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You are Here:  Traffic School »  Defensive Driving Adventures »  March 1 to 7, 2005

Defensive Driving Adventures - March 1 to 7, 2005

Driving defensively is not natural. You want to get where you're going - and fast. If you follow all the defensive driving rules you know it's going to take you longer or least it feels that way. At the Florida Drivers Association we talk to hundreds of drivers a day and hear some amazing stories - driving stories.

March 6th, 2005 - Hogs on the Highway

Florida roads and highways will have a little extra excitement for the next few weeks. It's March and that means hogs, lots of them. Not the four legged kind. The two wheeled variety known as Harley Davidson. Motorcycle lovers from all corners of the globe are making their yearly pilgrimage to Daytona. So if you come upon 100 motorcycles in a caravan don't assume it's the Hells Angels - and don't assume it's not.

From the Iron Horse Saloon to the Daytona Speedway March 4th through the 13th is packed with all things motorcycle. If you love motorcycles and big crowds, head on over. Otherwise avoid it. Highlights include the endless parade of awesome bikes, the 64th Daytona 200, and Kickstand City. The race takes place on Saturday on the just redesigned 2.95 mile course.

Kickstand City is a weeklong party featuring musical talent from Travis Trigg, Dave Mason, Dee Snider and Twisted Sister, and more. My last trip to bike week started on a cold rainy night on the back of my buddies panhead. It ended around a warm fire at the Iron Horse drying out my boots. A great memory that I'd rather not repeat. Keep an extra eye open for bikers this week and drive safe.

March 4th, 2005 - 16 Year Old Drivers, The Dangerous First 3 Months

This is a warning to 16 year old drivers and their parents. The first three months (maybe a little longer) that you are driving are very dangerous. Here is how the phone call goes:

"My son (or daughter) just got into an accident. He also got a ticket a month ago. What should I do? Is he going to lose his drivers license?"

We see two general approaches taken by new drivers. Some are overly cautious. They recognize the danger and responsibility of driving. These new drivers may make a mistake like hitting a parked car or backing over the mailbox. But generally, 16 year old drivers that are cautious are safe.

Dangerous teen drivers start with what we call a Yahoo attitude. They have just gone from their restricted license to no restrictions (as they see it). They are cocky, they speed, and they typically have several kids with them. When out of their parent's site they drive recklessly. These new drivers are dangerous. It is not unusual for these 16 year old drivers to get a speeding ticket (or two), and get into an accident in the first three to six months they are driving.

The Statistics for 2003 from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles: Drivers 15 to 19 are twice as likely to get into an accident than drivers age 25 to 49 and three times more likely than older drives.

Our recommendation is to set some very strict rules with specific penalties. You may want to consider a driving contract between you and your teen driver.

March 2nd, 2005 - Stupid Stop Signs Can be Stopped

Ok, the signs themselves are not stupid but some dip stick put up them up. You know that scene in a movie where a red light sits in the middle of nowhere. No buildings, no trees, no cars for what looks like 1000 miles in every direction. Well someone decided to put up a 4 way stop on the south end of Mapp road in Martin County - not exactly a hot bed of traffic. Martin County is the county north of Palm Beach and includes the city of Stuart.

According to local news papers the purpose of the stop sign is to calm traffic. People speed down this road all the time. A better approach might be to park a sheriff on the corner and write a few speeding tickets - that will calm things down.

This Stop Sign is so far off the road that the first time I passed it without even noticing. The second time I slowed down a little and wondered if it was for me. Then I stopped nervously looking in my rear view mirror. If I didn't get it the car cruising up behind me probably won't. Sure enough someone didn't. A few days later I came across a pile of shattered tail lights. One car stopped and another did not. It plowed into the stopped car at 40MPH. Then it happened again two days later - another crash.

Today a light up sign appeared that says "Stop Signs to be Removed March 3rd". A loud outcry from the surrounding community and two accidents is all it took to get rid it. Kudos to the folks who made this happen and a slap on the head to Martin County Florida.

The Statistics for 2003 from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles: Drivers 15 to 19 are twice as likely to get into an accident than drivers age 25 to 49 and three times more likely than older drives.

Our recommendation is to set some very strict rules with specific penalties. You may want to consider a driving contract between you and your teen driver.

Feb 28, 2005 - You're No NASCAR Driver - Tailgating and the Swoop

We love the Daytona 500. It's a showcase of unbridled speed, the awesome Daytona speedway, and Florida sunshine all wrapped up into a weekend of driving adventures. The drivers are amazing. They fly along at 185 MPH 1-inch apart, recover from spin outs with ease, and walk away from 10 car pileups as if nothing happened. They also gas up and get four tires changed in 13 seconds. They're professionals. You, on the other hand are not.

Offensive Not Defensive Driving

Drafting is great on a race track. You ride so close to the car in front of you that they pull you along saving you gas. On a residential road this is not a good idea. It's called tailgating. Primarily this is dangerous because the driver in front of you may actually STOP. When a Nascar driver wrecks his car, he just gets another one. And he doesn't have to worry about a ticket or his auto insurance. You on the other do. Stay 1 car length for each 10 MPH you are traveling. At 40 MPH you should be at least 4 car lengths (not 4 feet) behind the car in front of you.

If you do tailgate your not only reducing your ability to react your distracting the driver in front of you. Unless there is something seriously wrong with you tailgaters annoy you and distract you.

Side Note

Having personally interviewed Jeff Gordon (he won the 500) I can tell you he is a nice guy. Even if he's not you're favorite driver - he's still a nice guy and like all the drivers must have nerves of steel.

The Swoop Can Get You in Trouble

You know that move when a car flies by you, swerves in front of you and quickly slows down. This move - called the swoop - is really dangerous. Performing this move can not only get you into a nasty accident it can put your driver's license in serious jeopardy.

We got a call today from a panicked mom. Her 16 year old just got 6 points in a single incident. Seems he was speeding and swooped in front of a car. The Sheriff who witnessed this gave him two traffic tickets - speeding and improper lane change. Add them up and its six points and for a driver under 18 a suspended license. They’re checking to see if taking one of our traffic school courses can save his license. More on this tomorrow.