(BPT) - If you were to take a quiz to test your ability to identify common emojis and road signs, how do you think you’d fare?
According to the results from a recent survey by Mercury Insurance, 1,890 respondents did not do so well. The meaning of the “yawning” emoji was correctly identified by 85% of the respondents, but only 31% of quiz-takers correctly identified the meaning of the “lane reduction” road sign. Additionally, 71% knew the “in love” emoji, but the “keep right” road sign was correctly identified by only 51% of quiz-takers.
Emojis are continually being added to our texting and messaging vocabulary, and for the most part, we’re able to keep up with this ever-changing landscape. Fortunately for the more than 200 million licensed U.S. drivers, road signs are highly regulated and consistent, and are designed to help keep drivers safe and easily guide them to their destinations. The bad news, however, is that far more people are able to identify emojis than road signs. And what’s worse is that many times they’re looking at these cute little icons while they’re driving.
“Sure, emojis are a fun, modern-day form of shorthand, and may be more intuitive, but there’s a time and place to use them, and behind the wheel of a car isn’t one of them,” said Kevin Quinn, vice president of claims and customer experience at Mercury Insurance. “A picture may be worth a thousand words in some cases, but it certainly isn’t worth getting into a collision and risking someone’s life. Most collisions are avoidable if drivers focus on their main task of safely operating a vehicle.”
Distracted driving — anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road, including texting and talking on a phone — accounted for 3,166 fatalities in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous, as it takes your eyes off the road for five seconds on average — whether you’re reading or sending the message.
The results of the quiz also highlight the importance of knowing what each road sign means, so you and those around you are safe. “These signs are instantly communicating to drivers what actions to take, much like emojis instantly communicate what friends or family members might be trying to convey in a text,” said Quinn. “It’s OK to only somewhat understand an emoji, but it’s imperative to know exactly what a road sign is telling you; otherwise it could lead to disastrous results on the road where no one can afford a misunderstanding. And being an attentive driver who knows the rules of the road and safely gets where they’re going might earn you a smiley face from your auto insurance company, just don’t read it while you’re operating a vehicle.”
Just as spring cleaning your house is a habit, so should a spring tune-up for your car, especially before that much-anticipated road trip. Even though more than one in three drivers (37%) say they want to stay on top of car maintenance this year, what many people don’t realize is that the snow, freezing temperatures and salt, as well as potholes that develop as the roads finally thaw, can do a number on your car. Make sure your car is in top shape for any trip with five spring cleaning tune-ups.
(BPT) - Americans are ready for spring weekend getaways and road trips. According to the latest Gauge Index survey from Hankook Tire, most of us are planning an outdoor getaway. The beach (51%) is the top vacation Americans are planning this spring, followed by a national park (39%) for the outdoorsy type and an amusement park (31%) for the thrill seekers.
Just as spring cleaning your house is a habit, so should a spring tune-up for your car, especially before that much-anticipated road trip. Even though more than one in three drivers (37%) say they want to stay on top of car maintenance this year, what many people don’t realize is that the snow, freezing temperatures and salt, as well as potholes that develop as the roads finally thaw, can do a number on your car. Make sure your car is in top shape for any trip with five spring cleaning tune-ups:
1) Check your oil
The survey found that a quarter of Americans would like to learn how to change their oil. While actually changing your oil is a bit more involved, checking oil levels before heading out is just a matter of looking under the hood. To do so, be sure the car is on level ground, let the oil settle for a few minutes, then pull out the dipstick — it usually has a yellow or red handle, but the owner’s manual will direct you where to look. Wipe the dipstick clean, then push it all the way back in, wait a second, and withdraw again. If the oil lands between the two markers, you’re ready to roll. Otherwise it’s time for an oil change.
2) Monitor your air pressure
A quick air check can be the difference between a bumpy road trip and smooth sailing. Begin by driving around for a couple of miles because tires that have been parked for a while won’t have as accurate of a pressure reading. Then remove the valve cap from the tire, place the pressure gauge on the valve stem, and press until the hiss sound disappears and the gauge offers a reading. This reading should match the recommended PSI, which you can find on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual. If the reading indicates the tires need air, head to your local tire shop or gas station.
This is also a good time to check all four tires’ treads. Insert a penny with Lincoln’s head facing down — and if his entire head is visible, it’s time to replace your tires. For those who do need new tires, be sure to consider your driving habits and upcoming travel destinations, to ensure a flat tire doesn’t hold up any adventure. If you’re among the 44% of drivers who consider themselves adventurous like an SUV and are heading off the beaten path, consider rugged off-road tires, like the Hankook Dynapro AT2 All-Terrain Tire.
3) Replace your windshield wipers
Snow and ice can really wear down the blades on windshield wipers. Look for cracks, creases or imperfections in the blade’s rubber, or if you notice streaks or grime on your windshield when using the wipers, it’s time to replace! Make sure the washer fluid is topped off by looking at the white, translucent container with a windshield or water symbol on it. Then just remove the cap and check the fluid level in the reservoir so that you’re ready to handle any weather down the road.
4) Update your roadside assistance
Spring is a good time to make sure your roadside assistance plan is up to date — especially for the 42% of drivers behind the wheel of a vehicle six years or older. Be sure your service card is valid to give yourself peace of mind for any trip.
5) Wash your car
Snow and salt can leave a lasting impact, especially within the wheel wells of a car. Give your vehicle a thorough cleaning to prevent any rust or permanent damage. Besides, everyone wants their car to look shiny and clean in those road-trip social media posts as they head out for their spring getaways!
No matter what destination drivers are steering toward this spring, a few quick tune-ups will keep things running smoothly, all season long.
A car accident is scary enough to deal with, without having complications in the aftermath. The tips in this article should help you handle things calmly and smoothly.
According to the insurance industry, the average motorist will file a claim for some type of auto collision accident once every 17.9 years. That seems like a good amount of time in between accidents. However, most of those first accidents happen between the ages of 16 and 35. Hopefully, the next accident you get into won’t be too severe. Here are three tips for handling the aftermath of a car accident.
Get Your Car Repaired
You’ll need to get your car repaired. First, check in with your insurance company. If they don’t deem your car to be “totaled,” then your collision coverage should cover the repairs. Most mechanics work with insurance companies and get paid directly by them. It might come as no surprise that the mechanic’s estimate for the repairs will be the exact amount that the insurance company is willing to pay. If the car is totaled, then you might be paid off with the current value. The smart move would be to take that check and apply it as a down payment for a new car.
Decide If an Attorney Is Needed
The first priority after any accident is to make sure all involved are okay. You might feel fine in the immediate aftermath. However, the pain of an injury could show up a few days later. That is when you want to seek immediate medical attention. From that moment forward, you need to document and keep all records pertaining to your injuries. Also keep a record of any lost wages for your injury and any future medical expenses. You will need this information to determine if you are injured enough for a settlement, which will help you decide if you need an attorney on your side.
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
You should follow your doctor’s orders for your recovery. This is especially vital if you enter into a lawsuit claim. The insurance company involved will be paying close attention to your recovery and assessing the extent of your injuries. If the doctor prescribes ten physical therapy sessions, then you need to go to all ten even if you start feeling fine after the third session. You would also be advised to stay off social media for the duration of your lawsuit. There are many ways your postings can hurt your case.
A car accident is scary enough to deal with, without having complications in the aftermath. Following these tips should help you handle things calmly and smoothly.
Interested in more articles on cars and auto-related topics? Then check out the rest of The Auto Idea!
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
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