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

How To Be A Responsible Passenger In A Disabled Driver’s Vehicle

When traveling in a vehicle, the most important thing is to stay safe to avoid accidents, injury, and death. Road travel can be inherently risky – because when it comes down to it, vehicles are large metal objects moving at high speeds, which of course involves an element of danger. Driving a vehicle is a big responsibility, because your own life and the lives of other road users are essentially in your hands.

It is not only the responsibility of drivers to ensure that road travel is undertaken safely. Vehicle passengers are also responsible for road safety. If you are a passenger in a disabled driver’s vehicle, it is crucial to behave appropriately and responsibly. Being a responsible passenger in a disabled person’s vehicle will help to ensure that you and your companion arrive at your destination safely.

How To Be A Safe Passenger In A Car

It is important to understand how to be a safe passenger in a car. Passengers have a large influence on drivers, and they need to behave in an appropriate manner. If passengers behave inappropriately they can easily cause a traffic accident.

Every year thousands of Americans die in road accidents caused by irresponsible passenger behavior. As a passenger in a disabled driver’s vehicle, you need to always maintain a high level of awareness and employ responsible passenger etiquette. Your life, and the lives of other road users, depend on you knowing how to be a responsible passenger.

disabled driver and passenger in vehicle
Image by StockSnap on Pixabay: What are your responsibilities as a passenger?

How Can I Be A Good Passenger In A Car?

Wondering “How can I be a responsible passenger in a vehicle?” There are several key ways to be a good passenger in a car. Some are quite obvious and others less obvious, but all of the ways you can be a good passenger are very important. It is easy to distract a driver and cause a road accident if you are not aware of how to be a responsible vehicle passenger.

What Are Your Responsibilities As A Passenger In A Disabled Driver’s Vehicle?

As a passenger in a disabled driver’s vehicle, you have several responsibilities. You must employ good passenger etiquette. You must not distract the driver. And you must provide any assistance that the driver needs in order to get to your destination safely.

What Actions Can You Take As A Passenger To Assist The Driver?

The actions you can take as a passenger to assist the driver will depend on what the specific driver needs and prefers. Some will require assistance, whether physically or with directions. Other drivers will just want you to be quiet and relaxed, and to not distract them. 

Here are our top tips on how to be a responsible passenger in a disabled driver’s vehicle.

Always Wear Your Seatbelt

It is essential that you always wear your seatbelt when traveling as a passenger. Put on your seatbelt before the vehicle starts moving. Not wearing your seatbelt is extremely dangerous, as is putting it on while the vehicle is moving, because this can distract the driver.

Don’t Be Loud Or Distracting

Being loud or distracting a driver is very irresponsible when you are traveling in a vehicle. Distracted drivers may easily cause an accident. So while you are a passenger in a disabled person’s vehicle, always speak calmly and quietly and do not play overly loud music.

Help With Navigation

As a responsible vehicle passenger, you should always be attentive and ready to help out with navigation if necessary. It can be risky for a driver to attempt to navigate with a phone or read a map while driving, so it is safer for a responsible passenger to perform any complex navigation.

Resist Temptation To Be A Backseat Driver

Most backseat driving is irritating and distracting. Avoid the urge to give driving advice while you are a passenger in a disabled person’s vehicle. Unless it is extremely urgent, give any advice and recommendations when the journey is over and the driver can give you their full attention.

responsible passenger in a vehicle
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay: How can I be a good passenger in a car?

Don’t Point Out Distractions In The Environment

No matter how beautiful that mountain range off to the left is, do not point it out to the driver, because this type of distraction can easily cause an accident. Avoid drawing the driver’s attention away from the road to look at things in the road’s surroundings.

Encourage Safe Driving

Never hurry the driver and always encourage safe driving. Reward responsible and safe driving with praise and encouragement.

Help The Driver To Stay Alert

If the driver is tired, you can help them to stay alert. Do this by encouraging them to stop for a coffee or to take a rest. You can help them stay focused by chatting to them.

How Do You Get A Disabled Parking Permit?

If you have a disability that entitles you to get a disabled parking permit, the best way to apply is through the Dr. Handicap online clinic. On Dr. Handicap, you will have a telemedicine consultation with a medical professional who will verify your disability and complete, sign, and email your DMV application form. It is a quick and easy process.

Featured image by Bertsz on Pixabay

What Is Defensive Driving And How Can It Help Disabled Drivers?

Safety should be the number one priority for all disabled drivers. The unfortunate truth is that when traveling by road, there is always a risk of getting into a crash. Injury or even death are always possibilities when we travel in a vehicle, particularly if that vehicle is driven in an unsafe manner. But if we practice sensible, defensive driving, we can improve our chances of staying safe on the roads.

Tragically, over 38,000 people die in accidents on American roads each year. It is important to be aware of this grim statistic. By remaining fully cognizant of the dangers we face when driving, we can take the necessary precautions to mitigate those dangers.

Many of the crashes, injuries, and deaths that happen each year on American roads could be avoided if more people practiced safe, defensive driving. Far too many road accidents are caused by human error, negligence, a lack of concentration, tiredness, or aggressive driving.

Unfortunately, there will probably always be dangerous drivers who pose a threat to themselves and others. The best thing responsible drivers can focus on is reducing their vulnerability by driving safely and practicing defensive driving. Today, we will discuss defensive driving and how it can help disabled drivers.

What Is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is a type of driving intended as a defense against the dangerous actions of other road users and other hazards on the road such as bad weather. It is a driving style that is cautious and sensible, and that puts safety first.

Defensive driving involves a set of driving practices that are effective at defending the driver and their passengers from the dangers of road travel.

Dr Handicap - disabled drivers
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay: How does defensive driving help disabled drivers?

Why Is Defensive Driving Important?

How can defensive driving benefit you and others, and why is it important? Simply, it is important because it keeps people safe. Road travel can be risky because other drivers often make mistakes and drive responsibly. Hazards such as bad weather and slippery surfaces can also make road travel dangerous. Defensive driving protects against these hazards.

What Are The Principles Of Defensive Driving?

So, how do you practice defensive driving? The main principles of defensive driving are:

  • Always sit high and alert behind the wheel, and keep your eyes on the road
  • Maintain full concentration
  • Minimize distractions
  • Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles
  • Slow down at all intersections and junctions
  • Be aware of any blind spots
  • Make sure other drivers can see you
  • Always assume other drivers may make mistakes

What Are The Benefits Of Defensive Driving?

So, how can defensive driving help disabled drivers? There are a lot of benefits to defensive driving. The main benefits are that it:

  • Keeps you safe
  • Keeps other drivers and pedestrians safe
  • Reduces costs of vehicle repair and insurance
  • Makes you a good example to other road users
  • Lowers your stress levels

What Are Some Examples Of Defensive Driving?

Some examples of defensive driving include:

  • Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles
  • Driving at a sensible speed and not going above the legal speed limit
  • Maintaining full concentration
  • Constantly checking your mirrors to be aware of your surroundings
  • Avoiding distractions from other passengers, loud music, podcasts, etc.
driver wearing seatbelt in car
Image by freestocks-photos on Pixabay: Practicing defensive driving benefits all road-users.

How Can You Get a Disabled Parking Permit?

If you have a disability but you have not yet gotten a disabled parking permit, it is a simple and quick process. The best way to get a disabled parking permit is to arrange a telemedicine consultation with a medical practitioner in your state through the Dr Handicap online clinic.

During a video consultation (which can be undertaken from the comfort of your own home) the medical practitioner will verify your disability. The qualifying conditions for a disabled parking permit include:

  • An inability to walk 200 feet without needing to stop to rest
  • Not being able to walk without aid from an assistive device
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Any condition that necessitates the use of portable oxygen
  • Legal blindness
  • An arthritic, orthopedic, or neurological condition that hampers mobility

Once your disability has been verified, the medical practitioner will fill in the relevant sections of a disabled parking permit application form and email it directly to you. All you need to do is fill in the remaining sections and submit it to your local disabled parking authorities.

Featured image by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash