Archive for January, 2013

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Car Accidents

On average, there are an estimated 6 million car accidents per year in the United States.  How can you stay safe when you get behind the wheel?  Follow our ten tips below to help get to your destination safely and keep those around you safe as well.

1. Use signals:  Letting other drivers know what you’re about to do is one of the simplest ways to avoid collisions.  Get in the habit of always using your turn signal, even when no one else is around.  Be sure to signal at least 3 seconds in advance of a lane change or 100 feet before a turn.  But be aware that other drivers will not always use their turn signals!

2. Don’t tailgate:  Leaving space between you and the car in front of you can make all the difference in avoiding a rear-end collision.  The general rule of thumb is to leave a car length for every 10 miles per hour you are traveling.  If you’re driving 60 mph, try to keep six car lengths of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.

3. Maintain your vehicle and know its limits:  A well-maintained vehicle is a safe one. Make sure your brakes are in top working order to allow you to stop suddenly to avoid an accident.  Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned for best handling response.  And maximize your visibility with a full reservoir of washer fluid and properly-working windshield wipers.  In addition to vehicle maintenance, be sure you’re familiar with your car’s limits for braking and handling and drive accordingly.

4. Be aware:  Awareness is key to avoiding accidents.  Keep an eye on your mirrors, blind spots, and the road up ahead.  Watch out for sudden road distractions like children, animals, and drunk drivers.  Exercise extra caution at intersections, as many accidents happen here.  Look out for red light runners, and look both ways when your light turns green.

5. Avoid distractions:  Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel is one of the easiest ways to get to your destination safely.  Phone calls, texting, eating, putting on makeup, adjusting your stereo, reading a map or programming your navigation system can all distract you and put you and others in danger.  When you’re driving, focus on driving and pull over if you need to handle anything else.

6. Be courteous and drive defensively:  Get out of the way of tailgaters or aggressive drivers, as they are much more likely to cause an accident around you.  Drive defensively and always watch out for other drivers’ mistakes to keep yourself safe.  And keep the road friendly by driving courteously.

7. Stay Alert:  When you get behind the wheel, stay completely alert and focused on the task of driving.  Mostly importantly, do not drive if you are drowsy.  Sleepy drivers are twice as likely to cause an accident than non-drowsy ones.

8. Adapt to weather and time of day:  Adjust your driving to account for weather conditions.  Visibility and road conditions are greatly affected by rain and snow, so be sure to slow down and accommodate for the hazards of weather.  Even nighttime driving in perfect weather has its downfalls; be sure to allow for decreased visibility at night as well as other drivers who may be sleepy.

9. Follow laws:  Laws are set up for your safety, so following them is an easy way to stay safe while driving.  Obey posted speed limits and other signs, wear your seatbelt, don’t drink and drive, don’t pass when it’s prohibited, etc.  Not only will you avoid getting a ticket by obeying the law, you can keep yourself and other drivers safe!

10. Leave early:  Driving in a rushed manner can severely affect the safety of your trip.  Leave early and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.  This way, you can drive relaxed and focus on safety rather than the clock.

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8 Easy Ways to Save Money on Gas

Whether you’re driving across town or across country, everyone wants to save money at the pump.  You might think your gas costs are solely at the mercy of pump prices or your vehicle’s mpg stats, but being mindful of your driving habits and monitoring a few key vehicle components can improve your fuel economy and save you big bucks at the pump.  Check out our tips below to start driving more efficiently and thus saving more money.

1. Mind Your Tires:  Be sure your tires are inflated to your manufacturer’s specified level. A properly inflated tire has minimized friction with the road, therefore improving your gas mileage.  Proper tire alignment can also reduce the strain on your engine and save you even more money on gas.

2. Check Your Air Filter:  Your air filter is like the lungs of your vehicle, and keeping it clean is not only beneficial to a well-running engine, but it can also improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.  It’s an inexpensive part, and recommended replacement is about once per year.

3. Slow Down:   Everyone wants to get to their destination quickly, but as your speed increases, so does your aerodynamic drag.  For every 5 mph you reduce your highway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by 7%.  Slow down and save money!

4. Drive Smoothly:   Driving smoothly can increase your fuel economy by as much as 20%.  Avoid sudden stops and starts, and brake and accelerate slowly and steadily for best results.  When you hit the open highway, use cruise control to maintain a consistent speed and help use your fuel more efficiently.

5. Don’t Idle:   If you anticipate being stopped for more than one minute, turn off your car.  Restarting it uses less gas than letting it idle for this length of time.  Additionally, in the winter, there’s no need to warm up your car for it to run safely, so you can save big on fuel by bundling up and hopping right in.

6. Lighten Your Load:  Clean out your trunk and leave only the necessities.  For every 100 extra pounds you cart around in your vehicle, there’s a loss of 1 to 2% in fuel efficiency.  When you pack for a road trip, travel light to save on gas.

7. Mind Your AC and Windows:   Cranking the air conditioning puts extra load on the engine forcing more fuel to be used, so roll your windows down or use your AC sparingly to improve fuel economy by up to 20%.  Be mindful of your windshield defroster as well, since this can similarly decrease fuel economy.  However, when you hit the highway, roll those windows back up to decrease drag and increase fuel economy.

8. Fill Up Smartly:  Be sure to choose your gas station wisely to find the best price possible, and fill up your tank all the way on your visit.  Smaller stints of refueling can negatively affect your vehicle’s emissions system, not to mention waste your time with multiple visits to the pump.  And make sure you don’t let that needle get too close to “E” before refilling, as running a vehicle on low gas can shorten the life of the electric fuel pump.

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