Rules for the Road: Be Prepared With a Roadside Emergency Kit for Your Car

roadside_emergency_kitOne of the most important things to remember about safe driving is that you should always be prepared for emergencies. It can happen to anyone; you could be involved in a fender bender, end up with a flat tire, run out of gas, breakdown due to engine trouble, or become stuck due to adverse weather conditions. For situations like this, an emergency kit can be a lifesaver.

Even if you have roadside-assistance coverage through your insurance provider or an auto club, you will need access to a phone in order to contact them, and you may have to wait on the side of the road before help arrives. A roadside emergency kit is intended to aid you in getting help. It can be used to signal your presence to other drivers who might not see you or your car’s lights on the side of the road. This is especially helpful in rainy or nighttime driving situations. A basic car kit should contain the following:

  • A cell phone. Just remember, do NOT use your phone while you are driving. A phone should always remain out of reach until your car is turned off or in park.
  • Food and water. Choose food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars. If you need to wait for help to arrive, make sure to have a snack on hand.
  • A blanket.
  • First aid kit. This will be especially helpful for any minor cuts or scrapes sustained in an accident.
  • In a cold environment, tools for snow removal. Keeping a small shovel, scraper and snow brush is key. Additionally, try keeping a box of kitty litter in your trunk to pour over snow if you become stuck. Kitty litter will help you to get the traction necessary to get free.
  • Tools to attract attention. A flashlight, whistle or roadside reflective hazard triangle can be used to call attention to your location if you are stuck on the side of the road. It is very important to warn other drivers of your presence on the shoulder, especially at night.
  • Tools for basic car maintenance and minor emergencies. It’s good practice to always have extra windshield washer fluid, a tire pressure gauge, spare tire, a set of jumper cables, and a fire extinguisher in your trunk. Better safe than sorry!

If you do need to use your emergency kit, remember to stay calm and remain safe. What other tools do you keep in your emergency car kit?

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

florida driver trainingSchool is almost 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!

This #DDAM – Don’t Let an Emoji Wreck Your Life

As anyone who has completed the Drug & Alcohol course knows, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in an auto accident than a non-texting driver. We all know that, in theory, a simple distraction – such as reading a text message or answering your cell phone can lead to devastating consequences if you’re behind the wheel. But, have you ever stopped to really consider just how much a few seconds of taking your eyes off the road to send a text can make a difference?

Just in time for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the NHTSA has launched new videos to show us just how dangerous distracted driving can be (Distraction.gov).

Here is an example of one of the new videos, which drives home the point that if you are texting, you’re not driving. What do you think?

Visit NHTSA’s YouTube channel to view the rest of the videos in the campaign. Then, report back! Let us know in the comments – which do you think is the most powerful?

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Commit to Driving Distraction Free

texting and drivingApril 1st signals the start of nationally recognized Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The goal of this event is to increase awareness of what happens when people don’t pay attention to the road while behind the wheel. In 2015 alone, 3,477 individuals were killed and 391,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes (Distraction.gov). As an online driver education provider, we here at GDL Institute, we take special care to instruction teenagers about safe driving habits. Young drivers face increased risk of becoming distracted. Cell phone use is highest among drivers aged 16-24. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted (Distraction.gov).

So what are the most common distractions? Drivers can be easily distracted by talking or texting on their phones, changing the radio station, applying makeup, eating, or even engaging in conversations with passengers in the vehicle.

Here are some tips to help condition yourself, or your teen driver, to focus on the road:

Be prepared before you begin your journey. Adjust your mirrors, seat, radio, and climate control and input your destination info into the GPS, before you begin driving.

  • Eat before you drive. This way, you won’t be tempted to snack while you are behind the wheel.
  • Turn off the ringer on your phone while you driving and place your phone out of reach. Out of sight, and out of mind. You can check any messages once you have reached your destination.
  • Talk to your teenagers about distracted driving. Encourage your family and friends to take the pledge not to drive while distracted.

Remember, not only is distracted driving a dangerous habit, texting while driving is illegal in Florida and most other states. This month, reflect on the truth that while driving is a privilege, it also comes with great responsibility.