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The Hydrogen Toyota

The Hydrogen Toyota

A roundup of motoring news from the web:

– Toyota unveiled the exterior look of its hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle on Wednesday, also releasing pricing for the Japanese market. The car, which is about the size of a Camry, will cost just under $69,000 in Japan. The automaker has not discussed details about a release in North America, but California has plans to fund a hydrogen fueling network, for $47 million. (Bloomberg)

– General Motors announced Tuesday that it was installing three acres of solar arrays at two of its operations in Michigan: the engine plant in Flint and the processing center in Swartz Creek. The automaker estimates that the installations will produce 400,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, or enough to power 25 houses for a year. (General Motors)

– Cruise Automation, a start-up in San Francisco, began taking preorders Monday for a $10,000 device that straps to the roof of a conventional car to make it autonomous. The system works only on Audi A4 and S4 models, but the company said it was working on adapting it to other vehicles. (Forbes)

– In its analysis of the Kia Soul E.V., TÜV Nord, a German technical inspection organization, has found that the battery-powered car has a carbon footprint 40 percent smaller over the life of the vehicle than that of its diesel-power, European-market counterpart. Kia began building the Soul E.V. in South Korea this year. (Autoblog)

– Joe Hinrichs, president of the Americas for Ford, said this week that the automaker was on track to begin building it aluminum-body 2015 F-150 pickup. To build the redesigned truck, Ford is retooling two factories, which the automaker said would cut production of its popular and profitable F-Series by about 90,000 units. (Bloomberg)

– In other F-150-related news, Ford introduced the tot-friendly Power Wheels version of its pickup this week in Dearborn, Mich. Mark Bentley, a licensing manager for Ford, said that the automaker pulled in about $2 billion a year from licensed merchandise like F-150 Power Wheels. The toy trucks, in which toddlers can ride, are about 4 feet long and can go up to 5 miles per hour with a 12-volt battery-powered electric motor. (The Detroit Free Press)

– Ben Winter, Chrysler’s former minivan chief engineer, has been named as the automaker’s next head of product planning for North America. Mr. Winter replaced Joe Veltri, who became head of investor relations for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in May. (Automotive News, subscription required)

– A filling station that Frank Lloyd Wright designed in 1927 was never built at its intended spot on a street corner in Buffalo, but the design finally came to fruition around the corner, inside the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum. Jim Sandoro, the museum’s founder and executive director, bought the plans for $175,000 and had it fabricated — inside a custom-built atrium — to Mr. Wright’s specifications. (Hemmings Daily)



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How Most Parents Are Failing Their Teen Drivers

How Most Parents Are Failing Their Teen Drivers


Handing over the keys is a rite of passage. For a newly minted teen driver, it’s a step toward independence. For mom or dad, it’s a cue to become less involved.


That may be a big mistake.


Too often, parents are removing themselves from a teen driver’s education at the precise time they need to still wield considerable influence, says a first-of-its-kind study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research arm of the nation’s largest motoring club.


Even after teenagers receive their licenses, parents can accelerate their young driver’s learning curve and help them become better drivers by staying involved and providing ongoing teaching. Most don’t.


There is a “widespread failure of parents to transfer their own wealth of wisdom about driving to their children,” according to the study, released Monday to coincide with the start of Teen Driver Safety Week. “This is not surprising, as most adults are not aware of how much they know that is central to safe driving.”


Nearly half of parents reported they wanted their teens to get “a lot of practice,” yet only 1 in 4 mentioned practicing in a variety of conditions, such as bad weather, heavy traffic or on unfamiliar roads.


Forty-seven percent of parents tell AAA that even after their kids receive their license, there was still at least one road condition that made them uncomfortable allowing their teens to drive in without supervision. Yet parents don’t take the next step and ensure supervised practice in those conditions.


Much of the driving practice that teens receive occurs during routine trips, the study says. Teens do not receive enough training in settings such as darkness, bad weather, entering and exiting highways and driving on rural roads.


Speeding up that learning curve can be critical. Teen drivers ages 15 to 17 are eight times as likely to be involved in a car accident than those just a little bit older, ages 18 to 24, if they’re carrying passengers, says another new study from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Although the same study found the overall number of teen fatalities has fallen over the past decade, traffic accidents remain the No. 1 killer of teenagers.




Car Seat Recommendations for Children

Car Seat Recommendations for Children


There are many car seat choices on the market. Use the information below to help you choose a car seat that best meets your child’s needs.


Birth – 12 Months

Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.


1 – 3 Years

Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.


4 – 7 Years

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.


8 – 12 Years

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.




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5 Cheap Ways to Increase Horsepower

5 Cheap Ways to Increase Horsepower


Your car is fine. It’s got a great stereo, and you’ve been driving it long enough that the seat has that perfect butt-groove going on. You’ve been pretty diligent about taking care of it, with regular oil changes and trips through the car wash. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were, I don’t know, faster? Maybe had a little oomph when you take off from a red light? Maybe, just maybe, your car could even pass another car while going uphill — with a little tuning. We’re not talking about making your car a queen of the drag strip; I mean, that’s expensive. Or is it?

There are easily five things you can do to pep up your commute or turn in a respectable time on the quarter-mile, and it doesn’t have to cost more than your mortgage payment to do them.

5 – Cold-Air Intake

This is the first thing just about anyone will tell you when you say you want to up your horsepower. It’s kind of like those minty-fresh gum commercials with the ice swirling around, and the price is only a smidge more than a pack of gum. A kind of big smidge, but still. The idea is that cold air is more dense, so more air gets into the cylinders to mix with the fuel. More air means more combustion, and more combustion means more power, to the tune of a realistic 5- to 7-horsepower in a typical engine. This only works if the air intake is the limiting factor, however. If your engine is already sucking in big breaths of cool, fresh air, then try one of the other tricks on this list.

4 – Cat-back Exhaust

No cats need be harmed in the increasing of one’s horsepower (how did so many animals make it into this tip?). This means that you straighten the pipes from the catalyst in the exhaust tubing to the back of the car, at the bumper. “This will loosen up the entire system,” said Jeff Zurschmeide, author of “The New Mini Performance Handbook.” “It pushes the exhaust gases out easier.” Getting those gases out ASAP means more room for more air and fuel, and more air and fuel means more power. Zurschmeide notes that “new catalysts are less restrictive than they used to be, and they’re designed to work with the engine. They’re not such a bar to performance anymore.” If your car is, ahem, vintage, you might want to check out tip number 3.

3 – High-flow Catalyst

When cars were first required to have catalytic converters, manufacturers rushed to slap them into place. They didn’t do one’s performance any favors, though they did help the air we breathe some. It took decades for catalysts to improve, with even cars from the 1980s and 1990s getting gummed up in the converters. And if you added leaded gas to that equation? Well, you were lucky if you could make it up a hill. Try this: Swap an old catalyst out for a modern aftermarket high-flow number and feel the difference in the pedal. Do this along with a cat-back exhaust, Zurschmeide says, for the biggest bang for your buck. He also notes that it’s illegal to remove a catalyst that’s not broken — and there are some hefty fines for punishment. Do not, under any circumstances, knock a hole into your catalytic converter with a wrench you happen to be holding, requiring it to be replaced, perhaps by a high-flow catalyst. You hear that? Do not knock a hole in it.

2 – Tire Tricks

Believe it or not, there are a bunch of tweaks you can make to your tires to increase the feel of power in your car. Zurschmeide suggests starting with a more aggressive alignment. Dial out the toe-in that manufacturers specify so that the wheels are pointed straight ahead for more straight-line speed. Swap out the regular tires for a set of shorter tires to increase acceleration. Sure, this will make your speedometer read incorrectly, but it’s a small price to pay for a quick time off the line. You can always get a new set of light weight wheels to mount those short tires on, too, but be careful here if you’re pinching pennies. A set of carbon-fiber wheels may lighten your load, but they’ll lighten your wallet by far, far more.

1 – Reflashing

Reflash! Ah-aaaah! Savior of the universe! Reflashing your car’s computer merely changes its programming regarding timing, fuel-air mixture and other horsepower-upping inputs. The benefit of a reflash, besides the added power, is that it can be undone if you need warranty work done or have to have your car inspected by the state environmental department. The downside is that it really only works if your car is turbocharged or supercharged; reflashing a normally aspirated engine will only get you an extra half a horsepower, Zurschmeide says. And as with some of the others on this list, it only nets a big power boost if the factory programming is the limiting factor for your engine. Swapping out the stock computer for an entirely new module could help — but that, Zurschmeide says, “has a very high price of entry.”

How Defensive Driving Works

How Defensive Driving Works


Approximately 6 million collisions occur on America’s roads each year [source: NHTSA]. These accidents kill approximately 40,000 Americans and injure 2 million more annually. They also cost the U.S. government about $164 billion — or about $1,000 per person per year [sources: KCBS, CDC Faststats, Los Alamos National Lab].


No one plans to get into a car wreck, but accidents can and often do happen. Drivers get distracted by cell phones and text messages, take their eyes off the road or simply don’t pay attention. Aggressive drivers hit the gas pedal too hard, switch lanes without warning or follow other drivers too closely.


You can’t prevent accidents entirely, but you can decrease their likelihood by practicing some good defensive driving skills. Defensive driving is all about anticipation — knowing what’s going on around you, predicting what might happen and knowing how to react quickly in case another driver catches you off-guard. It’s also about protecting yourself so that you’re less likely to be injured in a crash. Something as simple as putting on a seat belt could save your life in an accident; in fact, they save about 11,000 lives per year [source: NHTSA]




In this article, you’ll learn some tips to help you drive more defensively. Although no amount of defensive driving can prevent a crash, this advice should help you stay alert, in control and safer out on the road.


Here are a few tips to help you drive defensively:


Stay focused. It’s hard to ignore that plaintive cell phone ring or text message signal. If you’re running late, you may be tempted to finish breakfast or put on your mascara while driving. Don’t do it. A 2006 study finds that almost 80 percent of all crashes involve some kind of distraction in the three seconds immediately before the accident [source: Auto Trader]. When you’re driving, the only thing that should be on your mind is the road in front of you. Put your cell phone out of reach, even if it’s hands-free — research finds that any kind of phone can take your concentration off the road [source: CNN Money]. Pull over to talk and text, eat, put on your makeup, change the CD or read the newspaper (yes, some people actually do this in traffic).


Be in control. Taking any controlled substance could slow your reflexes and mar your judgment enough to cause an accident, so avoid drugs and alcohol when you know you have to drive. Sleepiness is also a danger on the road. Driving drowsy is like getting behind the wheel with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 (the legal limit in the U.S.), and it leads to nearly 2 million crashes each year [source: Sleep Foundation]. Get a good night’s sleep before you drive, and if your eyelids are starting to droop, get off the road and find a place where you can nap.


Be wary. You may be the best driver in the world, but you still need to worry about other drivers, including the woman who’s putting on her lipstick at 70 miles per hour (113 kph). Put extra space between your car and the one in front of you to give other drivers enough room to make unexpected moves. Check your mirrors constantly and always try to look as far as you can down the road ahead. Always have an escape route you can use quickly if someone sneaks into your lane unexpectedly.


Be safe. Make sure your car is equipped with accessories like air bags, ABS brakes and traction-control systems. Check your tire pressure, lights and fluids before you hit the road. Lock your doors, wear your seatbelt at all times and make sure your passengers do the same (children should be in age-appropriate car seats). Drive within the legal speed limit and follow local traffic laws.


Defensive Driving Courses


All you really need to drive defensively is a little common sense, but you can take a defensive driving course if you think you need some extra help. These classes are often referred to as “traffic school,” a program drivers use to erase points from their license after they get a speeding ticket, but they can also be useful for drivers who just want to brush up on their skills and learn how to prevent accidents. 1SafeDriver.com offers defensive driving courses. These courses also teach students how to react safely in a variety of conditions, including how to:


– Increase following distance and avoid being blinded by oncoming headlights at night, when visibility is low.

– Allow for safe distances, maneuver around trucks and avoid aggressive drivers on the highway.

– Drive safely on rain- or snow-slicked roads


Our online courses feature interactive screens where users learn defensive driving techniques and take quizzes designed to test their new skills.

Road Rage or Aggressive Driving?

Road Rage or Aggressive Driving?


One of the big issues with aggressive driving and road rage is that the driving public and the police define “aggressive” very differently. Surveys show that many drivers don’t consider certain behaviors — like honking the car horn or changing lanes without signaling — to be aggressive at all. One survey found that only 47 percent of American drivers consider driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit to be a kind of aggressive driving, though law enforcement officials tend to disagree.


There’s a wide range of aggressive-driving behaviors, some of which are potentially much more dangerous than others. Dr. James divides aggressive driving into three areas — impatience and inattentiveness, power struggles, and recklessness and road rage.


Impatience and inattentiveness – these can be categorized by behaviors like driving through red lights, rolling through stop signs, blocking intersections, speeding and not using signals when turning or changing lanes. Drivers who engage in these behaviors often say that their schedules are very busy, that they’ve run out of time or that their mind was on something else. This is the lowest level of aggressive driving — behaviors that are annoying and could trigger road rage in another, but are less risky than other negative behaviors.


Power struggles – these are more serious, and they include preventing someone from moving over into your lane, using gestures or obscene language to humiliate or threaten other drivers, tailgating and cutting off another driver or braking without warning as an act of retaliation. These behaviors stem from an unhealthy mentality in which drivers feel as if they’re the target of malicious acts. Many people feel a sense of entitlement and self-righteousness when behind the wheel of a car — it’s common for them to feel that someone who makes a mistake needs to be punished. Most of us have wished for another driver to feel guilt or shame for an action we’ve deemed stupid or dangerous — according to Dr. James, that’s the first step to entering into a power struggle.


Recklessness and road rage — the most serious incidents include behaviors like entering into a duel with another car, racing at dangerous speeds and committing assault with a weapon or your vehicle. In these cases, aggressive driving gives way to outright violence. While road rage isn’t exactly a worldwide epidemic, studies have shown that incidents have increased each year. Skeptics point out that this could be due to an increase in reporting incidents, however, and may not actually indicate an increase in cases.

Top 10 Safe Driving Tips

Top 10 Safe Driving Tips

Today, we drive safer cars on safer roads; decades of advertisements and public information campaigns have made most of us safer drivers. As a result, the U.S. logged the lowest accident fatality rate ever recorded in 2008 [source: NHTSA]. Despite this progress, unfortunately, the number of auto accidents and fatalities nationwide is still quite staggering: In 2008, there were almost 6 million car accidents in the U.S., leading to more than 37,000 deaths. What’s more, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of three and 34 in this country.


Improvements in technology will continue to help bring those numbers down, but the bottom line remains that most car accidents are the result of human error. The best way to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident is to practice safe driving behaviors. Whether you’re just learning to drive or you’ve been behind the wheel for decades, it’s a good idea to review some basic rules for safe driving. Here are 10 driving tips that will help bring you and your passengers home unharmed.


10 – Don’t Drive Drunk

More than 30 percent of all auto accident fatalities in the United States involve drivers impaired by alcohol. These accidents led to 11,773 deaths in 2008 alone [source: NHTSA]. Most of those deaths could’ve been avoided if the drivers involved simply hadn’t gotten behind the wheel while drunk.


Alcohol causes a number of impairments that lead to car accidents. Even at low blood-alcohol levels, intoxication reduces reaction time and coordination and lowers inhibitions, which can cause drivers to make foolish choices. At higher levels, alcohol causes blurred or double vision and even loss of consciousness. Drunk driving isn’t just a terrible idea — it’s a crime. In the U.S, getting caught behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher will probably earn you a trip to jail.


It’s easy to avoid driving drunk. If you’ve been drinking, ask a sober friend for a ride or call a cab. If you’re planning to drink, make sure you have a designated driver. The mild inconvenience of taking a cab home is nothing compared to the disastrous consequences of driving drunk.


9 – Don’t Speed

As the old public service campaign so succinctly put it, “Speed kills.” Research has shown that for every mile per hour you drive, the likelihood of your being in an accident increases by four to five percent [source: ERSO]. At higher speeds, the risk increases much more quickly.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains the consequences of fast driving quite simply: “Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes. The economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is estimated by NHTSA to be $40.4 billion per year. In 2008, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, and 11,674 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes” [source: NHTSA].


For your average drive across town, driving even 10 mph (16.1 kph) faster is only going to save you a few minutes — while increasing your crash risk by as much as 50 percent. Even on long trips, the time you’ll save is inconsequential compared to the risks associated with speeding. Take your time and obey posted speed limits. If you really need to get there as fast as possible, there’s one fool-proof solution: Leave earlier.


8 – Avoid Distractions

Many states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. The reason is the number of deaths attributed to this seemingly harmless activity: 2,600 deaths nationwide every year, by some estimates [source: Live Science]. In fact, those numbers may actually be too low, due to the continued rise in cell phone use behind the wheel. If you think that talking and texting while driving isn’t a big deal, consider this: One researcher compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a cell phone to that of a 70-year-old driver. What’s more, working a cell phone behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent.

It isn’t just cell phones that cause distractions, however. Eating, applying makeup, fiddling with electronic devices or interacting with passengers also diverts a driver’s attention in potentially deadly ways. Perhaps the best advice on driving distractions came from rocker Jim Morrison: “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.”



7 – Don’t Drive Drowsy

A study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech reported that 20 percent of all accidents have sleepiness as a contributing factor [source: TheDenverChannel]. If a driver is tired enough to actually fall asleep while driving, the results are predictable. Even on a relatively straight highway, a sleeping driver will eventually drift off the road. Trees, utility poles, ravines and bridge abutments turn this into a deadly scenario — and that doesn’t even take other cars into account.

You might think a few yawns are nothing to worry about, but just being a little drowsy is enough to increase your risk of getting in an accident. Responses can range from dozing off for a few seconds at a time to simply “zoning out” and losing all focus on the road. At highway speeds, one or two seconds of inattention can lead to disaster.


The solution is simple: Get a better night’s sleep! Make sure you get a solid eight hours of sleep, not just on the night before a long drive, but on a regular basis. Failure to get enough sleep every night builds a sleep deficit that can leave you drowsy and unable to focus. If you’re driving and feel the least bit groggy, take action immediately. Don’t think you’ll get any kind of warning before you fall asleep, or that you can fight it off. People can move from drowsy to sound asleep without warning. If this happens to you, have a friend take over behind the wheel, find a rest area where you can catch a few hours of sleep or take a break until you’re feeling more alert.


6 – Wear Your Seat Belt

Seat belts save lives. Worn properly, they prevent you from being thrown around the inside of a crashing vehicle or, worse, thrown through the windshield and flung completely out of the vehicle. NHTSA statistics reveal that more than half of all accident fatalities were people who weren’t using seat belts [source: NHTSA]. The numbers are much scarier for young drivers and passengers: A staggering 70 percent of fatal crash victims between the ages of 13 and 15 weren’t wearing seat belts.


Everyone has heard horror stories about people who were killed in bizarre freak accidents in which they’d have lived if only they hadn’t been wearing a seat belt. Even if these stories are true — many of them are exaggerations or urban legends — they’re also anomalies. In the overwhelming majority of car crashes, you have a greater chance of surviving if you’re wearing a seat belt.


Even a low-speed crash can send an unbelted person careening into the dashboard or side window, resulting in severe head injuries or broken bones. At higher speeds, the possible fates of the unbelted occupant are gruesome: severe lacerations from being propelled through the windshield; struck by other cars because you landed on the road; slammed into a tree or a house at 50 mph (80 kph). Sound scary? Then buckle up.


5 – Be Extra Careful in Bad Weather

If you’re driving through fog, heavy rain, a snow storm or on icy roads, be extra cautious. Take all of the other tips presented here and make full use of them: Drive below the speed limit if necessary, maintain extra space between you and the car ahead, and be especially careful around curves. If you’re driving through weather conditions you don’t know well, consider delegating driving duties to someone who does, if possible. If the weather worsens, just find a safe place to wait out the storm.

If you’re experiencing bad visibility, either from fog or snow, and you end up off the side of the road (intentionally or otherwise), turn off your lights. Drivers who can’t see the road will be looking for other cars to follow along the highway. When they see your lights, they’ll drive toward you and may not realize you’re not moving in time to avoid a collision.


4 – Don’t Follow Too Closely

Safe driving guidelines advise drivers to keep a safe distance between themselves and the car ahead. Drivers need enough time to react if that car makes a sudden turn or stop. It can be too difficult to estimate the recommended distances while driving and the exact distance would have to be adjusted for speed, so most experts recommend a “three-second rule.”


The three-second rule is simple. Find a stationary object on the side of the road. When the car ahead of you passes it, start counting seconds. At least three seconds should pass before your car passes the same object [source: SmartMotorist]. Once you have some driving experience and have practiced keeping this minimum distance, you’ll develop an instinct for it and know how close to follow without having to count. However, even experienced drivers should count off the three-second rule now and then to make sure.

At night or in inclement weather, double the recommended time to six seconds.


3 – Watch Out for the Other Guy

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how safely you drive. You could be driving the speed limit and obeying all traffic rules and someone else can crash into you. One good rule of thumb to use is, “Assume everyone else on the road is an idiot.” In other words, be prepared for unpredictable lane changes, sudden stops, quick turns without signaling, swerving, tailgating and every other bad driving behavior imaginable. Chances are, you’ll eventually encounter someone like this — and it pays to be ready when you do.


It’s impossible to list all the possible things another driver might do, but there are a few common examples. If you’re pulling out of a driveway into traffic and an oncoming car has its turn signal on, don’t assume it’s actually turning. You might pull out only to find that turn signal has been blinking since 1987. If you’re approaching an intersection where you have the right of way, and another approaching car has the stop sign, don’t assume it will actually stop. As you approach, take your foot off the gas and be prepared to brake.


Of course, being prepared requires awareness, so make sure you check your mirrors and keep an eye on side streets so you’ll know which other cars are around you and how they’re driving. Don’t focus only on the road in front of your car — look ahead so you can see what’s happening 50 to 100 yards (46 to 91 meters) up the road.


2 – Practice Defensive Driving

This tip is pretty simple to understand if we just put the proverbial shoe on the other foot. Remember that one time when that jerk came flying down the street out of nowhere, totally cut you off and almost caused a huge accident? Don’t be that jerk.


Aggressive driving is hard to quantify, but it definitely increases the risk of accidents. Studies show that young male drivers are more likely to drive aggressively [source: NCHRP]. An aggressive driver does more than just violate the tips in this article — they may intentionally aggravate other drivers, initiate conflict, use rude gestures or language, tailgate or impede other cars, or flash their headlights out of frustration. These behaviors aren’t just annoying, they’re dangerous.


Defensive driving incorporates the other tips shown here, such as maintaining a safe distance and not speeding, but remaining calm in the face of frustrating traffic issues is another major part of the concept. Accept small delays, such as staying in line behind a slower car instead of abruptly changing lanes. Yield to other cars, even if you technically have the right of way.


Defensive driving is not only safer, it can save you money. Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who complete defensive driving courses.


1 – Keep Your Vehicle Safe

Vehicle maintenance isn’t just an important way to extent your car’s life — it’s a major safety issue. Many maintenance issues are addressed by state mandated vehicle inspections. If your car is unsafe, the inspecting mechanic will let you know what you need to do to fix it. However, there could be a year or more between inspections, so car owners need to be aware of any potential safety issues and get them repaired before they lead to an accident.

One of the most common maintenance problems that can lead to a crash is improper tire pressure. Uneven tire pressure, or pressure that is too high or low, can impact performance or lead to a blowout — especially in high-performance cars or heavy vehicles like SUVs. You can buy a cheap pressure gauge at any auto parts store and check the pressure against the recommendation in your owner’s manual. While you’re at it, you might want to rotate your tires to promote even wear and consistent performance.


Another key area is the car’s brakes. If you notice some “softness” in the brake pedal, or feel a vibration when the brakes are applied, get them checked out by a professional mechanic. The brakes could be wearing out or you could have a problem with the car’s hydraulic system.

DUI Laws Could Be Changing

DUI Laws Could Be Changing


The National Transportation Safety Board voted to recommend to states that they lower the blood-alcohol content that constitutes drunken driving.

Currently, all 50 states have set a BAC level of .08, reflecting the percentage of alcohol, by volume, in the blood. If a driver is found to have a BAC level of .08 or above, he or she is subject to arrest and prosecution.

The National Transportation Safety Board is advising states to lower the Blood Alcohol Level that defines drunk driving from .08 to .05, which they say is the level at which many drivers’ vision can be affected.

The NTSB recommends dropping that to a BAC level of .05.

Each year, nearly 10,000 people die in alcohol-related traffic accidents and 170,000 are injured, according to the NTSB. While that’s a big improvement from the 20,000 who died in alcohol-related accidents 30 years ago, it remains a consistent threat to public safety.

Studies show that each year, roughly 4 million people admit to driving while under the influence of alcohol.

The recommendation prompted immediate criticism from restaurant trade groups.

“This recommendation is ludicrous,” said Sarah Longwell, managing director of American Beverage Institute. “Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior.

“Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hardcore drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.”

The United States, Canada and Iraq are among a small handful of countries that have set the BAC level at .08. Most countries in Europe, including Russia, most of South America and Australia, have set BAC levels at .05 to constitute drunken driving.

When Australia dropped its BAC level from .08 to .05, provinces reported a 5-18 percent drop in traffic fatalities.

The NTSB reports that at .05 BAC, some drivers begin having difficulties with depth perception and other visual functions. At .07, cognitive abilities become impaired.

At .05 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by 39 percent. At .08 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by more than 100 percent.

The NTSB believes that if all 50 states changed their standard to .05, nearly 1,000 lives could be saved each year. It is also considering other steps to help bring down the death rates on America’s roads.

The NTSB is an investigative agency that advocates on behalf of safety issues. It has no legal authority to order any change to state or federal law. It would be up to individual states whether to accept the NTSB’s recommendation, and up to the Department of Transportation whether to endorse the recommendations.

The last move from .10 to .08 BAC levels took 21 years for each state to implement.



Multitasking is Dangerous

Multitasking is Dangerous


If you think that your ability to text, talk, or email while driving is impressive… think again! It’s dangerous, and it can lead to a dangerous situation on the road.

We may feel compelled to check our phones whenever we hear our alert tones— and, maybe you have been able to do so without any negative consequences. But, how many times have we heard people involved in a crash say, “I just took my eyes off the road for a second”? It only takes a second of not paying attention to run over a young child, to crash into another car, or to hit a bicyclist who is turning in front of you.

Drivers in the United States who talk, text, or read emails significantly increase their chance of being involved in a crash. In fact, Americans ages 18­­–64 read or sent more texts or emails while driving than their European counterparts.

And every day, more than nine people die in crashes that involve a distracted driver.

As if texting and emailing weren’t enough, many U.S. drivers also succumb to other kinds of distractions while behind the wheel.  Eating while driving, adjusting the radio or using navigation technologies are also distractions. Anything we do while driving that gets in the way of us watching and seeing the road, handling the steering wheel, or focusing on driving should be avoided.

Understanding how easy it is to lose your focus on driving, if only for a moment,  is the first step in realizing how important it is to resist multitasking behind the wheel and to prevent distracted driving. Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your mind on driving. Your life and that of others depend on it!

How do you avoid distractions while driving?