(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!
(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) - Chances are you chose your current car or truck because of specific features or performance capabilities. These vary from vehicle to vehicle, and what one automobile may have, the other may lack. Thankfully, there are many ways to enhance the performance of your car or truck. According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), upgrading stock parts with aftermarket versions can instantly improve your car's performance and is relatively simple to do. Many companies offer different options for your car, so do your research and install the part that best suits your needs.
Replace the air filter: An air filter helps remove dirt and particles from the air that your engine uses to burn fuel. Clean air results in better gas mileage and improved acceleration. Filters are also designed to allow the correct amount of air into the engine for optimal performance. By increasing the amount of clean air that enters your engine, you increase its air-fuel mixture, resulting in improved performance.
To increase the amount of clean air entering your engine, simply replace the stock filter with a performance aftermarket air filter, which will help enhance horsepower, acceleration and torque, and may also provide better fuel economy and longer engine life. Additionally, some aftermarket air filters don't need to be changed as often as stock filters because they don't get clogged as quickly, and some you can clean yourself and put them back to use.
Upgrade the exhaust: After improving your engine combustion with an aftermarket air filter, upgrade your car's exhaust system for better performance. If your exhaust pipe is too small for the amount of combusted air that is now exiting the cylinders, it will lead to an increase in air resistance and create back pressure. By simply replacing the stock muffler you will create better airflow. To further enhance performance, have a qualified expert installer add aftermarket headers and bigger pipes.
Reduce weight: By just lowering the overall weight of a car, you will enhance its performance, especially in regard to acceleration. An easy way to reduce weight is to replace the stock wheels, which are typically made of steel, with alloy models. Alloy wheels will not only lower the weight but also enhance the look of your car. Other easy ways to reduce weight are by using ceramic brakes and running a lighter aftermarket battery.
Almost every part of your car can be replaced by an aftermarket version made of lighter material, such as carbon fiber or aluminum, so look into what part swap will give you the biggest weight savings for your buck.
Switch oil: Something as simple as switching to a higher-quality aftermarket oil can enhance performance. A higher-quality oil reduces friction between the moving parts of an engine, resulting in less power needed to operate. It may also do a better job of dissipating heat, which can extend the life of your engine.
Research: The aftermarket industry offers many choices to enhance the performance of your car, so be sure to research what's available. Manufacturers introduce new products annually at the SEMA Show, the leading trade show for businesses in the automotive industry. Consumers are able to connect with some of these businesses at the official SEMA Show after-party, also known as SEMA Ignited, where one-of-a-kind custom vehicle builds featuring the newest aftermarket products parade out of the convention center before making their way to the ultimate car show open to the public. For more information, visit www.semaignited.com.
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