Thursday, June 26, 2014

Top 5 Driving Emergencies

When we first get behind the wheel, we expect everything to go as planned, for us to get to our destination on time with no mishaps. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While pilots must demonstrate expertise in responding to emergency situations, the typical automobile driver undergoes no such training; oftentimes, the first time they are forced to respond are during life-threatening situations. Here are 5 driving emergencies that relate to tire/acceleration errors and how to respond to them safely and efficiently.

1) Tire Blowout
When people first hear the pop of a tire blowout, most people tend to instinctively slam on the breaks and get off the road, which is actually likely to result in a crash. Instead, you should lightly press on the gas pedal to gain control of the car and keep driving straight down the lane, allowing your car to coast until it reaches slow speed (about 30MPH). Only then should you gently turn towards the shoulder of the road that is on the same side as the blown tire. To prevent blowouts in the first place, be sure to check your tire pressures routinely.

2) Tread separation
The technique is similar to that of a blowout, but this situation is more dangerous because it can become audibly undetectable after the tread falls off, and because the steel-backed rubber is spinning at high speeds that can easily destroy and injure. If you experience a tread separation, lightly press on the gas pdeal, drive straight down the lane, allow the car to coast to a slow speed until you can turn to the shoulder of the road.

3) Stuck Throttle
If your engine is running uncontrollably, you should stop it immediately. Often this happens while pushing the brake, so you should release and put the transmission in neutral (or at least switch off the ignition).

4) Sudden Acceleration
This is similar to a stuck throttle except the problem lies not with mechanical failure, but with the driver accidentally stepping on the gas instead of the brakes. The correct response is the same as with a stuck throttle, so please see #3 above.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Top 4 Reasons You Get Pulled Over

We've all been in a situation where we're in a hurry to get to our final destination when, lo and behold, we see flashing lights behind us and get pulled over. It's easier to get pulled over than you think — keep these below five violations in mind the next time you hit the road.
  1. Speeding. This is dangerous for obvious reasons: the faster you go, the longer your reaction time to an unexpected situation, such as an upcoming pedestrian or sudden lane change from another car. Braking distances increase as well, increasing your chances of bumping into the car ahead of you without proper awareness.
  2. Distracting driving. The use of cell phones while driving was banned in several states due to the dangers of distracted driving, with the restrictions ranging from only texting to all use. Drive as though your life depended on it, because even that one second you take to send a text can mean the difference between life and death.
  3. Hazardous driving. The two most common are following too closely (slowing reaction time) and improper lane changes (cutting someone off, changing lanes without looking first, or failing to signal). This also includes stop sign and stoplight violations, improper lane changes, illegal U-turns, failures to yield, and unsafe speeds.
  4. Equipment violations. These include heavily tinted windows, burned-out headlights, broken windshields, expired tags, the lack of a front license plate (in California and some other states) and loud exhaust modifications.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Traffic jams

We all know the feeling: you've had a long day of work, your family's waiting for you with dinner, you're excited to go home... when suddenly you're stuck in a traffic jam and can't move an inch for 30 minutes. How do traffic jams start, and how can you avoid them? This article will help you answer these questions.

  1. How do traffic jams start?
  • Bottlenecks (40% of all traffic): where the roadway narrows or heavy traffic demands lead to backups.
  • On-road incidents (25%): crashes, stalled vehicles, on-road debris blocking the road
  • Weather (15%): hail, wind, snow, fog
  • Construction (10%): road construction and highway maintenance
  • Miscellaneous (10%): special events (sports competitions, concerts) and poor signal timing (and poorly timed traffic lights)
  1. How can you avoid traffic jams?
  • Most traffic jams are recurring (happens every day). Know which highways tend to be congested during the times of getting to and from work (rush-hour).
  • Utilize real-time traffic displays when they are available. Lighted billboards located alongside highways can alert drivers of potential delays and advise alternate routes.
  • If more people carpool, fewer vehicles would be on the road and reduce overall congestion; furthermore, cars with 3+ people can use the carpool lane, which leads to shorter commute times and fewer hassles.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What to do if you get into a car accident

We understand that getting into a car accident can be frightening and stressful, but the last thing you should do is panic; there is a series of steps you should take to ensure that both you and the other party leave the scene in good graces. How you react can help prevent future injuries, reduce costs, and accelerate the clean-up/repair process.

  1. Safety always come first; make sure all injuries, no matter how minor, are taken care of. Call 911 for an ambulance if necessary. If it is a minor accident with no injuries, move both cars to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. If your car is stuck and cannot move without the aid of a tow truck, turn on your hazard lights, exit the vehicle, and move to the side of the road. Ideally, you'll have flares or warning lights in your emergency kit in order to warn other cars.
  2. Stay calm and civil. Know that an accident is just that - an accident. No one (not you, or the other driver) is at fault; don't even say "I'm sorry," because that too can be interpreted as an admission of fault and be used against you during the insurance claim or police report.
  3. Exchange information with the other party. This includes name, phone number, local address, email, insurance company, policy number, drivers license number, and car license plate number, as well as the year, make, model, and color of each car involved. Never exchange your Social Security number. 
  4. Photograph and document the accident. Use your camera to take pictures of any damage to either car; you want these photographs to demonstrate the entire context of the situation to file a claim, so be sure to take pictures from both close-up and afar. If there are witnesses, get their contact information as well, in case the other driver tries to dispute the situation. Have a written description of the time, location, road conditions, and process of the accident, including a diagram if possible.
  5. Call your insurance company. Report the accident as soon as possible. This ensures that the company has your side of the story on file before the other driver files a claim, which puts you at an advantage.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Car Ride Games - Part 3

            We continue our list of car ride games this week with four more ideas for passing the time while on those long road trips this season.

1.)  License Plates (#2) – There are many versions and variations  of license plate games depending on the difficulty and age group of those playing. 1St: Participants call out letters in alphabetical order; the first one to Z gets a point. The player with the most points by the end of the day/trip wins. For a greater challenge look for double or triple letters.
Variation: Use the letters in the plate to create a word. For example the letters CBE can spell celebrate. Where the first letter is the starting letter of the word, the last letter is the last letter, and the middle letter is any letter in between the final word.

2.)  20 questions – One Person acts as a judge and chooses one random object, it can be anything. Go around the car asking the judge yes or no questions about their object. The first question is always “Is it an Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, or Other?” If the guessers fail to guess the judge's object in 20 questions they all get one last guess. If the object is still not guessed then it is revealed and a new judge is selected for the next round.

3.)  Find the Alphabet – Utilize any reading material outside of your side of the car to call out the letters of the alphabet in order. Roadsigns, store names, logos on trucks, ect. should all be utilized. This game can be played in teams or as solo players.

4.)  Billboard Haikus – Each round one player chooses three random words from three different billboards. Once all three words have been chosen the other players have one minute  to create a haiku. That is, a three lined poem with 5 syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third line.

5.)  Road Trip Bingo – This game is played much like a combination of Bingo and I Spy.  Create a list of objects (street signs, fire hydrants, traffic lights, garbage cans, ect.) and randomly assign them to different boxes on multiple cards. Hand the cards out to all the participants. Whenever someone sees the listed object on their card they can cross if out. First player to cross out an entire row calls out BINGO! and wins.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Car Ride Games - Part 2

            While summer time is the season of family vacation and long rides, the winter holidays are another popular travel time. Provided below are a list of some popular road trip games to help pass the time.

1.)  Going on a Picnic – The first player begins by saying “I'm going on a picnic and I am bringing (anything that begins with the letter A. Apples for example)” Players then take turns repeating what the previous player is bringing to the picnic but then adding an item to the list beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. For example the 4th player of the game might say “I am going on a picnic and I am bringing (A)pples, (B)ananas, (C)ats, and (D)odgeballs.”
ALTERNATIVE RULE: Instead of going on a picnic players can choose to describe an object. This game varies in that players can use adjectives instead of nouns. For a further challenge rather than repeating the list from A-Z, begin your turn on the next letter, (F for example) and repeat the list backwards,. For example if you were describing your dog the game might sound like this, “My dog is a (F)rosty, (E)normous, (D)eath-Defying.......(A)dorable person” 

2.)   Speak In Song – Carry on a conversation using only the titles or lyrics from songs.

3.)  50 States – A game for those geographical enthusiasts. List the numbers 1-50  on a piece of paper.  Then try to name all 50 states. To make things more interesting try to compete in groups of teams.
ALTERNATIVE RULE:If this is not enough of a challenge try another round of naming all 50 state capitols.

4.)  Listen and Draw – Supply each passenger with a piece of paper and writing utensil. Choose one person to be the “judge” for the round. The round beings by the judge drawing a quick picture on their own piece of paper, without showing anyone. Once the judge is finished they then proceed to describe their image to the other players. Once this is done, the player who's image most closely resembles the image of the judge wins and becomes the judge of the next round.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Buying Certified Pre-Owned Cars

A certified pre-owned car (CPO) is a car that has either been traded in or bought for resale. Automakers have dealers inspect and repair trade-ins prior to resale out of their own pocket, and then offer a warranty on the certified pre-owned cars. 

  • Avoids high depreciation costs
  • Car has already been inspected/fixed and comes with a warranty, giving you peace of mind
  • CPO programs create vehicles with higher resale values, providing increased bargaining power when it's time to trade the car in. 
  • Reduced-rate financing options are often available for CPO purchasers
  • Just because the car is certified does not mean that it comes trouble-free. You should still have a mechanic inspect the car and take it back to the dealer for repair if any problems are found.
  • Though you avoid new-car depreciation, you still have the traditional higher mileage and used-car damage that new-car buyers don't need to worry about.
Factory-backed programs
  • Vehicle has been inspected, repaired, and backed by a factory warranty at no cost to you
  • Sends representatives periodically to ensure inspection and repairs have been made.
  • Auto manufacturers tack on anywhere from 2-8% of the original used-car price for the certification sticker. Typically, the higher-end the model or brand, the higher the percentage.
Dealer-certified programs
  • Offer extended warranties at a cost; often require deductible payments and exclusions for any "normal wear and tear" repairs and owner abuse.
  • Warranty may require you to to always return to the same dealer for service or repairs
General tips

  • Whether you decide to go with a factory- or dealer-backed program, always be sure to thoroughly read the warranty agreement, including the fine print and age/mileage limits.
  • Know the details of the return policy, from time frame to what refunds are covered.
  • Ask to see the certification checklist to make sure all major components have been inspected. Be sure to look at the vehicle repair/maintenance history as well.
  • Take the CPO for a thorough test drive.
  • Always negotiate - you can still haggle the price down for any CPO.

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