Texas Summers & Driving in Extreme Heat

Extreme road conditions take a toll on our vehicles. The heat and dust of the Texas summer can put your driving conditions into the “severe driving” category. Other summer driving habits like stop-and-go traffic and pulling trailers or boats behind the vehicle increase wear, especially in the high heat. Learn the signs and proper steps to prevent your car from breaking down.

Overheating

One of the biggest concerns of hot weather driving is the engine overheating. An overheated engine can result in mechanical failure and engine damage. As the cooling system has to work harder in summer months to maintain proper engine temperature, make sure you’re up to date on routine cooling system maintenance. Belts and hoses should be inspected for any leaks or holes. Coolant should be flushed and refilled once every two years, and the level of fluid checked periodically during the summer months.

If you are driving in exceptionally hot weather, check the engine’s temperature gauge to make sure the vehicle isn’t overheating. If it is, avoid breakdown by running the heat (this pulls hot air away from the engine), or pulling off the road and parking in the shade until the engine cools down.

AC Maintenance

It’s important to test a vehicle’s air conditioning system at the beginning of summer. If the air isn’t blowing at its peak force and temperature, or if there’s a strange odor or sound, see an AC technician to service the vehicle. A good AC system free of leaks and debris is essential to comfortable and safe driving during the summer months.

Battery Life

It’s always a good idea to test the vehicle’s battery before the height of summer and get an idea of how much life is left on the current battery. Hot summer weather takes a high toll on the life of a battery. No one wants to be stuck with a dead battery in the hot sun of a grocery store parking lot just after buying a cart full of frozen food! A qualified mechanic will be able to estimate how much power is left in the battery and advise when to replace it.

Safety Supplies

Just in case you get stranded in the heat, always be prepared. Carry bottled water, a first aid kit, a car cell phone charger, and know who to contact in case of a roadside emergency. Other emergency supplies that can be useful in summer heat, especially on long trips, include a flashlight, road flares, wide-brimmed hats, tire sealant, energy snacks, and a portable car battery charger or jumper cables.

Kids and Pets

And of course, never leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle in hot weather, even with the windows open–a parked car on a warm day can reach 120 degrees in mere minutes. Be sure to bring enough water and snacks along for kids and pets to prevent dehydration and discomfort. Retractable sunshades or car curtains in backseat windows can also help ease rear passenger discomfort on hot sunny days while driving.

Virtual Drive of Texas is a state-approved online driver’s education school offering affordable parent-taught courses for teens as well as adult driver’s education. To learn more about Virtual Drive of Texas, give us a call at (806) 352-9558 or head over to our website.

Make Driver’s Education hassle-free by going online.

Getting a driver’s license is one of the biggest milestones in a teenager’s life. However, this new found independence as they take the next steps towards young adulthood can be difficult to achieve given the hectic schedules of today’s busy families. In the state of Texas, there are several different ways that teenagers can attend a Driver’s Ed Course.

  • Approved For-Profit Driver Training School
  • Public School Driver Ed Course
  • Online Driver’s Education
  • Parent-Taught Driver Education

Traditional teen drivers ed can be difficult to work into the demanding school, extra-curricular and work obligations that today’s overcommitted teenager often has on their schedule. Virtual Drivers Ed is an excellent option for teen drivers to obtain the necessary education required to become a licensed driver in the State of Texas. In addition to giving busy families an alternative to in-person classroom sessions, it is also an affordable option for savings in time, gas and even a parent’s lost work hours, driving students to and from classes.

Typical online driver’s education includes web based videos or parent-taught curriculum as well as a DPS practice test at the end of the course to ensure that the student is prepared for the DMV learners permit test. Other benefits to online driver’s education include:

  1. Study on your schedule – Take your course at a time that is convenient for you – it is available day or night.
  2. Study anywhere – Online driver’s education gives you the flexibility to take part in the classroom portion of driver’s school virtually anywhere you can get an internet signal.
  3. Learn at own pace – Students can pause online videos and return to material that requires greater clarification.
  4. Eliminate the distractions of a typical classroom – Study from the comfort of home without other students.
  5. Accepted by State of Texas – State approved Online Driver’s Ed classroom courses are fully recognized by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
  6. Study from a variety of devices – Use your home computer, tablet, even a Smartphone.
  7. Practice tests – Students are able to take online practice tests and quizzes throughout a Virtual Drivers Ed courses to ensure comprehension of key topics.

Online Driver’s Education is a hassle-free way for your teenager to acquire their learner’s permit. For more information on what to expect from virtual driver’s training, please contact us at 806-352-9558 or visit Virtual Drive of Texas

Drivers Ed Online and how to prepare.

Drivers education around the country has exploded into the virtual world with drivers ed online. Whether you are a teen or an adult looking to get their drivers license, you are most likely going to have to take some form of drivers education training. For years this experience has been a cliche in american culture. This right of passage can create massive anxiety. Now you are considered responsible enough to operate dangerous machinery. Drivers ed has definitely changed! Drivers ed online now offers a way for students to remove themselves from the pressuring influences of peer observation and distractions. Not to mention their instructor is most likely the same person who also taught them every other critical life task (like using the toilet). To get on track with learning how to join the online drivers education movement you will want to know these 5 important steps:

  1. Check with your state to determine if drivers ed online meets the criteria of your states education requirements.
  2. Determine which form (if any) is required by your state to approve the parent instructor or adult student to proceed with education through virtual training.
  3. Finding an online driving company who provides excellent customer service is crucial. Tech-support and paperwork will be the most difficult and likely aspects of drivers ed online. Poor customer service can make what would be a simple solution to drivers ed a nightmare.
  4. Learning methods are key to deciding what type of course is best for you. If the student is a visual learner, then a more complex course may be the best bet. Other students find reading to be their optimal retention method. This can be beneficial because cheaper courses (sometimes free through the state) tend to fall in this category where drivers ed is required.
  5. Know what you are buying. Many online driving courses tend to leave out one critical aspect of the process in your purchase. Training courses that are state regulated almost always have a hand-on requirement to their training expectations. Drivers ed online tends to be one of those types of courses. If your online training course does not offer “Behind the Wheel” assistance, then they may not be the best buy.

How mobile devices leave first time drivers vulnerable.

One of the largest growing distractions among first time drivers has become the use of mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle. A cell phone now provides music, communication, and entertainment through apps. When used properly most are considered very acceptable in the eyes of most drivers. When used improperly, these features can put a first time driver at risk every time they glance at the phone.

Most people alive today grew up around vehicles that provided music. What makes the previous generations use of music in the vehicle different is the simple nature of use that went behind operating the radio. A back and forward button, along with the volume knob on the driver panel was all there was! The Radio, 8-Track, Cassette, or CD player also had their degrees of attention disruption.But nothing like today. First time drivers of today now have devices that require a deeper level of attention in order to complete a task. Even the next button or volume adjustment is more complicated than earlier systems. Now there is screen unlock, app selection, volume adjustment, and full range of musical options. These are beneficial in their own right yet they create a lapse of driving attention. Now they are vulnerable to their environment. The more complex the mobile device task, the more dangerous that task is to driving. This is why texting has become such a huge problem with first time drivers.

Although young drivers may think communicating the world around them is of the highest importance, it is necessary for teens to understand the attention lapse that can come from this action. To show your teen the ramifications of texting on their attention, try our little experiment. While your teen is in the vehicle with you driving, ask them to start answering questions about the surrounding environment while they are communicating with friends in the vehicle with you. You both will be surprised at the inability of one to multi-task with a mobile device.

 

bike1sharrowIt’s as easy as riding a bike. You’ve heard this phrase more times than you could count, right? Well, the physical part of getting on a bike and riding it may be very simple, but getting on the road as a bicyclist is a different story. If you are going to be a bike rider on the public streets, you should follow all of the rules and guidelines below.

Riding a Bike

First of all, there are a few quick hints for a bicyclist to follow when using public streets.

1. A bicyclist should always obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals.
2. Never ride opposite the flow of traffic.
3. Stop at all stop signs and stop at red lights.
4. A person operating a bicycle on a one-way road with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as possible to the left curb or edge of the road.
5. Individuals who are riding two abreast shall not impede the normal reasonable flow of traffic on the road. Individuals riding two abreast on a “laned” road must ride in a single lane.
6. Bicyclists may ride on the shoulder of the road.

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That all sounds fairly easy but there is a lot more to know and understand as a bicyclist. Keep reading and try to remember all of these rules you need to obey while riding on a public road.

1. Bicyclists may signal a right turn using either their left arm pointing up or their right arm pointed horizontally.
2. A person operating a bicycle on a road moving slower than the other traffic shall ride as near as possible to the right curb or edge of the road unless:
a. The person is overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
b. The person is preparing for a left turn at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;
c. There are unsafe conditions in the road such as fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, potholes, or debris; or
d. The person operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is less than 14 feet in width and doesn’t have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or
e. The lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.

Those are a little complicated. The bottom line on the last one is to try to safely drive your bike when going slower than traffic. Use your common sense and try to remember the rules you just read.

Now some people learn better by telling them what not to do. So for those, let’s give you a quick list.

1. No bicycle shall be used to carry more than the number of individuals it is designated or equipped for.

2. No person riding a bike shall attach the same or himself to a streetcar or vehicle upon a road.

3. No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents him/her from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.

4. Do not ride on a seat unless it is a permanent or regular seat.

Bike4

In many cities you will notice that bicyclist have their own lane. These are called Bike Lanes. In many other cities there are lane markings referred to as “Sharrows”. According to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia,
the “bike lane” is for the use of bicycles only and the “Sharrow” does not mean bicycles have to be in the left lane. It is just a reminder to drivers to watch for bicyclists. Both cars and drivers can and should use both lanes.

sharrow

And finally, let’s talk about what equipment every bicycle should have when operating on a public road.

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1. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake that will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
2. Hearing-impaired bicycle riders may display a safety flag.Flag
3. Every bicycle in use at nighttime should be equipped with:
a. •A lamp on the front which emits a white light visible at a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle;

b. •A red, DPS-approved reflector on the rear must be visible from distances of 50 feet to 300 feet. (A red light on the rear visible from a distance of 500 feet may be used in addition to the red reflector.)

So now when someone says, it’s as easy as riding a bike, you can counter with the argument that riding a bike may be the most complex thing one can do, if they plan to ride safely.