According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 20,000 people require medical attention every year as a result of crashes involving trailers towed by passenger vehicles. These recreational outings don’t need to go sideways — nor does whatever you may be towing. Here’s a safety checklist to ensure you are towing the right way.
(BPT) - The onset of warmer weather means taking to the outdoors, be it boating, camping or simply tackling big jobs in the backyard. The result is a heavy increase in traffic on the roads — and often tagging along with the extra vehicles are the trailers, boats and campers that can put motorists at risk.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 20,000 people require medical attention every year as a result of crashes involving trailers towed by passenger vehicles.
These recreational outings don’t need to go sideways — nor does whatever you may be towing. Here’s a safety checklist to ensure you are towing the right way:
Get hitched: A starting point to towing is knowing the pulling capacity of your vehicle, as too much weight can cause a load of problems, no matter how much power your engine has.
When it comes to connecting a trailer to the towing vehicle, a critical component, of course, is the coupler — the part of the hitch system that is attached to the trailer. The coupler needs to be secured, tight and locked.
On the towing vehicle, avoid using a ball mount and hitch that is rusted, cracked, corroded or poorly designed — anything that can compromise its integrity. A safe answer is applying a new hitch, like the Ultra-Tow Complete Tow Kit, which is a durable and easy solution to pull whatever you’re towing.
Bottom line: Always reference the “coupling to tow vehicle” section of your vehicle manual to make sure it is done right.
Feel the (tire) pressure: An often forgotten element on the trailer towing checklist is making sure the trailer’s tire pressure is at the right level. In addition, inspect tires for wear or trauma — and be sure to have a spare.
Be a chain agent: Once you place and pop in the coupler over the ball mount, the next step is applying the safety chains, which need to be rigged to the tow vehicle. Avoid the common mistake of rigging the safety chains to the hitch or ball mount itself. Safety chains are federal law and will keep the trailer from drifting in the event the trailer coupling separates from the ball mount.
Light it up: No matter what you’re driving, communicating with other vehicles is paramount to safety — and that means having properly working brake, tail and turn signal lights. Before departing, sync up the trailer lights with the tow vehicle and test it out so that other motorists will know your actions.
Locked down and loaded: Once everything is hitched, it’s time to load up the cargo. It’s best to be balanced with weight distribution, but put heavier cargo in the front of the trailer. And of course, do not overload.
This pre-departure checklist is only a start. Once on the road, remember the basic safe driving practices when towing a trailer: Drive at moderate speeds, avoid sudden stops, don’t use cruise control and allow more distance for stopping.
No matter how much of a rush you are in to hit the road this summer, don’t take any shortcuts when it comes to towing safely.
(BPT) - As you drive down the street, the threat of potential distractions is everywhere. Federal research shows that distracted driving is a factor in one out of every six crashes, and accounts for 5,000 automobile crash-related fatalities each year.
While teens are commonly associated with distracted-driving issues — particularly texting — the issue affects drivers of all ages. To help reduce distracted driving crash-related injuries, and loss of life, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance) offer these tips to help drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
* Gear up before you go out. Whether it’s your sunglasses, your Bluetooth(R) earpiece or your favorite hat, putting accessories on before starting your car allows you to keep your hands on the wheel, and not your wardrobe while driving.
* Stop for a bite. A quick bite for lunch should be enjoyed in a restaurant, or your non-moving vehicle, instead of on the go while you're driving. This allows you to take a break, enjoy your food and not worry about spilling beverages on yourself.
* Don’t be afraid to pull over. If another matter begs your attention — such as settling a disagreement between your children — pull the car over to handle the situation properly rather than trying to attend to it while you are driving.
* Have a plan in place. Sometimes this is easier said than done. However, if you are traveling somewhere for the first time, you should understand your route before starting the drive. Program your GPS, or share printed directions with your navigator before you depart.
* Call them back. Cell phone usage is one of the leading causes of distracted driving-related crashes and not all of them are related solely to texting. If your phone rings while you’re in the car and you do not have a hands-free headset already on, let the caller go to voicemail. You can always call them back when you arrive at your destination or your next stop.
* If you don’t need it, store it. Sporting equipment, kids' toys or groceries, your car is the transport home for many things and sometimes those items can jostle back and forth while you're driving — particularly on those sharp turns. And when things start moving, your natural reaction is to take your eyes off the road and reach for them. Instead, secure items in the trunk or in another storage compartment before the drive.
Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel is one of the most important things you do every single day you choose to drive so be sure to apply the tips above and make driving your No. 1 priority. Your loved ones and those you share the road with will thank you for it. For even more helpful tips and strategies to minimize driving distractions, visit www.decidetodrive.org.
(BPT) - The weather's finally warming up, the roads are dry and your sports car is beckoning you to hit the road for a fun trip. The question is: Are your tires up to the task?
"Tires influence braking, steering, comfort, handling and even fuel efficiency," says Bob Abram, consumer tires product planning manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tires for passenger cars, SUVs, buses, trucks and yes, race cars, too. "Whether you drive a sports car, minivan or high-end luxury vehicle, it's important you have the right tires because choosing the wrong ones can result in a disappointment with the handling, ride and treadwear."
When it comes to fast and fun vehicles, Abram said ultra-high-performance (UHP) tires might be the best bet, depending on driving styles and vehicle performance. Finding the best one could be daunting, so he has some quick tips to get you rolling.
1. Take extra time to research.
When conducting online research, make sure the reviews (and reviewers) are using the vehicle the way you do. If you need to drive in snow, but the reviews don't mention winter driving, then that tire might not work best for you. In short, don't look for the top-rated tires in regards to just "performance"; make sure to add in how and where you drive.
2. Look for a mileage warranty.
The best UHP all-season (A/S) tires now have a mileage warranty to give you peace of mind about a balance of performance and tread life. For example, the ADVAN Sport A/S has a 50,000-mile limited treadwear warranty for W- and Y-speed models.
3. Look for balanced performance.
Most drivers will be happier with a tire that handles well in all seasons, but also offers a smooth, comfortable ride and good treadwear. Usually the best UHP all-season tires do many things well, not just one or two. This is where your research will really pay off.
Abram says to check sites like www.tirerack.com, www.discounttire.com and tire company websites like www.yokohamatire.com for more help.
Once you decide on the right UHP tires for your vehicle, Abram says, maintaining them is essential to get their full benefits. "It always starts with checking your tire pressure regularly, which is at least once a month. It only takes 5 minutes and can really help, because a tire that is underinflated by only 8 psi can reduce fuel economy up to 2 percent. This will affect your drive and the vehicle's fuel efficiency, so keeping them properly inflated will give you a better ride and save you some money."
The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) recommends checking the tires when they are cold - at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven. Abram says to always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water.
"The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer," Abram says. "The proper inflation levels can be found on a placard on the inside of the car door and/or in the owner's manual."
Abram offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:
* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, your tire's tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tires.
* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch (the lowest legal limit). It's best to replace them before they reach 2/32 depending on your drive (geographically and based on the type of streets).
* Rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
* Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.
For more tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com/tires-101 or www.rma.org.
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