Thursday, July 28, 2011

Five Summer Dangers and Tips For Safer Cruising

Summer driving can hold hidden dangers for drivers. With the sweltering summer heat dominating weather reports, keeping vehicles running in top condition and taking a few simple precautions can help avoid serious safety and financial consequences.

Five Summer Driving Dangers

  1. Sweltering Interiors: According to NHTSA, 27 children die from vehicle-related heat-strokes each year. Never leave children or pets in a vehicle unattended, temperatures can rise dangerously high in just a few minutes even with the windows cracked. Always lock your car and keep keys out of reach of children to avoid them playing in an unattended car and getting trapped.  Also to avoid burns, use caution when entering a vehicle with dark interiors, especially leather, which can become too hot to even touch.
  2. Vehicle Over-heating: Check your car´s cooling system, engine hoses, drive belts and battery. This is especially important if you are planning to tow a boat or full load up a vehicle for a long trip.
  3. Tire Blowouts: Hot weather can cause air pressure inside the tire to expand, causing tires in poor condition to blowout. Keeping tires properly inflated and maintained is not only safe, but benefits fuel efficiency. To avoid inaccurate pressure readings due to the heat, try to inflate tires when they are at their coolest (usually when they’ve been parked for a while).
  4. Slick Spots: Summer rainstorms can create mini-oil slicks on the road. Extreme heat can causes oils deposited from vehicles to be absorbed, causing these slick spots when it rains.
  5. Poorly-packed Vehicles: Secure items to prevent dangerous shifting and/or dangerous flying debris while on the move. To ensure a safer load, check the vehicle’s payload capacity and do not overload the trunk or rear cargo compartment, and ensure any cargo top carriers are properly installed, closed and do not exceed recommended weight limits. 

Five Tips to Safer Summer Cruising 

  1. Share the Road: Watch out for pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles out enjoying the summer weather. Pedestrians and these two-wheeled vehicles may be harder to spot in your mirror. (Motorcyclists – Check out our top 10 tips for safe riding)
  2. Keep your Cool: Don’t let summer heat get the best of your temper, stay calm and keep your passengers and your safety in mind.
  3. Stay Connected, But Safely: Carry a cell phone and charger in case of emergency or breakdown. However, don’t use it while driving and avoid similar distractions! Also, consider taking a GPS navigation device to help you stay on course in unfamiliar areas but, don’t attempt to program it while driving.
  4. Pack Smart: Keep a basic emergency kit stocked in the event of a breakdown. Key components may include a cell phone charger, water, snacks, necessary medications, first aid supplies and portable cooling devices, such as battery-powered fans.
  5.  Fill the Tank: A well-fueled car will keep you from being stranded with an empty tank and filling the tank at night will make for a cooler and less crowded task.

Regular maintenance and safe driving are essential to keeping scorching temperatures from causing major driving disasters. Be sure to buckle up and stay safe this summer!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cool Off Aggressive Drivers with an Overdose of Courtesy

Temperature gauges aren’t the only thing escalating with summer heat. Many things can cause tempers to flare behind the wheel, especially as roads become clogged with vacationing families and teens basking in their summer freedom. Instead of allowing frustration on the road to get the best of you, here are some tips to keep your cool and squash would-be aggressive drivers with your courtesy driving:

Check Your Emotions at the Door … of Your Car. 
  • Being overly emotional, whether sad, glad or mad, can cloud your ability to focus on driving.
  • Learn how to let things go on the road. Don’t let another driver’s bad behavior get the better of you.
  • Remember when the windows are down, others can both see and hear you.
Share the Road and Parking Lots.
  • There is plenty of pavement for everyone, so don’t crowd other cars, bikers or pedestrians.
  •  Use your signals and avoid abrupt starts and stops, no one enjoys those kinds of surprises.
  • Go slow and be alert in parking areas, distracted by hot leather seats and oppressive humidity drivers and pedestrians may not watch for you.
Obey the Speed Limits.
  • Guinness doesn’t give records for fastest commute or “beating the traffic.”
  • They are the law, not the suggestion. The road is not the place to make up time if you’re running late.
  •  If a car wants to pass, let them. Don’t get offended if you’re passed by a faster moving car—they’re breaking the law, not you.
Don’t Block the Box. 
  • Keep traffic moving in intersections. If your entire vehicle can’t make it before the light changes, then wait out the light.
  • Stay behind the crosswalk—both pedestrians and drivers traveling in the opposite direction will thank you.

If any of these tendencies struck a chord, go online and take our quiz to find out if you could use a bit more courtesy in the car. Just imagine how many traffic accidents could be prevented and how many lives could be saved if all motorists embodied a more summery and relaxed, easy-going attitude behind the wheel.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

National Summit On Quest Towards Zero Deaths

Today I had the pleasure to present at the annual National Summit for Rural Traffic Safety Culture in Big Sky, Montana, alongside many of our friends and colleagues in the traffic safety industry. Together at this Summit we continue our quest to advance the goal of zero deaths on rural roadways. While there’s been much to celebrate in recent years with a steady decline in roadway fatalities and injuries, losing even one life to a preventable incident is unacceptable.

Utilizing research—past, present and future—on the causes of traffic crashes, how to prevent them and how to minimize injuries when they occur, the Foundation helps to reframe the debate on the need for traffic safety improvements as a public health issue. We hope to bring the conversation back to our founding goal of saving lives and reducing injuries on the roads by finding out what is motivates current attitudes and tendencies toward unsafe driving behaviors.

We understand that the true key to saving further lives lies in transforming the culture around driving. In addition to road and vehicle improvements, challenges remain that can be overcome with a shift in the traffic safety culture, especially in rural areas with issues such as seat belt usage, distraction and impaired driving. Similar to past cultural crusades against smoking and drunk driving, two epidemics once considered socially acceptable that now bear the stigma of poor judgment and lack of respect for oneself and others, there needs to be revitalization in the idea that engaging in dangerous behaviors behind the wheel is inherently wrong and socially irresponsible.

This will not happen overnight, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But, with continued rigorous pursuit of this goal with our friends and colleagues in the traffic safety industry as well as campaigns like the Decade of Action, we are confident that the culture of complacency and ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude can be overcome.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” - Margaret Mead

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fourth of July Deadliest Day on Our Roads—Stay Safe and Sober This Weekend

You might be surprised to learn, as you’re piling the family in the car to head to that Fourth of July barbecue, ballgame, picnic or firework display, that Independence Day is the single deadliest day for traffic fatalities across the county. According to new AAA Foundation analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2000 and 2009 more people lost their lives in traffic accidents on July 4th than any other day of the year. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it also was shown to be the second deadliest day for drunk driving deaths, second only to New Year’s Day. An average of 40% of traffic fatalities on July 4th in that same 10-year period involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit (.08 or higher).

Drunk drivers put everyone on the road in danger and these numbers are a frightening reminder of how easily a holiday celebration can turn to tragedy. That's why the AAA Foundation and AAA are urging motorists everywhere to visit to sign a quick online pledge to drive only while drug and alcohol-free this holiday weekend and all year long. Once you’ve taken the free pledge, you can share it via Facebook and Twitter, or even send personalized E-cards to encourage others to do the same. Staying safe and sober will help ensure the only red, white and blue lights filling the sky are from fireworks, not emergency vehicles.

Here are some quick tips for a Safer Holiday Celebration:

Plan Ahead
o   Plan ahead and designate a driver if you’re planning on drinking at a party.
o   Use alternative transportation like taxi cabs or public transit to get to and from an event.
Party Responsibly
o   Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had and how quickly you’ve consumed them.
o   Eat while you drink, specifically high protein foods like meats and cheeses that stay in the stomach longer, thereby slowing the body’s alcohol absorption rate.
o   Use non-carbonated mixers, as the body absorbs alcohol faster when mixed with carbonization.
Tend the Bar
o   Have non-alcoholic beverage options available.
o   Keep the alcohol consumption under control by designating a bartender to mix the drinks.
o   Never serve anyone underage.
o   Don’t serve anyone who appears to be impaired
Take the Keys
o   NEVER allow an impaired friend or guest to get behind the wheel.
o   Step up and offer to call your friend a cab, let them sleep it off or find a sober friend to give them a ride.

Following these tips will help ensure your Fourth of July celebration is a safe one. On behalf of the AAA family, I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!!