Florida Roads Dangerous When Wet – Precautions and Tips to Follow

If you have lived in Florida any length of time, you know about those sudden afternoon showers.  The days can be very hot. The roads had been polished and smooth by the oil spots on the road. The rain blends with the oil and rubber-dust deposits and it becomes a recipe for disaster. The intersections can be very dangerous spots where cars stop and start frequently. It takes a while for these areas to be saturated and be washed off the road.

Before you get on the road, here are some precautions to follow in addition to regular auto maintenance:

  1. Check tire tread as well as tire pressure.
  2. Wipers should be replaced at least once a year.
  3. Every car should have a good emergency kit.

While driving in rain, here are some helpful tips to avoid dangerous situations:

  1. Turn on headlights even if not raining heavy. Daytime running lights are also helpful.
  2. Adjust your speed to the wet roads. Don’t expect to go the same speed on roads that you would normally travel.  If it is raining don’t rush and allow for longer driving time if you need to be somewhere.
  3. Defog windows when needed.
  4. Stay toward middle lanes due to water pools in the outside lanes. If the water is deeper than the bottom of the door, find another route.
  5. When driving through water, drive slowly and break softly. After the puddle slowly tap breaks to help dry off pads.
  6. Drive in the tracks of the vehicles in front of you however do not follow too closely to trucks and buses that may spray more water in your line of vision.
  7. If unable to see the road or what is in front of you, you should pull over and wait for the rain to subside.

What to do if car starts to hydroplane or skid:

  1. If hydroplaning don’t brake suddenly or turn the wheel. This can cause you to go into a skid. Let off the gas slowly and try to steer straight. If braking is necessary, pump the brakes lightly (unless you have anti-lock brakes you can brake normally). Wait until you can feel the wheel on the road again.
  2. If you do start to go into a spin, don’t’ panic, take foot off gas slowly and steer the car in the direction you want to go. You may have to turn the wheel several times to keep the vehicle in a straight line. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, avoid braking. If you do have anti-lock brakes, break firmly as you steer into the spin.

In heavy rains the best way to remain safe of the roads is to avoid driving during the worst of the downpour. However, if driving is necessary, please use good judgment and the precautions and tips above to stay safe on the roads.

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Three Myths about Aging and Driving

Myth 1:
All older drivers are bad drivers.
The Truth:
As a group, older drivers are relatively  safe drivers.
With greater maturity, experience and good judgment, older drivers are most often safe drivers. While they do have more accidents per mile driven, especially after age 75, older drivers have fewer accidents overall – testimony to the
decision by many to limit their own driving.
It is true that older adults (including passengers and pedestrians) are more likely to be seriously injured or killed in accidents – but this is mainly because aging bodies are more vulnerable. An accident that a 30-year-old might walk away from with only minor injuries could result in death for an 80-year-old.
While we should all be concerned about the frequency of crash fatalities of older drivers, this should not be mistaken as proof that older drivers are dangerous. In fact, older drivers are more dangerous to themselves than to others.
This increased danger underscores how important it is for older adults to drive more carefully and cautiously; your stakes are higher – you have much more to lose if you’re in an accident.

Myth 2:
At a certain age, everyone will have to stop driving.
The Truth:
Age does not determine whether a person will have to stop driving. Safe driving is about health and ability – not age.
Two people who are the same age can have very different skills and abilities to drive safely. For example, the differences in skills between two 75-year-old drivers can be great – and much of that difference can be attributed to differences in fitness and health.
Few members of past generations, who had shorter lives and experienced greater health problems, even considered the possibility that they might be able to keep driving well into old age. Today, as we live longer and healthier lives, we want to stay mobile and involved – and continuing to drive becomes important to our ability to do that.
Studying the potential and the limitations of older drivers is relatively new in our society. As this science evolves, we are learning more and more about ways to keep drivers safe. For example, we now know that many people who have stopped driving (often after a health event) may be able to regain their ability to drive safely.

Myth 3:
When older drivers have difficulties with driving, they don’t want families involved.
The Truth:
If someone needs to talk to them about their driving, many older drivers would prefer to hear from a spouse or children.
If a spouse or other family member feels that an older driver is no longer safe, it’s time for a conversation. Limiting or stopping driving can be a very emotional topic for all involved. In research conducted by The Hartford and the
MIT AgeLab, older drivers expressed their preference for who should speak with them about their driving, if it becomes necessary. We found that:
• Married couples prefer to hear from a spouse or adult children. Outside the family, doctors are their top preference.
• Single older adults prefer to hear from doctors, closely followed by adult children.
• Most older adults put law-enforcement officials and other authorities low on the list.
For the conversation to be successful, it is also important that it be factual and well-planned.

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Techniques to Avoid Crashes

Most crashes are not inevitable. While some are beyond your control, you can do a lot to avoid, or at least reduce the effects of, many crashes. While a defensive driving program will teach you many useful techniques for avoiding accidents, a few of the most important methods are highlighted here.
Left turns at intersections: This is one of the major accident situations involving older drivers. That’s because there can be many elements demanding your attention, such as other cars, pedestrians, kids on bikes, or a changing light – and a driver who is trying torun it. Impaired depth perception and other vision changes can make this a treacherous situation. Exercise greater caution while making a left-hand turn or choose a route that avoids difficult turns.
Rollovers: These types of accidents are responsible for 33% of car fatalities. Of those killed in rollover crashes, nearly 75% were not wearing a safety belt. Vehicles that are narrow and taller, such as SUVs, pickup trucks and vans, have a greater likelihood of rolling over. This is another factor to consider when selecting a vehicle. Of course, always wear your safety belt and don’t speed.
Changing lanes: This type of accident is a major problem for adult drivers. As we age, we may have more difficulty turning our heads to look at cars approaching in an adjoining lane. Rear-view mirrors are important safety tools, but they’re not enough. Turn your head and look for approaching traffic in the lane into which you’ll be moving.
• Parking lots: It will be no surprise to anyone who has driven, even for a short period of time, that most parking lots are driving nightmares. Cars are backing up, often with the side views blocked by large vehicles, trucks or buildings; shoppers are hurrying to and fro without a glance left or right; and children newly released from the confines of their cars are running across driving lanes. The best advice:

– Park so that you can drive forward from your spot when it’s time to leave, if at all possible.
– Park farther away in the parking lot if you can, so you will have fewer cars and pedestrians to contend with as you depart.
– Drive very slowly in the lot and be prepared to stop quickly at every intersection, whether or not you have a stop sign.
– Watch for drivers who can’t be bothered driving in the established lanes, and who choose instead to follow their own direct route diagonally across the lot.
– Remember that you want to simply avoid an accident, not to show that you have – and intend to take – the right of way!

Cell phones and other electronic gadgets: Whether you’re talking on a cell phone, texting, using your laptop or any other device not related to driving, you will be distracted from the task at hand – safe driving. State traffic laws are beginning to catch up with the common use of electronic devices, often banning their use while driving. Pull over when you need to use any electronic device.
Dark, rainy nights: These driving situations are difficult at any age, and they’re especially dangerous for us as we age. By the time we reach our 40s and 50s, we have already noticed that our vision is less sharp on dark, rainy nights. Do your best to avoid driving in these conditions if you are uncomfortable. Now is the time to ask for a ride or, if possible, to put off the errand or visit until tomorrow.

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Teenage Driving Safety

Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility. Consider that over half of all motor vehicle accidents could be avoided if drivers would just make intelligent driving decisions. Teenagers are most at risk because they may not have the experience or maturity to be able to consider the consequences of their actions. It’s critical that good driving habits are formed early…they can last you a lifetime!

 Teens and their parents should take a few moments to review the following information. Hopefully, this will get you thinking about things you can do to make your driving as safe as possible:

Statistics that make you think twice

Automobile accidents are the number one killer of our nation’s youth.

Drivers under the age of 20 were involved in 13% of all accidents, yet they account for only 5% of all drivers.

5,000 teenagers die each year from auto accidents.

Alcohol is responsible for almost half of all teen motor vehicle deaths.

25% of all teen accidents involve speeding.

Half of all teenage traffic fatalities occur between 6:00 p.m. Friday and 3:00 a.m. Sunday.

In one year, drivers 19 and under were involved in close to 3 million motor vehicle accidents.

The price of a bad decision can include injury to yourself or others, loss of life, loss of life style or loss of personal freedom.

Ways to Prevent Accidents

While no one has full control over the circumstances surrounding a motor vehicle accident, there are things that can be done to reduce your chances of being the cause or being involved in one. Here are some smart decisions you can make while you’re behind the wheel:

Always pay complete attention. Avoid cell phone use and putting on make-up in vehicle while driver.

 Drive defensively. If you assume that other drivers are not as skilled and thoughtful as you are, you will instinctively become more careful and cautious when on the road.

Try not to speed. When you speed, you have less time to react, less time to make the right decision.

Never drink and drive. Alcohol can seriously impair your decision-making skills and reaction time.

Take the keys away from friends who have been drinking.

Give friends rides home if they have been drinking.

Ways to keep insurance premiums for teens as low as possible

A number of factors are taken into consideration when insurance companies set rates for automobile policies. Among those factors are the type of vehicle and the age, gender and driving record of the insured. Companies pay close attention to the number of accidents a driver has had and the traffic tickets (from speeding, running a stop sign, etc.) received. In their view, past performance serves as a meter for future behavior — therefore, these drivers pose a higher risk.

 While you have no control over your age or gender, you can influence your driving record by forming and maintain good driving habits. Here are some other ways you might be able to save on premiums:

 Are you a good student, B average or better? Most companies offer discounts for these students.

Complete a driver’s training course. Teens who take Driver’s Ed are considered safer drivers than the average teen.

The longer you drive, the more experienced you become.

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Buses, Bikes and Cars: Keeping Children Safe

It’s no secret that children view the world differently from adults. They don’t have the skills necessary to analyze dangerous situations or the consequences of their actions. It’s our responsibility as adults and parents to teach them the right way to do things through constant discussion and reminders. By creating good habits from the start, we may be able to prevent accidents from happening. The following tips should be helpful and discussed often with your children: 

Automobile safety: Be aware of children 

Did you know that one out of four pedestrian-vehicle collisions involves a child under 15 years of age. Most fatalities occur among those between ages 5 and 9.  They may be told, but still don’t understand the threat of vehicles to their safety.  

AAA recommends that you keep the following safety tips in mind:  

  • Follow all traffic signs and symbols.
  • Drive slowly near schools, playgrounds and residential areas.
  • Watch for signs that children are in the area, such as buses, bikes, safety patrols and crossing guards.
  • Stop and leave adequate space between your vehicle and a stopped school bus regardless of the direction in which you are traveling.
  • Watch for students rushing to catch their bus.
  • Use extra care when the weather is inclement or when the sun impairs your vision.  

Bus safety for motorists

 

  • Know your state’s school bus laws and obey them. Generally, flashing yellow lights mean caution, the bus is about to stop. Flashing red lights mean stop, children are getting on or off.
  • When red lights are flashing, all traffic (in both directions) must stop.
  • Failure to obey school bus laws carries hefty fines that vary from state to state. In Connecticut, for example, fines of up to $500 are assessed for the first offense. Second offenses carry fines of up to $1,000 and 30 days in jail. Also, convicted drivers face cancellation of their current auto insurance policies and find it extremely difficult to get future coverage.  

Bus safety for students 

The Connecticut School Bus Drivers Alliance recommends these simple bus safety rules:

  • Arrive at your bus stop on time.
  • Wait for the bus in a safe place, away from the curb.
  • Enter the bus in an orderly manner and take your seat.
  • Listen to and follow all of your bus driver’s instructions.
  • Remain seated while the bus is in motion.
  • Keep the aisle clear at all times.
  • Do not throw objects inside the bus or outside the window.
  • Be sure to tie your shoes and pack all papers inside your bag before getting off the bus.
  • Do not stand or walk behind the bus since the driver can not see you.
  • Meet your parents on the same side of the street that the bus lets you off.
  • If you must cross the street when boarding or leaving the bus, be sure to walk where you can see the driver (and therefore the driver can see you!). Wait for the driver’s signal for you to cross, making sure that you look both ways for cars.  

Safe biking 

Every day at least one child dies in a bike-related accident, and another 1,000 are seriously injured. Contrary to popular belief, most of these injuries are caused by simple falls due to road conditions and not from car collisions. Many of these injuries can be avoided if cyclists just use proper equipment for protection, follow the rules of the road and remember to treat their bicycles with respect.

Here are some simple rules you should review with your children:

  • Bikes are vehicles, not toys. Treat them as such.
  • Always wear your helmet. A properly fitted bicycle helmet can reduce your child’s risk of serious head injury by 85%. In many states, wearing a helmet while riding a bike is the law!
  • Wear reflectors on your clothing after dusk.
  • Walk you bike across busy intersections.
  • Keep your bike in good shape, especially the brakes.
  • Follow the rules of the road just like all other vehicles.
  • Don’t drive against traffic…drive on the same side of the road as cars.
  • Obey all stop signs and traffic lights.
  • Don’t ride more than one person to a bike.
  • Don’t ride at night when drivers can’t see you.
  • Don’t ride in the street unless you know the rules.
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Spring Showers Bring Driving Safety Hazards

The snow and ice have melted and the hazardous road conditions are behind us. Or are they? Most people don’t consider or realize that wet roads can be just as slick as snow-packed or ice-covered roadways. In fact, rain is the most common adverse-weather condition. Despite this, drivers often overlook the dangers of driving in rain. The hazards associated with rain include:

  • Slippery road surfaces
  • Wet brakes
  • Reduced visibility
  • Traffic congestion

Compensating for these hazards by reducing your speed and increasing your following distance is essential. Also, watch for pools of water on the road. Hydroplaning occurs when tires ride above the road surface on a thin layer of water or oil. Speed, water, tire-tread depth, tire air pressure, and road surface characteristics are factors that influence whether a vehicle is at risk of hydroplaning. It’s possible for vehicles to hydroplane at speeds as low as 30 miles per hour or lower depending on various factors. Watch for other motorists who are speeding or exhibiting aggressive driving behavior, and who may be more likely to lose control of their vehicles. Turn on your lights to help ensure other motorists can see your vehicle.

Fog and smoke also can present a serious and unexpected hazard, sometimes greatly reducing visibility in just seconds. Many serious car and truck pile-ups have occurred as a result of thick fog or smoke. Watch for fog to accumulate in low-lying areas. The potential hazards of fog and smoke include:

  • Reduced visibility
  • Headlight glare
  • Sudden traffic congestion
  • Vehicles stopped on the roadway

When approaching fog or smoke, slow down to ensure there is enough space to stop safely if you encounter slowed or stopped traffic. Use your low-beam headlights. When visibility is severely reduced, consider parking in a safe place and waiting for conditions to improve.

It’s important to plan ahead and be prepared before you head out on the road. Are your windshield wipers working? Tires inflated properly? Head lights working properly? Remember to adjust your speed and following distance in all adverse weather conditions. Also, remember to never use your cruise control in wet or slippery conditions. Do not take chances when weather and road conditions deteriorate. Drive with caution and watch for other motorists who lack the skill or experience to drive safely. Most importantly, under severe conditions, finding a safe place to park and waiting for conditions to improve may be your safest option.

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Airbag Safety

Virtually all new cars have airbags, and they’re saving lives. They’re reducing driver deaths by about 14 percent,and passenger bags reduce deaths by about 11 percent.  People who use safety belts may think they don’t need airbags.  But they do. Airbags and lap/shoulder belts work together as a system, and one without the other isn’t as effective. Deaths are 12 percent lower among drivers with belts and 9 percent lower among belted passengers. But there also are problems with airbags. Inflating bags have caused some serious injuries and deaths.
Position Is What Counts
Serious inflation injuries occur primarily because of people’s positions when airbags first begin inflating.  Anyone, regardless of size or age, who’s on top of, or very close to, an airbag is at ri sk. Most airbag deaths have involved people who weren’t using belts, were using them incorrectly, or were positioned improperly. 

People without belts or using them incorrectly, especially passengers, are at risk because they’re likely to move forward during hard braking or other violent maneuvers before crashes. Then they’re likely to be very close to, or on top of, airbags before inflation begins.  Improperly positioned people at risk include drivers who sit very close to the steering wheel — 10 inches or closer— and infants in rear-facing restraints in front seats.
Understanding that airbag injury risk is related to position leads to a few simple steps that can eliminate the risks without sacrificing airbag benefits.
Kids in the Back
Don’t put a rear-facing restraint in the front seat. Starting with the first trip home from the hospital, put an infant in the center back seat.  Make sure the rearfacing restraint is tightly secured to the vehicle with an adult safety belt and the baby is buckled snugly in.
If there’s no choice but to put a baby in the front seat, then an on/off switch for the passenger airbag is essential.  But before you do this, remember the back seat is safer. Even without airbags, kids riding in back are much less likely to be killed. Now riding in back is even more important because it keeps children away from inflating airbags.
When babies outgrow their rear-facing restraints, they should graduate to forward-facing ones or booster seats attached to a vehicle’s back seat with an adult safety belt.  As kids later graduate to adult belts, proper restraint use still is essential. Don’t put the shoulder portion of a belt behind a child or under the arm. And don’t let a youngster do this either, because it compromises protection.  A lap belt should be positioned so it’s low and snug across a child’s hips, not up over the abdomen.

 Older kids should continue riding in a back seat. Only if there are too many children to put them all in back should a child be allowed to ride up front. Then make sure the seat is all the way back and the child is securely buckled and sitting back in the seat. Leaning forward to, for example, fiddle with radio dials can put a child at risk. If you worry about keeping a child sitting back, you may wish to consider getting an on/off switch for the passenger airbag.
Adults: Buckle Up and Sit Back
It isn’t your size, gender, or age that determines risk.  It’s position in relation to an airbag. Most adults can virtually eliminate the risk by buckling up. Neither short women nor elderly drivers are especially vulnerable if they use safety belts and sit at least 10 inches from the steering wheel.
Belted drivers potentially at risk of serious airbag injury are those sitting very close to the steering wheel.  But the same drivers would be at risk without airbags because they’re likely to hit the steering wheel hard —usually with the face — in a serious crash. They can reduce the airbag risk without sacrificing the benefits by sitting back and away from the wheel.
Most drivers, even short ones, can get at least 10 inches from the steering wheel and still reach the pedals. The problem often is that drivers sitting closer are leaning forward instead of sitting back in their seats. They need only sit back. The few who cannot get 10 inches from the steering wheel and still comfortably reach the pedals may wish to consider pedal extenders.
On/Off Switches for Airbags
The federal government has set criteria for the very few cases when airbag on/off switches may be needed to avoid injury risk. But getting a driver airbag switch makes sense only when someone — for example, a very short person — has tried various positions and cannot comfortably drive while sitting back and away from the steering wheel. A woman late in pregnancy who cannot get her abdomen away from the steering wheel also may wish to get permission for a switch based on medical need.  But remember that in a serious crash without an airbag, sitting so close to the wheel means a high risk of hitting it.

Most 1998 and later cars have redesigned airbags with less powerful inflators that reduce injury risk. In these cars, there’s probably no need to get an on/off switch for a driver airbag even if you cannot get 10 inches from the wheel. Still, it’s best to sit back and away from an airbag.
On the passenger side, there’s no significant airbag injury risk for belted adults sitting back in the seat. The risk for infants and children can be eliminated by ensuring they ride in a back seat, properly restrained. The back is safer anyway.
So should you even consider getting an on/off switch for a passenger airbag? Rarely — for example, when an infant with medical problems requires constant observation and the driver is the only other person in the vehicle. Then there might be no choice except to put the baby up front, and the airbag would present a risk. Of course, paying constant attention to a baby distracts from driving and involves its own risks.
Another group is parents who transport too many infants or small children to put them all in back and are concerned about keeping the child in front sitting back and away from the airbag. In this case, you may wish to get an on/off switch. If you do get one, remember to use it correctly. Remember to turn off the airbag when an infant or child must ride in front.
The decision about airbag on/off switches should be made with the facts in mind. Then it becomes clear that getting a switch rarely is necessary. Just take the simple precautions spelled out in this publication to eliminate the potential risk.
Future Is Advanced Airbags
The problem of serious inflation injuries isn’t going to be with us forever. Most new models have redesigned airbags, and future airbag technologies will reduce the risk even among people who have moved forward before airbags inflate. Sensors will detect rear-facing restraints and automatically switch off passenger bags. Inflation rates will be tailored to crash severity. More advanced airbags could recognize people’s positions just before inflating and reduce the force if someone is in position to be harmed.

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Safety Tips While Driving

  • Pull Off the Road
    Don’t drive while calling or texting; pull off the road to a safe location.
  • Use Speed Dialing
    Program frequently called numbers and your local emergency number into the speed dial feature of your phone for easy, one-touch dialing. when available, use auto answer or voice-activated dialing. 
  • Never Dial While Driving
    If you must dial manually, do so only when stopped. Pull off the road, or better yet, have a passenger dial for you. 
  • Take a Message
    Let your voice mail pick up your calls in tricky driving situations. It’s easy—and safer—to retrieve your messages later on.
  •  Know When to Stop Talking
    Keep conversations on the phone and in the car brief so you can concentrate on your driving. if a long discussion is required, if the topic is stressful or emotional, or if driving becomes hazardous, end your conversation and continue it once you are off the road.
  •  Keep the Phone in Its Holder
    Make sure your phone is securely in its holder when you are not using it so it does not pop out and distract you when you are driving.
  • Don’t Take Notes While Driving
    If you need to write something down, use a tape recorder or pull off the road.
  • Don’t Eat or Drink While Driving
    Spills, both hot and cold, can easily cause an accident. If you have to stop short, you could also be severely burned.
  •  Groom Yourself At Home
    Shaving, putting on makeup, combing your hair or other forms of preening are distractions and should be done at home, not while driving. 
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    Tips for Teen Drivers

    Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility. Consider that over half of all motor vehicle accidents could be avoided if drivers would just make intelligent driving decisions. Teenagers are most at risk because they may not have the experience or maturity to be able to consider the consequences of their actions. It’s critical that good driving habits are formed early…they can last you a lifetime!

     Teens and their parents should take a few moments to review the following information. Hopefully, this will get you thinking about things you can do to make your driving as safe as possible:

    Statistics that make you think twice

    Automobile accidents are the number one killer of our nation’s youth.

    Drivers under the age of 20 were involved in 13% of all accidents, yet they account for only 5% of all drivers.

    5,000 teenagers die each year from auto accidents.

    Alcohol is responsible for almost half of all teen motor vehicle deaths.

    25% of all teen accidents involve speeding.

    Half of all teenage traffic fatalities occur between 6:00 p.m. Friday and 3:00 a.m. Sunday.

    In one year, drivers 19 and under were involved in close to 3 million motor vehicle accidents.

    The price of a bad decision can include injury to yourself or others, loss of life, loss of life style or loss of personal freedom.

    Ways to Prevent Accidents

    While no one has full control over the circumstances surrounding a motor vehicle accident, there are things that can be done to reduce your chances of being the cause or being involved in one. Here are some smart decisions you can make while you’re behind the wheel: Read More…

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