Facts about Drinking and Driving that Everyone should know

There is nothing wrong with having a bit of fun – meeting up with friends after work for a few drinks, catching up and simply spending time together. However, when it’s time to head home, make sure you don’t make the mistake of getting behind the wheel of a car when you’ve had a drink, regardless of how small the amount you’ve had. Let us examine some statistics and facts about drinking and driving and why it makes practical sense to be sober behind the wheels.

An Alarming Reality

In the United States alone, an average of 30 people die every day due to vehicular accidents that are caused – directly and indirectly – by drunk driving. That makes one death every 48 minutes. This is quite an alarming rate, and all because of carelessness and lack of responsibility among drivers. The mortality rates attributed to alcohol-related vehicular accidents are just as disturbing. During the year 2010, of all the deaths in the US that are caused by traffic accidents, 31% (or 10,228 deaths) is due to drunk driving.

What is being done in the face of this alarming reality? Police authorities and traffic enforcers clearly have their hands full. In 2010, a total of 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence. These arrests would have been unnecessary if only drivers are responsible enough to gain awareness about drinking and driving, and its consequences.

Repercussions and Issues Arising From Drunk Driving

Apart from death, injuries, and loss of or damage to property, there are also a number of legal repercussions faced by anyone who gets arrested for driving while intoxicated. Expect to face criminal penalties; you’ll most likely spend some jail time and be slapped with a large fine. The duration of jail time and the amount of the fines will vary from state to state.

Also, there are some states and jurisdictions that impose graver consequences. Drivers who get caught red-handed should also expect to be facing a number of administrative and civil penalties, again, depending on the DUI court or state. The driver’s license may be revoked or suspended, or he could be ordered to complete DUI diversion programs, as they do in the state of California.

At the end of the day, however, the best way to prevent any of these from happening would be to exercise caution. Do not drink and drive. Know your limits. If you know you’ve imbibed alcohol, no matter how small, it is better to be safe than sorry.

What is Defensive Driving?

What is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is the method of driving intended to save lives, energy, time and money of the driver himself and the people around you including the co-passengers, fellow drivers and pedestrians.

Defensive driving revolves around the principles of reducing the risk by anticipation, adherence to driving rules as well as safety rules and the driver’s ability to cope with unforeseen scenarios and climatic conditions. The guiding principles of defensive driving go beyond the general car mechanics awareness and driving skills of the driver (e.g. starting early to your destination, maintaining concentration, basic emergency response awareness etc)

A lot of other practitioners categorize defensive driving around planning and organizing the trip and concentrating, scanning the surroundings and controlling the emotions as some of the key success factors of this methodology.

The importance of Defensive Driving

Defensive driving is becoming more and more important because of the increased risks associated with the following changes that we are witnessing:

– The number of automobiles on the road is increasing at an alarming rate but roads are not becoming bigger or longer proportionally
– Car technologies are rapidly progressing resulting in faster and powerful cars
– The world population is exploding and hence more people on the road
– The fast lifestyle make people impatient and more vulnerable to more accidents
– More and more distractions are getting on board of a car – e.g. gadgets, mobile phones etc.

Defensive Driving Course – Online and Offline

While many government organizations, NGO – nonprofit organizations and private schools have launched defensive driving courses, there are some online courses as well available to help master your defensive driving skills.

As a thumb rule it’s always better to enroll with a reliable defensive driving school or course available in your city. If you aren’t aware of any such driving schools that offer an approved defensive driving course face to face, you may check out those available online courses.

You may also check out the following amazing reading on defensive driving driving techniques. It’s a must read for dummies as well as self-proclaimed experienced drivers.

Drive to Survive

In addition to learning defensive driving skills, having a safe vehicle can be a real life-saver as there are many great safety features on newer cars.

Have a pleasant and safe driving!

Preparing your Car for a Long Road Trip: Checklist

Road trips – especially the ones with the family – are often a concern for most drivers primarily due to the fear of a possible breakdown en route. However, in reality long trips are often much easier to manage and pleasurable than your day to day drive to work or within the city commute.

The following would be the categorized long road trip checklist for your car in order to prepare the same before the travel day.

1. Fluids

Coolant: Engine coolant (or antifreeze mixture) is usually changed every 25 thousand miles or once in two or three years. However, if your last coolant change was a year or more back (or 15K miles) you might want to consider changing the coolant before a long trip to increase its effectiveness in keeping the engine under control.

Engine Oil: Check your vehicle’s engine oil level and its color to make sure that it is good enough for a few more thousand miles. If the oil is already very dark or has blackish sediments within, it is advisable to change oil before your long drive.

Wiper fluid: A lot of people don’t care about the wiper fluid. Well, if you run out of wiper fluid you could actually fill it with distilled water but it’s always good to have the viscous fluid mix as purchased from auto shops. Smoothly running wiper blades are needed for highway driving.

2. Check vital parts

Battery: Ensure that your battery is in good conditions and your vehicle cold starts in the first quick attempt itself. In addition, you might want to clean up the battery terminals with a brush and Vaseline applied on them to prevent corrosion.

Air filter: If your air filter has run 10,000 miles since last change or even close to it, consider changing your air filter before a long road trip.

Tires: Make sure that your tires have good enough grip and tread depth. A minimum tread depth for a long drive (that might include wet driving) would be 1/8th of an inch. If any of the tires doesn’t have that much depth remaining, it is time to change it. Make sure that you check your spare tire as well for good tread quality.

For long drives, you need to over inflate the tires a little more than the specified PSI rating. For example, if the recommended tire pressure is 30PSI you may consider increasing it to 32 for a long drive. Increased tire pressure would make sure that your tires don’t heat up much during long drives.

3. Spares

Spare bulbs and fuses are those additional things you need to carry depending on your vehicle model. I had the ill fate of having a blown fuse during one of my road trips that wouldn’t let me lower the power windows. Of course, this is not a high probability scenario and you may be able to fix such problems a little later.

4. Documents & Contacts

Make sure that your glove compartment contains all your valid vehicle documents or copies of the same. In addition, do not forget to carry the driving licenses of all those drivers who will be rotating during your trip.

It is also good to carry your road side assistance numbers, insurance agents contact number etc though it is far easier these days to search and find it using your smart phone.

Additional documents include a road atlas just in case you don’t have a GPS (consider one) fitted on to your vehicle.

Additional Tip: Consider becoming a AAA member, if roadside assistance is not part of your insurance plan. It can save really save you from a lot of headache in the middle of the road

5. Repair kit and Quick fixes

The following would be the typical road trip check list on top of the points mentioned above:

  • Jack and basic toolkit
  • Breakdown triangle or reflector
  • Jumper cables for jump-starting
  • Tire sealants (Use only if you can’t change the tire)
  • A flash light
  • A Swiss knife
  • Warm clothes
  • Couple of gallons of water
  • Anti-nausea pills

6. Final check up and cleanup

Finally, make sure that any major issues such as braking problem or sound from drive shaft etc are fixed before your long journey. Check your windshield wipers for proper functioning, check the tire pressures once again and you are good to go.

On the previous evening, you might want to vacuum the cabin and trunk, give it a good wash and have the gasoline tank filled.

Now you can sleep peacefully and be ready for an enjoyable drive the next day!

Cell Phone Use While Driving – Safety Tips

Global usage of cell phones has been increasing at an alarming pace for the past two decades or so. We have witnessed the fixed line phones being replaced to a great extend by mobile phones for personal or individual use if not exactly for business purposes.

At the same time, the way in which people (mis)use cell phones has been quite disturbing as well. No matter where they are, mobile phones use – especially in the public – is sometimes annoying for other people be it in the lift, theater, on road or while driving.

Cell phone usage while driving in particular is quite dangerous for not only the people in the car but also people on the road.

Bad side of cell phone use while driving

Studies have revealed that the distraction related accidents caused while using cell phones have actually much more than driving under moderate alcohol levels (0.08% BAC) in the blood (Read: Mobile phones and driving safety). For a person who is speaking on the mobile phone while driving, the brake onset time and recovery time increase significantly while braking force and balance of the vehicle reduce drastically.

If you are involved in texting and driving simultaneously, the consequence is even worse as many fatal accidents of even celebrities and sports personnel have taken place during texting.

In many countries, cell phone usage while driving is an act that is restricted by law and hence even if you don’t meet with an accident you can be penalized or sometimes your driving license canceled.

What if you have to use cell phone while driving?

If for some reason, you have to make or receive an important call during driving please follow the safety tips below:

  1. When you have to make a call while driving, please pull over and dial the number. Texting and punching in numbers requires you to take your eyes off the road and concentrate on the mobile keypad for a few seconds and that is good enough to cause an accident
  2. If you are using a hands free kit or bluetooth device in your car, go for the ones with voice commands enabled so that you can make or receive calls with lesser distraction
  3. Never do texting and driving simultaneously. Make a hands free call instead, if it is an unavoidable call
  4. Please note that hands free doesn’t mean that you are absolutely safe. Talking on the handsfree device can still cause accidents depending on how involved you are with the chat. As much as possible, you have to avoid phone calls during driving. By the way, several countries have already banned all types of phone usage – be it handfree or handheld. In the US itself, individual states have different set of rules and age bars on handsfree usage
  5. Please note that cell phone usage is just one of those things that causes accidents. Lighting a cigarette and putting on makeup while driving can be equally hazardous

Please remember, your life is much more valuable than a phone call, however important it is.