Practice Makes Perfect: Driving at Night

Night drivingTeens have returned to school, and Fall is right around the corner. As the days get shorter, it’s a great opportunity for new drivers to reflect on the dangers and challenges of driving at night, and practice their defensive driving techniques after dusk.

Night time driving accounts for about 25% of all driving, and there is usually significantly less traffic during these hours, but approximately 55% of all driving fatalities occur after dark. Night driving presents additional challenges due to reduced visibility, driver fatigue, and even a higher number of intoxicated drivers on the road:

  • Traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day.
  • The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was four times higher at night than during the day (NHTSA).
  • Nearly 3 out of 4 pedestrian deaths occur during the nighttime (70%), and many involve alcohol (NHTSA).

Florida officials recognize that new drivers need to practice night driving after mastering defensive driving basics. In Florida, if you hold a Learner’s License, you may only drive during daylight hours during the first three months, and until 10 p.m. thereafter, always with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and occupies the front passenger seat. To earn your Intermediate License (operator’s license) at 16 years old, a parent or guardian must certify that you have at least 50 hours of behind the wheel driving experience, of which 10 hours must be at night. For more information on graduated driver licensing requirements in Florida, visit the Florida DHSMV website.

Now that you understand the risks, here are some safety tips for driving at night:

  • Make sure all of the lights on your car are visible and working. Check to make sure that lights are working properly; make sure they aren’t caked with mud, snow or other debris that can make you less visible to other drivers on the road.
  • Reduce your speed and following distance, just as you would in bad weather. It can be more difficult to judge distance or other vehicle speeds at night.
  • If you are drowsy, do NOT drive at night. A drowsy driver may have slower reaction times, and falling asleep at the wheel can be deadly.

For even more tips on night driving, review these safety tips from Popular Mechanics. What other tips would you give new drivers for safe night driving?

Resources

Teen Drivers: How to Handle a Traffic Accident

GDL Institute Blog

Teen_Driver_AccidentTeen drivers are more likely than experienced drivers to be involved in a motor vehicle collision. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash (CDC). It’s no wonder that parents are concerned about their kids driving safely. The driving techniques you learned in your TLSAE course will prepare you to drive safely and defensively. But, a traffic accident is just that, an accident. When you obtain your driver’s license, talk with your parents about driving expectations, and what you should do in the event of an accident. They will be able to offer your advice and guidance, and may even have you sign a Parent/Teen Driving Contract.

If you find yourself involved in a minor collision, it can be scary, but you may find the following tips…

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The Road to a Driver Permit: I Finished My Drug & Alcohol Course – Now What?

Final2Summertime is the perfect time to get down to the business of getting your learner’s license. What could be than going to the beach in the Florida sunshine? DRIVING to the beach in the Florida sunshine! If you’re ready to get started, make sure you have everything covered. Do you know the process?

First up – The mandatory Drug & Alcohol Course!

Florida requires all teens to complete a Drug and Alcohol course (TLSAE course) and a learner’s permit exam before getting a learners license. The TLSAE course is always available online, 24/7, at gdlinstitute.org. Don’t worry – It’s fun, it’s convenient, and it will only take about four hours to complete. That’s just one afternoon of learning – or you can split it up if you’d prefer. The course saves your progress as you go, so you can finish in small pieces. Once you’ve passed your course, you’re well on your way. Next up, your permit exam!

So what’s on the exam? Where do I take it?

The official permit exam includes 50 multiple choice questions about traffic laws and signs. To pass, you must answer at least 40 of the questions correctly (80%). GDL Institute offers both the TLSAE course and the learners permit exam online. With this option, it is easy to take the training and test in your own home – low stress, on your schedule, and no waiting in line.

The DMV is the next stop –What can I expect?

After completing and passing the permit exam, you’ll have to make a visit to the DMV. Come prepared! Save time – you can make an appointment with your local Florida DHSMV office by visiting their website and registering. At your appointment, you will be required to take a vision test and a hearing test. How’s your vision? To pass, you must have 20/40 (or better) vision in each and both eyes, with or without corrective lenses.

Don’t forget to bring the appropriate documents for identification with you. The list of approved documents may be found at the Gather Go Get site.

Learner’s License Time! What should I know?

You did it! Once you’ve completed the process, you’ll have a learner’s license of your own and can begin practicing behind the wheel. Remember, you will not be able to drive alone, on your own yet. With a learner’s license, you can only drive with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and occupies the front passenger seat AT ALL TIMES. This is your chance to practice and build your driving skills. Congratulations!

Resources

Memorial Day Kicks Off ‘100 Deadliest Days’ on Florida Roadways

florida driver trainingSchool is out! And with that, teens are taking advantage of the break from studies to take their Drug and Alcohol course and permit exam. It is a great time to get started on driving practice. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the extra time off and summer sunshine to practice new driving skills. However, summer isn’t quite as carefree as it seems. There are more fatal accidents during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day than any other time of the year. All drivers, especially new drivers, should take extra care to drive defensively this summer.

If you are a parent, consider setting important driving guidelines for your teens. To set expectations, you and your teen can sign a parent/teen agreement to lay out any consequences for violating rules. This sample agreement and other helpful parent resources are available on our website.

If your teen is planning to practice behind the wheel this summer, help them to focus on basic driving techniques and good driving habits:

  • Buckle up for safety.
  • Practice driving in different weather conditions, and times of day: sunny and rainy driving conditions as well as some practice driving after dark. For more tips on driving in wet weather, check out our blog post “Spring Has Sprung – Drive Safe in those April Showers”.
  • Hazard recognition is important. Keep your eyes on the road and practice scanning ahead to prepare for upcoming hazards such as animals crossing the road, potholes, construction zones and more.

And remember, teens often look to their parents or guardians for examples and will pick up on any of your own bad driving habits. Set a good example by turning off or silencing the ringer on your phone, keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, and maintaining a safe speed and following distance. Practice makes perfect!