Category Archives: Driving Safety

Toyota Self-Driving Cars: Safer, Smarter, and User Friendly

The Toyota Research Institute is making headlines as it makes advances in autonomous vehicle technologies. The 2.0 advanced safety research vehicle was recently displayed in Sonoma California and have been dubbed the Chauffeur and Guardian technologies.

According to Toyota, the new Toyota self-driving cars operate by using a range of machines and systems. These include the LIDAR feature, a combination of radar and cameras that work to optimize the computer’s perception of environment. The autonomous Prius models also rely on high-definition maps to a degree, that, when combined with LIDAR, paint a clear picture for the computer.

“Basically, it is a smart vehicle designed to get smarter over time,” said Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute. “It will learn individual driver habits and abilities and will benefit from shared intelligence from other cars as data gathering, sharing and connectivity technologies advance.  We believe Guardian can probably be deployed sooner and more widely than Chauffeur, providing high-level driver-assist features capable of helping mitigate collisions and save lives, sooner rather than later.”

The Chauffeur system is a fully autonomous technology that can operate constantly, while Guardian is a high-level driver assist system. This means the car is able to always monitor what’s happening, helping to prevent crashes moments before humans are even aware of danger. You don’t have to give up your freedom behind the wheel with these self-driving systems—they just work when you need them. At Bill Walsh Toyota, we can’t wait to see what else the brand has in store for the future.

How to Drive through Snowy Weather

Here in northern Illinois, winter can be a pretty unforgiving time, especially if you need to do any driving. Here are a few tips on how to drive through snowy weather to help get you through this long, cold season.

  • Get snow tires. Snow tires are specifically designed to cut through snow and slush and give your wheels more traction. If you do make the switch, make sure you swap out all four tires.
  • AWD does not equal invincibility. Just because your vehicle has all-wheel or four-wheel-drive, that does not mean your car can tackle any road condition. It may help you start moving and stay moving through snow, but when it comes to stopping power, it won’t help you at all. Continue to drive cautiously even with the added traction.
  • Stay home. When the roughest winter weather hits, stay home if you can. If you head out anyway and skid off the road you will, at the very least, be late; but things could end up being much worse.
  • Practice. If you find yourself driving through heavy winter conditions year after year, find a way to practice your driving skills. Head to a large empty parking lot that and drive no faster than 25 mph to feel how your car reacts to a skid and practice controlling it. Or, you can spend some money on a professional driving school to learn some real skills.

Do you have any winter driving tips to share?

An Accident Checklist Can Help Reduce Stress

Automobile accidents are challenging enough. Being unprepared, without a clue about what to do, can only add to the trauma. That’s why it’s a good idea to put together an accident checklist that includes the following:

Am I safe?

  • Your first priority is ensuring your own safety. Before anything else happens, make sure you are out of harm’s way. Attend to others if they are in danger.

Gather information

  • Record the names and addresses of everyone involved in the accident (including passengers). Note the make, model, year, and license plate number of every vehicle involved. Write down the insurance policy number and driver’s license number of every driver involved.

Record damage

  • Using your cell phone, take photos of the damage. If it helps, take photos of the entire scene. Write down the details.

File a claim

  • Report the accident to your insurance company.

Write down this checklist and keep in your glove box or save in your phone. Then, in the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident, you can simply work your way down the list.

Toyota Launches Programs to Address Teen Driving Safety

When it comes to driving safety, the stakes are high. In 2011, seven teenagers aged from 16 to 19 died everyday from motor vehicle injuries (CDC).

Toyota has long taken up the flag of teen driving safety. Just recently, the automaker launched two defensive driving campaigns aimed at encouraging teens to be better drivers.

TeenDrive365 Video Challenge

This is the fifth year that Toyota has offered this challenge in which high school students are asked to make a short film that inspires other teenagers to minimize driving distractions. The submissions are judged by a panel consisting of “community leaders, educators, communications experts, and Toyota representatives.” The winner will receive $15,000 and work with a bona fide film crew to re-shoot their film as a TV-ready PSA.

Toyota Driving Coach

The number one factor influencing how a teen will drive is their parents’ behavior behind the wheel. Armed with this data, Toyota created a program with DoSomething.org in which teens can help their parents become better drivers (making the teens better in the process). Teens will receive texts from DoSomething.org describing unsafe driving behaviors and then help the teens decide how to address those behaviors if they see them in their parents.

For more information on both programs, click here!

April Is Distracted Driver Awareness Month

We’ve all seen it—someone sitting in their car and doing some serious multi-tasking: driving, texting, eating, and who knows what else. While being this productive can be good in other parts of your life; behind the wheel, it is extremely dangerous.

April is national Distracted Driver Awareness month and we’re going to share some valuable tips that we hope will help make you a more conscious driver.

One of the primary culprits in distracted driving is, of course, your phone. It can be hard to ignore that little jingle from your phone, but making safety a priority will keep you and those around you safer. Did you know that at any moment in the United States, there are 660,000 drivers using a phone behind the wheel? These drivers are at least three times more likely to get into an accident than those who aren’t distracted.

In addition to phone use, distracted driving includes eating behind the wheel, adjusting your radio, grooming, and even talking to passengers. While some of these activities are nearly unavoidable (you probably have to talk to your kids in the backseat from time to time), you should make every effort to stay focused on the road.

One simple way to do this is to put your phone away and only use it while you’re parked. You can also commit to not doing other things, like eating, while you’re driving. With a few simple changes, you can keep yourself and drivers around you a little bit safer.