but can be uncomfortable and too restraining at times. If you love the idea of a seat belt there are great ones out there. Our authors recommend Sleepypods Clickit Utility Harness. Any harness you buy should be researched thoroughly to be sure it is well designed and has passed safety tests.

Gate dividers – Dr. Sip uses a gate divider, which come in many shapes and sizes, as well as materials they are made from. These are very practical if you have a large car such as an SUV and a large breed dog.

If your dog is well behaved then a mesh divider would be better than metal. If you have a chewer on board then something more substantial is best. Be certain that it is installed properly or you can have a smart dog crawl under it or around the edge.

Crates – A crate is the absolute safest restraint of all for your pets. Safer for them, for you and for people in other cars who want to wave to the cute doggie and end up rear ending the car in front of them. Dog trainers are huge fans of crates, especially if you have a dog that is sensitive or reactive to everything going on in a car. You can also throw a blanket over it to minimize the visual stimulation.

Whether you are protecting yourself or your pet in a car, restraints are a must. And if you need more information about anything driving related just log in to WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

Take To The Streets

BUT BE SAFE and practice defensive driving.

Bicycle safety is a big deal but a subject that few bike riders know much about. That is because, for the most part, children and young adults ride more than any other age group. In fact, children (5-14 years), adolescents, and young adults (15-24 years) have the highest rates of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries, accounting for almost 60% of all bicycle-related injuries seen in U.S. emergency departments. Because of the relatively young age it is up to adults to be certain that young bike riders in the family know the essential rules of the road for riders.

turn signals

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 in the U.S., almost 800 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 515,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries. Males are much more likely to be killed or injured on bicycles than are females and adolescents (15-24 years) and adults aged 45 years and older have the highest bicycle death rates. All of these statistics are just here to show how deadly this favorite recreational activity can be.
But, of course, not all bicycle accidents involve a motor vehicle. Let’s talk about defensive driving and the safety aspects when it comes to bikes and cars on the road together. Here are some certainties:

  • A bicyclist should always obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals.
  • Never ride opposite the flow of traffic.
  • A bicyclist is required to stop at all signs and stop at red lights.
  • Persons riding two abreast cannot impede the normal flow of traffic and must ride in a single lane.
    A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as possible to the right curb or edge of the roadway unless:
    -The person is overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
    -The person is preparing for a left turn at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway.
    -There are unsafe conditions in the roadway such as fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, potholes, or debris.
    -The lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.

In case you are curious, the three most common car-bicyclist crashes are:

  • A motorist running left in the face of oncoming bicycle traffic.
  • A motorist turning right across the path of the bicycle traffic.
  • A motorist pulling away from a stop sign, failing to yield right-of-way to bicycle cross traffic. At intersections, right-of-way rules apply equally to motor vehicles and bicycles.

So, as you take to the streets be in a defensive driving mode, enjoy all this spring weather and be sure to practice bicycle safety – whether you are on the bike or in your car. And if you need information on this or any defensive driving subject just log into Wirelessdefensivedriving.com.

Don’t Take Light Rail Too Lightly

According to NPR, it’s hard to find a city in America that isn’t planning, proposing, studying or actually building a light rail system. There were 35 light rail systems operating in the U.S. in 2010 with many more in the planning stages. Dallas and Houston are the most notable in Texas but Austin and San Antonio have been debating the issue for years.

defensive driving tips for light rail

Whether light rail is a daily occurrence in your life or not, you will have occasions while driving your car to cross paths with one of these trains. Have you given any thought to the rules that govern these encounters? Here are just a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Light rail is very quiet; in fact the trains are quieter than most buses and cars.

  • Do not walk in front of, between, or behind the trains.

  • Do not drive, stop, or park your vehicle on the tracks. It is dangerous and illegal.

  • Although quiet, light rail trains are still heavy and can’t start or stop quickly, regardless of traffic flow.

  • Cross the tracks only at designated pedestrian crossings and only when it is safe to do so.

  • Look both ways before crossing the tracks. Trains travel in both directions.

  • Obey all warnings signs, flashing lights, signals and crossing gates. Police will issue tickets to violators.

  • Stay alert, you may not hear them coming.

  • Listen for bells and horns.

  • Never race a train or run in front of a train.

  • Never try to beat a train to a crossing.

  • Never drive around crossing gate arms.

  • Never put anything on or near the tracks.

Texas is ranked with four other states as having the most crossing collisions in the U.S., as well as the most fatalities from those collisions. Nationwide crossing fatalities increased in 2014 by almost 16%. It is worth your time and effort to make a note of the guidelines we have provided and keep yourself and your loved ones from being a statistic.

Whenever you have a question about anything driver related in Texas, be sure to log in to WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

Texting and Driving – A New Law on the Horizon

Members of the Texas House of Representatives had a preliminary vote on March 25, 2015 that passed House Bill 80, banning texting and driving in Texas.

At about the same time, AAA released a new report on how distractions played a factor in almost six out of every 10 crashes – four times as many as had been thought.

Defensive Driving Law

These two events mark the increased concern Texans have had over texting and driving. According to 2013 data, 459 Texans died in distracted driving crashes. Distracted driving can, of course, refer to more than just texting but law enforcement concur that teens and texting are contributing the most to the increase in crashes. One state trooper says that teens are used to texting and multitasking but not as familiar with driving a car. This is the time in life when all their attention needs to be on driving.

House Bill 80 would ban texting and driving. It would be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of between $25 and $99. Currently 39 states along with Virgin Islands, Guam and the District of Columbia prohibit texting and driving. Drivers in Texas would still be able to make phone calls or use voice activated or hands free technology, use GPS or report illegal activity or an emergency. The bill, as it stands now, would allow texting while stopped in a travel lane, like at a red light.

Representative Chris Paddie is on the committee where the bill was originally heard and supports it. “I think when we talk about government infringing on our personal freedoms, that’s certainly one thing but when it crosses over into public safety where it not only can affect you but certainly can affect someone else, I think government needs to look at that, “ Paddie said.

Watch the news for more information on this important bill and if you find yourself with a ticket for any reason log into WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

Link to House Bill 80 is here: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/84R/billtext/html/HB00080I.htm

Driving Tips for Your Spring Break Trip

Spring break and March go hand in hand. Sometimes it means a trip to the beach (to escape all this cold weather!) or it can mean a ski trip (to further embrace the cold weather!). Wherever your destination this spring break, if you are driving you should plan ahead to be safe.

spring break defensive driving

Here are a few guidelines for your trip:

*Have your vehicle checked out by a qualified mechanic.  Have any required maintenance performed.

*Time your trip appropriately. This means drive in daylight hours, avoid rush hour, do not travel during peak hours on major holidays and avoid days when the weather will be bad, if at all possible.

*Wear your seatbelt!!! This is highlighted because it is so important – not just on vacation, but anytime you are in the car. And this includes all your passengers!

*Turn on your headlights and try to pick a route that is well maintained and lit. Use your headlights, even in daylight because it helps other drivers to see you.

*Practice good defensive driving, yielding right of way even if you think you are correct. This will avoid accidents. Drive at the posted speed limit, unless weather conditions cause you to have to slow down. When coming to an unexpected stop on the highway be sure to put your flashers on. This will alert drivers behind you that there is some kind of problem to be aware of.

*Take a break often, every 90 minutes if possible. Get out of your car and stretch. Rotate drivers often if possible.

Staying safe should be your priority every time you get behind the wheel. Teaching you to be safe is our priority at WirelessDefensiveDriving.com. Log on for all your defensive driving needs.

Car Humor for a Defensive Driver

DOWN IN THE DUMPS? A LITTLE CAR HUMOR WILL HELP!

It is amazing how many sites there are on the internet for car jokes. While I was perusing all they had to offer I thought a few of them might be worth sharing. Every now and then when I come across good ones I will post them here on our blog.

defensive driving humor.

Today’s selection is as follows:

A traffic cop pulled alongside a speeding car on the motorway. Glancing into the car, he was astounded to see that the young lady, who was driving, was knitting.

Realizing that she was oblivious to his flashing lights and siren, the policeman wound down his window, turned on his loudspeaker and yelled, ‘PULL OVER!’

‘NO’, the young lady yelled back, ‘IT’s A SCARF!’

Julie was driving a people carrier full of ten screaming kids through the high street looking for a space. Too frazzled to effectively pay attention, she coasted right through a stop sign.

A man in a passing car leaned out of his window and yelled, “Hey, lady, have you forgotten how to stop?”

Julie out of her window and yelled back, “What makes you think these kids are all mine?”

The new metro cop pulled a speeder who was zipping down Maple Avenue.

“Can I see your license and registration, bub?”, the cop inquired.

“But officer,” the fellow started, “I can explain…”

“Shut yer trap, bub!” snapped the officer. “You’re going downtown and sit a while till the sarge gets back.”

“But, officer, I think you really should know…”

“And I said to shut yer trap! You’re going to jail!”

A few hours later the cop looked in on his prisoner and said,
“Lucky for you that the sarge is at his daughter’s wedding. He’ll be in a good mood when he gets back.”

“Don’t count on it,” shot back the sap in the cell. “I’m the groom.”

Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company responsible for the accident to court. In court the trucking company’s fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe.
“Didn’t you say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine,’?” asked the lawyer. Farmer Joe responded, “Well, I’ll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the…”
“I didn’t ask for any details,” the lawyer interrupted, “just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine’?”.
Farmer Joe said, “Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road…”
The lawyer interrupted again and said, “Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question.”
By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe’s answer and said to the lawyer, “I’d like to hear what he has to say.”
Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, “Well, as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear ol’ Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. “Shortly after the accident, a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes.
“Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, ‘Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her.’
“Then he said, ‘How are YOU feeling?’”

 

Remember that sometimes humor can be found in even the most serious of situations. And if you find yourself in need of defensive driving log on to WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

New Sticker Law In Texas – Defensive Driving News

STICKER SHOCK  – new law that will affect you

As of March 1, 2015, Texas will be going to a one sticker policy when it comes to your inspection and registration stickers. The inspection sticker will disappear because when you register your car from now on you will be required to have your inspection up to date.  When you get your auto inspected you will now receive a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) instead of a sticker. This will be required when you next register your car.

New Law In Texas

There is a great website set up by the state to explain this new program. Some of the highlights noted on the website are:

–        If the dates of your stickers don’t coincide you can take steps to get them in sync.  This may mean going beyond your 12 months cycle for inspection. So if you are up for registration in April, 2015, but your inspection is due in August, you will go ahead and get your sticker in April but not need to have your car inspected until April 2016. That is because the new sticker makes your inspection due date in April of every year.  Once these two are synced up it will be easy to remember.

–        Vehicle inspections should cost less because they will no longer be charging you the state’s portion of the inspection fee. It will cost more, though, to register your car because that fee will now be included in that cost.

–        There will be no changes to what is actually inspected. The same requirements as before are still in place.

To find out more information or ask a question, go to Twostepsonesticker.com.

And for all your defensive driving information always log in to WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

Tailgating is not Defensive Driving.

Defensive Drivers don’t tailgate.

Tailgating is very simply being too close to the tailgate of the car in front of you.  That is actually the definition of tailgating. I don’t think many of us refer to the back of our car or door to the trunk as a tailgate but that is exactly the origin of the word. In the mid-1800s it referred to the hinged door at the back of a wagon that could be unlatched and swing down. On trucks it is easy to see the comparison because they have such a door that swings down to open. But in cars that are not trucks it does not make sense to call the rear of a car the tailgate. Nevertheless this is what we call the act of following too close.

defensive driving is not tailgating

Now that you have learned the term, do you know how far you should be from the car in front of you so that you won’t be considered “tailgating”? In daylight, good weather with dry roads we refer to the safest distance in Texas as the “two second rule”. Others states, such as California, use a three second rule and you can use three seconds also. You determine this by picking a fixed object on the road (a sign, a tree, a bridge, etc.) and when the rear bumper of the car in front of you passes it you start counting, one one thousand, two one thousand, and then the front bumper of your car should be just passing the same object.  If your car reaches the object before you count to two one thousand in this way then you are following too close. Once you get in the habit of knowing how far to lag behind, it will become habit and you won’t find yourself following so close any longer.

If weather conditions are poor or it is night time or the traffic is very heavy you should think in “defensive driving mode” and double that time and make it 4 seconds. In those conditions it can often be much more difficult to stop so you are giving yourself more of a buffer between you and the car in front.  Remember, if you rear end the car in front of you it is always your fault because it is up to you not to follow too closely and be prepared to stop quickly if the car in front slams on their brakes.

If someone is tailgating behind you and it is making you nervous then carefully move to the next lane when it is safe to do so and let them pass by. You cannot control the fact that other people tailgate but you can move yourself out of the situation.

For all the information you could ever use to help you drive safely, check out WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

Defensive Driving Resolutions 2015

Driving habits for our New Year’s Resolutions.

Suzanne Kane from iSeeCars came up with 10 driving habits that we should all try to drop as part of our New Year’s Resolutions. We can all stand to be better drivers in the New Year so take a look at these tips:

Don’t be fooling with the electronic devices

This is a no brainer. Almost a quarter of all car crashes these days are blamed on cell phone use. If you can embrace only one resolution this year, it should be this one.

Use the turn signal

Simple, but so often overlooked. People are not mind readers so stop assuming they are and start signaling. You will be amazed at how quickly it becomes a habit.

Defensive Driving Resolutions

Get some distance between you and the car in front of you

Tailgating is a very bad and dangerous habit and should be on your “Not to do” list. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells us that rear end collisions account for about 23% of all wrecks which result in about 2,000 deaths a year. So put patience on your “To do” list and back off.

Distractions – who needs them?

There are so many things that can distract you while you drive. Most are pretty obvious – eating, talking on the phone, looking up directions, trying to find something in your purse, dealing with children in the back seat, etc etc etc. You know when something you are doing is a distraction and needs to stop. So listen to yourself and be a safer driver.

Give your tires the attention they need

Such a simple thing but most drivers rarely do this – check the tire pressure. If done regularly this can prevent a blowout and possibly a terrible accident. Tire gauges are cheap and you can go to your local DMV site and get instructions on how to do it properly.

Buckle up or get out!

Be definite with anyone riding in your car that seatbelts are a requirement and not an option.  Seatbelts save lives yet there are still a lot of folks out there who just don’t like them. This is one to stick to and a rule to pass along to your children.

 

No matter what you do in the New Year, make a resolution to be safe. And if a traffic ticket comes your way be sure to log in to WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.

 

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