6 Defensive Driving Techniques That All Disabled Drivers Should Know

Most drivers have heard the term defensive driving. But what exactly does it mean? And why is defensive driving for disabled drivers so important?

Defensive driving is a series of actions and behaviors that will help you stay safe behind the wheel. As a driver, you can only control your own actions, not those of other drivers, so defensive driving techniques help you stay safe on the road, even if another driver makes a mistake.

Done correctly, defensive driving will help you avoid accidents by spotting hazards in advance and avoiding dangerous situations. It’s particularly important for disabled drivers who might have special physical or mental considerations that make driving more challenging.

If you want to stay safe and prepared while on the road, here are a few defensive driving techniques that all disabled drivers should know.

1. Follow the three-second rule

The three-second rule is taught to new drivers as a way of preventing collisions. It states that you should keep at least three seconds of time between yourself and the car ahead of you, so if they brake suddenly, you’ll have time to react.

However, for disabled drivers who might have slower response times, consider following a five- or six-second rule. If you know it will take you longer to react to something on the road, it’s completely OK to keep a wider berth between yourself and other drivers.

Don’t worry about cars behind you – they can pass you if they choose to do so. You can also yield or pull over to let other drivers pass you if they’re driving aggressively.

2. Drive at times of the day that are safest for you

What are some defensive driving skills specific to disabled drivers? One of our top recommendations is to only drive at times of the day when you’re most focused and alert, as this will help you stay safe.

For example, if you know you feel tired at certain times of the day when you take your medication, plan your trips so you don’t need to be on the road during these times.

person using phone while behind wheel of vehicle
Image by melissa mjoen on Unsplash: Driving defensively means avoiding distractions – especially cell phones – and focusing all of your attention on the road.

3. Minimize distractions

So, what should every driver know about defensive driving? If it’s one thing, it’s this: minimize distractions! Distracted driving is the leading cause of crashes in the US, so never take your eyes off the road.

If you need to check your phone, make a call, or change the radio, always pull over somewhere safe to do so. Avoid eating while driving, too – if your disability means you need to eat frequently for your blood sugar, always do so when the car is parked.

Taking your eyes off the road for a split second is all it takes to cause a collision, so don’t take the risk.

4. Scan the road constantly

To drive defensively, you should always be scanning the road. Keep your eyes on what’s immediately ahead of you, but also what’s ahead on the horizon, so you’re completely aware of your surroundings. This way, it’s easier to make decisions and react to upcoming problems, such as a traffic jam.

Keep in mind that scanning the road and paying close attention can be mentally tiring, especially for those with a disability. On long drives, take plenty of rest breaks so you’re fresh, or share the driving with someone else.

5. Use your mirrors

When you get in the car, always double-check that your mirrors are positioned correctly. If someone else drove the car before you, you’ll probably need to adjust them to your height.

As you drive, check your mirrors regularly, especially before you make a turn or switch lanes – mirrors are one of your most important tools for staying safe.

person reading map to determine driving route
Image by ali elliott on Unsplash: You’ll be safer on the road if you always know where you’re going before you get in the car.

6. Plan your route in advance

For some drivers, especially those with learning disabilities, navigating to a new place can be confusing and overwhelming. Reading road signs while driving, looking for the right exit, and focusing on the road can be a lot to do at once, especially if you’re trying to navigate as well.

If you’re someone who struggles with unfamiliar environments, it’s smart to always plan your route in advance. Review your directions and use a GPS to help you navigate as you drive. This will help you stay calm and focused on your driving, without needing to stress about where you’re going. If you do get lost and feel panicked, pull over and take a few deep breaths – it can be unsafe to drive while you’re feeling frustrated or stressed.

If you’re looking for more safe driving tips, reach out to your local driving school to learn more. Wondering “Why would someone take a defensive driving course?” It can be a great way to refresh your skills, especially if you’re out of practice.

Defensive driving is one of the best ways for drivers with disabilities to protect themselves. However, disabled drivers also have an easier time once they’ve approved for handicapped permits, which makes parking much more convenient. If you’re not sure if you qualify for one, you can ask a doctor today – a quick and easy way to make life on the road easier and safer.

Featured image by Brauilo Corona on Unsplash

4 Driving Safety Tips For Those With Limited Mobility

Driving is a privilege, because operating heavy machinery like a car can be dangerous. This is especially true when other drivers fail to drive safely, follow traffic laws, or practice angry or aggressive driving. Those who drive on a routine basis know there are some drivers out there who seem to disregard the safety of others completely – but if everyone on the road is to stay safe, everyone needs to practice safe driving.

For people with limited mobility, driving isn’t always as easy as it is for those with full mobility. However, the main difference between driving with limited mobility and full mobility is the need to make a few changes to either the vehicle you drive or the way you drive. This can be done seamlessly if you know what tips to follow. So read on for our top driving safety tips for those with limited mobility.

What does limited mobility mean?

Limited mobility can be caused by a lot of different things, from diseases to accidents to congenital disorders. When a person is unable to use one or more of their extremities, such as the arms and legs, or does not have adequate strength to walk, lift, or hold onto certain objects, it is referred to as limited mobility.

Those who require the use of a wheelchair, a walker, or crutches are all examples of people with limited mobility. Limited mobility can be permanent, as is the case when someone suffers from conditions such as cerebral palsy, a spinal cord injury, or paralysis. It can also be considered temporary in the event that someone breaks a bone in the arm or leg. Limited mobility does count as a disability, but it doesn’t mean that a person has to give up the option to drive a vehicle.

woman in wheelchair in scenic location
Image by Zachary Kyra-Derksen on Unsplash: Driving in a wheelchair can be done easily with the right tools.

Can you drive if your legs are paralyzed?

Driving usually requires the use of one or both feet. For this reason, you may assume that if you don’t have mobility in your legs, you cannot drive. But people who are paralyzed in the legs can generally drive with no issue as long as certain modifications are made to their vehicle and they relearn how to drive using different tools.

A vehicle that is modified to allow a person with paralyzed legs to drive will include specific adaptations such as hand controls for braking and accelerating. Hand controls are extremely helpful and just as safe as foot controls. Other types of modifications may include power assist devices that can help with steering, touch ignition and gear shifts, adjustable driver’s seats, and automatic door openers.

Tips for driving with limited mobility

There are regular tips that all drivers should follow when it comes to driving safe and protecting yourself, passengers, and pedestrians while you’re out on the road. For example, observing the speed limit and practicing defensive driving techniques are great safety tips that everyone should be aware of and practicing diligently every time they get behind the wheel of their car.

Other general driving safety tips include:

  • Avoiding tailgating or riding too closely to the back of someone’s car
  • Always checking your blind spots
  • Never driving while angry and avoiding anger on the road
  • Always using your turn signals
  • Knowing the rules of a four-way stop
  • Avoiding the passing lane unless you are actually passing

These general rules are taught to every driver prior to getting their license, but can often be forgotten or unused as people build their own driving habits. Be sure to keep them all front of mind whenever you’re on the road.

When driving with limited mobility, there are some further specific driving tips that can help you stay safe while on the road.

1. Plan your route

Make sure you know not only where you’re going, but the route you need to take to get there. You won’t want to take your attention off the road to look at a map or directions, nor would it be ideal to have to stop or get out of your vehicle to get directions. If you’re prepared for your drive, you’ll have less distractions or detours when on the road.

2. Avoid unsafe driving conditions

This is a vital tip for driving safely with limited mobility. Unsafe driving conditions (such as severe weather) will complicate your experience behind the wheel, which could put your safety at risk.

person looking at map route in car
Image by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash: How do I travel with limited mobility? First, know your route.

3. Seek out additional driver training

For drivers with limited mobility, there’s also the option to receive additional training from an expert who is familiar with teaching people with the same mobility issue. This will help you understand the challenges you face on the road and prepare you to handle them better.

4. Minimize distractions

Finally, minimizing distractions will make your driving experience that much more seamless. Because driving relies heavily on visual and mental skills, you won’t want to be distracted, especially if you’re just getting used to driving with limited mobility.

Featured image by Orkun Azap on Unsplash

Is COVID Making People Drive More Recklessly?

Driving is a privilege that some confuse with being a right. There are rules and regulations by which every driver must abide while behind the wheel. These are in place to keep everyone on the road safe. After all, cars are heavy machinery, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 1.35 million people will die each year due to car accidents across the globe. In the United States, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people under the age of 54.

These statistics alone should be enough to ensure everyone lucky enough to own and operate a vehicle follows the rules of the road, but that’s not true for all. In fact, dangerous behaviors such as reckless driving are all too common – and may have become even more so during recent times. This leads to the question: is COVID making people drive more recklessly? Let’s find out.

What is reckless driving?

Reckless driving is defined as a willful disregard for the safety of people or property while operating a vehicle. In the United States, the laws surrounding reckless driving are clear; it is considered to be a major moving traffic violation. Although some may think that reckless driving is similar to careless driving, the two are not one and the same.

Some examples of reckless driving include speeding, tailgating (not leaving sufficient distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front), not using turn signals, running stop signs or red lights, drunk and distracted driving, and failing to yield to right-of-way laws on the road. The consequences of reckless driving can be serious. Aside from causing injury or traffic accidents, a driver who is caught reckless driving can be fined or imprisoned, or have their license suspended or taken away.

person driving car on empty road at night
Image by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash: Is speeding during COVID-19 on the rise?

Is reckless driving on the rise?

A report published by the National Safety Council in 2019 found that motor vehicle accidents causing death were actually decreasing. Between 2017 and 2018, they decreased by 2%, and then again between 2018 and 2019 they decreased by another 2%. The reasoning behind the decrease is not entirely known, but the report suggests that new laws and regulations, such as lowering the legal alcohol limit, go hand in hand with mitigating reckless driving.

However, pedestrians have paid the ultimate price for reckless driving in the past. According to the CDC, specific reckless driving incidents involving alcohol use account for close to half of all pedestrian accidents, with 17% of those being the driver who was under the influence. In terms of pedestrian fatalities, those numbers had also decreased by 3% from 2018 to 2019. Those downturns in deaths could be attributed to lowered rates of reckless driving – but after 2019, that has changed. 

Reckless driving during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been taking its toll on the world in various ways since early 2020, and when it comes to reckless driving, it has played a hand in increased traffic incidents. According to an article published in the Washington Post, it took only three months into the pandemic for drivers to begin engaging in reckless driving behaviors such as speeding. This has led speed-related crashes to increase as well.

With empty roadways caused by lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, many who were out on the roads began to speed well over the limit. The assumption is that with less cars on the road, these drivers believed they could get away with it; however, for many people disobeying speeding laws, crashes ensued. The same article in the Washington Post stated that 42 people lost their lives in car accidents in the 45 days following the implementation of the state’s first pandemic stay-at-home order. (In the same period of 2019, only 29 people suffered the same fate on Minnesota highways.)

empty highway road at night
Image by Sebastian Staines on Unsplash: With empty roads, some “crazy” drivers during COVID-19 have come out of the woodwork to drag race and perform other dangerous driving maneuvers.

Emptied roads have left room for people to drive recklessly, and multiple reports of drag racing, speeding, and driving well over the legal speed limit have been reported across the country. Although there is less traffic (down 41% overall across the country), the increase in traffic incidents is a cause for alarm.

Driving safely is the main thing people can do to lessen the risk of fatal or serious car accidents. Reckless driving may have been on the rise during the pandemic, but those who are part of the problem should know that driving is a right and not a privilege. Driving safely is a responsibility and should always be treated as such, no matter the circumstances of the road or the world at large.

Featured image by Samuele Errico Piccarini on Unsplash

Emotional Driving: Why You Should Avoid Driving When Stressed, Angry, Sad, And Even Excited

Road rage: it’s one of the most common emotions people have while driving. And while most people recognize that becoming enraged behind the wheel isn’t safe, what most don’t realize is how any strong emotion – not just anger – can be a danger to you when driving. The truth of the matter is that driving while stressed sad, angry, or even excited can impact your driving skills and create a dangerous situation on the road.

Read on for all you need to know about emotional driving, and how to avoid emotional driving to keep you, and everyone around you, safer.

How Do Emotions Affect Your Driving Ability?

Strong emotions, from happiness to sadness to anger, can impair your decision-making skills and cognition. They’re also distracting while driving. Stress, too, can cause some people to sleep poorly and become upset, and the feeling is often compounded when they’re on the road and have to get somewhere in a hurry.

When you drive with strong emotions, then you can easily become distracted. This can cause safety issues, such as:

  • Drifting onto the shoulder or into another lane
  • Failing to use mirrors in crowded places, such as a parking lot
  • Miss a stop sign or a red light
  • Hit another car or even a pedestrian
  • Speed in special zones such as construction or school zones

When your emotions are high, even the smallest incident on the road can trigger those emotions, making something as innocent as being behind a slow driver a much bigger issue in your mind – and potentially leading to unsafe actions on the road.

At the other end of the spectrum, being happy when you’re behind the wheel can also cause issues. If you’re in a euphoric or elevated state, you may be less careful in driving, not watching your speed closely, or not properly looking when completing a simple task such as checking your blind spot before changing lanes. Any type of distracting driving can have serious consequences – it doesn’t matter which end of the emotional spectrum you are on.

woman driving car in emotional state
Image by Paje Victoria on Unsplash: Wondering why you should avoid driving when stressed, and how can anger and stress impact your driving? The bottom line is that any type of emotional driving is dangerous.

Before You Drive

If you really want to make sure you’re driving as safely as possible, start thinking about your emotional state before you get behind the wheel. Give yourself a small time out to calm your emotions. If you’re feeling worked up, you should:

  • Take about 10 minutes to calm yourself down
  • Take a short walk and focus on your breathing before getting in the car
  • Talk to someone to help achieve a state of calm
  • Sit quietly and think about your mood, including what could happen if you got behind the wheel in an emotionally heightened state

If you’re in a rush to get somewhere, it’s even more important to take a few minutes to calm and center yourself before driving. It’s better to be late to something than it is to not get there at all because you’ve had an accident.

When You’re Behind The Wheel

If you’re driving, there are things you can do to even out your emotions. These tips can help you to stay calmer:

  • Create a comfortable environment. Make sure that the temperature inside your car isn’t too hot or too cold. If it’s not right, it can add to your emotional state.
  • Don’t tense up. Relax yourself behind the wheel. Make sure your muscles aren’t clenched and full of anxiety. Don’t grip the wheel too tightly or it can increase your feelings of tension.
  • Deal with frustration appropriately. When you find yourself become upset or frustrated behind the wheel, try turning on some relaxing music. This can be a good way to help keep yourself centered, but be sure to keep the volume low so you don’t trigger more anxiety.
  • Practice controlled breathing. Breathing exercises are a great way to relieve tension and help you to feel more relaxed behind the wheel.
happy drivers in car
Image by Sofia on Unsplash: How does excitement affect driving? In fact, much the same as any other heightened emotional state.

Driving and dealing with other people on the road can be frustrating, and if your emotions are already high, it can make the situation worse. The best thing you can do is recognize that you can easily become triggered by others and refuse to allow your emotions to take over in that moment.

If someone becomes agitated with you on the road, don’t let that pull you into negative emotions of your own. Behave courteously and calmly when dealing with other drivers no matter what, and your emotional state will serve you well in staying safe.

Featured image by mentatdgt on Pexels

20+ Items That Disabled Drivers Should Have Before Getting In Their Vehicle

As a disabled driver, you know that the unexpected can and often does occur; tires blow out, you get delayed or stuck in heavy traffic, you encounter bad weather, or you have an accident. Driving involves inescapable risks. So, in order to stay safe and to avoid any unfortunate situations while traveling by car, disabled drivers need to have some essential items with them at all times. It is crucial that every time you get into your vehicle you have things that will keep you safe and help you to handle some potentially sticky situations.

So, what documents should a disabled driver carry while driving? What are good things for a disabled driver to keep in their car? What should you keep in your glove box at all times? Let’s answer these crucial questions now.

What Are Good Things To Keep In Your Car?

Some items are good to keep in your car at all times, such as first aid equipment and vehicle emergency repairs equipment. Other items are essential to have while you travel but are best not kept in your vehicle at all times.

Examples of items that you should not keep in your car when you are not using it are:

  • Driver’s license. Your driver’s license is best stored in your wallet, which you should keep on your person instead of in your vehicle at all times.
  • Disabled parking permit. This can be used in any vehicle in which the holder is traveling, so a lot of permit holders like to keep their permits on their person instead of in their vehicle.
disabled drivers in vehicle
Image by Tobi on Pexels: What should you keep in your car at all times?

What Documents Should A Driver Carry While Driving?

The documents that all disabled drivers should carry while driving are:

  • Disabled parking permit
  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance

What Should You Keep In Your Glove Box?

Your glove box is the perfect place to keep valuable and important items. The items that every disabled driver should keep in their glove box are:

  • Disabled parking placards (these should be stowed in the glove box while the car is moving)
  • COVID safety equipment such as face masks, hand sanitizer, napkins, and travel wipes
  • Medical information, including details of any medical conditions, medications and allergies for yourself and any people who regularly travel with you
  • Emergency contact numbers (in case your phone breaks or is inaccessible)
  • Proof of insurance
  • Pen and paper
  • Owner’s manual and maintenance schedule for your vehicle
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • High-energy snacks such as dried fruit and nuts

What Should Disabled Drivers Keep In Their Car At All Times?

Here are 20 items that disabled drivers should make sure they have before getting in their vehicle.

  • Disabled parking permit
  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance
  • Pen and paper
  • Owner’s manual and maintenance schedule for your vehicle
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Any specific medications you use
  • First aid kit (bandages, antibiotic cream, anti-itch cream, anti-bacterial gel, pain reliever, allergy medication, antacids, eye wash, lip balm, tweezers)
  • Any mobility aids that you or your passengers require
  • High-energy snacks
  • Drinking water
  • Vehicle emergency repair kit (Spare tire, jack, tire gauge, tire inflator and sealer, lug key, vehicle manual, jumper cables, oil and funnel, water, screwdrivers, pliers, duct tape, WD 40, flares, visibility jacket)
  • COVID safety kit (face masks, hand sanitizer, face shield, travel wipes)
  • Wheelchair ramps and transfer boards if you are in a wheelchair
  • Medical information
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Sunglasses
  • Cash
  • Comfort kit (blankets, extra clothes, toilet paper, sunscreen, insect spray, contact lens holder solution, travel toothbrush, toothpaste and floss)
woman in truck
Image by pexels on Pixabay: What documents should a disabled driver carry while driving?

How Do You Get A Disabled Parking Permit?

The best way to get a disabled parking permit is to arrange a telemedicine consultation with a licensed doctor in your state through the Dr. Handicap online clinic.

At the online clinic, you will have a video chat with a licensed doctor in your state who will verify your medical condition and then complete and sign a DMV disabled parking application form, which they will email to you immediately. It is an efficient and simple process.

Featured image by Hannah Sutherland on Unsplash