Caution is King When It Comes to Winter Driving
(BPT) - With the winter in full swing, ensuring your tires — the last line of defense between your vehicle and harsh conditions — are in working order may be the difference between an enjoyable or stressful travel season. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 17% of all vehicle collisions take place during winter conditions, many of which can be attributed to underinflated, over-worn or out-of-season tires.
“Being on the side of the road due to a preventable vehicle issue is both inconvenient and dangerous,” said Brandon Sturgis, product manager, BFGoodrich Tires. “Before winter arrives, make sure that your car is in its best condition to handle winter weather.”
Below are a few simple tips from BFGoodrich Tires to help ensure your vehicle and tires are better prepared for safe driving this winter.
Tire pressure will change with the weather
Many drivers neglect their tires until it’s too late and experience a tire issue, an inconvenience that only increases during the winter months. To avoid a winter accident caused by unsafe tires, drivers should proactively take measures to maintain their tires. An easy first step is to check the air pressure of all four tires at least monthly. This is especially important during the colder winter months as a drop in temperatures can cause tire pressures to decrease below a vehicle’s recommended inflation levels. To find the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, look at the decal in the driver’s door jamb or in the owner’s manual.
Checking your tread should be routine
Many drivers try squeezing as much life out of their tires as possible and run them even after the tread has worn below 2/32 of an inch — the minimum tread deemed safe under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. If this is you, be sure to stay honest about checking your tread. To do so, find a penny and insert Abraham Lincoln headfirst into the lowest tread on your tire. If any portion of Abe’s head is covered, your tread depth is sufficient. If Honest Abe is still fully visible, your tread is below 2/32 of an inch and the ability to perform in wet and winter conditions is substantially reduced.
The importance of seasonal tires
Understanding your driving environment is as important as understanding which tires best suit your circumstances. Geography is the most intuitive factor playing into one’s driving environment, but certain locations create a more nuanced experience. Do you know which tires are best for your situation?
For example, all-terrain tires such as the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 are suitable year-round tires designed to give you superior grip both off and on the pavement thanks to innovative tread design, tough sidewalls and long-lasting durability.
If you drive in an environment that is regularly below freezing with snow and ice, winter tires may be your best choice. For those yet to treat their vehicle to winter tires during the cold months, consider the BFGoodrich Winter T/A KSI a good starting point. Offering extreme traction in winter conditions and reassuring steering control and durability, your next set of winter tires may keep you from becoming another winter driving collision statistic.
“Tires play a key role in your winter weather mobility. Knowing what kind of tires you have on your car and knowing their condition are part of being prepared,” says Sturgis.
(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.
(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.
(BPT) - The rideshare industry has exploded in popularity over the past several years, with companies devoted to making transportation safe, reliable and enjoyable. At the swipe of a finger and tap of a button, you can hail a car through your smartphone. Within minutes, you are picked up at your desired location and whisked off to your final destination, whether it's the grocery store, movie theater or the hottest restaurant in town.
Here are five reasons why millions of Americans are requesting a ride every day:
1. Owning and maintaining a car is expensive. At more than $9,000 per year, per household, a car is the second most expensive purchase Americans make, yet the average car in the U.S. gets only 4 percent utilization per day. The rideshare industry was born from the idea that by pairing drivers and passengers headed in the same general direction, not only is traffic significantly reduced, but car ownership ultimately becomes optional when you know you have a ride you can rely on.
2. It's a safe way to get around. While pairing drivers and passengers who don't know each other might seem unorthodox, thanks to stringent background checks, car safety checks and real-time ride tracking, hopping in an on-demand ride has become commonplace for people across the country. In fact, Lyft, the fastest growing rideshare service, currently covers 55 percent of the U.S. population, meaning 177 million people are able to request a safe, reliable ride every day. By the end of 2017, that number will increase to 231 million, or 72 percent of the country.
3. Ridesharing promotes community and economic growth. Not only is it an efficient way to get from point A to point B, ridesharing connects both people and communities. In 2016 alone, more than 162.5 million Lyft rides were taken. This opens the door for people who wouldn't normally cross paths to share a car together. Drivers get to drop off passengers in neighborhoods they might not regularly venture to, and business owners serve customers that previously didn't have easy access to their location. Ridesharing is a powerful driver of economic growth, encouraging local spending and pumping money back into the enrichment of neighborhoods.
4. As a driver, ridesharing provides an excellent source of income. Be it primary or supplementary, driving provides flexibility and allows people to own their schedules, clocking in and out when they want, where they want. From coast to coast, teachers, retirees, aspiring musicians and everyone in between is using ridesharing as a source of income. Lyft is the only platform that allows passengers to tip, with more than $150 million dollars going directly into the pockets of their drivers.
5. On-demand transportation is proven to reduce drunk driving. According to a recent study, 88 percent of passengers say they are more likely to avoid driving while impaired because of Lyft, and 53 percent of passengers use the platform to safely get friends and family home who are intoxicated. One tap of a button ultimately leads to saving lives by reducing the number of intoxicated drivers on the road.
Whether you're a passenger or driver, ridesharing seeks to get you where you want to go, be it a final destination or a financial goal. Local communities deserve friendly, safe transportation they can rely on, and the rideshare industry is close to making that a reality for all people.
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