Thursday, September 24, 2015

APPS that keep your TEEN DRIVER SAFE

If you’re anything like me, that musical pinging sound, signifying a message notification, coming from the cell phone is like a mating call – very hard to ignore on an almost instinctual level, even when I’m actively driving on the road.  When I hear it, my 20+ years of practiced habit to constantly scan and pay attention to the road wants fiercely to give in to this almost homing pigeon instinct of just concentrating on that little compartment in my messenger bag, sitting in the front passenger seat of my car, where I always keep my smart phone.

This sort of behavior is where driving becomes even riskier than ever.

At my age, I’ve learned to resist that “call”, at least long enough to wait for a chance to either arrive at my destination, or find a decent spot to pull over and check.  That 20+ years was hard-earned experience driving miles of road and “paying the price” for the tailgating, speeding, road rage management issues and a couple of rear-ending instances, I had to learn from – not things I’m proud of doing.

When I was a first time driver going through my “growing pains” of becoming a “good driver” on the road, distractions were usually the other passengers in the car, eating while driving or the knobs and dials on my dashboard – radio, air conditioner or adjusting the mirrors.   I’m glad to report, however, that I never gave in to the temptation of applying eye make up while driving.

These days with modern technology taking on Star Trek the Next Generation proportions with smart phones, e-tablets,  iPads, etc. etc. etc., the distractions for a teen driver have been taken to a new level of “risky”.

Here’s where I throw some stats at you to bring that new level of “risky” into focus.  These stats were pulled off of a page advocating against distracted driving practices on Verizon’s website (direct link just below):

increased likelihood of being in an accident if texting while driving compared to driving while not distracted

of American adults think sending text messages or e-mails while driving is distracting, dangerous and should be outlawed

41 states
in the U.S. have laws that ban sending text messages while driving

teens respond to a text one or more times while driving

4.6 seconds
pass when a driver's eyes leave the road to text - at 55 mph, it's like driving the length of a football field blind

of drivers ages 21-24 send text messages and emails while driving

 Here are a few more companion articles with stats and studies on the growing problem.  They were written by Jason Siu for

From March 26, 2015:

From August 5, 2015:

Also, from August 5, 2015:

So, now that I have your attention with those hard numbers, I imagine you’ve sprouted a new grey hair and are asking yourself “What can I do to keep my teen driver safer on the road?”

Well, as all of this new tech seems to be contributing to this issue, so too, we can go to “all of this new tech” to seek a counter balance in generating some solutions.

About 2 months ago, Family Circle’s website cited 7 featured apps that are out there, ranging from “FREE” to $100, depending on what you’re looking for.  (I’m just going mention 1-3 of them.  For all 7, please click on the link below.)


This app is reputed to be compatible with Android phones.  Its basic function is to disable text message and email capability on smart phones, with its best feature being a lock on the phone’s screen so that no text messages or emails can be sent or read while driving.  The app “senses” when the vehicle is travelling faster than 5mph.

Safe Driver

This app’s compatibility is with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPads.  This app is supposed to monitor location and driving practices of newly licensed teens.  (If parents learn their developing habits, they can intervene as necessary to correct the developing habit.)  This app alerts parents via text message or email when the teen driver exceeds a specific speed and shows where infractions occurred.


This one is reputed to be compatible with BlackBerry and some Windows mobile phones.  Its basic function is to limit access to email, text messages, browsing and calling when a teen is on the road.  Its best feature is to restrict a teen’s cell phone activity while driving and allows calls parents set form a contact list using an online account.
Here, again, Verizon also put out a promotional blurb on their site, earlier this year, with 2 featured apps to help with your teen’s potential “distracted driving” habits linked to new tech.  (To see the full article, click on the link below.)

Live2Txt which is for Android™.  This app allows you to block incoming texts and calls while driving. Turn the app “on” when you get behind the wheel, and you’ll silence your smartphone from incoming notifications, texts and calls. When you receive a message, the app will alert the sender with a customized message that you’re unable to respond at the moment. You also have the option to block incoming calls and texts, only texts or only calls. Live2Txt also comes in handy during other times you may need to minimize interruptions, such as during an important meeting, your next massage or your child’s school play.


Canary which is available for Android™ and iOS.  This is a great option for concerned parents, as it offers instant feedback on your child’s behavior while behind the wheel. When you download the app (available for Android and iOS) to your child’s phone, you can set maximum speed limits and get alerts when your children go over them. You can also get alerts when your teen is traveling outside of predefined safe areas and violating curfew.

And finally, the last app I will reference that caught my attention was mentioned in an article by Sheryll Alexander for Communities Digital News recently on August 17, 2015.

ParentBlocked is similar to the function offered by TextArrest above in that it uses navigation technology to recognize when a vehicle is moving over 10mph, shutting down mobile text messaging, controlling approved calls and more.

For more on this app and the accompanying article with statistics, click here:

These are just a few options out there to help keep your teen driver focused and safe as they build their own experience on the road.  As parents of new teen drivers, it’s up to you to do the research on these options as well as making sure that you educate your teens on the added dangers on the road – not just from their potential bad habits, but the bad habits of others.  It will take a concerted effort to make driving our shared roadways a safe, useful and even fun experience for everyone.  Happy travels!

-Letitia Chang, Customer Service Representative

Friday, May 31, 2013

TO PEE? OR NOT TO PEE? That is the Question.

And the ANSWER is.....NO.

Hopefully you’re smart enough never to drink and drive and ALWAYS designate a sober driver.  However, if you do show a lapse in judgment and are stopped by law enforcement for suspicion of driving under the influence, the chemical testing requirements have changed. The URINE test is no longer an option, except under certain conditions.

With the passage of California Bill AB 2020 (Pan), California Vehicle code (CVC) 23612 “implied consent for chemical testing” requires a blood or breath test when a person is lawfully arrested for DUI involving drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol.  The urine test is only permitted under the following conditions:

  Both blood and breath tests are unavailable.
  The individual is a hemophiliac.
  The individual is taking anticoagulant medication.

WHY?  The legislature determined that even though they are slightly more expensive, blood tests are more effective than urine tests and are challenged less frequently in court.

So what if you refuse to take any test?  In California, the penalties for refusing to take the blood or breath test BEGINS with a one-year suspension of your license and does not guarantee that you still won’t be convicted.

Ultimately, the laws are in place to make the roads safer for all of us.  So just do the smart thing to begin with:  NEVER DRINK & DRIVE.

Friday, January 11, 2013




NEW Driving Laws


The following is a list of updates to California laws that all drivers should take into account.
  • AB 2020: A person arrested for suspected DUI will no longer be given the option of a urine test. In previous years, officers gave the option of either a urine test or a blood test.
  • AB 45: Bus and limousine drivers will be held responsible for telling all underage passengers that drinking alcohol is illegal. If alcohol is being transported in a bus or limousine with underage passengers on board, a person at least 25 years old must be on board to ensure there is no underage consumption.
  • AB 1536: It will be legal to send and receive text messages with hands-free devices powered by voice-operated software. 
  • AB 1708: Drivers will have the right to show proof of insurance on a smartphone or tablet when pulled over. 
  • AB 2405: Cars with Clean Air Vehicle stickers will be allowed to use High Occupancy Toll lanes. 
  • SB 1298: Self-driving cars will be allowed on public roads for testing purposes as long as a licensed driver is in the driver's seat. 
  • SB 1047: CHP will begin a Silver Alert system similar to Amber Alert, but for missing people over 65 years old.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Virginia DMV App Available for Your Smartphone

Conduct Transactions, Find Closest Offices, Check Wait Times

RICHMOND - The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recently launched an Android mobile operating system application that allows customers to access DMV services through their Android-based smartphones.

The new VADMV app has a wide range of features including access to more than two dozen DMV transactions. VADMV app users can set up a myDMV account, create a personal identification number and conduct a variety of transactions including renewing decals and driver's licenses.

The app has an office locator feature that uses a smartphone's global positioning system (GPS) to locate the customer, and to display the closest DMV offices and their average wait times. If users select a specific DMV office, details such as hours and HAZMAT fingerprinting availability are displayed. Users may tap or select the DMV office's address to obtain driving directions. If a customer wants to talk to a DMV representative before traveling to an office, tapping on the DMV phone number will automatically dial it.

"If a customer is applying for a driver's license, for example, they can read the driver's manual and take a sample knowledge exam on their phone right before the real test," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb. All DMV sample knowledge exams are available through the VADMV app including the motorcycle license exam and commercial driver's license exam. Before taking a sample exam, DMV app users can view the Virginia Driver's Manual.

If users want to purchase license plates, they may browse the more than 200 specialty plates offered in Virginia. Customers can use the app's interactive feature to try out different letter and number combinations, and create a personalized license plate.

The VADMV app also includes a News and Alerts feature where users can get the latest DMV news releases about traffic safety, new service options or upcoming office closures.
One feature that will soon be added to the VADMV app is the interactive Virginia crash map where users can get a street-level view of crashes on specific intersections or roadways, and generate crash statistics based on injuries, fatalities and locality. And, VADMV app users will soon be able to schedule an appointment to take their DMV road tests.

The free app is available through Virginia DMV's website at or through Andoid Market/Google Play. DMV is currently developing a similar iOS app for Apple-based products including iPhones and iPads.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


As reported by

RENO--Nevada's new state law requiring owners of off-highway vehicles, including dirt bikes, to register and title their vehicles went into effect on July 1, 2012.

The Washoe County Sheriff's and District Attorney's Offices remind all owners of off-highway vehicles, or OHVs, manufactured in 1976 or newer, that they must register their vehicle and properly display the registration decal in order to legally operate their vehicles in Nevada.

According to the Nevada Commission on Off-Highway Vehicles, OHVs include, but are no limited to all-terrain vehicles, all-terrain motorcycles, dune buggies, snowmobiles, and "any motor vehicle used on public lands for the purpose of recreation."

Nevada's new statute requires that OHVs purchased prior to July 1, 2012 must be registered by July 1, 2013.  Titles are optional for OHVs purchased before July 1, 2012.

OHVs purchased after July 1, 2012 must be registered and titled within 30 days of purchase.

Registration applications are accepted and decals are issued by mail only.

For additional resources and information about the registration and operation of Off-Highway vehicles in Nevada, visit the official website of the Nevada Commission on Off-Highway Vehicles at; or call (775) 684-4381.

Washoe County is currently reviewing local ordinances related to the operation of OHVs on public roads based on the state's new registration requirements.  However, all current state and local regulations and restrictions pertaining to OHV operation remain in effect, regardless of whether or not an OHV is registered, until such time as new regulations are formally adopted by the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners.

Monday, August 27, 2012



Are you (or do you know) a professional truck driver?  Do you carry a Commercial Driver’s License?  If so, some good news may be headed your way.

Currently, California law prohibits professional drivers from attending traffic school to mask citations on their records, even for citations received while driving their personal vehicles, including motorcycles.  However, this may soon change.

The law was adopted eight years ago to comply with federal rules, however many have argued that the law unfairly punishes commercial drivers by denying them access to traffic school for citations received when they are off the clock.  In fact, doing so has had a significantly negative impact on professional drivers’ abilities to maintain employment.  Most employers of commercial drivers require their drivers to maintain low point counts on their records.  Under the new law insurance companies would still be notified of the violations, but if the driver attends an approved traffic school course, such as, the POINTS would not be included, which is most significant.  It’s the number of points on a driving record that determine whether or not a driver’s license is suspended and influences most employer’s decisions whether or not to hire drivers.

Advocates for the new law argue that violations in non-commercial vehicles should be treated the same way for all drivers, whether the driver possesses a commercial driver’s license or not.

It looks like the state senate agrees.  They voted unanimously to advance the bill – AB1888 – which is now headed back to the state assembly for approval.  A majority vote would send the bill to Governor Brown’s desk.

You can follow the status of AB1888 by clicking here.