Archive for the ‘safety’ Category

Road Rage: Adding Insult to Injury

April 17, 2015 Leave a comment

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Categories: safety, travel

14 Steps to Be Better Truck Driver

October 15, 2013 Leave a comment
14 Steps to Be Better Truck Driver

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Categories: auto, safety

What to do after a car accident

September 17, 2013 Leave a comment

By Tim Cadet,

1-accidentThings can be chaotic immediately after a crash, but following some basic steps can make filing your claim a little easier:

  • First and foremost: Think about your safety and those around you before thinking about your insurance. If someone is injured, call 911.
  • Stay calm. Being in a car accident is scary but getting upset will make things worse.There’s no need to call the police if you only have a dinged bumper or a scratched door.

Before an accident
Being prepared can prevent stress after an accident. Keep a copy of your insurance information and a pen and paper in your car; it will make the post-accident process much easier. Many mobile phones come equipped with a camera, but if your phone doesn’t have one or it takes low-quality photos, it’s a good idea to keep a disposable camera in your car as well. You are required by law to have proof of your insurance with you, and insurers provide cards that have all your insurance information on them. Print your insurance information out if you have recently started a new policy and don’t have an insurance card yet.

Get off the road
Before you start gathering information from the other driver after a crash, it’s important to get to safety as quickly as possible. If you had a minor fender bender, you don’t have to leave the cars where they are. The police will not come to file a report on a minor accident; however, they will come to tell you to move your vehicle. Move out of the way of oncoming traffic to keep you and the other drivers safe. But if you can’t move your car without causing further damage, don’t try. Your insurance company should be able to hire a tow truck to move it for you.

Watch what you say
After an accident, you should speak to the other driver only to get his or her information and to make sure the driver is OK. Don’t admit fault or say “I’m sorry” during your conversation as it could be used against you in court.

Gather information
Your insurance company will need certain information to file your claim. Some insurance providers offer forms that can keep you organized while gathering information. You may need to fill out information on the other drivers involved, the name of your insurance representative and whether there is damage on your car.

If you’re in a crash, write down the following information of the people involved: name, address, phone number, email address, make, model and year of the car, license plate number, insurance carrier, insurance policy number.

Take these photos, if you can:

  • Damage to your vehicle
  • Accident location
  • People involved with the accident

Get information from the officer if one is on the scene:

  • Name
  • Badge or ID number
  • Phone number
  • Police report number

Ask the police officer for a copy of the police report. The officer’s opinion of the accident will be useful if the drivers have a dispute during claims processing. The police report will also have the officer’s information on it just in case the officer is needed to testify.

Note: The other driver or the police will not need your Social Security number; don’t give it to them.

File your claim
Call your insurance company to start your claim; your insurance company’s phone number is most likely staffed 24/7. You may also be able to check on your claim process by going to your insurance company’s website. You will likely be contacted by your claims representative within 24 hours to discuss the details of your claim.

Increased premiums
After an accident that you’re responsible for, you’ll likely have to pay surcharges, which are the premium increases you will have to pay for a few years. They vary in amount from insurer to insurer, but most range from 20 percent to 40 percent of your base rate (the average cost of insurance in your state). If you pay $200 a month on auto insurance and your state’s base rate is $500, you would have to pay $100 in surcharges with a 20 percent increase. The length of surcharges varies from state to state, but they often drop after three years.

If you fit a certain profile, some insurers won’t raise your premiums if you had an accident. In most cases, you will have to be a customer with an insurance company for about nine years and never had an accident to have your rates stay the same after an accident.

via Bankrate

Categories: auto, insurance, safety, travel

The Last Text You’ll Ever Send – Why new driving safety technologies are really dangerous

August 7, 2013 Leave a comment


“Safety” devices like hands-free headsets are less safe than their makers would have you believe.
Photo by Reuters

Makers of cars and mobile electronics are pushing a tempting vision of the future. It is one in which you can stay fully connected while driving. In the name of safety, they provide a hands-free wireless kit for your cellphone so you can talk with both hands on the wheel. The latest additions are voice-to-text systems that let drivers send and receive texts and emails without looking at a screen. High-end cars even have touchscreens with interfaces for finding restaurants, reserving tables, and buying movie tickets while on the road.

Surely it can’t be a good idea to put all these distractions in front of drivers? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States says distracted drivers killed more than 3,300 people in 2011. This April it recommended that manual text entry and the display of text messages or Web content should be blocked in all moving vehicles.

Last month the U.S. automobile association AAA warned that even hands-free, voice-based systems could dangerously divert your attention from the road. I got the bone-chilling message about distracted drivers last year when one slammed into a utility pole and two others hit parked cars within a few doors of my home. Only one driver was drunk.

Drivers with their minds and eyes off the road have been crashing cars since the days of Henry Ford. But the spread of cellphones put distracted driving in the spotlight. In the early days, it was natural to think that holding the phone while talking was the problem. But more than a decade of research has debunked that assumption.

In 2002 the U.K.’s Transport Research Laboratory found that drivers talking on a hands-free set reacted more slowly than those who were just over the drunken-driving limit. Three years later an Australian study found drivers using phones hands-free or hand-held were four times as likely to crash as those not on the phone. And in 2008 University of Utah psychologist David Strayer found that talking on a hands-free phone was more distracting than talking to a passenger.

Now Strayer has returned to the lab—and he has more bad news. Sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, he compared driver response in different situations. Radio or audiobooks were judged mildly distracting. Talking on a hand-held or hands-free phone or to a passenger were all more distracting, with hand-held the worst of these. But voice-activated systems to send and receive texts and email were the worst kind of distraction.

The fundamental problem is that safe driving demands attention, but multitasking divides our finite mental resources. “Just because a new technology does not take the eyes off the road does not make it safe to be used while the vehicle is in motion,” wrote Strayer.

His data shows that talking to the voice-to-text system is more cognitively demanding than talking to a person, leaving less brainpower for driving.

Safety rules in many countries have fallen far behind the research, which has confirmed the obvious dangers of drivers taking their eyes off the road to text on a hand-held phone. In the United States, it is down to individual states to enact laws. A series of accidents helped push 41 states to ban such texting while driving. Six other states ban only younger drivers from texting in this way.

The United Kingdom banned drivers from talking on hand-held phones in 2003, but only 11 U.S. states have followed suit. The U.K. ban extends to hand-held texting. Importantly, neither country restricts using phones hands-free for talking or texting, despite all the research and horrific accidents, such as the one involving a chatting truck driver who gravely injured a London cyclist in 2011.

“It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public misperception that hands-free means risk-free,” says AAA President Robert Darbelnet. The group wants to limit voice controls to “core” tasks such as controlling windshield wipers and climate control, and to disable voice-to-text systems when moving. Those are good ideas, but they may be too little, too late. Two days before AAA released its report, Apple announced that its new operating system for iPhones, iOS 7, will enable car touchscreens to display text messages, with drivers able to read and reply to such messages via voice interfaces—exactly what Strayer’s research showed to be most risky.

Nobody likes to be told “hang up and drive,” but that’s the right message. Multitasking is harder than we think. And, like alcohol, it does not mix well with driving. Strayer and AAA are planning follow-up studies to learn more, but don’t expect a workaround. This is not about freeing our hands to steer; it’s about freeing our minds to drive.

Manufacturers claim the public want connectivity, but AAA says it could find little support for that. A spokeswoman for AAA says that people in her office with new cars “aren’t even interested in having those features” and find them hard to use.

But unless there is a wave of disastrous accidents, politicians are unlikely to pluck up the courage to ban such systems from cars. Insurance companies will have no such scruples. For example, if it turns out that hands-free electronics double the risk of an accident, they might double premiums, or insist systems be disabled. However, collecting data takes time. For now, all we can do is try to educate people and hope that electronics and auto companies wake up to the danger.

Ironically, in the longer term, more technology could be the answer. Self-driving cars could focus on the road and leave the people inside to chat with friends or fiddle with Facebook. That would finally rid cars of their most dangerous component—the nut behind the wheel.

Via Slate
This article originally appeared in New Scientist.

Categories: auto, safety

11 Things That Make You a Bad Driver


You might have passed your driving test with flying colors and never text while driving, but it turns out there are a lot more bizarre things that can affect how dangerous you are on the road.

1. Singing

Music is important when you are driving. You’d be hard pressed to find a car that didn’t at least come with a basic radio and lots of people will spend thousands of dollars making sure they have the best aftermarket stereo systems available. But listening to music contributes to hundreds of car accidents every year. People fiddling with the radio will look away from the road. Even the type of music you listen to can affect your driving; high tempo music, like techno, makes you twice as likely to go through a red light, for instance. But possibly the worst thing to do is sing along to your favorite tunes. Even when singing a song you know by heart, your brain has to work to remember the melody and the words. This increases the workload on your brain and in turn makes it harder to react to dangerous situations when driving. So next time you are out for a drive, maybe leave the ballads to Beyoncé and concentrate on the road.

2. Having a Cold

Your health can have an obvious effect on how well you drive. After all, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, or are in chronic pain, or seriously ill, you are going to react slower to danger. But it doesn’t have to be some major health issue that makes you a worse driver. A 2012 study found that even a slight cold is enough to make driving a car more dangerous. In a driver simulation, researchers found that people with a cold are more easily distracted while driving, have slower reaction times and are more likely to follow the car in front too closely. So next time your boss says that a cold isn’t a good enough reason to miss work, tell her you are just being a responsible driver by staying home.

3. Driving the Same Route All the Time

Getting complacent is one of the worst things you can do if you hope to make it to the end of your drive alive. When completing familiar tasks our brain stops trying as hard, and according to a 2010 study, this includes when we are driving a route we know by heart. So you are actually more likely to do something stupid and get in an accident on the way to work than you are taking a road trip. When following a new route your brain stays engaged and allows you to react to a child stepping into the road or a car braking suddenly.

4. Billboards

A racy billboard for Wonderbra was once removed from Britain’s roadways when the number of car accidents around it went up. But it’s not just bra-clad supermodels that directly affect how well you drive. The advertisements on the side of highways are all fighting to get your attention, and you will speed up or slow down according to what kind emotion they evoke in you. A study found that billboards that reference money, fame, or sex will make a driver speed up. Negative emotions, triggered by billboard reminders of abuse, prison, or war, caused drivers to slow down. But they were also more likely to drift out of their lane after seeing one, meaning there is really no way to win when advertisers are fighting with traffic for your attention.

5. Being a Libra

Insurance companies don’t really take your star sign into consideration when deciding what to charge you for coverage. So when one company did a study to find out what zodiac sign had the worst drivers, it started as a joke—but the results indicated an overwhelming pattern. Libras get in the most accidents by far, followed by Aquarius and Aries. But Pisces receive the most tickets. Overall, Geminis win safest drivers, with the least accidents and tickets. So next time you hop in a cab be sure to ask the driver his sign.

6. Living in D.C.

According to a huge study by Allstate, the average American gets in a car accident once every 10 years. But where you live can drastically change your collision frequency. Obviously, the bigger the city you live in the more cars, and the greater the chance of getting in an accident. But while San Francisco (6.4 years between accidents), Philadelphia (6.2), and Baltimore (5.3) all have worse odds than average, no one comes close to Washington, D.C., where stressed-out politicians can expect to get in a wreck every 4.8 years. On the other hand, the safest large city is Phoenix (10.2) and the most driver-conscientious small city is Sioux Falls (13.8.)

7. Road Signs

When a small town in the Netherlands got rid of many of their road signs, their traffic deaths plummeted. Not what you’d expect, we know. But it seems that when we have traffic signs directing us where to go, drivers tend to pay less attention to what is actually happening on the road. The signs make us feel safer, which makes us more complacent drivers. When there are fewer road signs and you have to concentrate more on where you are going, you also avoid colliding with another car. Now more towns are considering removing some of their own signs

8. Being a Lawyer

If you get sued over a car accident, there is a good chance you could represent yourself. A 2010 study by an insurance company found that a shocking 44 percent of lawyers who applied for car insurance admitted to being in at least one previous accident. Other groups that made the top ten were financial professionals (#2), nurses (#10), and, for some reason, dog groomers (#6.) On the other end of the scale were homemakers, who got the least speeding tickets and had the least accidents, which is weird considering this next entry.

9. Having Kids

In March, an Australian research team came to the conclusion that almost nothing is more distracting while driving than having children along for the ride. During a 16-minute car journey, parents will take their eyes off the road for an average of 3 minutes and 22 seconds to deal with their kids. Many also adjust their rearview mirror not to see the cars behind them, but the children in the back seat. And while many states have banned using cell phones in the car, there can’t do much about people driving with kids, which this study found was 12 times more distracting than taking a phone call.

10. Daydreaming

Even if you are driving alone in the car, down a deserted stretch of road with no billboards, not using your cell phone and with the radio off, there is still a chance that you will crash into something. That’s because you can’t stop your brain. When 65,000 people were asked what the cause of their car accident was, a surprisingly large number of them said daydreaming. Even if you try to concentrate on the road 100 percent of the time, there is a very good chance you will find your mind wandering. Suddenly, you’re a mile down the road and you don’t even remember how you got there. And our short attention span leads to many accidents every year.

11. Gas Prices

The cost of gas has been all over the place in the last decade, so in 2008 Congress decided to find out how those prices were affecting how well people drive (you can see a PDF of the study here). It turns out, while we all complain about higher gas prices, those $4 gallons could be keeping you alive. First there is just the fact that when gas costs a lot people drive less, and the less cars on the road, the safer you are. But the study also found that people tend to drive safer when gas prices are up, possibly because they are trying to conserve as much as possible. The number of people who speed – especially on the highway – drops as gas prices increase. But the opposite is also true; as gas becomes cheaper more cars are on the road and people start driving a bit crazy again. So while you might hate filling up when gas prices are high, remember it could be saving you paying for a new car or a trip to the emergency room.

Via MentalFloss

Categories: auto, safety

How to Escape from a Sinking Car

Escape-from-a-Sinking-CarAny car accident is frightening, but an accident in which your vehicle is thrown into the water, with you trapped inside, is absolutely terrifying. Such accidents are particularly dangerous due to the risk of drowning and in Canada alone, 10 percent of drowning deaths can be attributed to being submerged in a car, and about 400 North Americans die from being submerged in a car every year.

However, most deaths are a result of panic, not having a plan and not understanding what is happening to the car in the water. By adopting a brace position to survive the impact, acting decisively when the car ends up in the water, and getting out fast, being trapped in a sinking vehicle is survivable, even if it’s a flooded river.


1. Brace yourself for impact. As soon as you’re aware that you’re going off the road and into a body of water, adopt a brace position. This is done by placing both hands on the steering wheel in the “nine and three” positions. The impact your car makes could set off the airbag system in your vehicle and any other brace position could cause serious injury in such an event. If your hands are located at “ten and two” position when the airbag inflated it could force your hands into your face resulting in serious injury. Remember, an airbag inflates rapidly, within 0.04 seconds upon being triggered. Once this aspect is out of the way, prepare for the next step immediately.

Remain calm. Panic reduces energy, uses up precious air, and causes you to blank out. Repeat a mantra of what to do to get out (see next step) and stay focused on the situation at hand. Panic can be left for the shore when you reach it.

2. Undo your seat belt. Professor Dr Gordon Geisbrecht, who specializes in cold water immersion, says that the seatbelt is the first thing to attend to, yet it often gets forgotten in the panic. His motto is: Seat belt; children; window; OUT (S-C-W-O).

Unbuckle the children, starting with the oldest first (who can then help the others).
Forget the cell phone call. Your car isn’t going to wait for you to make the call and sadly, people have lost their lives trying this. Get busy getting out.

There is a counter-theory that suggests the seat belt should be left on. This theory suggests that if you release your seat belt, you may, due to underwater disorientation, end up moving away from the window or door opening due to the ingress of water through the opening. If you need to push the door open, being anchored by the seat belt might give you additional leverage, versus pushing the door while you’re suspended in the water. Having your seat belt on could also help you maintain your sense of orientation if the car flips upside-down. On the downside, having your seat belt on can also make it harder to get out quickly and to move out, which is the point of reacting quickly from the start and not waiting in the vehicle. In the video featuring Rick Mercer and Professor Gisbrecht below, they show clearly that it’s important to be able to move around from the start, including if you need to move to the backseat to get out of the car as the engine-heavy front part starts tipping deeper first.

3. Open the window as soon as you hit the water. Following Professor Giesler’s recommendation, leave the door alone at this stage and concentrate on the window. A car’s electrical system should work for up to three minutes in water (not that you have three minutes of course), so try the method of opening it electronically first. Many people don’t think about the window as an escape option either because of panic, lack of using the window for exit normally, or because they’re focused on lots of misinformation about doors and sinking.

There are several reasons for not bothering with the door according to Professor Giesler. Immediately upon impact, you have only a few seconds in which opening the door of your sinking car is possible, while most of the door is still above water level. Once the car has started to sink, it is not humanly possible to open the door again until the pressure between the inside and the outside of the car has been equalized (leveled); this means that the car cabin has to be filled with water and that’s not really a state you want to be in. Moreover, Professor Giesler says that by opening the door, you invite a quick sink in place of the floating time available to get out. In his experiments with 30 vehicles, he found that all vehicles float, anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. You could be using this float time to escape rather than opening the driver’s side door and giving the water 5 to 10 seconds to sink the car and drown everyone in the backseat.

There are numerous theories that advocate staying in the car calmly until it hits the bottom, fills with water, and you open the door and swim up. Mythbusters termed this the “maximum conservation of energy” approach and it looks viable when you watch it. The trouble with this theory (tested only in a swimming pool of known depth with a rescue crew on full standby) is that most times you won’t know the depth of the water into which your car has plummeted, so waiting this long will usually prove fatal. This method worked just over 30 percent of the time in Professor Giesbrecht’s study, while his S-C-W-O approach worked over 50 percent of the time.

The end of the car that contains the engine will usually sink fastest, often leaving the car at an angle where the heaviest part of the vehicle is lower than the lightest. As such, you may be able to open some doors while the car is still floating.

4. Break the window. If you aren’t able to open the window, or it only opens halfway, you’ll need to break it. You will need to use an object or your foot to break the window. It may feel counter-intuitive to let water into the car, but the sooner it is open, the sooner you will be able to escape directly through the broken window.

If you have no tools or heavy objects to break the window with, use your feet. If you have high heels, these might work when placed at the center of the window. Otherwise, Professor Giesbrecht advises that you aim to kick near the front of the window or along the hinges (see the demonstration in the second video below). Be aware that it’s very hard to break a window by kicking, so find these breakpoints. Don’t even try the windshield; it’s made to be unbreakable (safety glass) and even if you did manage to shatter it (unlikely in the time you have), the stickiness of safety glass can make it hard to get through. Side and rear windows are the best options for escape.

If you have a heavy object, aim for the center of the window. A rock, hammer, steering wheel lock, umbrella, screwdriver, laptop, large camera, etc., might all serve as suitable battering objects. Even the keys might work if you’re strong enough.

If you’ve already thought ahead, you might have a window breaking tool handy in the car. There are various tools available. Professor Giesbrecht recommends a “center punch”, which is a small tool that could be easily stowed in the driver’s side door or on the dashboard, for fast retrieval. This power punch is usually spring-loaded and can also be found in a hammer shape. Failing that, you could also carry your own small hammer.

5. Escape through the broken window. Take a deep breath, and swim out through the broken window as soon as you’ve broken it. Water will be gushing into the car at this point, so expect this and use your strength to swim out and up. Professor Giesbrecht’s experiments have shown that it is possible to get out through this torrent (contrary to some theories) and that it’s better to go now than to wait.

Look to children first. Heave them up toward the surface as best you can. If they cannot swim, see if you can give them something that floats to hold onto, with strict instructions not to let go. An adult may need to go with them immediately if there is nothing to hold onto.

As you exit the car, do not kick your feet until clear of the car – you could injure other passengers. Use your arms to propel you upward.

If the car is sinking quickly and you haven’t gotten out yet, keep trying to get out of the window. If there is a child in the car, tell him or her to breathe normally until the water is up to their chest.

6. Escape when the car has equalized. If it has reached the dramatic stage where the car cabin has filled with water and it has equalized, you must move quickly and effectively to ensure your survival. It takes 60 to 120 seconds (1 to 2 minutes) for a car to fill up with water usually. While there is still air in the car, take slow, deep breaths and focus on what you’re doing. Unlock your door, either with the power button (if it is still working) or manually. If the doors are stuck (which they probably will be in most cases, with the pressure being massive), hopefully you’ve been busy breaking the window already, as advised in the previous steps.

Continue to breathe normally until the water is at chest level, then take a deep breath and hold your nose.

Stay calm. Keep your mouth closed to preserve breath and to prevent water from entering. Swim out through the broken window.

If exiting via an open door, place your hand on the door latch. If you are unable to see it, use a physical reference by stretching your hand from your hip and feeling along the door until you locate the latch.

7. Swim to the surface as quickly as possible. Push off the car and swim to the surface. If you don’t know which way to swim, look for light and swim toward it or follow any bubbles you see as they will be going up. Be aware of your surroundings as you swim and surface; you may have to deal with a strong current or obstacles such as rocks, concrete bridge supports, or even passing boats. If it’s ice covered water, you’ll need to head for the obvious hole created by the car’s impact. Do your best to avoid injuring yourself on obstacles, and use branches, supports, and other items to cling to if you’re injured or exhausted.

8. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. The adrenaline in your bloodstream after the escape may make you unable to detect any injuries you may have sustained in the accident. Hail passing motorists who can call for help on their phones and provide you with warmth, comfort, and a lift to nearest hospital.

Hypothermia may be a real possibility, depending on the water temperature, level of shock passengers and drivers are experiencing, and external temperature.


It can be difficult to direct other people in this situation. Be prepared and discuss the possibility before it happens. Focus on children first; adults will need to fend for themselves until the children have been helped, so don’t be distracted.

Your clothing and heavy objects in your pockets can make you sink. Be mentally prepared to kick off your shoes and remove heavy outer clothing such as jackets if necessary. The less clothing you have on the easier swimming will be. Even your jeans or pants will weigh you down significantly.

Keep the tools for escaping within the vehicle at all times. The emergency window breaking devices are available from safety stores.

Don’t bother turning your lights off. Turn them on if you are unable to escape or if the water is cloudy. The light’s electronics are usually waterproofed, and the lights themselves will help rescuers find your vehicle.

If you ride regularly with people and drive by water, discuss what to do if the car goes into the water. Anticipation and planning are critical to surviving life threatening emergencies like this one. Teach all family members including children the S-C-W-O method:

Remove seatbelt
Free children
Open window
Get out.

Under certain circumstances pressure may not equalize until the entire cabin is flooded. In this situation, either fight the current or wait until the car is fully submerged before making your escape.


Under most circumstances you should not wait for help. Rescuers will most likely not be able to reach or locate you in time to provide support.

Don’t take anything heavy or unnecessary with you as you escape, and remember that everything is unnecessary in this situation except your life and the lives of those around you.

Things You’ll Need

Keep a center punch handy in the car or hanging off your keyring

Source: wikiHow

Categories: auto, safety

Attention Honda Customers: Are your tires talking?

October 1, 2012 Leave a comment

How soon do I need to check my tires when the light goes on?

  • As soon as it is safe to do so, check your tires and take the appropriate action.  Having properly inflated tires is important to your safety and your vehicle’s fuel economy.

What does the TPMS indicator mean?

  • Your Honda also includes a separate indicator regarding the status of the TPMS system itself.  If the letters “TPMS” illuminate within the gauge cluster, it means that the Tire Pressure Monitoring System has a fault and the system may no longer be monitoring the tire pressure.  A dealer visit is required.

What else should I do to ensure tire safety?

  • There is no substitute for regularly inspecting your tires – do not wait for a warning light before checking your tires.  Review your Owner’s Manual.  Do not use the tire pressures listed on the tire.  Since temperature affects tire pressure, it is best to check tires when they are cold, i.e., when they haven’t been driven for at least three hours.

If you have any questions about your tires or other maintenance issues, check your Owner’s Manual or consult with the Schaller Honda service department 860-826-2060

Categories: auto, safety