Tuesday, September 10, 2013

U.S. Education Secretary: Later School Start Times Make Better Students, Safer Drivers

Research has found that students forced to start school in the early morning aren't at their best, and don't do as well on tests. They also are not as alert, and the result is an increase in at-fault automobile accidents.

"Teen brains have a different biology," states Kyla Wahlstrom, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Education Improvement. She has studied teens' sleep cycles and learning for the past 17 years, and has concluded that a rested student is a better student. Things such as absenteeism, depression, obesity, drop-out rates and even auto accidents are reduced when students get a good night's sleep.

Recently, Education Secretary Arne Duncan endorsed a later start to the school day, suggesting that a later start to the school day could help teenagers be alert and function better in class. He said that school districts would still be free to set their own start times, but that research has proven that a later start means better students.

While most medical professionals suggest that students get between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep each night, The Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia surveyed students and found two-thirds of them were getting seven hours of less each night.

The problem is that school start times are controlled by administrators who are concerned about bus schedules and after-school activities, which would be pushed back by the later times.

"So, often we design school systems that work for adults and not for kids," Duncan told NPR's "The Diane Rehm Show."

Drowsy teens become drowsy drivers, and then translates to an increase in traffic accidents, too.

"Fifty years ago we learned that hungry kids don't do well in school. Now we know that sleepy children don't do well in school,"said Joseph Buckhalt, a distinguished professor at Auburn University's College of Education. "Now we have to do something about it."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Teen Drivers with Teen Passengers at Greater Risk

A recent study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that the more teen passengers a teen driver had in the car, the riskier the driving and the greater potential for them to be involved in a serious accident.

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and parents need to be aware of the potential for their teen to be hurt -- or even killed -- in a car full of young people, whether they're driving or not.


The AAA Foundation found that speeding among teens alone in their car occurred 30% of the time. This rate increased to 44% when the teen driver had two teen passengers, and 48% with three or more teens in the vehicle.

Late-Night Driving

Also, teens who got behind the wheel late at night (from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.) increased from only 17% when they were alone, to 22 percent with two teen passengers, and to 28% with three or more teens in the car with the driver. Numerious studies have shown that driving at night is considerably more dangerous than driving during daylight hours.


Alcohol also was more prevalent with other teens in the car. When a teen was driving alone, alcoholic beverages were present 13% of the time, but with two teen passengers, the rate went up to 17%, and 18% with three or more passengers under 20 years old.

"Mixing young drivers with teen passengers can have dangerous consequences," says Dave Overstreet, public affairs director for AAA Washington. "AAA urges parents to set and consistently enforce family rules that limit newly licensed teens from driving with young passengers."

Recent legislation in numerous states, including Washington, has restricted new teen drivers from carrying passengers under 20 years old. This, combined with more active parental control, will hopefully result in reduced teen accidents and fatalities.

Source: AAA of Washington

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New 'Good Samaritan' Law Protects Underage Drinkers

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed legislation that protects underage drinkers who call 911 for help by removing the fear of prosecution.

Washington joins 11 other states who have passed the so-called alcohol-related "Good Samaritan" laws. Colorado was the first state to approve the legislation in 2005. Six other states are currently working on passing a version of the policy.

Binge drinking is popular with underage kids.
Recent alcohol-related deaths are the impetus for the state legislation. Kenny Hummel, an 18-year-old Washington State University student, died in October 2012 after being found comatose in a WSU dorm room. His blood alcohol level was measured at .4 percent, which is five times the legal limit. His parents helped push the measure through the legislature, which offers protection from prosecution to underage drinkers who are in need of medical assistance.

Critics contend that passing this law only encourages underage drinking, by taking away the threat of prosecution to minors illegally drinking alcohol. Advocates, however, counter that it's better to allow minors who have been involved in binge drinking to get the medical attention they need, rather than dying from alcohol poisoning.

Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, who sponsored the legislation, stressed that underage drinking is not being encouraged, but the goal was to prevent unnecessary deaths from alcohol poisoning.  "We want young people to know that when they call 911, the only thing that's going to come is help," he said. "Not trouble."

The legislation was supported by the Liquor Control Board, the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, among others.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Teen Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes Often Take Others With Them

Teenage drivers are involved in a considerably higher rate of accidents than older drivers due to a number of factors, most notably their inexperience, speeding and being distracted while driving. While that growing statistic is alarming, what is tragic is the number of young lives cut short by the fatal accidents they are involved in. Even more devastating is the fact that frequently these young drivers take others with them when they are involved in a deadly vehicle crash.

The most recent figures available from the Institute of Highway Safety reflect this, and point to the fact that restricting passengers in teen driver's cars will help lower the death toll on our highways.

In 2008, Washington state had 34 drivers aged 15 to 20-years-old killed in auto accidents. But, also killed in those accidents were 21 passengers who were in the car, 17 occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash, and five people who weren't even in a car. That's 77 lives that were lost in one year involving teenage drivers in our state!

And Washington state isn't even one of the worst states for fatal teen accidents, ranking only 24th in 2008. Texas gets that grim distinction, with a total of 650 people dying in accidents that year involving teenage drivers. California was a close second, with 593 deaths.

In the United States in 2008, 6,428 people were killed in accidents involving teen drivers, with 2,739 of those young drivers dying in the accidents.

With those ghastly statistics in mind, legislators around the country have tightened restrictions on young drivers in an attempt to stem the carnage on U.S. highways.

For a complete list, by state, click here.

Source: National Institute of Highway Safety

Friday, April 5, 2013

Vehicle Service: What You Don't Know Can Cost You!

Today's automobiles are complex, computer-designed machines that need to be serviced periodically to keep them running dependably. But, the technological advances in car manufacturing have altered how much -- and how often -- you need to service your car. Some mechanics don't want you to know this, since it costs them money.

Years ago, vehicles required more frequent maintenance to keep them running well. The latest vehicles have been designed to eliminate much of this. In fact, some of the maintenance performed on cars by unscrupulous mechanics can actually harm your car!

Do It Yourself and Save Money

Even if you don't know a piston from a steering wheel, there are a number of simple services you can do yourself, rather than paying a service facility to do, since they'll charge you twice as much for the part as an auto store will. Things like windshield wipers, air filters and tail lights can be purchased and installed in a few minutes with just a screwdriver.

Many service facilities will insist that you need new wipers or an air filter. The fact is that air filters will usually last at least 20,000 miles and wiper blades have a life-span of from one to two years. Changing them more often is just throwing money away! Tail lights can be replaced by removing a couple of screws. (Although headlights can be replaced, too, they need to be adjusted properly after installation for safety and proper illumination at night. This task might be better left to a professional.)

Engine Service

Most mechanics want you to replace engine oil every 3,000 miles, but that's not necessary with today's automobiles. Manufacturers currently recommend oil changes every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Dirty oil is also an environmental hazard, so not only do you waste money, but if you change oil too frequently you're affecting the environment. That oil has to be disposed of, and not all mechanics do it properly.

Many service facilities will insist that you get your transmission "flushed" periodically. In the past, this was necessary to get rid of impurities that built up in the fluid. Now manufacturers do not recommend a transmission flush, since it could actually harm your car by putting too much pressure on its system.

Replacement Parts

If your car isn't running correctly, and you do need service, be wary of fast-talking mechanics that tell you that a big repair is necessary. Dishonest mechanics, aware that many people aren't well-versed in car maintenance, will agree to a repair that is either not needed, or is much too extensive for the problem. There have been documented instances where the mechanic has simply put the same part back in the car since there was nothing wrong with it. Before any service is performed, ask the mechanic to show you what the problem is, and always ask to see the part that was replaced.

Know Your Car

The unfortunate reality is that mechanics make money off your mechanical ignorance. While most vehicle service facilities are not dishonest, it’s easy for them to make a quick buck from what you don’t know. Your best bet is to learn about your car as much as possible to avoid the cost of a dishonest mechanic.

Source: drivesteady.com

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why Restricted Licenses for Teens Are Necessary

Teen Driver’s Graduated License Systems in Effect Throughout U.S.

Gone are the days when a 16-year-old could take his or her driving test and, if they passed, drive over and pick up their friends to head out for a 'spin'. Too many times these inexperienced drivers, with a car full of their friends, were involved in serious auto accidents or other driving violations. It was a lethal combination, and states were forced to institute restrictions on teen-age drivers in an effort to reduce fatalities.

Graduated licensing, designed to provide beginning drivers with an opportunity to gain experience behind the wheel under conditions that minimize risk, was introduced in New Zealand in 1987. All 50 U.S. states now have graduated licensing systems, although the systems vary in strength. Evaluations of graduated licensing systems in the United States and Canadia have shown they reduce crashes substantially.

A young driver is first required to complete a supervised learners period before obtaining an intermediate license that limits driving in high-risk situations until their 18th birthday. Only then can teens get a drivers license with full privileges. Washington state puts even more restrictions on young drivers, requiring teens to pass accredited driver training classes and have a clean driving record to lift restrictions before age 18.

Washington State Requirements

Learners Permits
To get a learners permit, you must be a minimum of 15 years of age, and be enrolled in drivers education classes; otherwise the minimum age is 15 years, 6 months. A learners permit allows you to drive with a licensed adult (21 or over) present in the vehicle at all times.
Restricted Drivers Licenses
You must be a minimum of 16 years of age and have passed a drivers education course; otherwise the minimum age is 18.

Before obtaining a license or restricted license, you must:
1. Wait a mandatory holding period of 6 months
2. Have a minimum of 50 hours of driving time, 10 of which must be at night

Restrictions during intermediate or restricted license stage:

Nighttime restrictions: Not allowed to drive during the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Passenger restrictions: For the first 6 months, no passengers younger than 20 years old allowed in your vehicle; second 6 months, no more than 3 passengers younger than 20 (Family members excepted unless otherwise noted.)

Minimum age at which restrictions may be lifted:

Nighttime restrictions: 17 years of age
Passenger restrictions: 17 years of age
Intermediate or restricted license holders with a crash or violation history are ineligible for an unrestricted licenses until age 18.

Source: Insurance Institute of Highway Safety

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Why are Teen Drivers Considered so High Risk?

Many teens and their parents cringe when confronted with the cost of obtaining auto insurance. How could the rates be so high when Emily or Ethan hasn’t even driven yet? They’re very responsible young adults, and promise to be careful drivers and obey all the laws.

The problem with that is, whatever their intentions, most teen drivers get behind the wheel of a car and think they can handle any situation, when in fact they cannot due to inexperience and poor driving habits. Many of them speed, text or talk on a cell phone, oblivious to the dangers, and don’t know how to handle unusual driving situations when they suddenly appear. Statistics bear this out; auto crashes are the leading cause of death among people 13-19 years old. Analyses of fatal crashes indicate that when it involves teen drivers, it’s more likely than not to be driver’s error. Furthermore, the crash risk among young drivers is particularly high during the first few months of getting a license.

Teenagers' fatal crashes are more likely to involve speeding than those of older drivers, and teenagers are more likely than drivers of other ages to be in single-vehicle fatal crashes. In addition, teenagers do more of their driving in smaller and older cars and at night than adults. In 2010, 17 percent of teenagers' deaths occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight, and nearly one in four (24%) occurred between midnight and 6 a.m. 55 percent of teenagers' fatalities occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, when weekends mean hanging out with other teens.

Not surprisingly, alcohol also contributes to the high rate of accidents involving teenagers. Among teenage drivers (16-19 years old) who were fatally injured in 2010, 26 percent of males and 19 percent of females had high Blood Alcohol Content (0.08 percent or higher), even though every state has a legal minimum alcohol purchasing age of 21 and a zero BAC threshold for teenage drivers.

At SAV-ON Insurance Agencies, we'd like to help you get the most affordable insurance possible. As an agency, we have more than 30 insurance companies to choose from, and can usually find you the best rate available. Call us at 888-867-2866 or go to www.sav-on.com and find out how much money we could save you!

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety