Check this out: With the Christmas and New Year holidays approaching it is a great time to start talking about the most dangerous day to drive in the United States: July 4.
That’s right. Independence Day has more deadly crashes than New Year’s Eve. In fact, according to a an annual report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit group funded by auto insurers, New Year’s is number 7 on the list of deadliest days for drivers.
September 2, usually the Labor Day holiday weekend, is number 2 on the list of deadliest days for drivers. August 13, July 15, May 20 and November 11, were numbers 3, 4, 5 and 6, respectively.
However, if you look only at deadly crashes caused by drunk driving, New Year’s ranks number 1. It also ranks as number 1 in the number of pedestrian deaths, according to a report by the Automobile Association of America, making it a holiday to watch out for whether you are behind the wheel or just walking someplace where someone else might be behind the wheel.
In both the number of driver-related crashes caused by alcohol and in pedestrian deaths related to alcohol, New Year is deadly. There is no doubt alcohol and driving don’t mix and evidence for this appears again and again in multiple reports and survey conducted every year. There is no getting around the fact that drunk driving is killing hundreds of people every year.
Defensive drivers understand that anything which distracts them from the task of driving could end up costing them their life. Online traffic school teaches that drunk driving is second only to distracted driving in terms of deadly combinations. It delays your reaction time, inhibits your reflexes and impairs your judgement.
It’s ok to go out and celebrate the New Year however you wish. Drink yourself stupid if that’s your thing. Just make certain you have someone else drive you home if you do. You don’t want to start out the New Year dead, or convicted of killing someone else because you decided to drive drunk.
Despite having just passed a new ban on texting and driving, some Florida legislators say they are adamantly opposed to any further driving restrictions for fear of over-burdening drivers.
Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said he was against anything which would further restrict personal freedoms:
“We have to be careful,” he said. “In the good intention name of trying to keep people from getting hurt, it is easy to overly constrain individual freedoms that have differentiated our country.”
This is odd, especially when you consider that texting and driving, or any type of distracted driving has been repeatedly proven to be a leading cause of traffic crashes, especially those involving fatalities.
Anyone who has successfully completed an online defensive driving course, or attended and completed traffic school either to keep points from accumulating on their license or to keep their insurance premiums low (or both), knows the dangers of distracted driving.
You simply cannot expect to be able to pay attention to two things at once, especially when one of those things is controlling the 4,000 pound missile you are controlling at speeds of 55 miles-per-hour or more. One mis-guess; one glance away from the road ahead of you to the small digital screen that holds the wonderful message of “C U L8tr!” is all it takes for you to slam head-on into the rear of the vehicle that suddenly slowed down in front of you.
In Florida they suffer from an abundance of beautiful clear days, full of sunshine. It can be deceptively calm, leading some drivers to relax and stop worrying about where they are going or how they are going to get there.
Defensive drivers, however, never take their eyes off the road until they get where they are going. Safely.
Floridians, consider yourselves warned: Someone is using a scam website to trick people into paying to visit the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles web site.
It seems someone has paid a fee to search engines so that when someone searches for information on the DHSMV website, the scam website is at the top of the list. When the searcher clicks on the scam site it asks them for personal information; name, contact information and a credit card number. Then the site charges their credit card before connecting them with the FREE DHSMV website.
That’s right: The scammers are charging people to access a free web site.
The Florida Highway Patrol released a statement this week which advised anyone trying to visit the DWSMV web site not to fall for the phishing scam.
“To say the websites are misleading is an understatement,” said DHSMV Executive Director Julie Jones. “They provide small disclaimers that state they are not affiliated with the Department and then proceed to charge customers anywhere from $25 to $50. It is an unbelievable racket.”
The scam websites to have a small disclaimer on their site which advises visitors they are not affiliated with the DHSMV, the Florida state government, nor any governmental agency of any kind, so the sites are not actually breaking the law. But even with the disclaimer it seems likely at least some innocent web surfers are going to fall for their ruse and fork over their hard earned cash to visit an otherwise free web site. It might be technically legal but it sure sounds like a scam to us.
“The Department wants to arm our customers with information about these illusive websites so they are not duped into paying unnecessary fees of any kind,” Jones added. “The websites are legal, but unethical.”
It is always free to visit the My Improv Traffic School website so you can learn more about our online defensive driving course. You have to pay for the course, but visiting the web site is always free.
The Florida Highway Patrol wants you to enjoy yourself this holiday season, but warn drivers they won’t be handing out gifts to anyone who gets behind the wheel after drinking.
Florida has one of the toughest policies in the nation when it comes to dealing with anyone who drinks and drives. You could say they have zero tolerance for drunk drivers, but then again, so does every police officer in the nation.
In fact, this year there is a nationwide effort to keep drunk drivers off the street called Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
According to a recent study of traffic statistics by the Florida Department of Highway Safety from 2010, more than 35 percent of the traffic deaths which occurred on Florida highways during the holidays last year were alcohol-related. This has prompted a major crackdown on drunk driving in the Sunshine state.
Everyone wants to enjoy the Christmas and New Year holiday festivities, but not everyone is going to be able to drive home when they are done having fun. You don’t even need to be drunk to get in trouble with the law or drive in an unsafe manner. Florida law says that a blood alcohol content of .08 percent is enough for you to be cited. That’s just three drinks for someone weighing 140 pounds or less. Three beers, three glasses of wine, three shots–it’s all the same when it comes to your BAC. And don’t bother trying to hide it with a breath mint, a couple pieces of chewing gum or even a penny. That’s not going to work when it comes to a breathalyzer test.
Anyone who has successfully completed an online defensive driving course understands just how dangerous it is to get behind the wheel drunk, or even slightly inebriated. Distracted driving is dangerous and you’re definitely distracted if you’ve had a few drinks before trying to drive home.
It’s a simple thing to have a happy holiday and get home safe. It starts by not drinking and driving.
Up until now Florida has lagged behind other states when it comes to fighting against distracted driving. They have so far been reluctant to even make texting and driving a crime, much less more general distracted driving offenses.
Last week, when the National Transportation Safety Board released its findings about distracted driving and called for a nationwide ban on any and all cell-phone or handheld device use while driving, Florida legislators groaned. The Florida Senate just approved a bill banning texting and driving, but they have done little else to fight distracted driving.
This is not good news for the Sunshine State, which sees tens of millions of visitors every year, many of who travel there by car. Florida is also one of the most popular states with a population which continues to grow by leaps and bounds, even during the recent recession. Distracted driving is no less of a problem in Florida than it is any where else, but forcing people to put down their handheld devices to concentrate on driving, in a state where public transportation is practically non-existent, is like asking everyone to take a pay cut, or at least a productivity cut.
More than one-quarter of all adults have admitted to texting and driving. Certainly none of these people completed the Florida Online Traffic School or they would understand just haw dangerous distracted driving is and would never do it. Distracted driving is the most dangerous type of driving, second only to driving with a blindfold on.
Now that the NTSB has weighed in on the scourge of distracted driving, and suggested that all states ban any sort of handheld device from a driver’s hands, it seems likely Florida will finally come around to the idea that keeping people safe on their roadways will be good for them and keep them at the top of the list for favorite vacation destinations.
Florida is known as the land of sun and surf. Thanks to efforts by the state to make the roads a safer place it is now known as the state with the most significant drop in traffic fatalities this past year (down 115) after California (down 375.)
Unfortunately, though traffic fatalities as a whole were down in 2010, the number of pedestrians hit by cars has markedly risen. The number of pedestrians injured by a motor vehicle rose nearly 20 percent, and the number killed after being struck rose five percent.
This improvement has come only after a concerted effort by lawmakers and law enforcement officers to force people to pay closer attention when they get behind the wheel of their automobile. Defensive driving is on the rise in the Sunshine State because the penalties for not doing so (besides dying in a horrible car crash) are enormous.
Even during the recession Florida remained the top travel destination in the world, hosting more than 70 million visitors a year, many of which traveled there by car, either for a week or a weekend getaway. This means the roads are often congested, especially in urban areas like Miami and Orlando, and drivers are often confused about where they are and where they going.
Defensive driving is not simply a good idea in Florida, it might just save your life.
Defensive driving is one of those skills you have and hope you never have to rely upon to make it home alive. You get behind the wheel of your car and cruise to your destination confident you know and follow all the rules of the road, therefore increasing the chances of avoiding a crash. It is your best defense against all those other drivers who are texting, talking, fiddling with the radio, driving at excessive speed and generally not paying attention when they get behind the wheel.
AAA said recent legislation passed in these and other states helped to push down traffic fatalities. Florida implemented a primary seat belt law in 2009, allowing law enforcement to conduct traffic stops exclusively for seat belt violations. Louisiana also strengthened its ban on texting while driving, making it a primary offense beginning in August 2010.
Connecticut, Michigan and Pennsylvania reported the highest year-over-year increases in fatalities. The NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System tracks all accidents occurring on public roadways in which an individual dies within 30 days of the crash.
Many opting to walk or use public transportation also remain vulnerable. NHTSA reported pedestrian fatalities, included in the overall figures, increased from 4,109 to 4,280 in 2010.
David Goldberg, spokesman for the Transportation for America campaign, said most pedestrian fatalities occur on arterial roads in urban areas. These roadways, he said, are often not designed to accommodate pedestrians.
“They’re too fast, too wide, and in many cases, way over capacity,” Goldberg said.
Don’t Blink In The Sunshine State
This week the National Transportation Safety Board called for a nationwide ban on the use of any handheld electronic devices by drivers on any of the country’s roadways. Distracted driving, they say, is the most dangerous threat facing drivers today. It’s worse than driving under the influence because it is so common. Despite a multitude of public service ads meant to enlighten them to its dangers, many people think nothing of getting behind the wheel of a car with their cell phone in their hand.
Florida has some of the most lax laws against distracted driving in the nation. In fact, they don’t have any laws pertaining to the use of cells phones or text messaging devices by drivers, which practically declares open season on defensive drivers, already on alert against distracted drivers.
Defensive drivers understand the importance of focusing their attention where it belongs: On the road ahead, and NOT on their cell phone.
Whoever is calling you will call you back. Whatever your girlfriend just texted you can wait until you get someplace to read it. There is no message worth your life, the lives of the passengers in your car or the life of the driver you crash into because you aren’t paying attention.
Anyone who has finished a defensive driving course walked away with a new appreciation for just how dangerous distracted driving is. They saw the numbers, did the math, heard the stories and learned the lessons of paying strict attention to the road ahead of them and the situation around them, instead of worrying about some fifteen second phone call that was probably the wrong number or at least could have waited until they got home.
Traffic school can help make you a safe, defensive driver, and keep points from accumulating on your license, but it won’t protect you from distracted drivers
Let’s say it’s the boss on the phone. He’s calling you and calling you because he needs to know where that report is you were supposed to finish before you left work. If you die in a crash while you’re on the phone with him just think how guilty he’ll feel. Especially since you left that report on his desk just as he asked.
Before you set out on a road trip to Florida pack your sunscreen and pay close attention to the driver heading right for you. You might see him, but he might be so busy texting his mommy that he won’t see you until it’s too late.
Best Way To Avoid A Ticket: Drive Safely
Safe drivers are usually not the first to complain about the many new traffic control devices being installed on America’s roadways. From traffic light cameras which snap license plate pictures of driver’s who run red lights to speed cameras designed to catch speeders without the need for a police officer to sit by the side of the road all day, these automatically ticketing devices are becoming more and more common.
Just ask the folks of Palm Coast, Florida, who contend with red-light cameras at 10 intersections around the city.
Despite complaints from those who say the new technology is infringing on their civil rights and rights to privacy, courts around the country are overwhelmingly supporting them. Even when state law does not specifically allow them local ordinances are good enough; city officials who want a traffic camera at a local intersection have only to vote it in and it’s done. Police love them because it helps them monitor an area without spending manpower to do it. Drivers hate them for obvious reasons.
There is no worse feeling (ok, there ARE probably worse feelings but for our purposes here they don’t count) than getting a citation in the mail with a photo of your license plate running a red light or speeding through a school zone.
You know who are NOT complaining about the increase in automatic traffic control devices? Defensive drivers. Anyone who has ever attended a traffic school knows just how important it is to maintain a safe speed, follow all traffic laws and be good, defensive drivers. There is no substitute for being a safe driver. Cars don’t drive themselves, so we are responsible for our own actions every time we get behind the wheel. If a red-light camera catches you running a signal don’t blame the technology. If you want to know who is really at fault, take a good hard look in the mirror.
Sheriff’s Office Focuses On Dangerous Drivers
What’s the opposite of a dangerous driver? A defensive driver. A defensive driver understands the importance of following the rules of the road, obeying traffic signals and paying close attention to the road in front of them and what is going on all around them. A dangerous driver just jumps behind the wheel of their car, stomps on the accelerator and maybe says a prayer for any other drivers sharing the road with them that day.
There is no trick to defensive driving. Anyone who has successfully finished a defensive driving course understands just how damage a 4,000 pound projectile can do if the driver behind the wheel isn’t careful. Members of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department also know how dangerous some drivers can be. This past Thanksgiving holiday deputies saw a 100 percent increase in traffic incidents from the year before, prompting the sheriff to increase his department’s presence on the local roadways.
This increased response is meant to turn the tide in Milwaukee County when it comes to dangerous drivers on the roadways. They hope that more deputies on the road will remind drivers to be safe on the roadways, especially during the holidays.
Among the most dangerous types of drivers, Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke says, are distracted drivers. Drivers who think they can text while they get behind the wheel risk not only their own lives, he said, but the lives of everyone who shares the road with them. Drivers who have successfully completed a defensive driving course, or completed Traffic School, know they need to devote their full attention to the skill of driving if they want to avoid an accident.
If you’re driving through Milwaukee County this holiday season don’t be surprised if you see more than a few deputies handing out tickets to dangerous drivers. But if you’re a defensive driver you can cruise on through–safely.
Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke said he is encouraging drivers to practice defensive driving over the winter season. In a press conference last Tuesday, he offered drivers blunt advice to avoid becoming distracted on the road.
“Texting while driving is dangerous,” he said. “Don’t do it … Put the damn phone down and drive.”
Operation Safe Drive was started in 2003 and is just one of the many holiday-specific initiatives enacted by the sheriff’s office. Other holidays that experience busy travel, such as Memorial Day and Labor Day, also see increased patrols.
Although the number of incidents vary each year, Fran McLaughlin, a public information officer for the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, said the greater presence of patrol cars helps remind drivers to stay safe.
“When we increase patrols, we often see an increase in citations,” McLaughlin said in an email. “But, the presence of the squads on the freeway does serve as a deterrent against speeding — a reminder to stay within the speed limit.”
The Florida Legislature is taking aim at drivers who allow themselves to be distracted by texting, cell phones or even ubiquitous GPS devices. Senate Bill 416 is specifically worded so that whatever device you use, no matter its function, if it is distracting you from the act of driving, it is prohibited. The wording of the bill addresses anyone who is “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other text in a wireless communication device.”
That pretty much covers everything.
If Senate Bill 416 passes, which seems all but assured, Florida will become the 36th state to ban texting and distracted driving. The penalties could be as much as a $30 fine and a minimum of 3 points on your license. If your distracted driving leads to an accident the penalties are even higher-up to 6 points added on your license.
Defensive drivers know the importance of maintaining their focus where it belongs: on the road ahead and not on a digital device, chatting with your significant other; checking e-mail or the latest sports scores. There really is no excuse for distracted driving. As defensive drivers know, taking your eyes off the road even for a second is all you need for a crash to happen.
Traffic school can help you keep the points from adding up on your license. It can also help you understand just how dangerous it is to do anything behind the wheel–including lighting a cigarette, fiddling with the radio or even opening a candy bar. But not even traffic school can restore lives lost due to distracted driving.
More crashes are caused by drivers lack of attention than anything else. Anything that can wake drivers up to this fact is bound to have a positive impact on making the roadways safer for everyone.