safety tips

How to Handle Vehicle Emergencies

How to Handle Vehicle Emergencies

Everyday driving typically consists of endless hours of driving on familiar roads without incident. In an emergency, these hours are followed by a few moments of terror. When you encounter a vehicular emergency, it is imperative that you understand ways and options to address the emergency, particularly since emergencies seem to happen in the least desirable moments and circumstances.

To better enable implementation of appropriate responses to vehicular emergencies, we are now going to review methods and techniques that you may utilize to deal with these emergencies.

When you are driving, things can happen very quickly. You may have only a fraction of a second to make the right move. Follow these guidelines for handling emergencies.

What should you do if your car breaks down?

1. If possible, park where the disabled vehicle can be seen for 200 feet in each direction.
2. Move the vehicle so all four wheels are off the pavement.
3. Turn on your emergency flashers.
4. Get all passengers out on the side away from traffic.
5. Tie a white cloth on the left door handle or antenna.
6. Raise the hood.

What should you do if your brakes are wet?

1. Test brakes by tapping or pressing on them lightly after driving through deep water.
2. Brakes may pull to one side or may not hold at all.
3. Dry brakes by driving slowly in low gear and applying pressure to the brakes.

What should you do if you have a tire blowout?

1. Do not use your brakes and take your foot off the gas pedal or release your cruise control.
2. Concentrate on steering. Try to continue straight ahead as the car will pull in the direction of the flat.
3. Slow down gradually and begin moving toward the shoulder of the road.
4. Brake softly when the car is under control.
5. Pull completely off the pavement.
6. When you start to change the tire, make sure you are far enough off the road so that you will not back up into or fall in front of moving traffic.
7. If you can’t change the tire, call for help or follow the breakdown information covered earlier.

What can you do to stop your car in the event of brake failure?

1. Once you notice the brake failure, quickly pump your brakes to try and use any residual pressure in the brakes.
2. Take your foot off the gas pedal; try shifting to a lower gear. Let wind resistance and drive train friction slow your vehicle down.
3. Use your emergency brake if possible to control the brakes. If you have an emergency brake handle, keep the button on the end pressed down so the wheels will not lock up. If you do not know how to use your emergency brake, consult your owner’s manual.
4. Look for something to rub against. A fence, a guardrail, or bushes would work. Try to pick something that will give way when you hit against it to reduce damage to the car and to you.

Once the car is stopped, do not drive it again until the brakes are fixed.

What can you do when your power steering fails?

1. You will still have directional control of the vehicle, but the steering wheel will be difficult to turn.
2. Slow down and reduce the number of sharp turns you will need to make. The sharper the turn, the more effort it will require to turn the steering wheel.
3. Get the steering system checked by an expert and have it repaired if necessary.


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5 Essential Road Travel Tips You Don’t Already Know

5 Essential Road Travel Tips You Don’t Already Know

# 1. Prepare Your Car

Make sure to prepare your vehicle for travel. It will be your home away from home. Plan at least a month in advance for any unforeseen repairs. Check the following and adjust if needed:

  • Coolant
  • Oil
  • Tire Pressure
  • Spare Tire
  • Brakes
  • Belts, caps, hoses and filters
  • Lights, signals, all wiper blades and windshield wiper fluid

# 2. Prepare Yourself

Remember you need to be just as ready to hit the road as your vehicle. Tell people where you’re going and get a good night sleep before your trip. Also, it is important to check your cell phone range and make sure you can reach emergency operators from wherever you are traveling. Before your trip, become familiar with the routes you’re traveling and the weather forecast. Make sure to wear comfortable clothes and pack the necessities:

  • First aid kit
  • Water and snacks
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Jumper cables and flares
  • Travel brochures and maps
  • Tool kit and cutting tool
  • Chains or something for traction (especially for winter driving)
  • Waterproof matches
  • CDs or books on tape

# 3. Make Reservations or Check Hotels in the Area

Traffic Ticket solutionsIf you plan on stopping for overnight rest, make it easier by doing the following:

  • Make reservations if you have an idea of where your destination will be for the night. What if there is a nearby concert or festival of some sort? You want to make sure you are able to get a room at a decent price.
  • Plan ahead for hotel locations. You will save time and gas not having to get on and off exits, and stopping at different hotels to find out the rates and availability.
  • If you are waiting till you are on the road to get a room, make sure it is in the early to mid afternoon when you call to make reservations. Most hotels will start filling up during the late afternoon, early evening hours.
  • Check for hotels that have family discounts or automotive club and warehouse club discounts.

# 4. Be Smart With Gas Mileage

With gas prices on the rise, you may find yourself with less spending money on the road. Here are some tips to save on gas:

  • Slow down your acceleration. For example, when going from 0-60 mph, slow down your acceleration time to 15 seconds and you can save 30% on gas mileage.
  • Try to purchase your gas at the coolest time of day. Gas is densest at these times.
  • Maintain a moderate speed. If you travel at 55 mph you will save close to 21% more on your gas mileage versus traveling 10-15 miles over.
  • Keep windows closed while traveling at high speeds. Having open windows can reduce your gas mileage up to 10%, which can be the same as air conditioning.
  • Avoid driving on rough roads, they can decrease your gas mileage by 30%.
  • Cool down automatic transmitions by placing them in neutral at long traffic lights or traffic standstills.
  • Remove excess weight from your car – that can also reduce gas mileage.
  • Make sure tires are pressurized to the maximum limit provided by the manufacturer.
  • Know the estimated cost of fuel for your trip: visit


# 5. Be Safe and Alert While Traveling

The final step to road trip safety is actually being safe and alert while on the road. Remember, you want to avoid all of the emergencies you just planned for. So take the following into consideration on your commute:

  • Scan the road for hazards
  • Be aware and cautious of tailgaters or aggressive drivers
  • Avoid pulling over on the side of the road unless it is an emergency – especially at night
  • Make sure you have plenty of gas between exits
  • Take breaks and stretch at well-lit rest stops to avoid falling asleep at the wheel
  • Try listening to music or rolling the window down if you feel tired
  • Share driving responsibilities to avoid fatigue or highway hypnosis

Finally, relax and remember why you planned your trip in the first place. It is always good to try and enjoy the road as much as the destination. If your travel is for business or pleasure, you can make anything worth the trip.

How to Get the Best Gas Mileage out of Your Car

How to Get the Best Gas Mileage out of Your Car


The days of filling your tank for under $30 bucks are fading like a hometown in the rearview. If cheaper gas is your destination, good luck. You’ll most likely be running on fumes by the time you realize there’s no going back.

The best thing you can do for the road ahead is be smart when it comes to fuel economy. If you want to squeeze out every last quarter mile from your hard earned money, there are many tips and tools at your disposal. And you may be surprised. Some of these tips will make a huge difference when it comes to saving gas.

Before You Travel

  • Try to purchase your gas at the coolest time of day. Gas is densest at these times, so you’ll get more out of the volume.
  • Use your manufacturer’s recommended type of motor oil to increase your gas mileage up to 2%.
  • When starting your car, you don’t need to run it for more than 45 seconds. After that, you are just wasting fuel.
  • Regular tune ups can save an average of 4%.
  • Replacing a dirty air filter can increase gas mileage up to 10%.
  • Make sure tires are pressurized to the maximum limit provided by the manufacturer.
  • Traveling on deep tire tread dramatically reduces fuel efficiency. Remove unnecessary devices such as snow tires if they aren’t needed.
  • Remove excess weight from car – that can also reduce gas mileage.
  • When purchasing a new vehicle, look at the vehicle’s rated fuel efficiency. Smaller cars are more fuel efficient, especially those with manual transmission.
  • Know the estimated cost of fuel for your trip: visit

On the Road

  • Don’t start and stop your engine multiple times. Idling for one minute consumes the same amount of gas as starting your engine.
  • The faster you travel the more gas you consume. If you travel at 55 mph you will save close to 21% more on your gas mileage versus traveling 10-15 miles over.
  • When you are approaching a hill or incline, make sure to accelerate before you reach the hill to avoid using excess gas to get the same result ON the hill.
  • Avoid driving on rough roads, they can decrease your gas mileage by 30%.
  • Did you know that if you travel at the legal speed limit continuously you increase your chances for hitting green lights? The fewer stoplights and less stopping/slowing the better when it comes to saving fuel.
  • Use cruise control for highway traveling.
  • Cool down automatic transitions by placing them in neutral at long traffic lights or traffic standstills.
  • Avoid reverse driving maneuvers.
  • Having an open sunroof (much like open windows) can increase resistance and use more fuel.
  • Keep windows closed while traveling at high speeds. Having open windows can reduce your gas mileage up to 10%, which can be the same as air conditioning.

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And the final and most important gas-saving tip:

  • Watch your acceleration! Slow your acceleration time down to 15 seconds (when going from 0-60 mph) and you can save 30% on your gas mileage.

Intersection Safety

Intersection Safety



Drivers who are courteous and continuously apply their understanding of traffic laws relating to intersections have the best likelihood of ensuring their continued safety in these dangerous driving environments. Controlled intersections are crossing roads of two or more roadways that are controlled by a traffic control device, such as a stop light, stop sign, or a yield sign for the purpose of controlling the flow of traffic. Hazards to be aware of at intersections include cross traffic, pedestrians, rear end crashes, and other crashes caused by drivers’ blind spots.


Intersections that are not controlled by traffic control devices are known as unmarked intersections. Adequate traffic gaps at uncontrolled intersections are secured primarily by drivers’ adherence to right of way laws without the aid of traffic control devices. Regardless of whether the intersection is controlled or uncontrolled, there are basic rules for approaching any intersection:


LOOK BOTH WAYS PRIOR TO PROCEEDING – Look left first because cars approaching from your left are closer to you and are an Immediate hazard to your continued safe travel.

DON’T DEPEND ON TRAFFIC SIGNALS – Remember, traffic signals serve only as “notices” to drivers of their required performance and compliance with traffic laws. A red light, in and of itself, never stopped a motor vehicle. Impaired or reckless drivers may disobey signals, which, in the case of running a red light, might result in a driver – who entered an intersection on the first display of a green light without looking – being involved in a traffic crash.

DON’T PRESUME COMPLIANCE WITH TRAFFIC SIGNALS – Ensure that the intersection is clear prior to entering. Never “jump on” light changes when approaching a traffic signal.

OBTAIN A GOOD VIEW OF INTERSECTING TRAFFIC – Traffic that is difficult to see, e.g., motorcycles and pedestrian traffic, requires a good view of oncoming lanes to ensure that the intersection is clear before entering when authorized.



Being able to judge distance, speed, and time is the key to proceeding through an intersection safely. Drivers must be able to determine how much time it will take them to proceed through the intersection at their current speed of travel. Do they have the time at that speed to safely travel the required distance before a cross-traffic situation occurs? You must be prepared to stop within the last 100 feet prior to an intersection. If you happen to pass these marks, do not back your vehicle up, as pedestrians may be walking behind your vehicle.

Bicycle Lanes


Bicycle lanes are for bicycles Pretty obvious. Motor vehicles may not be in a bicycle lane unless they are entering or leaving the highway, preparing to turn, or parking where parking is permitted but not in the bicycle lane. Bicycles must stay in the bicycle lane and, similarly, motor vehicles must stay in lanes designed for their use. Vehicles should keep clear of and merge through bicycle lanes with extreme caution.

What is a passing lane?

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Passing lanes are for passing. There is no secret or trick to driving, the driver just needs to be paying attention. Motor vehicle operators should use a passing lane when the attempted maneuver is perceived as safe and prudent and can be completed without the use of excessive speed. The maneuver must also be completed within a reasonable amount of time, and the driver must have adequate visibility of all roadways and vehicles he or she may affect or be affected by.

What are on-ramps and merging lanes?


Drivers should be advised that highway on-ramps are for entrance to and preparation for highway driving. When entering highways, drivers must no longer travel at the drastically reduced speeds necessary for city driving. Drivers are called upon to increase speeds to that of the highway traffic and use the on-ramp and subsequent merging lanes as a means to flow smoothly into highway traffic.


Drivers must signal, increase speed, and merge safely into the flow of traffic.


Merge lanes, of course, are used for “merging” – they are typically short by nature and will end at some point in time. Lane closures also end at some point in time. Closed lanes on a highway require special attention and driver courtesy. Some drivers will wait until the last possible moment and attempt to squeeze into traffic before the lane closes. Other drivers need to be aware that these drivers are a definite hazard to the flow of traffic. Attempts to block such inconsiderate drivers may lead to other more serious consequences, such as driver confrontations or multiple car crashes.


All drivers have a responsibility to adjust their speed in order to allow gaps for merging traffic. If drivers properly space their following distance, these adjustments will be minor and highly effectual to the smooth flow of traffic. If you are traveling in the right lane and you approach a freeway onramp, you should be aware that other traffic may try to merge either in front of you or behind you. If you can, it is best to move out of the right lane to allow these vehicles easier entrance.


Many freeways and highways now have timed entrance lights that safely monitor and control entrance into the existing flow of traffic in an attempt to alleviate “bottlenecking.” These traffic meters make drivers stop and wait a few seconds before attempting to enter the flow of traffic. This allows the vehicle ahead of them (who has already followed the same procedure) enough time to enter the highway leaving the following driver a clear path in which to merge.


High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes are identified by a painted diamond in the lane. These lanes are reserved for carpools or multiple passenger (two or more occupancy) vehicles, such as buses. Regulatory signs indicate hours of operation and occupancy requirements. Any driver illegally using these lanes is subject to lawful penalty.

What are off-ramps?


Drivers should realize that off-ramps are designed for reducing speeds and are links to and roadways for the entrance back into city driving. The driver is called on to signal, reduce speed in a casual, deliberate manner and prepare to stop at the bottom of the off-ramp if necessary. Increasing speed should never happen on an off-ramp, is illegal and is the opposite of what is desired. Exiting a highway requires reduced speed, extra caution, and total road awareness by the operator of the motor vehicle.


Deceleration lanes are provided next to the right lane of travel prior to exits. The best method to exit a freeway is to begin slowing down only after entering the exit deceleration lane. (Deceleration lanes are expressway lanes used to slow your vehicle without blocking vehicles behind you.) Right hand lanes are typically used for vehicles traveling at a slower speed; however, speed should never be slower than the posted minimum.


Left hand lanes are intended for vehicle passing and for through traffic. If you are traveling in the far left lane and are being “pushed” by a driver behind you who feels you are going too slow, don’t insist upon remaining in the lane just because you are going the speed limit. Avoid conflict and change lanes to the right when safe to do so.


Some on-ramps and off-ramps share mutual lanes for a short time. Vehicle operators should leave extra room between each other to allow appropriate yielding techniques to other drivers. Since these lanes share acceleration/deceleration space, some drivers are speeding up to enter the highway and others are slowing down to exit the same highway. Driver communication and cooperation is imperative in these situations.


Pay special attention to the posted limit displayed on freeway exit signs. This limit is for ideal conditions. Heavy trucks and vehicles traveling in inclement weather may choose to exit at a speed slower than the posted limit. One reason for posting specific speed limits for exit ramps is the frequent use of curved ramps that require the vehicle to decelerate to the posted ramp speed, from freeway speeds, in the deceleration lane or immediately upon exiting the freeway in order to achieve the lower speeds necessary to safely complete the exit.


If you inadvertently miss the exit you planned on taking, you must proceed to the next exit. Never cross over lanes at the last minute, or brake sharply to avoid missing an exit. Making either of these unsafe maneuvers may lead to a rear end crash. Backing your vehicle on the shoulder or in a traffic lane to return to a missed exit is not only unlawful, but is also extremely hazardous and, perhaps, fatal.

The Basics of Vehicle Safety Maintenance

The Basics of Vehicle Safety Maintenance

No matter how well you drive, you are not safe unless your vehicle is in good condition. You keep your vehicle in good condition by having the vehicle properly maintained. If it is not, your car could fail you at a critical moment, and you could be in a serious crash. Read your automobile owner’s manual carefully to become familiar with your vehicle’s maintenance schedule and requirements. Maintenance regimes vary widely from one vehicle to another.

What parts of the vehicle should be properly maintained?

Virtually all of your vehicle’s mechanical systems can affect fuel efficiency if not properly maintained. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for checking the engine, cooling and ignition system, brakes, drive train and emission-control system. You should consider your vehicle from front to back, bottom to top.


Make sure that all of your lights work and that your light lenses are clean. Check headlights, taillights, directional signals, and interior lights.


Windshields are made out of laminated safety glass which reduces transmission of high frequency sound and blocks 97 percent of ultraviolet radiation. A thin layer of flexible clear plastic film (PVB) is sandwiched between two or more pieces of glass. This plastic film serves to hold the glass in place. If the glass breaks, the film helps lessen injuries which could be caused by flying glass. This structure also affords protection for those inside the vehicle by obstructing possible projectiles from entering the vehicle through the windshield.

If your vehicle has tinted windows, check with your local law enforcement agency to make sure it is in compliance with state sunshading specifications.

It may surprise you to know that the first windshield wipers invented were operated manually. The driver had to physically move a lever back and forth inside the car. Today, of course, windshield wipers work electrically. Some vehicles (especially SUV types) have windshield wipers on the rear window as well. Some vehicles even have windshield wipers on the headlights.

Wiper blades work like squeegees. A thin rubber strip is attached to the blade arm which is swept across the windshield to wipe away the water. A rubber on new blades is clean and smooth so that water can be wiped away. As blades age and become worn, the seal against the window lessens due to nicks or cracks in the rubber or from becoming brittle with age. Worn blades can leave streaks on the windshield that interferes with driver visibility. It is important to clean wiper blades to remove any dirt buildup. Your vehicle’s windshield washer system will help keep the windshield and the wipers clean. Wiping the rubber edge with window cleaner until clean may prolong the blade’s life. When you notice any change in visibility due to the wiper’s performance, replace them with new.

It is important to keep your windshield clean on the inside as well as on the outside. Dirt builds up on the inside that can affect visibility as well.


All vehicles should be equipped with one rearview mirror mounted inside the vehicle that allows a view to the rear of at least 200 feet. A rearview mirror should also be placed on each side of the vehicle mounted on the outside of the vehicle’s front doorframes. Make sure that your mirrors are clean and pointed in the correct direction. The mirrors are designed to assist drivers in keeping track of traffic around their vehicles.


Tires are designed to grip the road and give the driver directional control. Bald, excessively worn, or improperly inflated tires decrease the ability of the driver to control the vehicle. Rotating your tires helps prolong their life and improve fuel economy. On most vehicles, tires should be rotated about twice a year; however, you should consult your owner’s manual for the recommended rotation pattern and frequency for your vehicle.

Rolling resistance is a key factor that affects a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Make sure that your tires are properly inflated and not worn away. The best way to reduce rolling resistance is to maintain correct tire pressure. Rolling resistance results in premature tread wear when your tires are under-inflated, increasing fuel consumption. Operating a vehicle with just one tire under-inflated by 6 pounds per square inch (PSI) can substantially reduce the life of the tire and increase the vehicle’s fuel consumption by three percent. Tire pressure needs special attention in cold weather. It can be expected to drop by about 1 PSI for every 10oC drop in temperature. Tires also lose a certain amount of pressure due to their permeability (by some estimates, as much as 2 PSI per month). Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold (for instance, when the vehicle has been stationary for at least three hours).

Wheel alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires will drag and will not roll freely as they are intended to do. This will increase fuel consumption, reduce tire life, and cause problems with the vehicle’s handling and ride. While driving, you can perform a self-check on your wheel alignment. On a straight, flat and traffic-free stretch of road, rest your hands lightly on the steering wheel and drive at an even speed. If the vehicle pulls to one side, the wheels may be misaligned.

Wheels should also be balanced. If they are out of balance, the driver will feel a pounding or shaking through the steering wheel. This pounding will shorten the life of other suspension components and will produce uneven tire wear, which will increase fuel consumption. Tires that are not balanced exhibit a wear pattern that looks like a series of bald spots.

Remember, don’t neglect the spare tire. Make sure the necessary tools for replacing a tire are appropriately accessible.

You should check tire pressure and look for signs of uneven wear or embedded objects that can cause air leaks. In winter, check tire pressure whenever there is a sharp change in temperature.

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Car engines run particularly well when they are regularly lubricated. Oil lubricates the moving parts of the engine, minimizing metal-to-metal contact, thereby reducing friction and carrying away excess heat. Oil also captures dirt, metal shavings and other impurities from the engine enabling the transfer of these injurious substances into the vehicle’s oil filter. For best engine performance, fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, use only the oil recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Regular engine oil changes cost between $10 and $30 – a far cry from the expense of replacing or rebuilding an engine!

Check around the car and under the engine for fluid leaks. Generally, you can often identify the type of fluid that is leaking by its color. Oil is black, coolant is a bright greenish yellow, automatic transmission fluid is pink, and power steering and brake fluids are clear, with a slight brown tinge. All of these fluids are oily to the touch.

Belts, hoses, regular tune-ups

Have your belts and hoses checked at the regularly scheduled time periods mentioned in your owner’s manual. Also, get a tune-up at the scheduled maintenance time. Check under the hood for cracked or split spark plug wires, cracked radiator hoses or loose clamps and corrosion around the battery terminals.

Emission-control systems 

Modern vehicles are equipped to treat exhaust emissions before they are released into the atmosphere. The emission-control system must be inspected and maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you experience problems such as stalling or poor acceleration, or if your exhaust produces black or blue smoke, your vehicle is probably polluting the air and needs servicing.

Ignition systems 

Proper maintenance of your vehicle’s ignition system is critical. Spark plugs ignite the air-fuel mixture. If one or more of the plugs is worn or malfunctioning, the engine will misfire, and some fuel will remain unburned. Worn or damaged spark plug wires can also cause misfiring. A misfiring engine wastes fuel, produces higher levels of emissions and generally performs poorly.


The foot brake must be capable of stopping the vehicle within a distance of 25 feet at a speed of 20 miles per hour. The parking brake should be adequate to stop and hold the vehicle. While driving, you can perform a self-check on your brake system. On a straight, flat and traffic-free stretch of road, rest your hands lightly on the steering wheel and apply the brakes gradually. If the vehicle swerves to one side, one of the brake linings may be worn more than the other, or the brakes may need adjustment. If this happens, make sure to get the vehicle to a proper mechanic.

Your vehicle’s brake pedal is designed so that when it is pressed, the force of the pressure is multiplied several times. The hydraulic system that operates your vehicle braking system transmits the force from your foot to its brakes through brake fluid.

It is important to pay attention to any strange sounds you may hear when you apply your brakes, such as grinding or squeaking sounds. Any such noise should alert you to have your brakes inspected. The brake pad wear limit indicators on disc brakes give a warning noise when the brake pads are worn to where replacement is required.

Your vehicle’s owners manual will supply you with the correct information on maintaining the correct level and type of brake fluid.

Why should I bother to do vehicle maintenance?

Maintenance requirements vary widely from one vehicle to another. Failing to follow your particular vehicle owner’s manual’s maintenance regime could void your vehicle’s warranty. To keep the manufacturer’s warranty valid (not to mention ensuring maximum fuel economy), your vehicle must be maintained to the standards recommended in the owner’s manual.

It’s simple – Your vehicle will last longer and work better. The time to find out that your car has a problem is in your driveway, not out on the roadway. Additionally, a properly maintained vehicle is a safer vehicle. Through proper maintenance, your vehicle will function as advertised and will increase the potential for you to come through an emergency situation in one piece.


Airbag Basics

Airbag Basics

The first patent on airbags was filed during World War II and was originally designed as an inflatable crash-landing device for airplanes. When airbags for automobiles were introduced in the early 1990’s, there was considerable debate on how fast they should deploy. Those who argued that the bag should deploy rapidly enough to protect unbelted occupants of the front seat won the day. The force this requires is a problem for smaller people and people who might be positioned close to the airbag – primarily infants, children, and adults under five feet, five inches tall. Infants and small adults should be seated in the rear of the vehicle equipped with dual airbags protecting the front seat.

Please note that as you age, you become smaller and more fragile. This is a natural process of aging. If you must drive, realize that sitting too close to an airbag, either in the driver or passenger seat could injure you if the airbag inflates in a crash. Being belted in and having the minimum 10 inches of space between you and the airbag becomes more important the older you get. If this is not possible, they should position their seat as far back from the airbag as possible.

The airbag module contains both an inflator unit and the lightweight fabric airbag. The airbag system consists of three basic parts: (1) An airbag module, (2) crash sensors, and (3) a diagnostic unit. Some systems may also have an on/off switch, which allows the airbag to be deactivated. However, the laws governing deactivation are very strict and are discussed in “Can an airbag be disabled?”

The bag itself is made of a thin, nylon fabric, which is folded into the steering wheel or dashboard or, more recently, the seat or door.

Traffic Ticket?The sensor is the device that tells the bag to inflate. Inflation happens when there is a crash force equal to running into a brick wall at 10 to 15 miles per hour. A mechanical switch is flipped when there is a mass shift that closes an electrical contact, telling the sensors that a crash has occurred. The sensors receive information from an accelerometer built into a microchip.

The airbag’s inflation system reacts combining sodium azide with potassium nitrate which produces nitrogen gas. Hot blasts of the nitrogen inflate the air bag. Now you would think this process would produce some very dangerous chemicals; however, the powdery substance released from the airbag is nothing more than regular cornstarch or talcum powder.

Once the bag has been inflated and the bag has done its job, the gas quickly dissipates through tiny holes in the bag, thus deflating the bag so you can move.

For cars that have airbags, where should your hands grip the steering wheel?

The AAA has suggested modifying the steering wheel gripping position in airbag equipped cars from ten and two o’clock to nine and three or even eight and four o’clock to allow room for the airbag to deploy.

Can a new vehicle be purchased without airbags?

In the 1980s, the first widespread commercial application of air bags appeared in automobiles. Starting in model year 1998, all new passenger cars were required to have dual (driver and passenger side) airbags. Starting in model year 1999, all new light trucks were required to have dual airbags.

Can an airbag be disabled?

Disabling an airbag is difficult and can be dangerous. Federal law prohibits dealers, repair shops, etc. from disabling airbags. However if necessary, you can contact and obtain permission from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to disable an airbag. Some vehicles, such as taxicabs, may include an on/off switch for the passenger side airbag.

Do airbags save lives?

Yes. NHTSA research reported that an estimated 2,488 lives were saved by airbags in 2003. Side airbags with head protection are highly effective, according to the IIHS. They reduce deaths of drivers of passenger cars who are struck on the driver side by about 45%.

Do I need to wear my safety belts if I have airbags in my car?

Airbags are called supplemental restraints because they are designed to work best in combination with safety belts. A safety belt should always be worn whether or not the vehicle has an airbag. Even as technology advances, airbags still are only effective when used with a seat belt. All new passenger cars, light trucks and vans are equipped with both driver and passenger front airbags.

Airbags are not designed to deploy in all crashes. Most are designed to deploy in moderate to severe frontal crashes. If the vehicle is struck from the side or rear, side airbags offer some protection. Side airbags, which protect the chest and abdomen, are less effective but still reduce deaths by about ten percent. Airbags, combined with lap/shoulder belts, are the most effective safety protection available for passenger vehicles. By 2003, more than 146 million passenger vehicles on the road were equipped with airbags, including 126 million with dual airbags.

TEA Approved Texas Driver Safety

TEA Approved Texas Driver Safety


What’s an Online Driving Safety Course?

You can easily remove a ticket from your driving record in the state of Texas when you take a Driving Safety Course through an approved provider. Skills you’ll learn in an online driving safety course include:

  • Current Driving Laws
  • Safe Driving Techniques
  • Effects and Risks of Drinking and Driving
  • Driving Emergencies
  • Texas Insurance Laws


Who Can Take an Online Driving Safety Course?

You may be a good candidate for an online Texas driving safety course if you’ve gotten a ticket within the last 12 months and meet the following requirements:

  • You must enter a “guilty” or “no contest” plea with the court for your traffic violation and pay any necessary court fees
  • You must possess a valid Texas driver’s license or driving permit—a Commercial Driver License (CDL) is not accepted
  • You must possess and present proof of valid liability insurance
  • You haven’t completed a driver’s safety course within 12 months of the date of your citation
  • You must not have been driving 25MPH over the speed limit
  • Upon completion, you must submit the Certificate of Completion and a certified copy of your current driving record (obtainable from the Department of Public Safety [DPS]) by the court deadline.


But even good drivers can benefit from a driver safety course. Whether you’re a teen driver looking to increase your knowledge, a foreign or out-of-state driver who needs to learn local laws, or an experienced driver over the age of 50 looking to lower your insurance rates, taking an online driver education course is a good option.



Why Should I Take a Texas Driver Safety Course?

It’s easy to see the benefits of taking an online Texas defensive driving course.

  • Get Up to Speed on Current Laws: Traffic laws and driving styles change regularly. A driver safety course is a great way to stay informed, break bad driving habits, or find out what’s at risk if you’re breaking the law. You’ll be come a safer, smarter driver.
  • Lower Insurance Premiums: Insurance companies love it when you take steps to become a safer driver, and in Texas, that could mean a savings of up to 10%! Online driver education courses are especially helpful for drivers over the age of 50 who have a clean driving record but want to save money on their premiums. Insurance discounts can last up to three years!
  • Prevent Loss of License: While a single ticket could put a dark mark on your record and raise your insurance premiums, too many tickets in a short amount of time could result in losing your driver license in the state of Texas. Keep your driving record clean by taking an online driver safety class and dismissing a ticket.


How It Works

You can register for this course from anywhere you like, as long as you have a computer with an Internet connection. The course is approved by courts throughout all counties in the state, so whether you’re studying in Austin or Dallas, San Antonio or Houston, you’ll be able to dismiss your ticket with ease. Choose a username and password that will be unique to you and your account – this gives you the option to log in from any computer and access your course from anywhere. So even if you live in El Paso, but work in Harris, and are traveling to Bexar, you can work on your lessons from any computer, wherever you are.

Why Choose Online?

Busy lives require a fast, convenient way to take traffic school. Don’t waste an entire day in a classroom listening to boring lectures and leafing through out-of-date, black-and-white texts.’s online defensive driving courses use modern technology, making it easy to fulfill your requirements at your own pace.

With unlimited log ins, entertaining and engaging lessons, and 24/7 Customer Support, you’ll get through your traffic school in no time. Become a smarter, safer driver even faster when you study, learn and pass your online defensive driving class on your own terms.

25 Car Crashes Caught on Video

25 Car Crashes Caught on Video


Welcome to the new year!

Unfortunately, bad drivers are still out there. Here’s a collection of bad driving behavior and poor decision making that should make you more aware of what you’re up against every time you get into your car. Please drive carefully!









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.




10 Serious Mistakes in Car Maintenance

10 Serious Mistakes in Car Maintenance


When a car does what it’s supposed to do, it’s pretty easy to take it for granted. But things can (and do) go wrong with no notice at all. Sometimes parts fail without any kind of warning — without a grace period that would let you know something’s wrong so that you might have a chance to fix it. But let’s face it; most drivers are guilty of ignoring problems with their vehicles at some point or another. And that’s the first (potentially) fatal flaw. But it gets even worse when the problem is “fixed” improperly. We’ve compiled a list of some common car maintenance problems to watch for, whether you service your car yourself or even if you pay a pro to do it for you. And don’t worry, it’s fine if you choose to outsource your car care — we won’t judge.


10 – Roaming Around with Burned-out Lights

Compared to most other car maintenance, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to replace light bulbs. So do it. You should know pretty quickly if your headlights or high beams burn out since you won’t be able to see, and the turn signal indicators on your dash should clue you in if something’s wrong there. Running lights, taillights and brake lights aren’t quite as obvious, so just take a look every now and then.


And when they do burn out, pull out your owner’s manual and replace them. It’s not hard; it’s not dangerous. Getting pulled over for a burned-out light is just extra stress you don’t need, and getting hit because another driver couldn’t see you is just ridiculous. Both of these likely outcomes will be a lot more expensive, too.


9 – Attempting a Jump Start Without Really Knowing How

Putting jumper cables in your trunk doesn’t mean you automatically know how to jump-start a car, but at least you did it before your battery died, right? But if you don’t use jumper cables properly, you can fry your car … or yourself. Though the procedure is really simple, you should learn how to do it before you actually need to. Not standing on the side of the highway while reading this article on your phone. That’s dangerous.


Here’s the stuff a step-by-step guide might leave out: First, get out of the way of traffic. Common sense (or self-preservation instinct) should tell you not to smoke. Less obvious, but otherwise logical, you should wear eye protection, make sure the two cars are parked so they’re close but not touching and ensure no cables or connector ends touch anything other than the correct terminals. Don’t keep cranking if it doesn’t fire up — just give it a little more time. And make sure the ignition is switched off in both cars before you start attaching cables. Even the dead one.

8 – Haphazard Electric Work

You wouldn’t tackle a wiring project in your house without turning off the power at the source and then double-checking at the site of the problem, right? (Well, let’s hope you wouldn’t, anyway.) Same thing with your car. A little laziness might get you zapped.


Some automotive pros say that the current in your car isn’t strong enough to really hurt you but it’s always better to be on the safe side, which means assuming that you could sustain injury [source: AA1Car]. Even if you don’t suffer an electrical shock, you could easily start an electrical fire, or possibly overload your car’s wiring or other electrical components. So, you should know what you’re dealing with ahead of time. Make sure your car is off when it needs to be off (which would be most of the time) and remember to disconnect (and then isolate) the battery’s negative cable. And if you drive a hybrid car with a high-voltage battery, avoid touching the battery at all costs. Since hybrids are designed specifically for heavy-duty electrical power, the battery has much more shock potential than an average car and can cause injury on contact.


7 – Assuming Bald Tires will last a bit Longer

It’s always tempting to try to squeeze a few more miles out of your rubber, but it’s certainly not wise. You need to give your car what it needs to maintain proper contact with the road. Think of all you ask your car to do for you, every single day. Now imagine picking up the kids from school in a snowstorm wearing flip-flops, or taking the dog for a run while wearing stilettos. It’s all wrong. Your feet need better equipment to get the job done. So does your car.


If you don’t know how old your car’s tires are (you bought your car secondhand, or you’re not a meticulous receipt- or record-keeper) chances are you’re probably due for a new set. Even if the tread looks decent, rubber deteriorates over time. The damage might not be easy to see, but miniscule cracks cause loss of structural rigidity, which means the tire can’t perform as designed. If the rubber disintegrates where the tread joins the tire, the tread can separate (yup, just like a semi-truck). Not really worth taking the chance, is it?


6 – Sloppy Lube Job During Brake Repair

Even though brake jobs typically aren’t (strictly speaking) all that difficult, a lot of amateur mechanics like to hire a pro for this kind of work. And it’s understandable. Screwing up a brake job can have pretty serious consequences, for obvious reasons. Your car’s brakes work because of friction. It’s not entirely that simple, but that’s the basic principle. When you press (or slam) the brakes, hydraulic pressure in the system makes your brake calipers and brake pads squeeze in, and this friction causes your wheels to slow down.


That’s a lot of friction, and it depends on a lot of moving parts. Moving parts require lube, or else they’ll seize. So when you’re taking brake components apart and putting them back together, you’ll need to use brake-system-specific grease to make sure everything’s operating at top-notch capacity. And if you’re working with the axles, there’s a strong chance you’ll be using oily substances in the brake vicinity. Either way, you’ll want to be extremely careful with lube application — it’s crucial. It requires the precision of carving a really expensive steak, or giving someone a tattoo. If axle grease or caliper lube gets on the friction surface of the brake pads or rotors, your car’s brakes won’t work. Not at all.


5 – Forgetting to Torque the Lug Nuts

Even though Popular Mechanics has a handy tutorial that explains how to achieve the proper amount of force for lug nuts, don’t let that intimidate you. If you managed to change out a wheel (or rotate all four corners) without dumping the car off the jack, you should be able to handle simple lug nut installation. Just read your owner’s manual for the proper specs and use a torque wrench. That’s what they’re made for.


But apparently, plenty of people can’t seem to get this right. So, after going through all the effort of moving the wheels around for a tire rotation or replacement, they scurry off with the wheels insufficiently bolted on. Guess what — they won’t be on for long. Note also the very real possibility of over-tightening the lug nuts — it may be a little less obvious than under-tightening, but it has similar consequences. Instead of a loose wheel simply wobbling until it works its way off, all the tension of driving compounds to further stress out the over-tense lugs. Improper amounts of metal-on-metal friction ensue, and over time, something’s gotta give. The lug nut or the wheel stud, being the smallest parts of the equation (and likely damaged by over tightening), may eventually snap-off. Not good.


4 – Forgetting to Replace Drained Fluids

Fluids have a lot of purpose in a car — and believe it or not, most of them are equally as important as gasoline. True, without fuel, you’re not going anywhere … but that’s probably the worst that’ll happen (assuming you’re out of harm’s way when you actually start to sputter out). Your car’s other liquids actually bear a heavy burden, too. Maybe even heavier than the expensive stuff you burn to keep going.

You always need oil — if your engine’s moving parts go dry, they’ll seize up for good. Same with the transmission fluid. Brake fluid helps maintain proper pressure within the braking system. And your car’s coolant (aka antifreeze) keeps things from getting too hot or too cold — running out of any of these fluids can be disastrous.


And everyone’s heard horror stories about a minimum-wage tech at the local outpost of the national lube chain who forgot to refill the oil after a change, right? Well, those things happen. It can happen to the so-called pros and it can happen to you, too. So if you’re DIY-ing it up in your garage, double- and then triple-check that you replaced whatever liquids you drained. It doesn’t hurt to check after your mechanic’s done, either. If you screw that up, it won’t matter that you’re always out of windshield washer fluid.


3 – Forgetting to Tighten the Oil Filter

It comes right on the heels of similar advice, but still, we can’t emphasize this enough: If your engine isn’t circulating the proper amount of oil, it won’t be long before you’re calling for a tow truck.

Mike Allen, of Popular Mechanics, says it’s important to have the right size wrench to remove and replace your oil filter — if the wrench wraps around the canister too loosely, it might feel like you’re cranking hard without actually making any progress. If you switch filter types, your old wrench might not work anymore. Make sure you check the fit before you leave the parts counter.


You should be able to install your oil filter by hand; however, once the filter is hand-tight you’ll need the wrench to crank it down the final half-turn. It’s really important to make sure you do that last part. A loose filter will soon send your engine’s oil spewing everywhere. In that case, yes, your engine could seize; but it’s more likely that a fire under the hood will put an end to your drive before that happens.


2 – Ignoring Warning Lights

Warning lights are kind of like the little boy who cried wolf — you know you need an oil change, but that check engine light comes on all the time, right? The sad truth is this: It’s pretty easy to get desensitized to those dashboard warning lights. A lot of the time, there’s really nothing wrong … or at least, you think you know what’s wrong and you’ll get around to it — eventually. There’s nothing wrong with getting to know your car this way. In fact, it’s good. But when your car is trying to tell you something, you really should listen, even if you’d really rather not hear what its saying. And that’s exactly what warning lights are for. Conundrum!


At the very least, you should know what all the warning indicators mean — if one comes on and it’s not familiar to you, look it up in your owner’s manual. If it’s something you can easily fix yourself (low tire pressure would be a good example), go do it. Sooner is better than later. See? You fixed it! How satisfying! And if a warning light indicates something more complicated is going on, it’s a good idea to have your car looked at by a professional. Becoming immune to your car’s cries for help might be less expensive in the short run, but definitely not in the long run.

1 – Flouting Safety Recalls

Sometimes safety recalls happen because an automaker finds a problem. Sometimes a recall is ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which keeps detailed records of consumer automotive complaints. The recalls might be major safety concerns — like exploding tires or self-accelerating gas pedals. Others might seem superficial in comparison — peeling clear coat on your wheels isn’t pretty, but it won’t lead to your imminent demise.


Major recalls usually make the news. Your car’s manufacturer or the dealership will probably try to contact you by mail. You can also look online, or call your dealership — which is especially useful if you bought a used car because the dealership can run your car’s VIN to see if there are any other outstanding recalls on that make and model year. And if you ever have to pay for the dealership to fix a safety issue that isn’t already part of a recall, save your paperwork — if your car is recalled in the future for related issues, you might be eligible for reimbursement. Occasionally, someone else is willing to take responsibility for your car — don’t squander such a rare opportunity.


There are so many dumb, dangerous, irresponsible and ridiculous things you can do to a car that it was hard to narrow this list down to just 10. I saw quite a few examples when I traveled a few hundred miles at a time to attend regional and national shows with my car club. Once, a few of the guys made an emergency transmission repair in a hotel parking lot with the car balanced on four jack stands — the cheap, flimsy ones — the morning after a long drive followed by an all-night bender, surrounded by people showing off and doing burnouts. Car shows are sometimes a circus of desperate, ill-thought-out or seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time repairs.

So I didn’t fill this article with stuff like that. The kind of stuff I don’t think I have to tell you not to do, because I can’t imagine a situation in which anyone else would ever have to do it.