Help Decrease Traffic Jams by Using the Zipper Merge

April 9, 2017 12:04 pm

When you are on a highway and there is a lane closure up ahead, it is best to use all lanes until you reach the closure. Do not merge early! This adds to a traffic backup and can also lead to more accidents. Each car merge can be thought of as a separate intersection. Intersections slow things down. That’s why highways are so fast in general, there are on and off ramps but no intersections. When many cars decide to merge along different points on the same lane, this creates many mini-intersections, backing up both lanes of the highway. Instead, use all lanes and merge closer to the lane closure creating just one intersection. This method looks like a zipper, and so it is called the “zipper merge”.

Watch: MnDot Zipper Merge Video
Read more: MnDot Zipper Merge

Safe driving,
-Midway Driving School
“Training designed for nervous adults”

Well rested drivers get in far fewer accidents

March 26, 2017 11:42 am

Getting a good night’s sleep not only makes you feel better, but it can help you avoid a car accident. Drivers are at their best when they have had at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep the night before, according to a recent report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

From the report, compared to drivers who got 7-8 hours of sleep a night:

  • 6-7 hours had 1.3 times crash rate
  • 5-6 hours had 1.9 times the crash rate
  • 4-5 hours had 4.3 times the crash rate
  • Less than 4 hours had a 11.5 times the crash rate.

Read more:

Study, “Acute Sleep Deprivation and Crash Risk” :
NPR Article, “Drivers Beware: Crash Rate Spikes With Every Hour Of Lost Sleep”

Safe driving,
-Midway Driving School
“Training designed for nervous adults”

Anxiety Reducing Breathing Techniques

March 19, 2017 11:38 am

Deep breathing exercises can help you reduce overall anxiety. MDS suggesting practicing these techniques at home to de-stress before driving. If you feel the need to practice deep breathing and you are driving, we suggest finding a safe and well-lit place to park your vehicle first.

Just Breathe: Body Has A Built-In Stress Reliever – NPR
6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less – TIME
Breathing Techniques for Anxiety – Psychology Today

Safe driving,
-Midway Driving School
“Training designed for nervous adults”

Stay Back! – Tips for driving safely behind a snowplow

March 5, 2017 11:35 am

Winter driving means patience. Especially patience on icy roads and behind snowplows. Snowplows travel at slower speeds and have a limited field of view. Make sure to be 5-10 car lengths behind one (according to MnDOT 10 is preferred). Also be prepared for a snowplow to exit/enter the highway frequently or even to cross over a median.

Snowplows are here to make our roads safer! Let’s give them the room they need!

Read more winter tips from MnDOT
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/workzone/winter.html

Safe driving,
-Midway Driving School
“Training designed for nervous adults”

Black Ice – Tips for driving safely on Minnesota’s icy roads

February 12, 2017 11:34 am

Ice isn’t always visible on the roadway. When ice is hard to see we call it “Black Ice.” This can happen when precipitation falls and freezes onto the cold pavement or a melt and freeze occurs.

Black Ice and Icy road condition tips:

Slow down
Regardless of the speed limit, drive at a safe speed for icy roads. Go especially slow on bridges, overpasses, and tunnels. These may be icier than other parts of the road due to the air traveling above AND below the road. Also pay special attention to the road in the morning. The air warms faster than the pavement creating icier than expected road conditions.

Give your car space, and avoid braking on the ice
It is much harder to brake on ice, and ice may cause your car to skid. Make sure to give your car more room than you think you need between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. Also, turn off cruise control, so you are more actively engaged as a driver, and can give yourself more time to react and adjust as necessary.

Avoid distractions
Make sure you are ready to focus on the road with both hands on the wheel. Do not use your phone while driving. Texting while driving is both dangerous and illegal in Minnesota.

Read more about black ice from MnDOT
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/workzone/blackice.html

Safe driving,
-Midway Driving School
“Training designed for nervous adults”

Driving Tips for Construction Season

September 11, 2015 7:37 pm

Ah yes, it is the magical time of summer in Minnesota. Time to enjoy the MN State Fair or a last trip to the cabin. Maybe 18 holes of sunrise golf, or an evening picnic in your own backyard. However nice the weather is though, it is still construction season.  And this summer, we seem to have more than our fair share of road work.

Make use of these construction driving tips so you can spend more of your time enjoying the summertime rays and less of the summertime construction blues.

Check Google first (before you get into the car!)
Whether you’ve driven this route a thousand times before, it is a good idea to check Google Maps to see if  your route is taking longer than usual, or whether or not you need to select a new path to your destination. You can also check MNDOT’s site for road closures.

Give yourself extra time.
We speed and make poor decisions when we are hurried. Give yourself plenty of time this summer for the commute.

Obey construction speed limits.
Fines in construction zones are higher than on normal roadways. Err on the side of caution when it comes to speed in construction areas.

Minimize distractions.
No multitasking on the road! Staying free of distractions helps you stay alert; so turn down the radio, keep your eyes on the road, and your hands on the wheel.

Give yourself, and the next car, plenty of space
Giving yourself more space between your car and the one in front of you, gives you more time to react to changes in speed.

More construction driving tips at: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/fhwasa03012/

Enjoy the sun, and be safe!

-Midway Driving School
“Training designed for nervous adults”

What is “The Blind Spot?” And How Can I Manage It?

March 25, 2014 7:17 pm

You’ve likely heard the term “blind spot” from other drivers, or a driving instructor. So what is it, exactly? Very simply, a blind spot is any spot on the road that isn’t visible to a driver under normal driving conditions. Usually, it refers to the spaces to the rear of either side of an automobile as its traveling forward.

So, how can we combat this potentially dangerous part of driving? Thankfully, the folks over at the CarTalk.com website created a great step-by-step procedure for helping to mitigate blind spots by adjusting your mirrors. We’ve posted the link below.

Remember though, nothing replaces looking over your shoulder quickly before merging into another lane.

Happy safe driving,
-Midway Driving School

Winter Driving Tips

7:14 pm

Minnesota winters are long and tough. But Minnesotans are tougher! We still maintain our daily routines of work travel, outdoor activities and socializing. We’re mobile in the winter! However, the bitter cold, heavy snowfall and rapid swings in temperature make driving especially difficult. Here are a number of helpful tips to keep in mind as you venture out onto the roads during the cold and snowy months.

Make a Car Safety Kit

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety hundreds of Minnesotans become stranded on the road during bad winter weather. It is important to be ready for an unexpected delay due to a flat tire, car trouble or impassable conditions. Make sure your car has a dedicated place to store these items: jumper cables, a fleece blanket, a bottle of water, a flashlight, windshield scraper, a length of sturdy rope, a bag of sand, a first aid kit and, if space permits, a small shovel. It can also be helpful to place a few candy bars in your glove compartment, in case you’re really stranded.

Take Your Time

Plan to give yourself extra time on the road when you’re traveling during the winter. Accidents often occur when drivers are rushing to get to their location and push their driving ability past its limits. Peace of mind is worth those extra fifteen minutes!

Don’t Follow Too Closely

This is a great rule for every time you’re behind the wheel, but it’s doubly important during the winter. Because road conditions are unpredictable, give yourself an extra buffer between you and the car in front of you. A good rule for freeway driving is “the ten second rule.” When the car in front of you passes a sign, begin counting. If you pass the same sign before you reach the number ten, you’re following too closely.

No one can guarantee an accident-free winter of driving, but following these tips can go a long way towards improving your chances of having a safe winter on the road.

Happy and safe winter driving,
-Midway Driving School

Minnesota Seatbelt Laws Save Lives

September 2, 2013 6:46 pm

A few years ago, Minnesota lawmakers took a stand against belt-less drivers. For those special cases where one’s own well-being and safety isn’t a good enough reason to buckle up, now police officers are empowered to pull over Minnesota drivers for the sole purpose of issuing tickets to otherwise law-abiding drivers.

Did their belt-buckling and life-saving plan work? The short answer is yes. The long answer is yeeesssss.

A study done by the University of Minnesota shows that the new law resulted in a 68 fewer deaths and a whopping 320 fewer injuries between 2009 and 2011. That’s a lot of healthy and safe drivers that might not otherwise be on the road.

For more information on the University of Minnesota study, check out this article from Minnesota Public Radio: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/03/26/minnesota-primary-seat-belt-law-study

Happy safe driving, and remember to buckle up!
-Midway Driving School

Summer Road Trip Planning

July 11, 2013 12:21 pm

It finally happened. Summer FINALLY showed up in Minnesota.

Summer in Minnesota means something different to everyone. For you it might mean outdoor barbeques, being eaten alive by mosquitoes, or summer road trips. Well, the bad news is you’re on your own for grilling tips and bug spray. The good news is that the good people at safecar.gov have assembled some useful Summer Driving Tips to help you make your summer road trip a success!

Here are some of the key things for you to keep in mind:

Before you go

Nothing kills a road trip quite like car trouble.

Road trips should be fun for everyone involved, but keep in mind that you’re really asking a lot out of your car. Make sure it’s ready to handle anything the trip throws at it. Tires, wiper blades, fluid levels, cooling systems, lights and air conditioners are great places to start to prevent any future car-related headaches.

If you’re not car-savvy, do yourself a favor and get your car checked out by a professional before you leave.

Safety First

If you followed the first step, your car should be happy and ready to go. Great job! Now, how about all those people inside the car? Yeah, they’re usually pretty important too.

If you’re traveling with children, make sure you’re fully aware of all the safety precautions that come along with that. For starters, small children should be in car seats, all children 13 and younger should be in the back seat, and EVERYONE, young and old, should be buckled up.

Make sure you plan your route beforehand and don’t forget to schedule frequent breaks to keep yourself happy and alert, especially when travelling with children. If you’re traveling in a group with other adults, driving in shifts is a great way to reduce the burden of navigating a long road trip on any one person.

Also, keep in mind that, being summer in Minnesota, it will more than likely be HOT. Make sure you’re prepared to deal with the heat and always be mindful of how quickly vehicles can heat up to dangerous temperatures in hot weather.

You should plan for a safe and happy trip, but be prepared for the worst case scenario. A roadside emergency kit will be worth its weight in gold should anything go wrong.

On the Road

Finally, you’re on the open road! Now that your road trip is underway, it’s important to be mindful of your surroundings.

Don’t forget to share the road. Summers, especially in Minnesota, mean more bicycles, more motorcycles, and more pedestrians. Keep everyone in mind when driving (especially those that may be harder to see).

As always, practice safe driving habits and stay alert. Don’t drive if you’re too tired. If you’re unsure, take a break. Especially when travelling with children, frequent breaks make the experience more pleasant for everyone.

In an Emergency

Well, darn. You got a flat tire. Now what?

On any trip, you’re going to want to make sure you have a cell phone with you in case a call for help is necessary.

Remember the roadside kit I mentioned earlier? I hope so. That’s going to come in handy now. Make sure to take all the safety precautions when doing any type of roadside repair. If you’re unsure whether or not you can handle a repair yourself, play it safe and call for help.

With smart planning and preparation, car troubles don’t need to derail your vacation.

Most Importantly…

While following all the rules of the road and keeping you and your party safe, don’t forget to have FUN on your trip! It is a vacation after all!

To see a more complete summer check list and get the full interactive experience, check out: http://www.safercar.gov/SummerDrivingTips.

Have safe, confident and happy summer driving!
-Midway Driving School