Picture courtesy of StrebKR

You receive a text message on your cell phone while you are driving. You grab your cell phone, read the message, and start to write a reply. As you look at your phone and at the street in front of you back and forth, you wonder, is this legal? Or is this safe?

Consumer Reports has a good blog post about the legality of texting and reading text message while driving:

Currently, only Washington State has passed a law making it illegal to text and drive. More states are considering a similar ban, including New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and California. Nine out of 10 Americans in the Harris poll said they would support laws banning driving while texting. However, the same poll found that two thirds read messages while driving and more than half of them admit to sending messages from the driver’s seat. So, it seems that people know the potential hazards, but find it hard to resist the temptation to stay connected. Many of us are driving under the influence of technology.

However, even if it’s not illegal, should you do it? Continue with Consumer Reports blog:

Teens tend to be the group with the most risky driving habits. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-20 year old’s, according to NHTSA. A survey by AAA and Seventeen magazine found 61 percent of teens admit to risky driving. Forty-six percent of them say they text message and 51 percent talk on the phone while driving. A 2005 Melbourne Monash University study found that young drivers who text message take their eyes off the road four times more than other drivers and would veer out of their lane 63 percent more frequently.

In July, five teens were killed in an upstate New York crash. It was discovered that text messages were sent just prior to the accident. While it may not have been the primary cause of the accident, it may have been a contributor. The combination of teen driving inexperience and distraction can be a deadly mix.

Even if your state does not have a law making texting illegal, ask yourself: Is it worth it to put my own life and others in danger so that I can send a short text message? This video shows a guy who fell asleep and closed his eyes just for 5 seconds before he got into a crash. You can easily spend 5 seconds reading a message or sending a text.

If you really have to send a text message or to read the message, pull over and stop.

Often times, for a variety of reasons, we can be suckered into doing something we know is a bad idea simply because we don’t want to make waves with people. So what then? Say you’re in a situation where the driver of the car you’re in seems to be drunk, what’s your next move?

1. Assess the Driving Conditions. If the driver has only had one or two drinks in the course of a few hours they should be legally sober. They may be sober enough to drive down a wide, well lit, straight, and lightly trafficked road road. But the slight loss in reaction time might mean that driving down a 50 miles per hour, busy, two lane, unlit mountain road at 11 at night might mean that staying in the car is a really bad idea. Light traffic is safer than no traffic, as the brake lights of the car in front will give the driver something easy to follow.

2. Offer to Drive. If the driver seems slightly drunk but is not belligerent, you might simply offer to drive. You might think of telling them “I know you’re sober enough to drive, but I saw a lot of cop cars out earlier today and if we get pulled with me driving you won’t get a DUI.” If there is a third person in the car you might recommend that the third person take the wheel, this way it will be less personal, and you might be able to leverage enough peer pressure to get the tipsy person out from behind the wheel.

3. Find a Way out of the Car. If the person is really drunk and belligerent you’d be better off playing Russian Roulette than you would be staying in that car. If they are dangerously drunk you need to get out of there. Its tempting to demand that you be let out of the car, but creating a confrontation might make things worse. You should tell the person you’re feeling sick, think you might throw up and ask them to pull over (telling them you have to use the bathroom works too, but they probably won’t pull over as fast). Get out of the car and act like you’re trying to keep yourself from throwing up. Now that you’re out of the car you are in a much better bargaining position. If it’s safe, you can offer to drive, but you’re probably best off telling them that the fresh air feels good and you want to walk home. This might make them mad, but you’re out of the car and 90% in the clear. Once they drive off you can call to get a ride from someone else, or, if you’re in the middle of nowhere, dial 411 and see if you can get a ride from the local police.

4. Did I Mention Not Getting in the Car in the First Place? Don’t ever walk into a situation you don’t have at least two ways to walk out of. Know beforehand some people you can call to get a ride from, and if you’re at a party at an unfamiliar house, get the address from someone so you can tell it to whoever is coming to pick you up. When the drunk driver tries to get you in the car, let them know you’re not done partying for the night and you met someone who is offering you a ride.

Warning signals that you may be too tired:
1. You’ve been awake for more than 18 hours straight.
2. You find it hard to concentrate on the road.
3. You feel tempted to “rest your eyes,” or lean your head back.

Conditions to watch out for:
1. It’s dark.
2. The road your driving on is very straight with little variation in the scenery.
3. Road lights are at regular intervals. This can be very hypnotic.

Strategies:
1. The easiest and safest method is to stop and sleep. Realistically, there are a lot of reasons to not want to do this, but this method is the best to keep you alive. If possible avoid parking on the side of the road as you may get hit by another driver. Park in a well lit area. The best places to stop are on a well lit side streets, or even better a parking lot or rest area. When you are exhausted about 90 minutes of sleep is enough to safely get back up and running.
2. If you only have a short way to go, turn on the AC in your car to make it as cold as possible. Try and notice any differences in the road, and say them out loud, as this will keep your mind from drifting off.
3. Alternate your speed as you drive.
4. Caffeine is a short term burst but for a drive longer than a few minutes, but the effects can wear off too quickly to stay on the road safely.

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What happens when you get sleepy while driving AND when you do not wear seat belt? Watch the video and count how many seconds between when the driver closes his eyes, and when he wakes up. Notice that his eyes close at 0:05 and open at 0:10. Five seconds. That’s all it takes before he realizes he is in trouble.

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Rules Of The Road

These are the rules to live by when your on the road. Check out the video.

Hey all,

I found a pretty slick java based physics simulation that will let you see your reaction ability when trying to stop for a red light. Here’s a good post from Fu-Kwun Hwang of the Department of Physics at National Taiwan Normal University:

You see the brake light of the car in front of you just turned on.
You will try to hit the brake and slow down your car.
But, there is a small time delay before you really do that— your reaction time.
During that period of time, your car is still moving at the same HIGH speed!
If you do not want something VERY BAD happened,
What is minimum distance between front of your car and the rear of the car before yours?

Click on the picture to give it a whirl. It is simple to use. Change the unit to mile/hr. Type in the speed of the car. If you drive on a dry road, type 0.7 in the friction coef. If it is a wet road, it is 0.5 friction coef. Click start, and when you think it’s the right to hit the brake, click Brake. You’ll see the distance it takes for your car to stop. Hint: 1 m (meter) roughly equals to 1 yard.

Sometimes when we think about car crashes, we like to think, “It’s not gonna happen to me.” Well, automotive crashes ARE the top cause of death. According to the NHTSA, motor vehicle accident is the leading cause of death for those who are in the age groups of 4-7, 8-15, 16-20, and 25-34. No wonder that those of us who fall into those groups pay so much for our car insurance premiums!

Watch the video and read those tips to help prevent a car accident. It can help you prevent taking someone else life or yours.

The actors in this clip probably won’t win any awards for their performances. Still, this short video on driving under hazardous conditions by the California DMV has some useful information in it.

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Welcome to Crimson Concrete.  Over forty thousand Americans die in vehicle related crashes every year and we don’t want you to be one of them.  This project began in response to the grief of one family after the avoidable driving death of their teenage loved one.  We joined them in the common goal of taking the necessary steps to better educate others so that fewer families have to suffer the same loss.

Who this site is for:
This site is designed for use by new drivers, parents of new drivers, driver’s education teachers, and seasoned drivers seeking out new safe driving information.

How to Use:
This site is designed to increase your situational awareness in order to avoid dangerous driving situations before they occur.   Start here - play the sleepy driver video to see what really happens when you drive without a seat belt.  Next play the reaction time game. Then explore the features of this site.

  • Interesting articles
  • Eye opening videos
  • Personal experiences
  • Interactive games
  • Participate in surveys
  • Statistics

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