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 winter progresses, we are likely to see more visibility-reducing weather. Heavy rain, frost, ice and snow can all impair visibility while driving, including reducing the performance of windshield wipers.
Reduced visibility can quickly turn your drive into a stressful situation, especially when you have your precious cargo in the backseat. The notoriously unpredictable weather during the colder months also adds to driver anxiety, with rain and winter weather posing a challenge while behind the wheel. Ultimately, almost 90 percent of driving decisions are based upon vision, according to the official New Jersey Driving Manual, making it a top priority to have properly functioning windshield wipers.
* Inspect regularly: Whether you’re shuttling the kids to practice or running errands, safety is of the utmost importance. A quick maintenance check in your own driveway could help you and your family avoid issues down the road. To make sure windshield wipers are in good condition, check for tears, excessive noise or streaking on the windshield. These are all signs that windshield wipers have reached the end of their lifespan and must be replaced as soon as possible to ensure proper vision.
* Choose wipers for extreme weather: When looking to replace windshield wipers, consider blades that are specially developed to resist cracks from ozone exposure so you’ll have the clearest visibility when driving around town. These windshield wipers will work better in extreme weather while being more durable, providing an even and uniform wipe across the windshield. Bosch ICON beam windshield wipers are one option designed to help sharpen visibility while providing extreme weather safety.
It is important to ensure you are taking the necessary precautions for the best visibility behind the wheel. A simple maintenance check of your windshield wipers will help to keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.
(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) - Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.
More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don't yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.
Distracted driving isn't just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.
Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted-driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using mobile phones while driving on company time.
In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. Cargill's Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.
"I had to try the policy myself first," says MacLennan. "Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company."
Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.
1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you're on the road.
If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.
3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.
4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.
5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over "cellphone stops" along your route if needed.
6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren't the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.
Driving safely should be everyone's top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you've arrived, safely, at your destination.
Better Bus Safety
(Family Features) For millions of school-age children, each day begins and ends with a bus ride. While parents entrust their children’s safety to the capable hands of bus drivers, these tips from the National Association for Pupil Transportation provide some measures parents can take and lessons they can teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.
Before the Bus Arrives
On the Bus Ride
Leaving the Bus
Another Safety Solution
School buses powered by propane offer numerous safety advantages, including being quieter than diesel buses when operating, making it easier for drivers to hear both inside and outside the bus. This can have a direct impact on student behavior, and many districts have reported fewer disciplinary issues as a result. An interactive audio quiz detailing the difference can be found at QuieterSchoolBuses.com.
“As a former teacher, I know that parents often overlook how the ride to and from school can impact a child’s performance in the classroom,” Hager said. “A child’s attitude or behavior before they arrive at school can set the tone for the whole day.”
In addition, these buses meet rigorous U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and each is equipped with an automatic shut-off feature that prevents fuel flow to the engine when not running.
Another safety consideration is the health impact of older diesel buses. The shorter height of younger students can put them face-to-face with a black cloud of diesel smoke every school day. With propane buses, however, students aren’t exposed to the harmful particulate matter in diesel exhaust, which is known to aggravate asthma and has been identified by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen.
Propane Education & Research Council
(BPT) - In the popular Christmas carol, the best way to reach grandmother's house is to travel by sleigh over the river and through the woods. However, these days, most people find their personal vehicles a far more reliable option.
The holidays are the busiest travel time of the year, and according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 91 percent of all long-distance travelers will rely on their personal vehicle to get them to grandmother's house, or wherever they may be headed. Unfortunately, the winter season is also the most dangerous time of year for road conditions. Keep that in mind before you head over the river or through the woods this season, and make sure to apply these five winter driving tips from Michelin.
* Brake, don't panic. In slippery road conditions, your wheels may lock and slide when you apply the brake. If this happens to you, don't panic. Release your foot from the brake to slow the skid's momentum and recover traction, then slowly apply the brake again.
* Outfit your vehicle with the right tires. If you frequently encounter snow or ice, and the temperature consistently approaches freezing (32F), you need the extra grip of winter tires, even if you have a four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle. Winter tires are designed to perform better in a wide range of winter conditions by improving your vehicle's grip and shortening braking distances. Include switching to winter tires on your seasonal projects list to keep you safer on the road.
* Turn cautiously. In slippery conditions, turns present the greatest potential for an accident, so as you approach a turn, be sure to slow your speed and maintain that speed throughout the turn. Do not accelerate; a sudden change in speed could cause you to lose control. You should also avoid braking during a turn to reduce your skid risk. Brake in the straightaway before the turn and move through the turn at a slower, controlled speed.
* Love the lane you're in. Changing lanes can increase your chances of a spin out. If the roads are icy or covered in slush, these conditions are apt to be worse on the shoulders and in less traveled lanes, so avoid them if you can. Find the lane that works best for you and stay there as long as possible.
* Get defensive. You've long heard about the importance of defensive driving and this practice is invaluable during the winter months. Just as you are struggling with the road conditions, so are the drivers around you - particularly if they were not driving respective to the weather in the first place. So slow down, allow that car in front of you some extra room and don't cut off any other motorists. The more you prepare for your own safety, the easier it will be for others to do the same.
Celebrating the drive home
The drive home is an iconic holiday tradition for many Americans and to celebrate it this year, Michelin will once again sponsor the America's Car Museum (ACM) and North American International Auto Show's Drive Home. This year's event, called the Heritage Run, starts on Dec. 27 in Boston and ends on Jan. 7 in Detroit. The 12-day, 10-state, 2,150-mile jaunt will be traveled by three iconic American cars from the ACM, the 1957 Chevrolet Nomad, the 1961 Chrysler 300G and the 1966 Ford Mustang all fitted with modern winter tires for added safety. You can learn more about the Drive Home and how to follow it yourself by visiting Americascarmuseum.org.
(BPT) - Selling a car for cash should be simple, safe and able to navigate without roadblocks; however, there is no shortage of sneaky techniques that are employed to scam car sellers. Through hiding supplementary fees in the fine print, car buying businesses can leave car sellers spending anywhere from $10 to $300 in unexpected fees - a disappointing loss in an anticipated profit. With the numerous car buying companies competing for business in a niche industry, it is difficult for a car seller to discern which company is the correct choice; however, there are many things that a seller can be aware of to ensure that they are making the best decision.
Fortunately for car sellers, the costliest hidden fee when selling a vehicle is also the easiest to avoid. While it is no longer common for car buying companies to expect a seller to facilitate towing arrangements, it does occur. Towing can add up to $100 or more in additional deductions depending on where the buying company is located. Additionally, many buying companies cannot accommodate vehicles outside of cars, SUVs, vans and trucks.
Many scrap and junk car buyers require a seller to empty a car's gas tank before they will send a towing service for collection, and if a seller fails to do so, it can result in a charge upwards of $50. A $50 deduction can make a significant dent in your overall profit, and draining a gas tank can be timely and incredibly dangerous if a seller does not have previous experience or has not been given proper direction.
Car buying companies take into account the condition of a car's interior when generating a buying price for a seller, but do not typically communicate that the state of the interior, down to cleanliness, could have an effect on the final offer to a seller. While a seller should ideally take care of a car's exterior and interior on a routine basis, they should also be aware of hidden deductions that could arise from a lack in communication from a buyer.
While many car buying companies claim to manage paperwork for a car seller, it is not unlikely for a small "document transfer" fee to be removed from a seller's original offer upon transaction for the car. Before accepting a quote from a car buyer, a seller must guarantee that they will do the heavy lifting regarding paperwork and ensure that no additional fees will be taken out of the original quote. Additionally, car buying companies have been known to buy cars without a title present, and while this is convenient for the seller, it can also lead to reputation management problems farther down the road.
Protecting yourself as a car seller
While selling a vehicle for cash can result in a headache, it doesn't have to be a painful experience with the right information and research. If you are a car seller looking for a car buying company that is fast, easy and transparent, CashForCars.com exceeds all demands. CashForCars.com is a car acquisition division of Copart, Inc., a publicly traded and reputable company with a dependable local footprint. CashForCars.com purchases vehicles directly from the public, offering free towing, clean paperwork transfer and exemplary customer service with no hidden fees, hidden charges on towing, or out-of-pocket expenses. The CashForCars.com team answers the calls of vehicle sellers looking to sell their cars, truck, SUVs, boats or RVs, and guides them through the quick and painless process while diligently working to guarantee that an honest reputation is preserved as the main priority.
The CashForCars.com business model is built around saving customers the hassle of selling a car in a traditional way, and has over 160 locations across the U.S. to ensure that a driver will be able to pick up your vehicle in as little as 24 hours - sometimes the same day! Backed by over 30 years in the car buying business, CashForCars.com diligently works to stay up-to-date on vehicle pricing by incorporating market trends, damage levels and comparable model prices to ensure that each customer is presented with the best available offer.
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