If you teach Pull-Push steering, then you do not coach, nor do you have a client-centred approach. Before you jump up and down at the fact that I have dared to raise the steering debate, please let me take a moment to explain. Coaching is about Choice, Consequences and Responsibility. If you tell your pupils how to steer:
- You deny them the opportunity to make a Choice,
- They are unable to experience and discuss the Consequences of their Choice,
- They do not experience taking Responsibility for the driving task.
Practising making choices and decisions is important and reduces the risk of being involved in a road crash. Making choices and experiencing the consequences of those choices is how we all survive as human beings. When we make a poor choice and experience negative consequences then we can choose to adapt our behaviour in order to experience positive consequences. This is all about us taking responsibility and is as critical to the whole of our lives as it is to driving. The whole point of adopting a client-centred approach and coaching our driving customers is to improve road safety by preventing the appalling slaughter of young people (men, in particular) on our roads.
I have mused before about crash helmets and the idea that if we all were forced to wear these as drivers then we would be much more likely to survive a serious crash. But coaching is about preventing the likelihood of a serious crash occurring in the first place rather than looking at minimising the tragedy of it once it has already occurred. It has to be more effective to coach people how to make choices, consider consequences and take responsibility for their actions and decisions, than to insist that everyone wears crash helmets.
Individual differences in human beings means that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work. We know that one fifth of newly qualified drivers will be involved in a serious crash once they pass their driving test. Could this be partly down to the fact that they have been taught to drive in a way that does not suit them? Could this one fifth of people be the same people who struggle at school (or, indeed, excel) because they fall into the extremes and a ‘one size fits all’ approach is also being used in the classroom? People learn best when their learning preferences are taken into account and appropriate communication techniques are used to address these preferences. They also learn best when they are treated non-judgementally, neutrally and equally. What they learn is that:
- Their thoughts and feelings influence their behaviour;
- They have choices to make every time they are out driving;
- There are consequences to the decisions they take;
- They need to be aware of their strengths, limitations and development needs in order to remain safe as drivers;
- Their emotional state will affect the way they drive;
- They are statistically at greater risk of being involved in a crash because of their inexperience, age (17 to 25 years old) and gender (if male).
If instructors tell their customers what to do, rather than giving them the choice, they are only using one style of teaching and are not giving value for money or ensuring that learning takes place. They may be overlooking the one fifth of learners, who are most at risk of being involved in a life-threatening collision when driving unsupervised. They are not addressing any of the above six points which relate to the higher levels of the Goals for Driver Education matrix.
Coaching could reduce the number of casualties on the roads because it is a client-centred approach that focuses on Choice, Consequences and Responsibility. Telling will maintain the status quo. And steering is just one example of how easy it can be to keep the responsibility for the learning process with the learner, where it belongs.
Drowsy driving is a widespread issue among motorists in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving led to roughly 72,000 accidents, 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths in 2013 alone.
This article will explore some of the key warning signs and risk factors associated with drowsy driving, as well as some prevention tips to help you avoid getting behind the wheel when you are sleep-deprived. First, let’s look at the way ‘drowsy driving’ is currently defined and evaluated by both the scientific and law enforcement communities.
What Is Drowsy Driving?
Drowsy driving, also referred to as ‘driver fatigue’, occurs when someone is too tired to operate a motor vehicle and, in turn, puts themselves, their passengers and other motorists in danger. Some of the most common causes of drowsy driving include the following:
- Inadequate, interrupted or fragmented sleep
- Chronic insomnia, narcolepsy and other sleep disorders
- A work schedule that affects amount of sleep and/or circadian rhythm
- Driving for too long without a sufficient rest period
- Use of sedatives, hypnotics and other sleep aids prior to driving
- Consumption of alcohol or narcotics
- Any combination of these factors
The effects of drowsy driving will vary from person to person. Most fatigued drivers have slower reaction times, and often experience short-term memory loss while behind the wheel. Drowsiness has also been linked to overly aggressive driving.
The following statistics highlight the scope of drowsy driving as a nationwide problem:
- Roughly 168 million American drivers – or 60% of the population – claim to have operated a vehicle while drowsy in the last year. [DrowsyDriving.org]
- More than one-third of drivers have ‘nodded off’ behind the wheel at least once, and 13% report doing so in the past month. [DrowsyDriving.org]
- Remaining awake for 18 straight hours can cause impairment that is roughly equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05, while being awake for 24 hours can cause impairment similar to a .10 BAC. In most states, a BAC of .08 or higher is considered legally drunk. [DrowsyDriving.org]
- Between 1999 and 2008, drowsy driving is believed to have played role in 7% of collisions in which a vehicle was towed from the accident scene, 13% of crashes involving at least one hospitalized person and 17% of vehicular fatalities. [AAA Foundation]
- Between 2005 and 2009, it is estimated that drowsy driving caused roughly 4,400 vehicle collisions and more than 5,000 fatalities. [NHTSA National Center for Statistics and Analysis]
However, it should be noted that these statistics can be somewhat misleading because drowsy driving can be mistaken for other causes, such as distracted driving or driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. As a result, drowsy driving cases often go unreported.
Investigators can use certain clues to pinpoint a high likelihood of drowsy driving at accident scenes. Most accidents involve single cars with serious or fatal injuries, and there are usually no skid marks or other signs that the driver attempted to avoid the collision. And, not surprisingly, most drowsy driving incidents occur between the hours of 12am and 7am – when we are biologically programmed to be sleepy.
Although many states have enacted or are currently pursuing laws designed to crack down on drowsy driving, there are no blood or breath tests that law enforcement officers can administer to evaluate motorists for this condition. Police may stop a car for general reckless driving, but in general people caught for drowsy driving face less severe penalties than drunk drivers.
Preventing drowsy driving is also difficult at the agency level. Many roads feature rumble strips, or sequences of plastic bumps along the shoulder designed to alert drivers when their vehicle leaves the roadway. Frequently spaced rest areas can also cut down on driver fatigue. Additionally, drowsy driving is a citable driving infraction in most states – although these are much less severe than penalties for drunk driving. Authorities today stress that the ultimate responsibility for preventing drowsy driving falls on individual drivers.
Who Is at Risk for Drowsy Driving?
Every driver is susceptible to drowsy driving, but this issue is more commonplace with certain groups. Men, for instance, are more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving accident than women; this trend spans all age brackets. Other groups considered at-risk for drowsy driving include the following:
Drivers between the age of 18 and 29 are considered especially prone to drowsy driving for multiple reasons. For one, younger drivers simply do not get drowsy in the same way as older individuals. This is due to the high-functioning sleep cycle of teenagers and young adults; they are able to resist becoming drowsy more easily, but they are also at risk higher of suddenly falling asleep without warning.
Sleep deprivation is another factor. While most adults require seven to eight hours of nightly sleep, teenagers and young adults need at least nine in order to achieve the same levels of daytime functionality. However, the average young person gets between five and seven hours of sleep on a nightly basis. These one to three lost hours per night can accumulate with each passing day. This buildup is known as sleep debt, and by the end of a standard five-day week, the average young person has accrued a sleep debt of 10 hours. This puts them at risk for falling asleep while driving, just as the weekend arrives.
Studies have also linked high rates of drowsy driving to the typically early schedules of young people who work or attend school. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine noted a connection between car accidents and students who begin their day before 7am, and a similar study noted that vehicular crash rates involving teen drivers dropped 16.5% after classes shifted to later start times. Additionally, young people are biologically programmed to stay up later, and high school and college students are often required to study past their normal bedtimes. Many jobs popular among teens and people in their 20s include late or shift work schedules, as well.
It is believed that drivers between the age of 18 and 29 account for more than half of all drowsy driving accidents in the United States. The table below looks at the high likelihood of a drowsy driving accident involving young people, compared to other age groups. This data comes from a poll published by the National Sleep Foundation.
Young people are encouraged to adopt a healthy sleep schedule in order to reduce their risk of drowsy driving. Lifestyle choices are also key. Using tobacco, consuming alcohol or drugs and using electronic devices at night are some of the leading causes of sleep deprivation among young people.
Shift Workers and Commercial Drivers
According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 15% of the country’s full-time wage and salary workers follow a shift work schedule. Shift work is currently defined as any work schedule that falls outside the standard business day of 9am to 5pm. Shift work may refer to swing shifts, which usually begin in the mid-afternoon and end at midnight or later; and graveyard shifts, which typically span from late evening to early morning. Shift work also includes shifts that cover 20 to 40 consecutive hours; these schedules are commonly found in industries where round-the-clock personnel are needed, such as healthcare, law enforcement and fire protection.
A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health noted that car crashes account for roughly 22% of all work-related deaths ? and drowsy driving is considered the leading cause for 7% of these fatalities. Drowsy driving has also been noted in particular industries where shift work is common. For example, medical interns with shifts that span 24 hours or longer are more than twice as likely to be involved in a vehicular accident, and five times as likely to experience a ‘near-miss’ incident while driving to or from work.
There are several ways for shift workers to mitigate the risk of drowsy driving. Carpooling and ride-sharing will reduce their time behind the wheel each week. Shift workers are also discouraged from taking lengthy or overtime shifts if they plan on driving themselves to and from work; employees who work more than 60 hours per week are 40% more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving incident.
For more information on the effect that shift work can have on sleep, check out our guide to shift work sleep disorder.
Commercial drivers are considered particularly at-risk for drowsy driving. Many of these employees follow shift work schedules, and their job requires long days, and often nights, behind the wheel. Roughly 13% of commercial drivers involved in a large truck collision report being drowsy behind the wheel.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) discourages commercial driversfrom operating their vehicles between the hours of 12am to 6am, and also 2pm to 4pm; these are periods when we naturally begin to get drowsy. Napping for up to 45 minutes, and then allowing an extra 15 minutes to wake up, can help drivers restore their energy during break periods. They can also increase their alertness by following a proper diet and abstaining from sleep-inducing medications.
The FMCSA also warns of ‘tricks of the trade’ that commercial drivers use to stay awake. These include using tobacco, consuming caffeine, turning up the radio and/or rolling down the window. Although these activities can provide momentary bursts of renewed energy, none of them have much lasting power. This can quickly lead to drowsiness. Rather than relying on these temporary tactics, it’s important for drivers to recognize the warning signs of drowsiness, and get off the road as soon as they begin to experience these symptoms.
Business trips involving long journeys can take a toll on your body and affect your circadian rhythm. This is especially true of international travel, since returning home typically involves readjusting to the local time. The transition period, commonly referred to as jet lag, may include periods of sleeplessness and/or fatigue. Flights that depart or arrive in the early morning or late night hours can also impact your sleep schedule. For these reasons, pilots, flight crews and other airline personnel are also at risk for drowsy driving after their shifts have ended.
Business travelers are encouraged to commute to and from airports using taxis or car services. For airline employees, a carpooling or ride-sharing schedule may also be feasible. You can also mitigate the effects of jet lag prior to your trip by gradually adjusting to the local time of wherever you’re headed. During long flights, also try to follow a sleep schedule that aligns with the time zone of your destination. Abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and other stimulants like caffeine while in the air can also ease the jet lag process.
People with Sleep Disorders
Many sleep disorders can cause drowsiness. These include the following:
- Sleep onset insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep during normal sleep periods.
- Sleep maintenance insomnia: Difficulty staying asleep during normal sleep periods.
- Obstructive sleep apnea: Temporary loss of breath during sleep that can disrupt the circadian cycle and lead to daytime fatigue.
- Narcolepsy: The tendency to fall asleep when calm or relaxed, even while being active during the day.
Sleep disorders affect millions of Americans, but they often go undiagnosed. A driver with an undiagnosed sleep disorder is at high risk of being involved in a drowsiness-related accident. Alternatively, many people who are diagnosed with sleep disorders take sleep-inducing medication to help them get enough rest on a daily basis. These medications also increase the likelihood of a drowsy driving incident.
If you live with a sleep disorder or suspect you may have one, it’s important to speak with a physician as soon as possible. People with sleep disorders who must commute long distances are discouraged from taking medications with soporific side effects.
Drowsy Driving Prevention
Now that we have discussed some of the risk factors associated with drowsy driving, let’s look at some preventative measures you can take to reduce your likelihood of being involved in a drowsy driving collision.
- Get some sleep: This one may seem like a given, but most drowsy driving incidents are the result of a driver who is not fully rested. The best way to decrease drowsiness behind the wheel is to ensure you’ve gotten enough sleep before getting in the car. Learn to recognize the ways that drowsiness and fatigue affect you individually, and avoid driving if you are sleep-deprived.
- Bring a friend: A recent UCLA study found that 82% of drowsy driving incidents were caused by single-occupant vehicles. Passengers can greatly decrease your chances of falling asleep while driving. Furthermore, a licensed passenger may be able to take over in the driver’s seat if you become sleepy behind the wheel.
- Use rest stops: Commonly found along our nation’s freeways and highways, rest areas are designed as safe spaces where you can park your car and, if need be, take a quick nap. Some rest stops will only allow you to remain in the area for up to an hour, but this should be adequate time for a restful nap. A popular trend among today’s drivers is to take a caffeine nap, or consume a caffeinated beverage and then get some shuteye. The caffeine will take effect after 15 to 20 minutes, leaving the napper feeling even more refreshed when they wake up. Speaking of caffeine…
- Manage your caffeine intake: In addition to coffee, caffeine can also be found in a wide range of teas and carbonated beverages. Chocolate is another good source. While caffeine will provide extra energy, it is not an adequate replacement for sleep. So if you feel yourself getting drowsy after a cup of joe and a candy bar, then you should consider stopping for a nap.
- Chew gum: Chewing gum exercises your jaw muscles, which can stimulate your senses and increase alertness. This is a good temporary energy source if you are not hungry or thirsty.
- Get plenty of fresh air: Carbon dioxide can make us feel sleepy, especially in stuffy car interiors. Opening car windows or adjusting the vent controls to bring in outside air can lower carbon dioxide levels and, in turn, reduce the risk of drowsy driving.
- Listen to music: The solo driver’s best friend is often the radio. Rather than listening to at a high volume – which can damage your hearing – consider listening to energetic music.
- If possible, drive while the sun shines: Your circadian rhythm will keep you feeling more awake and alert during the daylight hours. Additionally, sunlight stimulates your brain and extends your reaction time while driving. Natural sunlight is also a source of Vitamin D, which can help you sleep better at night.
- Use an app: Car manufacturers are currently developing automated systems to help drivers avoid drowsiness. In the meantime, a smartphone app can provide the same service. One of the most popular options is Drowsy Driver, an android app that monitors driver eye activities when the smart device is mounted on the dashboard.
- When in doubt, check into a room: If you feel drowsy and there don’t appear to be any rest areas nearby, then you should consider checking into a hotel, motel or other roadside lodging facility. Ask at the front desk if they offer an hourly room rate; this may allow you to catch a few hours of sleep and be back on the road relatively soon.
Remember: it is dangerous and against the law to pull your car onto the shoulder of a freeway or highway in order to sleep.
Alcohol use is another important consideration. The effects of alcohol on humans vary from person to person, and often depend on factors like weight and medical history. The general rule of thumb is that 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of liquor are all roughly equivalent, and that more than three individual servings of any combination over the course of a few hours will cause intoxication. However, even one serving of alcohol can cause you to become drowsy.
Additionally, it’s important for people who regularly take medication to read the warning labels, even if they have been prescribed for a non-sleep-related condition. The following medication types are designed to induce drowsiness to some extent:
- Hypnotics and other sleep aids
- Narcotic pain relief pills
- Certain medications for high blood pressure
- Cold medicine
- Certain antihistamines
- Muscle relaxants
Finally, understanding your own individual symptoms of drowsy driving is critical when you are on the road. If you are concerned about your fatigue level and worried that drowsiness may be impacting your driving, here are a few considerations to make:
- Are you yawning or blinking frequently? Is your head suddenly feeling really heavy? These are some of the ways your body will let you know you’re tired.
- If you are driving on familiar roads, have you missed any traffic signals? As you become more tired, your mind often focuses on controlling the car ? and as a result, you may drive right through a traffic signal or stop sign.
- How close are you to the vehicle in front of you? Drowsy drivers often (and unintentionally) tailgate other vehicles.
- What do you remember about the last few miles of your drive? As your body gets more exhausted, you will likely remember fewer details of the drive.
- Are your thoughts coherent? Or is your mind wandering all over the place? Pay attention to your mental activities, and pull over if you have a hard time thinking clearly.
- Did you miss your exit? Are you aware of your current location in relation to other exits?
- Are you starting to lose control of the car? Has your vehicle started swerving? Have you been jarred awake after inadvertently crossing the rumble strip?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should get off the road immediately and refrain from driving until you are properly rested.
No matter how roads are engineered to cut down on driver fatigue or vehicles are programmed to provide drowsiness alerts, the responsibility for safe and vigilant driving will always fall on the driver. By following the guidelines laid out in this article, you can make the road safer for you, your passengers and other drivers.
For more information about drowsy driving identification and prevention, check out the following online resources:
- DrowsyDriving.org: This comprehensive site maintained by the National Sleep Foundation includes facts and statistics about drowsy driving, warning signs and preventative measures, as well as links to books and media on the subject.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: The FMCSA offers a few anti-fatigue tips for commercial motor vehicle drivers. The organization also offers a self-questionnaire about drowsy driving designed for commercial drivers to take before hopping in the driver’s seat.
- Centers for Disease Control: The CDC features a page dedicated to ‘Drowsy Driving: Asleep Behind the Wheel’. This information includes stats, prevention methods and links to several government reports and academic journal articles about drowsy driving.
- UCLA Sleep Disorders Center: UCLA’s comprehensive guide covers some of the facts, and myths, about the causes and effects of drowsy driving. This information is provided in English and Spanish.
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: AAA’s online guide to drowsy driving includes general facts, statistics and a news ticker for breaking stories related to this topic.
- Drowsy Driver: This smartphone app is designed to help drivers cut down on drowsiness behind the wheel. Operating the app is simple: attach your smart device to the dashboard of your vehicle, and the app with scan your eyes and monitor blinking cycles in order to detect drowsy patterns. This app is currently free, and exclusively available for Android devices.
With the change in seasons throughout the year and the continued increase of motor vehicle traffic in the UK, it is likely that you will encounter bad weather when driving. In the winter months, a driver is at increased risk of visual impairment, such as heavy rain, snow or hail. The road surface is different due to ice, leaves and surface water. Statistically, a driver is 20% more likely to have an accident when driving in poor weather conditions.
Preparation for bad weather
Bad weather can sneak up on us, but it is safe to say that it is more likely during the winter months. We can definitely expect more rain and wind. These alone can make driving hazardous with reduced visibility and increased risk of losing control of the car. There are a few simple steps that car owners can take as winter approaches to reduce the risk. One very low-cost tip is to make sure that the windscreen wipers are fit for purpose – this will be invaluable when an unexpected downpour hits when on a long motorway journey. Also, check that the tyre tread is within legal thresholds – this is especially important when expecting higher levels of surface water on the roads. A tyre with higher tread depth will have greater grip on the road and be much safer.
The first thing that you should ask yourself when setting out on a journey when the weather is bad is “do I really have to make this trip?”. Of course, the safest answer is no – if you don’t go out then there is no danger. If the answer is yes, then make sure both the driver and vehicle are ready for the trip. If your car is covered with snow or ice, it is very tempting to just clear enough to be able to see out of the driver’s window. However, please take the time to remove the visual obstructions from all windows and lights. Any restriction could cause a hazard to be missed, including other vehicles not seeing you due to your headlights being blurred.
If the trip is important and cannot be delayed until weather conditions improve, try to schedule the majority of the driving to be during daylight hours. This will improve visibility and reduce risk. Even when heading out in the daylight, it is very important to check the headlights before starting out. If visibility is slightly reduced, it is highly advisable to turn on your headlights, even during the daytime. Dense fog will need fog lights to be turned on at short notice, so make sure you know how to turn these on before you start the car!
When making that unavoidable journey in bad weather, adjust your driving style to suit the conditions. This can just mean going a little slower than usual to give you a fraction longer to react if something should happen on the road ahead. It is also a good idea to be weary should there be standing water (aka a big puddle) ahead – if needs be stop to assess the depth of the puddle before entering. You don’t want to get halfway through to find out that the puddle is too deep for the car only for the engine to cut out!
Recent figures from the DVLA show that the number of people in the UK aged over 90 with a driving licence topped the 100,000 figure for the first time since records started. In addition, the figures also reveal that 4.5 million people over the age of 70 also hold a driving licence.
We all undergo physical and mental changes as we grow older. Recognising and understanding these changes is important if you are the driver of a motor vehicle. In addition to the physical and mental changes, as we grow older there are a number of medical conditions that may impact our ability to drive a vehicle. One, in particular, can have a significant impact, cataract surgery. It is estimated that 330,000 operations per year in England alone are performed and 10% of people aged over 65 have already had cataract surgery.
Has age caught you up?
Growing old is just a natural part of our lifecycle and the changes our bodies go through with the advancement of time is beyond our control. Many drivers continue to use their vehicles well beyond the age of 70. The Automobile Association (AA) estimate that by 2030 over 90% of men over the age of 70 will be behind the wheel.
It is sensible to stop and re-evaluate your own ability to continue driving as you get older. Self-awareness is important, if you feel uncomfortable driving, you should stop and discuss it through with your family and your GP.
Types of changes – physical and mental
Physical changes are the more obvious to notice, although some of these can be gradual over a long period of time. This makes acknowledgement of these changes more difficult to accept. Changes to your vision. Even if you do not wear prescribed glasses you may experience problems in low light or at night; glare from approaching vehicles; locating objects in your peripheral vision; and judgement of distances.
Changes to your hearing. Will make it difficult to detect sirens from approaching emergency vehicles; other car users horns; and warning sounds from inside your own vehicle. Decreased strength and flexibility. This may manifest itself as joint pain or inflammation that restricts movement; checking your blind spot, and making steering more difficult.
Mental changes that may impact senior drivers include: decreased reaction time may impact your ability to process lots of information quickly; reduced attention span that may cause loss of concentration; and, a cognitive ability that may reduce the ability to remember such things as your destination or the meaning of road signs.
The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) suggests that older drivers may benefit from a refresher driving course. This can reassure older drivers who may have concerns about their driving abilities.
Medical Reasons – cataract surgery
There are a number of medical conditions that can impact our ability to operate a vehicle including: dementia, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Cataracts in one or both eyes can impact your ability to drive.
There is plenty of statistical evidence that confirms a vast improvement in eyesight for cataract patients. However, there are a number of drivers who are unable or limited to in their nighttime driving following cataract surgery. The problem is linked to the type of lens used to replace the natural lens. Intraocular lenses Lens (IOL) are smaller than the natural lens in the eye. Following surgery, this can lead to glare or a halo effect. This is because light entering the eye is picked up by the edge of the IOL.
This halo effect can make it almost impossible to drive a vehicle at night. The problem is compounded by the other possible health and mental changes that some older drivers experience.
If you have had cataract surgery and are experiencing glare or halo issues these should be discussed with your GP or healthcare professional.
At some point, we all must stop and consider our own safety and the safety of other road users. This may be due to one single event like cataract surgery or more likely, it will be as a result of a number of different factors. The important thing to remember is that you are the best person to make that important judgement call.
Any seasoned driver will know that your first car is something you never forget. There are numerous factors that go into making the right choice, and while aspects such as purchase and insurance costs are, of course, important, it is also essential to look at considerations relating to reliability and safety, particularly given the unfortunate risk profile of young drivers. Here, we take a look at some of the main considerations to bear in mind when choosing a first car.
Price and Value
Let’s not hide from the facts – the purchase price is always going to be a defining factor, but look deeper than the numbers. Some cars depreciate more than others, and if you are planning on trading the car in after a year or two, it is well worth taking a close look at used car resale values before you make your choice.
For example, while a BMW 1-series might seem broadly similar to a Ford Fiesta but with a higher price tag, it will also hold its value better. If you plan on keeping the car for years and running it into the ground, by all means go with the blue oval, but if you want something that you can look after and sell on, Bavaria’s finest is a compelling option.
If you are buying a brand new car, the latest NCAP safety ratings are there for all to see, but most first cars are by no means in the first flush of youth. The Daily Mirror recently ran an article which singled out some of the safest used cars on the market in the sub-£5,000 bracket, and singled out three vehicles from the Volkswagen stable, the VW Up, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo, for special commendation.
Something a little different?
There is a common perception that today’s cars, with their electronic management systems and smart virtual intelligence almost drive themselves. It’s handy, but does not provide new drivers with the experience that former generations gained. An increasingly popular idea is to choose a classic as a first car. Vehicles like the Morris Minor, VW Beetle and Mini never go out of fashion, are simple yet involving to drive and are inexpensive to buy, run and insure.
A First Car to Remember
BMW 1-series, Skoda Citigo or Morris Minor, you will never forget your first car, so make sure you weigh up all the options and choose the right set of wheels for the right reason.
Some of the biggest dangers that learner drivers face on the road are lorries and commercial vehicles. Brake revealed that in 2013 there were over 6,000 crashes involving heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in England and Wales, equal to 17 a day, which is a large number considering that they only make up 10% of all traffic. In this post we look at why lorries can be hazardous, driving tips that will you increase your safety when driving behind or next to lorries, and look at how a new mandate in the USA that will reduce the number of commercial vehicle accidents.
Keeping a Good Distance From Lorries
Commercial vehicles come with the potential hazard of objects falling off the vehicle. The Yorkshire Post reported that out of 41 lorries stopped by the West Yorkshire Police, 8 vehicles were charged for insecure loads. Car drivers aren’t aware that just by being in the same vicinity of a lorry could be potentially life ending. In the same report, Sergeant Steve Suggitt of the West Yorkshire Police’s Safer Roads and Neighbourhood Support Team paints a picture of what lorries could potentially mean to other vehicles: “At 30mph, a vehicle travels 100ft in 2.3 seconds—that’s equivalent to the length of a Boeing 737 aircraft. HGVs are potential killing machines.” In our post ‘How to Prevent Becoming a Car Accident Statistic’ we recommend that parents teach their children defensive driving. This means being aware of the vehicles around them by maintaining a large following distance and recognising potential escape routes. This is especially true of commercial vehicles.
Overtake Quickly but Safely
Driving beside a lorry is one the most dangerous positions a car can be in on the road. Country Living spoke to a commercial driver with many years experience who called the space right next to any lorry the “kill zone” and emphasised that it is the one space every driver should stay away from: “If the truck loses control or has to change lanes quickly, you’re going to get crushed because the truck has nowhere else to go.” When overtaking a lorry do it as quickly as possible, and if on a motorway don’t remain next to lorry.
U.S. ELD Ruling
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving has caused up to 72,000 crashes, with 6,000 fatal crashes, annually in America. Additionally, the reports indicate that commercial drivers who manoeuvre tow trucks, tractor trailers, and other massive vehicles of the same category, are more susceptible to falling asleep behind the wheel.
To monitor safety and improve the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is enforcing a law that will require commercial transport vehicles to have Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). These ELDs will not only implement a cloud-based monitoring system that will digitally-document every aspect of the journey, but they will also help supervise a driver’s workload. Fleetmatics points out that ELDs will be able to log the Hours of Service (HoS), which will prevent drivers from overdriving and therefore being unsafe on the road Fleet operators, road safety agencies, and truck drivers will have access to the data recorded by the ELDs, which helps all parties to recognise ways to better overall operations.
Unfortunately, in UK, a similar law has yet to be administered. Learner drivers need to be aware of the danger that lorries can present. Being aware of the potential danger is key to being safe on the road.
Exclusively written for lincsdrivingsolutions.uk
Young drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 are at a much higher risk of being involved in a car accident than older drivers. Young drivers that fall into this age group only accounts for up to 1.5% of all licensed drivers in the United Kingdom yet they account for as many as 9% of serious and fatal car accidents. In 2013, 234 teen passengers were seriously injured or killed in the UK when their young driver aged 17 to 19 was involved in a car accident. The emotional and financial trauma associated with teen motor vehicle accidents underline the importance of instilling good habits in drivers from a very early age.
Young drivers are faced with countless distractions on the road and making sure they are road-savvy can prevent the occurrence of a lot of anguish and worry. One of the greatest gifts a parent or mentor can give to a young driver is the know-how of how to keep safe on the road. The majority of bad habits teen drivers display were picked up from their parents and peers, making it vitally important to always set a good example when driving with impressionable youngsters in the car.
Tips to keep safe on the road
Keep your eye on the weather
Due to their inexperience in handling a car, under those circumstances, it is even more dangerous for a young driver to be behind the wheel of a car in inclement weather. It is of vital importance that young drivers be taught how to confidently handle a variety of bad-weather challenges. Sending a teenager for an advanced driver’s course to learn control techniques in a safe environment may end up saving their lives as well as the lives of other road users.
Practice defensive driving
It is important to teach children to always be aware of the traffic behind, ahead and next to them and to always have possible escape routes in mind. Stay at least one car length away from the car in front of you when driving at a slower speed and maintain a larger following distance when driving faster. A defensive driving course will teach a teenage driver a lot of valuable and possibly life-saving skills to enforce when driving on the UK’s busy roads.
Do not be tempted to eat, drink, scan through radio stations or even play music too loudly while driving as these can all cause your attention to drift. A wandering mind, even if only for a few seconds, can have fatal consequences. An inexperienced teen driver is more likely to lose control of a vehicle with distractions significantly increasing your chances of not noticing impending danger and not being able to control the vehicle when danger strikes.
Texting, on average, accounts for a loss of attention on the road for 4.6 seconds – enough time to drive the full length of a football field. A great deal of things can go wrong in that seemingly short space of time. Don’t even attempt to text while at a stop street as you won’t notice any vital developments that may occur when you have your head down. Rather send your text messages before you leave home or after you have safely reached your destination.
Teen drivers may, in general, very well be a higher risk on the road than more experienced drivers but it is important to realise that not all young drivers are irresponsible by nature. With proper instruction and continuous guidance, teenage drivers have the potential to turn into well-adjusted and accountable adult drivers.
According to road safety charity Brake, drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 only make up 1.5% of UK licence holders. However, this age group is at higher risk of being involved in a vehicle crash or collision than older drivers. Why are teenagers still involved in more road accidents than any other driver? Younger road users:
Succumb to peer pressure to take risks
Use mobile phones more frequently at the wheel
Some are more likely to drive after recreational drug or alcohol use
Drive over the speed limit
Inexperience means they are less likely to spot hazards
Overconfidence after passing the driving test
Not every young driver makes these mistakes, some are overly cautious and may even take longer to pass their driving test. As a parent, you can take responsibility for teaching your teenager good driving habits. Sometimes all it takes is allowing your kids to remind you how to follow the road safety rules to get them into good habits themselves. Follow these ways to teach teenage drivers to ensure that your teenager is a role model behind the wheel.
Who is really responsible? You or the person you pay?
There is a good argument to suggest that if you are getting paid to do a job, don’t expect the person paying to contribute. Now that may be true if you want your computer fixing or the windows in your house cleaning, that last thing you expect is for you to do the work.
Learning, though, is different.
If we work together that is exactly what we’ll do, we will operate as a 2 person team where the aim is for you to use my knowledge so you can improve yours.
When you learn, whether it is to tie your shoelaces or to learn to drive, we as learners accept responsibility. The buck stops with us.
Sadly there are no skills software to instantly load into our brains, and as a child you only learned to tie your laces with practice.
It’s my job to help make sure you understand so you can quickly practice and improve.
07908 652 715. Phone me
Taking GCSEs or BTEC 1/2/3 is a lot different to driving safely…
Wasn’t school great?
All you had to do was listen, remember and repeat.
You were not usually asked questions about situations you have not seen and you got to practice everything before your exams – sorry, but learning to drive is not like that. I’m going to teach you how to think for yourself.
When I say “learning to drive” that goes for all my clients.
The driving syllabus is massive and much of it is not actually written down, for example, you are on a national speed limit road, your speed is 55MPH and a deer runs in front of your car. What do you do?
The only thing you can do is to be able to think for yourself and make a decision based upon the information you have. What are the road conditions, is there any traffic, how wide is the road, is there oncoming traffic, how far away is the deer etc.
If you work with me, this is a great demonstration of why you will succeed because I am not preparing you for any test. I’m helping you skill-up so you can take control of your future.
Call me 07908 652 715