(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!
Car modifying is an exciting creative outlet that lets young people express who they are. Larger projects become group projects, and mods give them something to talk about with friends. Here are some modifications young customizers perform on their cars.
(BPT) - For many car owners, their vehicle is an extension of their personality — and as such they customize it to reflect their individuality and uniqueness.
That’s particularly true for young car enthusiasts ages 16 to 24, who spend $7.2 billion each year customizing their vehicles, according to a recent study by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA).
“More than 7.9 million young people customize, modify or upgrade their vehicles each year,” says SEMA Director-Market Research Gavin Knapp. “Their vehicles not only help them get from A to B, they are also an integral part of their social lives.”
Car modifying is an exciting creative outlet that lets young people express who they are. Larger projects become group projects, and mods give them something to talk about with friends. Here are some modifications young customizers perform on their cars:
Those are just a few of the many types of vehicle modifications young enthusiasts routinely perform on their vehicles, made possible by the many options available to them in the $43 billion automotive aftermarket industry.
Manufacturers introduce their latest products and services every year at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the leading trade-only show for automotive industry businesses. Consumers can connect with those businesses at the official SEMA Show after-party known as SEMA Ignited, where one-of-a-kind custom vehicle builds with the newest aftermarket products (including wheels) parade out of the convention center to the ultimate car show. For more information, visit www.semaignited.com.
Purchasing a new vehicle, while exciting, can be a burden for many shoppers. A variety of options and considerations for each make and model can turn the decision-making process into a stressful situation. These vehicle options offer a multitude of benefits, each with its own strengths, for car buyers shopping in the new year.
Cars to Consider for 2019
(Family Features) Purchasing a new vehicle, while exciting, can be a burden for many shoppers. A variety of options and considerations for each make and model can turn the decision-making process into a stressful situation.
To help make that part of the car-buying process a little less difficult, consider these podium finalists for Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, Truck of the Year and SUV of the Year. Each finalist is evaluated using six criteria: safety, efficiency, value, advancement in design, engineering excellence and performance of intended function.
These podium finalists offer a multitude of benefits, each with its own strengths, for car buyers shopping in the new year. Learn more about 2019 cars to consider at motortrendawards.com.
Sporty and Stylish – For a fun yet serious sedan, the Genesis G70 features punchy powertrains that support an agile, sporty chassis wrapped in classy exterior styling with strong graphics and a well-appointed interior. As the first sports sedan from Hyundai’s luxury line, this sleek model packs power.
Excellent Efficiency – Cruise the roads with 50 miles-per-gallon efficiency in the Honda Insight, a smartly packaged hybrid featuring thoughtful style and storage solutions, plus seamless and silent adaptive cruise control performance. With lane-keeping assist that rates among the industry’s best, its smooth ride competes with luxury vehicles while combining efficiency and style.
A Craving for Variety – If deciding between vehicle models is causing fits, consider these options from Volvo. For a fresh, modern interior with comfortable seating, the S60 sedan and V60 wagon deliver all-round performance with base 2.0-liter turbos, meaning you don’t have to pay extra for power. Or, for stylish appeal with a familiar turbo-four engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, the XC40 compact crossover provides quick acceleration and spirited steering response.
Electric Excitement – Power and torque don’t go by the wayside with Jaguar’s I-Pace, the maker’s first electric car and first all-electric SUV which boasts about 200 miles of real-world battery range. Add the adjustable ride-height for added off-road capability and one of the most original automotive designs in years, and this set of wheels can have you riding in unique style.
Rethinking an Iconic Ride – Configured to equally suit the ambitions of the off-roading newbie and expert alike, 2019’s thoughtful, thorough rework of the Jeep Wrangler features significant tech updates for the American original.
Time for a Truck – Featuring a new design, cylinder deactivation and an automatic trailer light test, the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado offers more versions, more space and more options. Rear bumper corner steps and three cargo hooks at each bed corner deliver functionality, while a smooth High Country 10-speed automatic transmission makes for a smoother ride for truck buyers.
Go Ahead and Haul – If you’re in the market for a workhorse truck combined with plush luxury and tech-forward thinking, the GMC Sierra fits as a versatile cargo-hauler. This truck differentiates itself with the MultiPro tailgate, adaptive ride control and a carbon-fiber bed. The powerful drive of a 6.2-liter engine combined with a 10-speed transmission and overall body control while towing makes this truck a key asset for long-distance hauls.
Work or Play – The best-in-class styling of the Ram 1500 – sophisticated and well-executed without going over the top – packs an interior outfitted with the tools needed for activities ranging from fun to function. A 48-volt mild hybrid system saves fuel while coil-spring dampers and an optional air suspension provide a luxury car-like ride.SOURCE:
If you are one of the millions of Americans looking to buy a car, here are the five things you need to know before you step foot on a dealer’s lot.
(BPT) - Car buying - It's crucial to know how to navigate what can be an overwhelming and exhausting process.
“USAA helps members find, finance and insure vehicles that are right for their personal needs and financial goals,” says Heather Pollard, vice president of Auto Experience at USAA. “We want to avoid you ever having to regret your purchase decision, or worse, lead to financial hardships where you can no longer afford to keep your vehicle.”
If you are one of the millions of Americans looking to buy a car, here are the five things you need to know before you step foot on a dealer’s lot.
Know what you can afford.
The first and most important question to answer before launching into the car-buying process is “how much can I afford?” Figuring this out will help you determine whether you are in the market for a new or used vehicle. A good starting point is to use 15-18 percent of your take-home pay as a gauge for your total vehicle budget including the loan, insurance, gas and maintenance.
Next decision, how will you pay for it? There are numerous ways to manage the financial burden for purchasing a new car, including taking out a loan. If you have decided to go the loan route, determine how much you can afford in monthly payments. Banks or another financial institution might offer lower interest rates than a car dealer. Aim to pay off the loan within three to five years.
“Get pre-approved for an auto loan amount and interest rate so you know where you stand before you begin shopping,” says Renée Horne, vice president of Consumer Lending at USAA Bank. “Look for low loan rates and flexible terms to fit your budget needs versus being steered by dealers into a decision solely based on monthly payment, which often results in paying more in interest for the overall loan term.”
Another idea is to sell or trade in your new graduate’s current vehicle. If you plan to do this, factor in the cash value of that car and then add your planned down payment, typically 15-20 percent. You can use online tools such as USAA’s Auto Loan Calculator to get an estimate of what the end price tag will be.
Determine the total cost of ownership.
It is important to understand the total cost of ownership before surprising your graduate with the car of their dreams. Everything from gas to auto insurance will be an extra expense added on to the monthly cost for a new or used car and something everyone in the family needs to consider.
When receiving an auto insurance quote, note that collision and comprehensive coverage generally cost less for used cars. If purchasing an older car, consider getting pricing for Extended Vehicle Protection coverage before you go to the dealer.
Keep an open mind.
Once you have established what you can afford and the total cost of ownership, it is time to discover what features and styles you or your teen want in a car. Prioritize a list of the features you would like to see. For the teen in your life, safety is usually at the top. Next, assess how much they will be using this car and what for. Are they commuting to school or a job? Remember to keep an open mind and be flexible — stay open to two or three models that would meet your teen driver’s needs and your or their budget.
Do your research.
Everyone can agree that dealerships can be overwhelming and intimidating. Research your market first. Try the USAA Car Buying Service to see what’s out there and find vehicles that come with exclusive member discounts.
If you are looking into the used car market, always run a background check. You can get a vehicle history report from Carfax, which can help verify ownership history, mileage and accident history. Also, make sure the used vehicle has never been salvaged by entering the vehicle identification number into the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s system.
Go for a test drive.
After picking out a few of your top favorites, it is time to see how the car operates on the real road. Hit the highway to properly gauge a car’s performance, and inspect the car for mileage, tread, etc. If possible, run the car by a trusted mechanic for an under-the-hood inspection to forecast longevity and maintenance needs. Remember, factory warranties usually transfer depending on the mileage.
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.
You can celebrate springtime by spending some time enjoying the fresh outdoor air and showing your car some love ahead of upcoming family vacations and summer road trips with friends. Start with these smart and simple tips to improve your ride.
(BPT) - The colder weather is fleeting, flowers are blossoming and the grass is just a little greener, which means spring is finally here. While most of your time will be spent preparing your home, clothes and family calendars for the warmer weather, it’s important not to forget about your car.
In fact, you can celebrate springtime by spending some time enjoying the fresh outdoor air and showing your car some love ahead of upcoming family vacations and summer road trips with friends. Start with these smart and simple tips to improve your ride:
Freshen up the interior
Interior and exterior cleaning makes a big difference in keeping a car looking and driving its best, but that doesn’t solve odor issues. To finalize spring car prep and maintenance, make sure to use a product that will leave the car smelling as good as it looks. Innovative and discrete vent sticks and mini diffusers from Refresh Your Car! come in a wide variety of scents, like Lemon Lime Sunshine, and are an affordable, long-lasting way to keep a car smelling great!
Clean and protect your interior
The interior, especially leather, is the most used and abused part of a car. Over time, constant use and sun damage can result in you leather interior drying out, causing it to fade, crack and rip. A quick and trusted way to address this issue is to use Lexol Leather Cleaner & Conditioner. The easy two-step process will help clean, restore and protect a car’s interior, keeping it looking and feeling like new.
Check your battery
The colder the weather, the harder a battery and charging system need to work in a car. Start by making sure the battery is mounted correctly and the connections are free from corrosion. Also, consider replacing the battery if it’s older than five years, which will ensure you don’t get stranded out on the road.
Check and replace basic car items
Before heading out on any lengthy adventures, make sure the car is up-to-date on oil changes. During the oil change a technician should also check and replenish other fluids like the brake, transmission, windshield wiper and power steering fluids, as well as your coolant. This often forgotten about maintenance will help a car run smoothly for months to come.
Wash and wax
No matter the season, a car that is driven daily is constantly battling the elements, which can cause damage to its exterior. Washing regularly and waxing at least twice a year is an easy way to keep a car looking its best, protecting it from damaging UV rays, road debris, tree sap and rusting. When washing and protecting, don’t forget about tires and wheels. The Eagle One A2Z All Wheel & Tire Cleaner is an affordable, easy-to-use spray that clings to the dirt on the surface of most wheels and tires, easily removing brake dust, grime and grease; giving your wheels and tires a spotless, professional look.
These simple tips can keep a car clean, fresh and running smoothly throughout the hectic summer driving season.
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