Beware of unlicensed limousine companies

April 20, 2015

limo-1Prom night creates driving hazards for many young people in our state each spring.

Hiring a limousine service is one way parents and students can ease their anxiety and help ensure the night’s travel itinerary is safe.

However, there are unlicensed limousine services putting everyone on the road at risk.

Unlicensed and unregulated limo businesses offer rides in vehicles that may be dangerous and driven by people who are unfit to drive or provide services to young people.

Limo-poster-thumbnailParents and students can easily check whether a business is licensed by visiting the Department of Licensing’s website.

DOL’s website includes consumer tips, a printable poster and a video that offers tips about hiring a limo service.

DOL’s printable poster states, Don’t Muck Around When You Rent a Limo, and includes helpful information.

 


Great tool for finding a driver licensing office near you

March 11, 2015
Click image to use the locator map.

Click image to use the locator map.

Looking for a driver licensing office near you?

An online “locator map” on the Department of Licensing’s website is the best source for information about driver licensing office locations.

Just click on any city appearing on the map, and you’ll be taken to DOL’s webpage featuring specific information about the driver licensing office in that city.

In addition to the address for each location, you’ll also find the days and hours each office is open.

Current wait times for each office are also found by using the locator map.

Just above the locator map, you’ll also find a drop-down menu featuring a complete list of driver licensing office locations.  Here, the cities are conveniently listed in alphabetical order.

When looking for the location of a driver licensing office, DOL highly recommends using the locator map; especially since search engines can produce inaccurate information.

 


New program to help parents teach and teenagers learn safe driving habits

February 3, 2015

pdf-cover-image---parents-supervised-training-program-1OLYMPIA — The Department of Licensing has partnered with the Safe Roads Alliance and State Farm Insurance to launch a new program that provides parents and guardians with a simple, easy-to-follow plan designed to help teens develop safe driving habits.

“Young drivers in Washington State, between the ages of 16 and 19 years old, are more than twice as likely to crash as drivers in other age groups due to inexperience,” said Pat Kohler, DOL Director. “Parents play a critical role in their children’s education and this guide encourages parents to expose teenagers to a variety of enhanced supervised driving experiences to help them become knowledgeable and safe drivers.”

The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program guide is packed with information and lessons on driving basics, parental pointers, and licensing qualifications that are helpful to parents of new drivers. The program is supplemented by the RoadReady mobile app, which can easily and accurately track the required supervised driving time of 50 hours, including 10 hours of night driving. Last year, 76,500 Washington teens sought instruction (learner’s) permits, and the Department wanted to provide parents with a resource geared toward skill development and expanding the conditions and time that teens drive with their parents prior to driving independently.

The program focuses on the role of the parent in the teen driver education process and encourages parents and teens to drive together in a variety of weather conditions and unfamiliar settings, city and heavy traffic routes, and also various times of day.  According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm study, Driving Through the Eyes of Teens, teen drivers whose parents are highly involved in the teen driver education process were half as likely to get in a car crash, 71 percent less likely to drive intoxicated, 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while driving, and twice as likely to wear seatbelts.

“Getting a driver’s license is such a special moment in a teen’s life, but it often causes increased anxiety for parents,” said Ed Gold, State Farm Marketing Director. “Research tells us the single most important thing parents can do to help their teens stay safe on the road is to allow as much supervised practice behind the wheel as possible. Driving with a parent builds a new driver’s confidence and we hope this new resource will help parents and teens make the most of this time together.”

The free program guide is available at driver licensing offices around the state. It is also available on the DOL website at: http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/docs/parentguide.pdf. The RoadReady mobile app is available at the Apple Store and Google Play.


New motorcycle awareness video shows why looking twice deserves “A Second Look”

December 2, 2014

It’s here!

After months of work, the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program is proud to roll-out its new driver training video focused on motorcycle awareness.

A Second Look is an 8-minute video produced with teen viewers in mind. It’s currently being distributed to every driver training school in Washington state, and is also available at dol.wa.gov.

A Second Look is an easily accessible tool for driving schools and instructors to use as they fulfill the state curriculum requirement regarding motorcycle awareness.

Paired with the video is a set of companion learning materials that can help facilitate even more active learning for their students.  These materials include essential “conversation generator” questions, brain-based learning classroom activities, an outline of key concepts, a fun quiz, and some resource information regarding motorcycle awareness.

A Second Look was produced in cooperation with Notion Pictures, using a federal grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Filmed in and around Olympia, Washington, this video conveys basic technical information useful to new drivers. It also creates empathy for all road users.

The story in this video follows a young driver named Ian who learns how to safely drive around motorcycles.  Ian learns from a motorcyclist named Randy.

We felt it was essential to create an emotional hook, so that viewers would not only learn ways to drive more safely,  but (and perhaps more importantly) gain a clearer understanding about why they should drive more safely.

Because A Second Look was developed for young drivers in driver training, we chose to present a stereotyped version of a rider.  However, as the story unfolds, it reveals that people who are stereotyped are, in fact, real human beings.

Using that approach, our hope is that the learning will go deeper, and remain memorable for a lifetime of safe driving.

Producing a video with a teen audience in mind provided the opportunity to make some unexpected choices, such as NOT showing the actual crash at the end of the story.

In using that approach, we’ve left it up to the “mind’s eye” of each viewer to see the consequence of Ian’s mistake in a way that is most powerful and relevant to him or her.

Why did the crash happen?

What could the driver and rider have done differently?

Did Randy die?

All of those questions are left for the viewer to consider.

Driving instructors can then use these questions, in conjunction with the companion materials, to re-enforce the power of making safe, effective choices on the road.

Though created for driving students, this video reminds us all of the power in simply looking twice; doing so really can–and does–save lives.


VIDEO: Trooper speaks about dangers of impaired, distracted driving

September 9, 2014
trooper-carr-2b

Trooper Sean Carr

(Seattle) The year was new, the weather still dark and cold when a threat to drivers intensified during the morning rush-hour on Interstate-5.

An SUV traveled south in the northbound lanes.

It struck one vehicle, then continued.

Then, it struck another. Still, the SUV pressed on.

Trooper Sean Carr heard the call from dispatch on that January morning.

    An erratic, wrong-way driver.

Carr understood the threat level.

“Lots of people are off to work, getting kids off to school or getting them to daycare,” he recalled months later.

As Carr travelled north on I-5, the SUV approached and showed no sign of slowing.

“I had to take her SUV head-on with this patrol car,” Carr shared.

Carr, whose wife and father-in-law are also state troopers, knew this was the type of moment he’d signed-up for when he joined the Washington State Patrol seven years earlier:  a moment to serve and protect.

Carr said he made a split-second decision.

“I knew there was a trooper behind me, who was actually a cadet, with his field-training officer riding with him. They were in direct line with the SUV behind me. There was plenty of northbound traffic already on the roadway… And I knew that she’d already struck two other vehicles and continued. And if I did not put myself in front of her, she was going to keep going.

“I made the conscious decision to sacrifice my patrol car, and even potentially sacrifice myself, to stop that (SUV) because as a state trooper, I believe in that; that I am here to run towards the gunfire.  I’m here to help people, save people and, if need be, to lay my life down for those people.”

The memory of the moment of impact on that morning nine months ago has stayed with him.

“I think about it every time I put on my vest on and jump in my car,” Carr said.

Incredibly, no one was seriously hurt.

Safety features built into the patrol car—crumple and crush zones—helped minimize Carr’s injuries.  His vehicle returned to the road after two-months in a repair shop.

Police said the SUV’s 19-year-old driver was intoxicated.

Carr is acutely aware that the driver and her passenger were fortunate to have survived.

“Absolutely.  And in previous years, I responded to, basically, a mimic situation: A young lady who was going the wrong way, southbound in the northbound lanes…. And she ended up striking a small pickup truck with two teenagers inside, of which the young  female teenager lost her life instantly. And the young male driver, he was in serious condition and in intensive care for several months.”

Carr recalled the moment when police first made contact with the impaired driver in that crash.

“We were literally putting the flames out on her vehicle while she was still in the driver’s seat with a broken leg. And she’s asking us, why did we pull her over?  She had no recollection or knowledge that she had just ended someone’s life and sent somebody else to the intensive care unit.”

Carr said that, in one year alone, he responded to three cases involving wrong-way drivers who were drunk.

“I personally can’t stress enough the importance of communicating with your kids,” Carr said.

“Parents need to talk to their kids about the fact that, you know what?  If you make a mistake, you make a mistake. But instead of risking your life and risking the lives of numerous other people, call somebody. Call your mom. Call your dad. Call your uncle. Call your aunt.  Your brother. Your sister.  Somebody that is sober and can come take care of you. You’d be better off calling mom and dad and letting them know that you’re not okay to drive, than me calling mom and dad and meeting them at the doorstep and telling them that you’ll never drive again.”

DOL produced the two videos below featuring our interview with Trooper Sean Carr. 


Washington Drivers Getting 6-Year Licenses

August 14, 2014

OLYMPIA—Starting this month, most Washington drivers renewing their licenses will have an additional year until their next visit to the Department of Licensing as the state transitions from a five-year driver license renewal cycle to a six-year cycle.

By extending the renewal cycle to six years, drivers in our state won’t have to visit DOL offices as often. Over time, this change also will reduce the number of drivers and ID card holders visiting DOL offices each year. This will help keep wait times as low as possible for all our customers.

The cost of a basic driver license or ID card will remain at $9 per year, but most customers will be paying for an additional year, so the total renewal cost will change from $45 for five years to $54 for six years.

Moving to a six-year driver license is expected to reduce the average number of annual renewals by more than 100,000. In order to evenly distribute all of our state’s licensed drivers into six years of roughly equal and lower renewal volumes, some drivers will be selected to receive a license extension for less than six years.

Beginning August 10, approximately 20 percent of drivers with licenses expiring in October will be selected at random by DOL’s license issuance system to receive a five-year license. The remaining 80 percent will receive a six-year license.

DOL will continue this gradual transition for the next five years by selecting 20 percent of drivers each year to receive licenses valid for less than six years. During the second year of this process, 20 percent of drivers will get a license valid for four years. In the third year, 20 percent will get a license valid for three years. In the fourth year, 20 percent will get a two-year license. In the final year, 20 percent will receive a one-year license.

Drivers randomly selected to receiving shorter renewal periods will only pay for the number of years their license is valid and will be eligible to renew online.

Click here for more info on DOL’s website.


Don’t Let a DUI Ruin Your Summer Fun

August 12, 2014

Law Enforcement Will be out in Force on DUI Patrols

field--test-1Summer is a time for parties and picnics in the sun, but don’t let a DUI ruin your fun.  Even though Washington legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, it is still illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of marijuana or alcohol.

“Specifically, we want people to know that marijuana doubles the risk of a fatal crash,” said Darrin Grondel, Traffic Safety Commission Director.

“With new retail marijuana stores in the mix, we want to remind the public that prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as illegal and recreational drugs, can impair driving ability,” Grondel said.

That is why between August 15 and September 1 extra officers will be on our roads looking for drivers under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs during the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Many of these officers have special training to identify when a driver is under the influence of drugs as well as alcohol.

Drivers are encouraged to find alternative transportation or ride with a sober designated driver. “More people may be using marijuana recreationally, but that should never be mixed with driving,” said Lt. Rob Sharpe, Commander of the Washington State Patrol Impaired Driving Section.

Lt. Sharpe noted that law enforcement has been arresting drugged drivers for a long time and will continue to identify and arrest drivers who make the poor choice to drive under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs.

Additionally, law enforcement reminds young drivers that impairment laws are much stricter for anyone under the age of 21. A young driver who has any marijuana in their system or a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher is considered to be driving under the influence and is at risk for arrest.

One hundred and sixty-six law enforcement agencies in Washington have obtained grants to participate in this Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.  Police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Washington State Patrol will be working together to cover the state in extra DUI enforcement.

All of these extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com. Additional information on the Washington Traffic Safety Commission can be found on the website, www.wtsc.wa.gov.

 


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