Things I learned at traffic school
Yes, I know...I had to attend traffic school for speeding. But it was actually quite informative! There are a ton of new & not so new laws & tidbits that my instructor shared with the class. I thought they were important enough to share. (These are mostly for California, but there are some great tips for everyone that drives)
1) The new car seat law just started in Jan. '08. Children must be in a safety seat until they are 8 years old AND weigh 80 lbs. NOT one or the other. So if you have carpool duty, you are responsible for having safety seats for everyone in your car otherwise you will get a ticket. I highly recommend getting a 5 point harness safety seat. Radion80 & Britax Regency are both made for up to 80 pounds. The car manufacturers don't tell you that sometimes the seatbelt can unlatch in an accident & that the LATCH system sometimes fails. If you're child ends up being ejected out of the car in a 5 point car seat, he or she will at least be held in the seat & thus prevent as many injuries. Also, using a regular seatbelt with a booster attachment can cause internal injuries that can be fatal because the shoulder/lap seatbelts are meant to be used for adults. So, when they are used on children, important organs/areas can get injured from a car accident. Go to youtube.com & put in "5 point harness" in the search section for a couple very moving, but very convincing videos about the importance of using a 5 point harness for your child.
2) WOLO (Wipers On, Lights On) Law: If you need to use your wipers in a rain shower, you need to have your lights on.
3) Red light cameras: As long as your back wheels/bumper have passed over both lines of the crosswalk & the light turns red, you will not get a ticket. There are sensors in the crosswalk that set the camera off. If there is no pressure or metal to signal the camera, it won't give you a ticket. Even if the camera takes a picture, you will not be sent the ticket. Of course, be aware & slow down instead of speeding up if you see a yellow light!
4) There are more fatalities on the highway/freeway from improper lane changes. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get over to your exit...approximately 1/2 a mile for each lane you have to cross. Make sure you look in your blindspot before you turn, turn your signal on, & then re-check your blindspot. That open area you saw may likely be someone else's open spot & they may not be looking for you.
5) There are more fatalities on street/residential areas from people running red lights. Pay attention! Slow down when you see a yellow light! Wait the 3-5 minutes for the light to turn green instead of being selfish by rushing through the light. Or plan ahead & give yourself enough time to get to where you need to go taking into account possible delays. Those red light cameras have reduced fatalities significantly, but it still happens way too much.
6) Get insured for uninsured drivers, but also get insured for UNDER-insured drivers. It only costs about $25-50 per year & will save you from having to pay out of pocket if you get into an accident with someone that just has the minimum amount of coverage. Most insurance companies don't ask you if you want this.
7) Put a list of your family members' names, your physician's phone numbers, a hospital where you have insurance coverage, allergies to medications & emergency contact numbers in your glove box. If you know your blood-type, include that too.
8) San Diego has a very amount of grand theft auto & identity theft. The instructor said that the new way thieves are stealing our identities is by getting into your car (with a slim jim or a master key) without you knowing, going into your glove box & then writing down your home address & registration information. They will then go break into your house or use your pertinent info for identity theft. She said that it is advisable to put all of your info onto one sheet of paper (minimize if you need to) & then take it with you when you're going to be somewhere for a long period, such as Disneyland.
9) If you're in a car accident, here is the information you should get:
License Number & make sure it is a license & not an ID card
the VIN number of the other car (located in the corner of the front dashboard) & make sure it matches up to the VIN number on the registration card
Phone number of the person involved
License plate number
Make & model of the car
IF you need to take a picture of the other car, make sure you include the street or something that is public property. Otherwise, if you go to court, the picture of just the other person's car cannot be used if they don't agree since they can claim they did not give you permission to take a picture of their private property. As long as it has something that is public property in the picture, it can be used.
10) If you have a pet that rides in the car with you, please buy a car harness. It is an easy to use harness that clips onto the seatbelt & still allows your pet some mobility. But it will prevent your pet from being flung forward or ejected out of the car in case of an accident. If you love your pet like a child, treat it the same way & make sure it's safe in the car. Even bigger dogs need to be secured. Imagine you are rear-ended & your dog is in the back seat. It will be flung forward & it could injure you. If you have a small dog & keep it on your lap & get rear-ended, you may end up killing your dog between you & the steering wheel.
Well, that's about it! Hope you learned something too!