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Drive away distractions to protect teens behind the wheel

CAR-Drive-away-distractions

(BPT) – Today’s teens face more distractions than any generation before.

Many don’t recall a time when they were not continuously connected to their friends. Cell phones, which might have been provided as a safety precaution in case Mom or Dad was running late picking them up from school, are now the source of constant messaging, sharing and media consumption.

Teens send texts instead of passing notes in class. They share moments with their peers and the world in the form of photos and short videos. Music, food and transportation can arrive on demand, all with the swipe of a finger. Being away from their phones, even for a short period of time, can even cause a form of separation anxiety expressed in the acronym FOMO (fear of missing out).

So it should come as no surprise that cell phone use is the offense most commonly associated with distracted driving. However, it’s not the only type of distraction.

“A lot of people think they’re better drivers than they actually are, which is why they take unnecessary risks when they’re behind the wheel,” said Randy Petro, chief claims officer for Mercury Insurance. “We see a lot of claims related to distracted driving, including parents turning to scold arguing children, adjusting the infotainment system, and even taking photos while driving. Your first priority once you start piloting any vehicle should be to focus on the task at hand—driving.”

Ten percent of all drivers ages 15 to 19 who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA also reports that 660,000 people drive distracted every day.

Teens aren’t the only ones who feel the need to be connected; adults are guilty of it, too.

Many of the teens who are glued to their smartphones have witnessed their parents answering emails at the dinner table or have seen them shoot a “quick text” while driving. Teens have grown up learning that this type of behavior is acceptable and maybe even expected. However, there’s a right time and a right place for everything.

“The first thing parents need to do is practice what they preach. Teenagers won’t always be receptive to ‘because I say so’ or ‘because I’m the adult,’ especially if they witness their parents actively engaging in a behavior they’re being told is bad,” adds Petro. “We as adults need to set a proper example – after all, we do have the advantage of more life experience.”

Parents should set a powerful example by committing not to drive distracted if they want their children to do the same. If necessary, parents can also invest in technology to monitor and disable phones while their teens are driving to eliminate the temptation altogether.

“No Instagram post, bite of a burger or playlist selection is worth someone else’s life. People are mainly in a car to get from point A to point B, and our wish is for them to do it safely,” says Petro.

There are several excellent online resources that provide tips and information to help prepare teens for life behind the wheel, including Mercury Insurance’s Drive Safe Challenge and NHTSA’s Distraction.gov.

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Crash fatalities could drop by half with proven strategies 

 

From the CDC Newsroom

About 90 people die each day from motor vehicle crashes in the United States, resulting in the highest death rate among 19 high-income comparison countries. Our nation has made progress in road safety, reducing crash deaths by 31 percent from 2000 to 2013. But other high-income countries reduced crash deaths even further—by an average of 56 percent during the same period, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Lower death rates in comparison countries, as well as the high prevalence of risk factors in the U.S., suggest that we can make more progress in saving lives. Compared with other high-income countries, the US had the:

  • most motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 population and per 10,000 registered vehicles;
  • second highest percentage of deaths involving alcohol (31 percent); and
  • third lowest front seat belt use (87 percent).

CAR-Motor-vehicle-crash-deaths-graphic-b1_1185px

If the U.S. had the same motor vehicle crash death rate as Belgium—the country with the second highest death rate after the U.S.—about 12,000 fewer lives would have been lost and an estimated $140 million in direct medical costs would have been averted in 2013. And if the U.S. had the same rate as Sweden—the country with the lowest crash death rate—about 24,000 fewer lives would have been lost and an estimated $281 million in direct medical costs would have been averted in 2013.

“It is important to compare us not to our past but to our potential. Seeing that other high-income countries are doing better, we know we can do better too,” said Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “People of our nation deserve better and safer transport.”

For this Vital Signs report, CDC analyzed data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). CDC determined the number and rate of motor vehicle crash deaths in the U.S. and 19 other high-income countries and reported national seat belt use and percentage of deaths that involved alcohol-impaired driving or speeding, by country, when available. Countries included in the study were Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Each country included in the study was a member of OECD, met the World Bank’s definition for high income, had a population of more than 1 million people, and reported the annual number of motor vehicle deaths and vehicle miles traveled. In addition, the difference between the country-reported motor vehicle crash death rate and the WHO-estimated rate could not exceed 1 death per 100,000 population.

“It’s unacceptable for 90 people to die on our roads each day, especially when we know what works to prevent crashes, injuries, and deaths,” said Erin Sauber-Schatz, Ph.D., M.P.H., transportation safety team lead, CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “About 3,000 lives could be saved each year by increasing seat belt use to 100 percent, and up to 10,000 lives could be saved each year by eliminating alcohol-impaired driving.”

The researchers recommend using seat belts in both front and rear seats, properly using car seats and booster seats for children through at least age 8, never drinking and driving, obeying speed limits, and eliminating distracted driving. In addition, states can use proven strategies to support these actions that save lives, prevent injuries, and avert crash-related costs. (See the proven strategies at http://www.cdc.gov/psr/national-summary/mvi.html.)

CDC’s Injury Center works to protect the safety of all Americans, every day. For more information about motor vehicle safety, please visit www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety.

For this Vital Signs report, CDC analyzed data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). CDC determined the number and rate of motor vehicle crash deaths in the U.S. and 19 other high-income countries and reported national seat belt use and percentage of deaths that involved alcohol-impaired driving or speeding, by country, when available. Countries included in the study were Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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Wait for the correct weight oil

CAR-Wait-for-correct-oil(BPT) Most vehicle owners know it is important to regularly have their motor oil changed. Many owners may not know that choosing any oil weight other than the one specified in their owner’s manual could damage their engine.

“My dad taught me to switch oil weight depending on the season and the driving conditions. I used 10W-40 or straight 30 weight oil in the summer and switched to 10W-30 in the winter,” says RockAuto.com Vice President, Tom Taylor. Conventional wisdom for old cars said oils with higher weight numbers had a thicker viscosity that would make them better for hot weather and hard driving while lighter weight oils were better for cold weather.

The newest engines are often designed to use only one specific oil with a weight number that may be unfamiliar, such as 0W-20 or 0W-40. Doing something like substituting “heavy duty” 20W-50 for 0W-20 in the summer could quickly result in big repair bills.

Oil does much more these days than simply lubricate and cool the engine. Engine oil may act like a hydraulic fluid in engines with variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation or other new systems that are pressure sensitive and route oil through tiny orifices. “We see variable valve timing solenoids that are clogged by dirty oil, but they also get clogged by clean oil that is just the wrong viscosity,” says Taylor.

Using the right weight oil is made more difficult by all the gas stations and convenience stores that still sell 10W-30 for old cars but do not have the shelf space to stock the many different oil types for newer cars. Do not top off your engine with the incorrect oil because that is all a store carries.

Also, do not choose 10W-30 simply because it is less expensive. Newer engines may take seven or 10 quarts of oil. When buying that much oil, it can be tempting to buy a cheaper weight. Putting the wrong oil in your engine could cost you much more money down the road.

If you hire a shop to change your oil, then make sure they use the correct oil for your engine.

Always wait until you can get the oil weight specified in the owner’s manual.

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Summer car care tips to stay in great condition

For better driving all season long, make sure your summer to-do list includes cleaning and maintaining your car. Photo (c) Rukawajung — Fotolia.com

For better driving all season long, make sure your summer to-do list includes cleaning and maintaining your car.
Photo (c) Rukawajung — Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) For many drivers, the summer is the time of year when your tires hit the pavement most, and car care doesn’t take a vacation. Be sure your car is ready for all that mileage.

“A car that`s well-maintained is safer, cheaper to run, more reliable and can be worth more money at resale time,” says Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader.

To help, Autotrader editors are sharing “Simple Summer Car Care Tips”” tips to get your car in tip-top shape for the busy driving season ahead:

• Wash and wax your car thoroughly. If you can afford it, have it professionally detailed. Direct sunlight can cause a car’s finish to become dull, but a thorough washing and waxing can also help keep your car’s paint and clear coat looking good.

It’s tempting to run the car through an automated car wash, but those big revolving brushes can dull the finish over time. If you’re not allowed to wash your car at home due to regional laws or neighborhood rules, seek out a good drive-thru wash and hand wax instead.

• Check and set your car’s tire pressure to the level specified in your owner’s manual or on the driver’s door sill. As temperatures warm up, the air in your tires can expand and that might impact the way the car handles.

Be sure not to over-inflate the tires. While low tire pressure can cause the tire to heat up if it’s not rolling down the road properly, extreme over inflation can cause a blowout in high temperatures. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, take your car to a shop like Big-O Tires, Sears Auto Center or Firestone Auto Care Center. Those kinds of chains will usually do it for free.

• Have a qualified mechanic do a visual inspection under the hood. If you’re comfortable doing this yourself, check for worn belts or hoses and make sure your coolant (sometimes called anti-freeze) isn’t too old. Coolant lasts a long time, but keeping track of when it was last changed, especially in older cars, can help you avoid overheating as the temperatures gradually climb.

For more tips for keeping your vehicle in great shape visit www.Autotrader.com

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Get your car spring ready

Car care tips for safe driving in seasonal weather

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features)

Spring breezes may be blowing, but before you put those windows down and settle in for a leisurely drive to soak up that fresh air, your car needs some seasonal freshening of its own.

Regular car care helps ensure that your vehicle looks and runs its best, and timing your car care to the seasons can help ensure all of your equipment is in top condition to protect your safety in seasonal weather conditions.

One of the most common threats in spring is stormy weather, which can affect your visibility and traction. Ensure you and your car are well-protected and ready for spring with this spring car care checklist.

Give your car a checkup

An all-over maintenance checkup is a good starting point to get a pulse on your car’s condition. A multi-point inspection can help alert you to signs of wear or damage on parts such as your belts, which can weaken as a result of cold winter weather, and your brakes, which are critical for safe driving.

Your engine relies on clean oil for smooth operation, so if it’s time for a change (usually every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on manufacturer recommendations) you can schedule a change to coincide with your service appointment.

CAR-WipersKeep your view safe and clear

Keeping your windshield clear is an obvious necessity for everyday visibility, but the quality of your wiper blades is even more important in inclement weather. Old or damaged blades may not be up to the task of keeping your line of sight clear during a heavy spring downpour. When it comes to choosing new blades, give careful attention to performance.

Traditional metal wiper blades, installed on many new cars, have exposed suspension components that can become damaged with exposure to extreme weather. Newer vehicles may include beam blades, with a pre-sprung steel beam designed specifically for that vehicle. However, many replacement beam blade designs are compromised to fit a large array of vehicle models and do not properly adapt to the varying curvature of windshields. This results in reduced wrap and contact pressure on the windshield, as well as poor wiping performance.

A better option is hybrid blades, such as Michelin Stealth Hybrid wiper blades, which feature an exclusive Smart Flex technology that automatically adjusts wiper blade contact pressure across the curvature of the windshield for improved wiping performance. Engineered for durable wiping in extreme weather conditions, the wiper frame and suspension system are completely covered to protect the blades from weather-related damage. The Michelin EZ-Lok Connector System allows for a quick and simple blade replacement. Learn more at MichelinWipers.com.

If your vehicle has a rear wiper, remember to replace it, too.

Check your traction

Your tires are another of your car’s essential safety features. Excess or uneven tire wear can be extremely dangerous in wet and slick road conditions. If your tires can’t get adequate traction, you may find yourself hydroplaning or losing control. What’s more, tires are an expensive investment, so before embarking on your next road trip, make sure your tires are properly inflated, balanced and rotated. This can help ensure you get the most mileage out of your tires before needing to replace them.

CAR-ShiningShow your shine 

Sound operations aside, you’ll get more enjoyment out of your car when it looks as great as it runs. A thorough cleaning of the exterior after the harsh winter months helps whisk away any damaging substances, such as the salt used to melt ice and snow.

Protect and preserve your vehicle with products, such as Barrett-Jackson Auto Care’s full line of interior and exterior products. Liquid Wax, a signature product in the line, is specially designed with Carnauba wax to achieve a long-lasting, deep shine with no powdery residue. Barrett-Jackson Wash & Wax saves time by lifting away dirt and enhancing shine in one step, while the rapid detailer is great for those in between touch ups. For an all-over shine to complete the freshly cleaned look, Tire Shine is a quick, no-hassle way to maintain sleek, wet-look tires. Make sure to select a tire shine that will not sling off on your car when driving. Find more information about these and other products designed to keep your car looking flawless at barrett-jacksonautocare.com.

Once the exterior is complete, turn your attention inside. Pick up any trash or debris, vacuum and wipe down all interior surfaces. A moisturizing treatment will help clean and condition leather, preventing it from drying out and cracking. Also give interior glass a wipe down for the clearest visibility possible and be sure to pick an interior protectant that doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue to help renew and protect all interior surfaces, including plastic, vinyl, rubber and trim.

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Auto Advice: Don’t fear the check engine light

A “check engine” light coming on doesn’t mean you have to stop driving immediately but you should get it looked at very soon.

A “check engine” light coming on doesn’t mean you have to stop driving immediately but you should get it looked at very soon.

(NAPS) — Although the check engine light may look scary lit up on the dashboard, you don’t need to panic. A glowing check engine light doesn’t mean you have to immediately pull the car to the side of the road; it does mean you should get the car checked out as soon as possible.

Motorists should not get spooked when the check engine light comes on,” says Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council, the source for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign promoting regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair. “When illuminated, the check engine light usually means that a vehicle system, such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control, is not operating properly.”

Possible Problems

Some common malfunctions that can cause the light to illuminate include a faulty oxygen sensor, mass air flow sensor, or spark plugs and wires. If the light flashes, the condition is more critical and must be checked immediately to prevent severe damage, which may include catalytic converter problems.

Even if the vehicle appears to be running normally, ignoring the warning light could result in more costly repairs,” adds White. “At the very least, the light could be alerting you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy and costing you money.”

Service and Solutions

When scheduling service, make sure the repair shop that examines your vehicle has professional technicians who are trained and certified in OBDII diagnosis and repair. The technician will connect your vehicle’s computer system to a diagnostic scan tool, which will provide trouble codes indicating why the check engine light was activated. While the diagnostic tool is connected, the technician can analyze data streams such as the idle speed, throttle response, engine temperature, fuel system pressure, manifold vacuum, exhaust emission levels and many other key indicators. Once the problem is identified and the repair is made, the car’s computer is reset.

LearnMore

For further illuminating facts about taking the scare out of an illuminated check engine light, visit www.carcare.org, view the council’s Car Care Minute and order a free copy of the newly updated Car Care Guide at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

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Auto Advice: Keep track of open recalls

Remember, to keep your car  safe, it pays to pay attention to auto recalls.

Remember, to keep your car safe, it pays to pay attention to auto recalls.

(NAPS)—If you’re like most people, car safety and performance are important to you. But you might be surprised to hear that over 47 million vehicles have unfixed safety recalls—vehicles you might be sharing the road with or driving yourself.

Alarmingly, family-oriented vehicles like SUVs and minivans are the least-often fixed. An auto recall usually occurs when the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that a car has a defect or fails to meet federal safety standards.

While repeated attempts are made to reach the owners, the stats suggest that people aren’t well-enough informed about recalls, and may not know where to start. To help you stay informed, you can use the free myCarfax.com service to get e-mails or text alerts about current and future recalls on your car.

Fixing recalls helps maintain the safety and value of your car, makes roads safer, and is normally free. Plus, most recall fixes are completed in less than a day.

Remember that only a manufacturer’s dealer is authorized to fix recalls. If your car is recalled, call your local dealer immediately.

Learn more and sign up at www.mycarfax.com

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Here comes the rain: Expert tips for wet weather driving

CAR-Here-comes-the-rain

(BPT) – When it comes to driving in the rain, windshield wipers, headlights and brakes will only get you so far. More than 1 million car crashes occur each year as a result of weather conditions, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Most of them have to do with wet roadways, and many of them could likely be prevented by the right set of tires.

As El Niño looms in the West, and the inevitable April showers approach elsewhere, drivers across the United States should turn their attention to the rubber that meets the proverbial—and also very literal—wet road.

Nearly a quarter of all car crashes are caused by weather, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Of those, nearly three quarters can be attributed to wet pavement. When roadways are slick, dangers such as skidding and hydroplaning quickly become concerns. Tires can be the best defense against such hazards, as a healthy, reliable set of tires will give your vehicle the traction it needs to safely stop and corner on slick roadways. Before the tires can do their job, drivers will need to take a few steps of their own.

Before you hit the road, know what to look for on your tires.

Tire tread helps to channel rainwater safely between your tires and the road – but only if there’s enough tread available to do so. When new, tire tread runs 9/32 of an inch deep. Tires are legally worn out with just 2/32 of an inch of tread remaining, but this doesn’t leave enough depth in wet conditions.

Tire Rack, America’s largest independent tire tester and consumer-direct source for tires, makes an even safer recommendation. “When rain is a concern, as it will be for much of the U.S. throughout the spring, drivers should replace their tires when they reach 4/32 of an inch of remaining tread depth,” says Woody Rogers, product information specialist at Tire Rack. “By the time you reach 2/32 of an inch, your tires won’t have enough tread to avoid hydroplaning.”

To make sure that your tread is deep enough to keep your tires firmly rooted on the surface of the road, Tire Rack recommends a simple quarter test. Place a quarter upside down into the grooves on your tires. If some part of George Washington’s head is covered by tread, then you have at least 4/32 of an inch left. “The difference between 2/32 of an inch and 4/32 is admittedly very small,” Rogers says, “but the impact on safety is quite large.”

If hydroplaning occurs, coast carefully.

Hydroplaning happens when water on a roadway and vehicle speed combine to cause one or more of your tires to lift from the surface of the road. When this happens, the vehicle’s steering wheel will likely jerk, and the vehicle could pull abruptly toward the puddle.

“Slowing down in rainy conditions is always a good idea, but it may not be enough for the surprise waiting up ahead. Having the appropriate tread depth is a must for preventing hydroplaning,” Rogers says. “If you do hydroplane, grasp the steering wheel firmly and avoid slamming on the brakes. Braking could end up worsening the skid, causing you to lose even more control of the vehicle.”

Driving in the rain is never fun, but with the right tires, it can at least be safer. When the rubber meets the road, make sure it’s up for the job. Tire Rack offers more expert tips and finds the right tires for your vehicle at www.tirerack.com.

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Spring clean your car: Tips to get your car in great condition

 

For better driving all season long, make sure your spring to-do list includes cleaning and maintaining your car. (c) Rukawajung - Fotolia.com

For better driving all season long, make sure your spring to-do list includes cleaning and maintaining your car. (c) Rukawajung – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) For some, spring cleaning is a time-honored ritual, which doesn’t just apply to your house. Remember that your car is likely in desperate need of some attention after the winter months.

“A car that’s well-maintained is safer, cheaper to run, more reliable and can be worth more money at resale time,” says Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader.

To help, Autotrader editors are sharing “Simple Spring Car Care” tips to get your car in tip-top shape for the busy driving season ahead:

  • Wash and wax your car thoroughly. If you can afford it, have it professionally detailed. However, if you do it yourself, be sure to use a pressure nozzle in order to rid your car of any leftover road salt or sand from the winter. Direct sunlight can cause a car’s finish to become dull, but a thorough washing and waxing can also help keep your car’s paint and clear coat looking good.

It’s tempting to run the car through an automated car wash, but those big revolving brushes can dull the finish over time. If you’re not allowed to wash your car at home due to regional laws or neighborhood rules, seek out a good drive-thru wash and hand wax instead.

  • Check and set your car’s tire pressure to the level specified in your owner’s manual or on the driver’s door sill. As temperatures warm up, the air in your tires can expand and that might impact the way the car handles.

Be sure not to over-inflate the tires. While low tire pressure can cause the tire to heat up if it’s not rolling down the road properly, extreme over inflation can cause a blowout in high temperatures. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, take your car to a shop like Big-O Tires, Sears Auto Center or Firestone Auto Care Center. Those kinds of chains will usually do it for free.

  • Have a qualified mechanic do a visual inspection under the hood. If you’re comfortable doing this yourself, check for worn belts or hoses and make sure your coolant (sometimes called anti-freeze) isn’t too old. Coolant lasts a long time, but keeping track of when it was last changed, especially in older cars, can help you avoid overheating as the temperatures gradually climb.

For more tips for keeping your vehicle in great shape whether it’s hot, cold, or rainy can be found at www.Autotrader.com.

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Original Model T plant open for Autorama Days!

An original Model T at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit. The plant will be open for tours Feb. 26-28 Photo by Will Lawson.

An original Model T at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit. The plant will be open for tours Feb. 26-28
Photo by Will Lawson.

Do you have a love for vintage cars? How would you like to travel back in time to visit the plant where the first Model T was constructed? If that’s the case, you may want to plan a trip to Detroit next weekend.

The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, located at 461 Piquette Street, Detroit, Michigan, has announced it will be open for the 2016 Autorama. The Plant will be open to the public beginning Friday, February 26 through Sunday, February 28, 2016. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Docent-led tour times are at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.

Admission prices are: $12/adults, $10/seniors, $5/students, and children 12 and under are free. Please dress warmly as the Piquette Plant is not heated. Our complimentary hot cocoa bar will be available!

Visiting the Piquette Avenue Plant is a unique experience—it is the oldest auto plant open to the public anywhere in the world. Walk the worn wood floors and touch the brick walls where Henry Ford and his team of automotive pioneers developed the car that led to an automotive and social revolution.

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