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.

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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.

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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.

The Importance of Wearing a Seat Belt

Safety devices are very important in our everyday life. Many accidents happen every single day and proper use of safety restraints have saved many lives. It is important to recognize the importance of wearing one. But also the importance of the proper use of seat belts. Choking and other injury’s occur from improper use. But also many injury’s occur from no use. The state feels safety devices are important and have enacted laws concerning this issue.

The state has adopted the motto, “Click it, or ticket”. According to clickitorticket.com: Whether you’re the driver, front seat passenger, or back seat passenger, you have to buckle up. It’s a state law. And not doing so could cost you up to $200. Want an even better reason? Your seat belt is your number one best defense in case of a crash.

A DEADLY OVERSIGHT.
If you forget to buckle up or choose not to, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way. It’s common that unbuckled passengers get thrown from their vehicle, which all too often rolls over and crushes them.

BACK SEAT DANGER.
Unbelted back seat passengers can become human projectiles in a car crash. They can be tossed around inside the vehicle and even injure or kill those in the front seat.

ATTENTION ALL ADULTS.
Texas law requires drivers and all passengers in a vehicle to be secured by a seat belt. Yes, that means unbuckled adult passengers in the back seat can face fines and court costs of up to $200.

KIDS CAN COST, TOO.
Children younger than eight years old must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. Fines can be as high as $250 plus court costs.

Remember: Wearing your seat belt can truly make all the difference!

According to all-about-car-accidents.com

Aside from these figures, here are 5 reasons why seatbelt use can save your life:

  1. Seatbelt use is the best defense against road hazards such as impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers. Even if your vehicle is caught up in a crash, wearing a seatbelt can keep passengers safe and secure within the vehicle and avoid deadly ejections.
  2. Even if your car has airbags, you still need to wear a seatbelt because airbags are meant to work with seatbelts, not replace it. In a crash, even if an air bag deploys, the force of it, along with your forward momentum could injure or kill you.
  3. Everyone should use seatbelts – from pregnant ladies to kids, everyone should be safely restrained. Visit the NHTSA site to learn more about the proper use of safety restraints.
  4. Buckling up isn’t as easy as 1-2-3, there is a safe way to do it in order to maximize occupant protection. The lap and shoulder belt must be secured across the pelvis and the rib cage.
  5. You can get your seatbelt adjusted for a better and safer fit – ask your dealer about seat belt adjusters or the manufacturer for seatbelt extenders.

Bear in mind however, that these statistics may not be reflected in real life especially in more severe crashes or in instances wherein the seatbelt may have failed. Seatbelts cannot absolutely save occupants – but you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim against the party who is responsible for the damages you sustained.

I think those are some really good reasons to buckle up!

According to justdrivepa.org:

What Groups of People Are Not Buckling Up?

According to national statistics, there are several demographic groups that have a lower seat belt rate than others. These groups include 16- to 24-year-olds, blacks, males and drivers who are alone in the vehicle.

In addition, research has shown that 67 percent of the pickup truck drivers killed in traffic crashes were not buckled up.

I want to encourage these groups in particular to aim to flip these statistics around. Think about the difference it could make.

According to egdarsnyder.com:

Statistics show that seat belts save lives. When used correctly, wearing one reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45%, and risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. For those riding in the rear of vans and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) during a car crash, rear seat belts are 73% better at preventing fatalities. Keep in mind that victims are not properly restrained in more than one-half of all fatal car accidents. Also, children are likely to be buckled 92% of the time when adults in the car use seat belts, as opposed to 72% of the time when adults are not using them.

If that isn’t reason enough…

According to texas.dps.gov here is the transportation code:

TRANSPORTATION CODE
Chapter 545. Operation and Movement of Vehicles
§ 545.412. Child Passenger Safety Seat Systems; Offense.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person operates a passenger vehicle, transports a child who is younger than eight years of age, unless the child is taller than four feet, nine inches, and does not keep the child secured during the operation of the vehicle in a child passenger safety seat system according to the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety seat system.

(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $250.

(b-1) [Repealed by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., 1st C.S., ch. 4 (S.B. 1), § 69.01(1), effective September 28, 2011.]

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person was operating the vehicle in an emergency or for a law enforcement purpose.

(d) [Repealed by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204 (H.B. 4), § 8.01, effective September 1, 2003.]

(e) This section does not apply to a person:

(1) operating a vehicle transporting passengers for hire, excluding third-party transport service providers when transporting clients pursuant to a contract to provide nonemergency Medicaid transportation; or

(2) transporting a child in a vehicle in which all seating positions equipped with child passenger safety seat systems or safety belts are occupied.

(f) In this section:

(1) "Child passenger safety seat system" means an infant or child passenger restraint system that meets the federal standards for crash-tested restraint systems as set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

(2) "Passenger vehicle" means a passenger car, light truck, sport utility vehicle, passenger van designed to transport 15 or fewer passengers, including the driver, truck, or truck tractor.

(3) "Safety belt" means a lap belt and any shoulder straps included as original equipment on or added to a vehicle.

(4) "Secured," in connection with use of a safety belt, means using the lap belt and any shoulder straps according to the instructions of:

(A) the manufacturer of the vehicle, if the safety belt is original equipment; or

(B) the manufacturer of the safety belt, if the safety belt has been added to the vehicle.

(g) A judge, acting under Article 45.0511, Code of Criminal Procedure, who elects to defer further proceedings and to place a defendant accused of a violation of this section on probation under that article, in lieu of requiring the defendant to complete a driving safety course approved by the Texas Education Agency, shall require the defendant to attend and present proof that the defendant has successfully completed a specialized driving safety course approved by the Texas Education Agency under the Texas Driver and Traffic Safety Education Act (Article 4413(29c), Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes) that includes four hours of instruction that encourages the use of child passenger safety seat systems and the wearing of safety devices and emphasizes:

(1) the effectiveness of child passenger safety seat systems and seat belts in reducing the harm to children being transported in motor vehicles; and

(2) the requirements of this section and the penalty for noncompliance.

(h) Notwithstanding Section 542.402(a), a municipality or county, at the end of the municipality's or county's fiscal year, shall send to the comptroller an amount equal to 50 percent of the fines collected by the municipality or the county for violations of this section. The comptroller shall deposit the amount received to the credit of the tertiary care fund for use by trauma centers.

Chapter 545. Operation and Movement of Vehicles
§.  Dismissal; Obtaining Child Passenger Safety Seat System.

(a) This section applies to an offense committed under Section 545.412.

(b) It is a defense to prosecution of an offense to which this section applies that the defendant provides to the court evidence satisfactory to the court that:

(1) at the time of the offense:

(A) the defendant was not arrested or issued a citation for violation of any other offense;

(B) the defendant did not possess a child passenger safety seat system in the vehicle; and

(C) the vehicle the defendant was operating was not involved in an accident; and

(2) subsequent to the time of the offense, the defendant obtained an appropriate child passenger safety seat system for each child required to be secured in a child passenger safety seat system under Section 545.412(a).

Chapter 545. Operation and Movement of Vehicles
§ 545.413. Safety Belts; Offense.

(a) A person commits an offense if:

(1) the person:

(A) is at least 15 years of age;

(B) is riding in a passenger vehicle while the vehicle is being operated;

(C) is occupying a seat that is equipped with a safety belt; and

(D) is not secured by a safety belt; or

(2) as the operator of a school bus equipped with a safety belt for the operator's seat, the person is not secured by the safety belt.

(b) A person commits an offense if the person:

(1) operates a passenger vehicle that is equipped with safety belts; and

(2) allows a child who is younger than 17 years of age and who is not required to be secured in a child passenger safety seat system under Section 545.412(a) to ride in the vehicle without requiring the child to be secured by a safety belt, provided the child is occupying a seat that is equipped with a safety belt.

(b-1) A person commits an offense if the person allows a child who is younger than 17 years of age and who is not required to be secured in a child passenger safety seat system under Section 545.412(a) to ride in a passenger van designed to transport 15 or fewer passengers, including the driver, without securing the child individually by a safety belt, if the child is occupying a seat that is equipped with a safety belt.

(c) A passenger vehicle or a seat in a passenger vehicle is considered to be equipped with a safety belt if the vehicle is required under Section 547.601 to be equipped with safety belts.

(d) An offense under Subsection (a) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $50. An offense under Subsection (b) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $200.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the person possesses a written statement from a licensed physician stating that for a medical reason the person should not wear a safety belt;

(2) the person presents to the court, not later than the 10th day after the date of the offense, a statement from a licensed physician stating that for a medical reason the person should not wear a safety belt;

(3) the person is employed by the United States Postal Service and performing a duty for that agency that requires the operator to service postal boxes from a vehicle or that requires frequent entry into and exit from a vehicle;

(4) the person is engaged in the actual delivery of newspapers from a vehicle or is performing newspaper delivery duties that require frequent entry into and exit from a vehicle;

(5) the person is employed by a public or private utility company and is engaged in the reading of meters or performing a similar duty for that company requiring the operator to frequently enter into and exit from a vehicle;

(6) the person is operating a commercial vehicle registered as a farm vehicle under the provisions of Section 502.433 that does not have a gross weight, registered weight, or gross weight rating of 48,000 pounds or more; or

(7) the person is the operator of or a passenger in a vehicle used exclusively to transport solid waste and performing duties that require frequent entry into and exit from the vehicle.

(f) The department shall develop and implement a Texas drivers ed program to encourage the wearing of safety belts and to emphasize:

(1) the effectiveness of safety belts and other restraint devices in reducing the risk of harm to passengers in motor vehicles; and

(2) the requirements of this section and the penalty for noncompliance.

Chapter 545. Operation and Movement of Vehicles
§ 545.414. Riding in Open Beds; Offense.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person operates an open-bed pickup truck or an open flatbed truck or draws an open flatbed trailer when a child younger than 18 years of age is occupying the bed of the truck or trailer.

(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $200.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person was:

(1) operating or towing the vehicle in a parade or in an emergency;

(2) operating the vehicle to transport farmworkers from one field to another field on a farm-to-market road, ranch-to-market road, or county road outside a municipality;

(3) operating the vehicle on a beach;

(4) operating a vehicle that is the only vehicle owned or operated by the members of a household; or

(5) operating the vehicle in a hayride permitted by the governing body of or a law enforcement agency of each county or municipality in which the hayride will occur.

(d) Compliance or noncompliance with Subsection (a) is not admissible evidence in a civil trial.

(e) In this section, "household" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.005, Family Code.

In conclusion, always buckle up. It’s the drivers responsibility to secure children properly and make sure all passengers are wearing their seatbelts. Make sure the seat belt is securely fastened and resting low on the hips. Drive safe and remember - All lives are important! Thank you for checking out my blog.

References:

Clickitorticket.com

Edgarsnyder.com

Texas.dps.gov

All-about-car-accidents.com

Justdrivepa.org

Pass Your Driver’s License Test With Confidence

You’ve taken your driver safety course, studied all of your road rules and road signs, and manned the wheel for nearly every super market outing with your parents. A lot of beginner drivers who are about to do their license test get very nervous about the road exam, thinking that it can be complex, not to mention being intimidated by the examiner. One solid way to overcome the anxieties of an exam is to have a strong understanding of the essential concepts that may present themselves more than once. Knowing what repetition to look for during your license test can help to instill confidence in a beginner. Using turn signals may be a single topic during your classroom experience, but once you have entered into the hands-on side of the exam, topics (such as turn signals) may begin to play a larger role than others due to their usefulness. This recognition of key points allows a beginner driver to have the confidence to succeed with their license test, finally making the brief nerves leading up the exam a fading memory of a long, but ultimately safe road ahead. Confidence is key, so lets see what you need to be confident.

Here are 10 of the most important precautions to take when entering your license test:

  1. Always signal at least a fifty yards into entering your turn.
  2. During the actual exam, be on the lookout for speed limit signs, stop signs, and other necessary postings. Do not roll through stop signs, yellow lights, and listen to your instructor. Stop means stop. The examiner may also suddenly call out Stop!. Do so immediately, as they can be checking your reaction time.
  3. For most beginner drivers, parallel parking can pose a major challenge. A great way to master the art of parallel parking is to practice in front of your house, or in an empty parking lot with cones. Also practice hill parking so that you can do this well. You will not be expected to do these things quickly in the test. The examiner will look out that you do it properly.
  4. When it comes to changing lanes, be sure to check your mirrors first for approaching vehicles.
  5. Do not allow the examiner to “trick you” into performing illegal maneuvers. Know and obey the law first, and the examiner second.
  6. Look out for pedestrians – they usually have the right away.
  7. When parking on the roadside, be sure to change your mirrors before driving off. Never move you vehicle without checking all of your mirrors.
  8. If you approach a stoplight, proceed with caution when the light turns from green to red. If you a turning left, turn toward the inside lane and move to the right (if the road is 2 lanes or more), but only after you check your mirrors and there is no oncoming traffic.
  9. Always be on the lookout for the unexpected.
  10. Keep your hands at the “nine and three” positions on the wheel.

Driving can be strange around the world.

Though most traffic laws are similar around the world, geographical settings or mindsets can often play into automobile legislation. When this comes to mind, most Americans think of the speed limitless autobahn, and driving on the right side of the road in UK-associated countries. Whether you are renting a car to drive in a foreign country, or planning a long term trip abroad, be sure to heed some of the following from around the world:

  1. Philippines – In Manila, of the Philippines, cars with license plates ending in a 1 or 2 are not allowed on the roads on Monday, 3 and 4 are banned on Tuesday, 5 or 6 on Wednesday, and so one, between the hours of 7am and 7pm.
  2. Denmark – Danish police are legally required to perform the morbid tasks of checking for bodies underneath your car before driving. Also, you must keep your head lights on during all hours to distinguish your vehicle from parked cars.
  3. Cyprus – Perhaps one of the worst or inhumane driving laws in the world is found in Cyprus. Here, it is prohibited to drink water when behind the wheel, which can cost you a fine of up to 85 Euros.
  4. Switzerland – The Swiss do not like people washing their cars on Sundays (for some reason). It is also illegal to leave your keys in the car and leave the car open (okay, this is just common sense).
  5. Spain – In a few cities in Spain, cars must be parked on the side of the road where houses bear uneven numbers on uneven days of the month. On a related note, another law states that you must carry an extra pair of glasses while driving (you should need them to find a specific house number).
  6. Japan – Slippery roads aren’t the only danger faced by drivers after a rainstorm in Japan. Splashing a pedestrian can net you a $65 fine.
  7. Australia – Next time you hop in a taxi in Australia, ask your cabbie for a peek in the trunk. If he’s abiding by the law, you should see a bale of hay.
  8. Vietnam – Don’t operate under the delusion that your Canadian/American license entitles you to drive in Vietnam. Driving without the proper temporary Vietnamese license could land you in prison for up to three years.
  9. Turkey – Some cautious drivers choose to keep a reflective triangle, first-aid kit and fire extinguisher in their trunk. Turkish drivers have no choice; getting caught driving without them will result in a $35 fine.
  10. USA – In California, it is against the law to jump from a vehicle travelling at 65mph, while in Montana, if you have a sheep in the back of your vehicle, it must be chaperoned.

Some say that laws are meant to be broken, but if you neglect one of these funky rules around the world, you could be looking at some hefty fines!

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles claims its “top priority” is protecting drivers and their information, though that does not seem to be the case as of recent. According to an article on CBS 11 News Dallas, the department is guided by federal law which can inform them on who can buy your private information and how they use it.

As most well know, the Texas DMV is rather busy at all hours of the day, with citizens filing in and out to register their vehicles, obtain driver’s licenses, and other necessary transfers of personal information. Now, it has come to light that the state does not simply make money of the necessary fees, but from your personal information as well. In 2012 alone, they made $2.1 million.

“The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is the custodian of over 22 million currently registered vehicles in the state of Texas,” said Randy Elliston, Director of the Texas DMV. “All of those records that are in our database, however, are protected under the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).”

How it Works

The Tax Collector’s Office in your county aides the state with the collection of your information and money, and this information is placed into the Texas DMV database. Once you are placed in the database, you information can be broken down into a number of factors, such as where you live or what your drive. Though this seems rather intrusive, as Elliston has said, the DPPA protects who can buy your information, and what they can do with it. So who’s purchasing this information?

According to Mireya Villarreal, an investigative reporter for CBS 11, nearly 2,500 businesses or agencies purchased the data in some fashion in 2012. These are such groups as: towing companies, collection agencies, insurance companies, schools, banks, governments, private investigators, and schools. The total amount that they pay is entirely based on what kind or how much information that they are looking to obtain.

“Some people might feel like the state is making money off of their private information. Is that the case here?” Mireya asked. “Well, the state does charge for the information that we release,” Elliston answered. “But they are not permitted to use it for advertising or things of that nature to contact people.”

Outcomes

Since 2000, only nine companies have been busted and barred from using this DMV data, and since 2010, only three complaints have been filed by Texas residents.

The Texas DMC steadfastly defends that all funds incurred from selling your personal information go towards state highway and maintenance funds. Though this may alert many Texans, you do have to pay for a superior highway system someway.

Luckily, though, if you feel that your personal information has been compromised, you can email your complaint to Diane.EmrickDodson@txdmv.gov. Also, you have the ability to mail in your inquiry to Vehicles and Registration Division, Jackson Avenue, Austin, TX 78731.