Category Archives: How Tos

20,000 Times in a lifetime

I was listening to a local radio station the other day and they were having an odd trivia contest where the listeners were competing against each other with other hosts.

One of the questions they asked was a multiple choice question about what the average person will do 20,000 times in their lifetime… the answer, funny or sad, was curse at another driver. 

20,000 times in your lifetime, on average, another driver will do something to you while you are driving which will cause you to either swear at them, yell at them, wave hello with one finger or worst case, engage in a physical confrontation due to an incident related to driving on the roads.

Our emotions play an important role in our ability to maintain a mature driving attitude.   How we react to other drivers on the road plays an important role in our driving habits and behaviors, and their reaction to us is critical in our own safety.

Do you ever see that driver on the road…with his window down screaming and pointing at another driver?   Feel safe don’t you! 

No, a mature driving attitude is seriously important in preventing accidents and potential conflicts with other drivers. 

DefensiveDriving.com’s award winning safety driving video illustrates the important role your emotions play in driving and how they impact our ability to be a safe driver.   Our online driver safety courses provide suggestions and alternatives for emotional driving, which could keep you safe and will most definitely lower your blood pressure! 

When you think about it… if the average driver curses at another driver 20,000 times in their life time, that means the average driver swears at another, once a day, every day, 365 days a year, for 54 years!

As DefensiveDriving.com’s video below illustrates, there are very specific strategies with respect to driving and your emotions.

http://youtu.be/x8jf0cbusOI

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Teen Driving: Homecoming Safety Tips

As school gears back up, student activities are on the rise, and there are increased numbers of teen drivers behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Safety Administration , traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America, so both teens and other drivers need be especially cautious on the roadways. Homecoming is one of those special fall events that will have inexperienced teen drivers out on the roads en masse, so we have some tips that will help increase safety for your young drivers during this high risk driving times.

Ride in Style: Consider getting a limo or town car to transport your teen and his friends to the homecoming dance. This will take the pressure off the driver and allow everyone in the group (parents included) to have a worry free night. Because this can be expensive, ask other parents to split the cost and make it more reasonable.

Limit Passengers: If a teenage driver is behind the wheel, you should limit the other passengers to one. According to the Center for Disease Control , the presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers, and the risk goes up with more passengers in the vehicle.

Plan a Route: Ensure your teen is comfortable with the route to all homecoming events. You can practice driving a day or so ahead so they feel comfortable with the navigation, especially if it located somewhere they have never been before. Driving Skills for Life  recommends this high level of preparedness because passengers in the vehicle and excitement about the event can make it more difficult to focus on trying to follow a map or read road signs.

Slow Down: Encourage your teen driver to reduce their speeds while driving after dark as visibility can be greatly reduced during these times, and most events will be taking place in the evening and night hours.

Avoid Distractions: Setting a limit for passengers will help eliminate distractions during homecoming travel, but you need to set further guidelines for your teen driver to help create a safe driving environment. Encourage them to keep music at a reasonable volume, and pull over to the side of the road if they need to send a text message or take a call.

Have a Plan B: Always make sure your student leaves the house with a fully charged cell phone so they can call you in the event that they do not feel comfortable driving themselves home from an event. You should also program a couple of local cab company numbers into their cell phones in the event that you cannot be reached for a pick-up.

 

~R. Quick

Changing Leaves, Changing Driving Conditions

We have passed the hot days and crazy road trip traffic of summer and are not quite to the days of snow drift and icy roads in winter, but autumn is also a season that poses dangerous driving conditions that need to be observed with caution. Fall is a season of change, and this goes for the weather and road conditions. At Defensive Driving, we believe in being prepared and aware at all times out on the roads, so follow these tips to ensure your fall travel is safe and sound.

Check your Headlights and Taillights
Daylight savings is just around the corner, and with that comes shorter days and morning and evening commutes taking place in the dark. Ensure your headlights and taillights are in good working order and don’t hesitate to use them, even at the early parts of dusk. Keep a flashlight in your car in case you need to check on anything while driving in the dark hours.

Be Aware of Wet Leaves
Fall foliage is a beautiful aspect of the season, but leaves that fall to the roadways can pose a danger to drivers. These piles of leaves are especially dangerous when wet, so be sure to slow your speed if it begins to rain or you are driving in an area with recent rain or frost.

Check your Tire Pressure
Fluctuating temperatures are commonplace in the fall months, and these drastic changes can negatively affect your tire pressure. Check the pressure before heading out on a long trip and throughout the season to make sure the tires are maintaining a safe amount of air pressure.

Watch for Animals
Fall is prime time for animals such as deer and antelope to increase their activity and start moving to new locations for the winter months. Pay extra attention in wilderness areas where they can unexpectedly spring in front of your car. According to Drive Safe PA  the morning and evening hours are generally when the animals are the most active.

Prepare for Harsh Weather
The days of fall can still be warm and sunny, but the winter months are not far off, and oftentimes the weather can change quickly, so prepare yourself for unexpected winter weather. Ensure that your car has adequate tread on the tires and your heater is in working order. Create a winter safety kit including water, blankets, non-perishable food and a flashlight to prepare you for the possibility of being stranded.

~ R. Quick

How to change a flat tire

A flat tire can happen to any driver anywhere at any time; and while it’s never an ideal situation, preparing yourself with the proper tools and knowledge can help you handle it appropriately.

To ensure that you’ll have everything you need in the event of a flat tire, the Defensive Driving team recommends you keep the following items in your car:

  • the owner’s manual for your vehicle, which you should consult before attempting to change a tire
  • an inflated spare tire
  • a car jack
  • a lug wrench or tire iron
  • bracing material (for example, a brick or a piece of wood)

Now, on to the how-to process:

1. Once you realize you have a flat tire, turn on your hazard lights and pull over immediately. Park on a solid, level surface a safe distance from the road and set the parking brake. *Do not attempt to change a flat tire on the road if it is not safe*

2. Block the tire (with your bracing material) that is diagonally across from the flat tire to keep the vehicle from rolling. Place your bracing materials in front of and behind the tire.

3. Locate and remove your spare tire, jack and lug wrench or tire iron.

4. Remove the hubcap so you have access to the lug nuts. Break loose the lug nuts by turning them counter clockwise. Do not remove the lug nuts until the vehicle is raised.

5. Consult your owner’s manual to locate the best place to put the jack under your car.

6. Jack up the car until the tire clears the road surface.

7. Remove the lug nuts, then remove the flat tire and set it aside.

8. Put the spare tire on and reinstall the lug nuts, tightening them just slightly. Make sure the wheel is sitting flush against the brake hub.

9. Lower the car to the ground using the car jack.

10. Finish tightening the lug nuts and reinstall the hubcap.

11. Put away your flat tire and tools and continue to your final destination (which hopefully will be the nearest service station!).

~B. Waldman

How Low Can You Go? Common Myths and Misconceptions about Tires

Kicking the tires is an action that is synonymous with checking the soundness and quality of tires, but in reality, this does not really tell you much of anything at all. This pretty much sums up most drivers’ knowledge about tires because there are a lot of myths and misinformation on the subject. More often than not, drivers do not know when to replace them, how to inflate them properly and other essential basic care details. Maintaining properly filled and quality tires will not only increase the safety of your vehicle, but can also make your car more fuel efficient, so you should take the time to brush up on your facts and bust the tire myths.

Myth: You should maintain a lower operating tire pressure in the winter than in the summer.

Fact: Some drivers will lower their air pressure in the winter in an attempt to gain more traction and control on icy roads, but in reality, driving on too-low tires can cause damage and make your vehicle less safe in dangerous conditions. Tire pressure will naturally lower itself in the winter without any action on the part of the driver, but you should check the pressure at least once a month, according to Tire Safety.com, and this is especially important in more dangerous winter months.

Myth: You should inflate your tires to the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire.

Fact: The maximum pressure is not the ideal air pressure for operating your vehicle with a normal weight load. Instead, you should consult your owner’s manual and use the air pressure guidelines set forth by the manufacturer of your vehicle.

Myth: You can tell that you tires are low just by looking at them.

Fact: Looks can be deceiving, so always check your tire pressure with an accurate pressure gauge. Gauges at gas stations can become faulty and worn by overuse, so invest in your own gauge to keep in your glove box.

Myth: You should check your tire pressure when your tires are warm after driving.

Fact: According to the Department of Motor Vehicles , tires should be checked when they are cold to get the best reading. If you are taking a measurement during hot weather, wait until the coolest part of the day to ensure increased accuracy.

Myth: There is a set amount of time that you should keep your tires before buying replacements.

Fact: Tire wear is very much dictated by each unique driver and vehicle pairing. Factors that can influence the speed of deterioration include harsh climate, rough road conditions, average driving speed and the weight and load of your vehicle. In addition to monthly pressure checks, Tire Rack.com  recommends rotating your tires every 3,000 to 5,000 miles (you can sync it up with your oil changes) in order to even out the wear on the tires. This rotation will also serve as a check-up where the mechanic will ensure that your tires are safe and operational for the next 5,000 miles.

 

~ R. Quick