Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Road Rage: Adding Insult to Injury

April 17, 2015 Leave a comment

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Categories: safety, travel

50 Things A Traveller Should Know

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment
50 Things A Traveller Should Know

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Categories: travel

Tips for saving fuel

September 18, 2013 Leave a comment

By Joe Wiesenfelder,
Photographs by Ian Merritt,

fuelgaugeIf you’re not ready to buy a more fuel-efficient car, you can still save money in a number of ways in whatever vehicle you drive. provides the tips and dispels the myths.

Revive the classics
The biggest fuel savings comes not from hybrid technology but from the old standards: car pooling and public transportation. If you and just one friend or neighbor trade off commuting to and from work, you cut your fuel usage by about 50 percent. No other step will save you as much money. Also, if you have two vehicles in the family motor pool, leave the thirstier one in the garage as often as possible.

Public transportation saves fuel, and possibly money. It also decreases congestion, which saves everyone fuel. Help yourself and everyone else; be part of the solution.

Get the lead out
Weight is fuel economy’s natural enemy, so removing unnecessary items — or people — from your car can translate to real fuel savings.

Get the leadfoot out
You can save fuel immediately in whatever you drive by going easy on the accelerator. Jack rabbit starts and full-throttle acceleration boost fuel consumption dramatically. It’s all a matter of degree: Light acceleration saves more than moderate acceleration.

Top speed also plays a part. Most vehicles are most efficient when cruising in their top gear at a relatively low speed. For example, a car with a five-speed transmission would be most efficient in 5th gear at 40 to 55 mph. Wind resistance increases exponentially with speed, so as your pace increases from this point, fuel economy drops dramatically. Onboard trip computers that show instantaneous and average fuel economy are remarkably accurate. Keep an eye on this and you’ll learn how to drive in a miserly fashion.

An ounce of prevention
Keeping your tires inflated properly and your engine running right is critical to efficient motoring. Underinflated tires can lower your fuel economy by full miles per gallon. (Get the proper inflation pressure from the sticker on your car’s doorjamb or the owner’s manual, and not the tire’s sidewall.) Even if your car seems to be running well, that perplexing Check Engine light could represent a dead oxygen sensor or some other emissions control problem that causes the vehicle to waste several miles per gallon.

Open windows or air conditioning?
This is an age-old conundrum. (Unlike a car’s heater, which uses free engine heat to warm the cabin, the air conditioner robs engine power and lowers fuel economy.) So which approach is better? Sorry, but it’s not as simple as one or the other.

If your car has been sitting in the sun and is hotter than the outside air, drive for a few minutes with the windows open to cool it off. Then, if you’re hitting the highway, close ’em up and turn on the A/C. Aerodynamics are more important at high speeds, so if you’re not exceeding 35 or 40 mph, open windows won’t make as much difference. It also depends on the vehicle. The detriment from driving with the windows down is greater, say, in a Chevy Corvette, which has excellent aerodynamics, than in a Hummer, which has … none. The same applies to convertibles; you’ll burn less fuel with the top up.

Keep it sleek
Speaking of aerodynamics, roof-top carriers and bike and ski racks don’t do you any favors — even when they’re empty. If you keep all your cargo inside the car, you’ll slip through the wind better. Also, strip off any aftermarket add-ons such as bug deflectors and window and sunroof wind deflectors. By design, these items work by wrecking your aerodynamics. Sure, bug entrails on your windshield are gross, but they aren’t known to cost you any fuel.

Premium or regular?
Lower octane costs less, but should you use it? Most modern cars that call for premium fuel can run on regular gasoline without knocking or any long-term penalty. Technically, this makes the car less efficient, but not to a degree that negates the cost savings from the cheaper fuel grade. NOTE: This is true of cars for which premium is recommended, not required. If in doubt, look for terms such as “for best performance” and “recommended” as opposed to “only” or “required.” If your car has a turbocharger or supercharger, you probably should stick with premium fuel. Of course, if your car calls for regular gasoline, there’s no reason to run it on anything higher in octane.

via Bankrate

Categories: auto, travel

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

Top 10 most annoying things other drivers do

August 22, 2013 Leave a comment

1-introIt’s a known fact that everyone reading this is an above-average driver — and that each of us always displays deep and abiding civility toward our fellow travelers. So we’re sure you won’t recognize yourself in any of the items listed below.

But what about all those other jerks on the road?

What things do other drivers do that annoy you most? Here’s our list.

Yours in Pounding the Steering Wheel,
Tom and Ray Magliozzi
Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers

1. Talking on a cell phone

When you’re talking on your cell phone, you’re as likely to cause an accident as when you’re legally drunk. Now, what’s your excuse? What’s more annoying than a driver who’s willing to risk your life so he can pick up his General Tso’s chicken without waiting? Even when distracted drivers don’t cause a wreck, they weave from lane to lane, create confusion in intersections and generally drive slower than other drivers around them while they’re trying to do two things at once, leaving a gang of irate drivers in their wake.

Don’t be a jerk: Put the phone down while you drive. You know about voice mail, right?

2. Driving too fast for road conditions

Just because a speed limit is 65 mph doesn’t mean that’s always the right speed. Snow, ice or rain can dramatically reduce your car’s braking and handling abilities, as well as limit visibility. The right top speed for those conditions is that at which you feel safe and in control and able to react in time to anything that happens up ahead. That could be 40 mph. Or zero mph.

Drivers who fly past you at 50 mph when conditions call for 15 mph are not just risking their own lives — they might take you with them. If they lose control, they could easily spin into you, knocking you off the road and down an embankment. Or, at the very least, they could cover your windshield with a thick film of slush or rain, leaving you temporarily blinded. Annoying? We’d say so.

Don’t be a jerk: There’s always someone driving like a jerk in bad weather. And if you notice you’re passing everybody, you’re the jerk.

3. Not cleaning snow off their cars

How would you feel if someone heaved a 3-foot-diameter, 40-pound dinner plate at your windshield? Not too swell, we’re guessing. Well, that’s exactly what happens when a rooftop of snow and ice on the car in front of you goes airborne. In addition to soiling your trousers, such unwelcome crash-landings have been known to shatter windshields. In some states, it’s even against the law. In all states, it’s a sign of thoughtlessness.

Don’t be a jerk: Take five minutes to clean the snow off your car before you drive away. You’ll see better, and you won’t inadvertently launch an attack on the cars behind you.

4. Not signaling when turning or changing lanes, or leaving a signal on

Signaling your intentions is one of the most basic acts of courtesy one can engage in. If we can’t predict what other drivers are going to do, we can’t make informed decisions about what we should do, and the result is mayhem. And insurance claims.

But besides being dangerous, not signaling is also downright obnoxious. It says, “Your safety doesn’t matter to me, and I’m more important than you are.” It’s rather telling that signaling one’s intentions is pretty much universal in the animal kingdom. And if hyenas can manage it, can’t you?

By the way, leaving a turn signal on, while an act of omission, can be just as dangerous.

Don’t be a jerk: Use your turn signals, Bub.

5. Leaving high beams on

Driving at night introduces a variety of risks, all related to the fact that our vision becomes limited. The less well you can see, the less well you drive. So when someone oncoming cruises past you and shines the equivalent of a 100,000-candlepower lighthouse directly into your retinas, he’s definitely being more than a little annoying — he’s compromising your ability to drive safely.

If that’s not reason enough for you to remember to switch off your high beams when there’s traffic headed your way, here are two more reasons: 1) If you blind an oncoming driver with your high beams, he might not be able to judge where your car is and might crash into you. Wouldn’t that suck? 2) The driver coming toward you might have been interrogated by the CIA under bright lights, and you might trigger a flashback. Do you want that responsibility? Didn’t think so.

By the way, poorly aimed headlights can also be dangerous. If oncoming drivers are flashing their lights at you and you don’t know why, first make sure your headlights are on, and then check that the high beams are off. If those two items check out OK, have your mechanic check the alignment of your headlights. It takes five minutes, and it’s a thoughtful gesture to future oncoming drivers.

Don’t be a jerk: Understand that your high beams are a dangerous weapon when aimed at oncoming traffic. Remember when you’ve turned them on, and always be prepared to turn them right off.

6. Faulty equipment

Saving money by putting off repairs is a noble act of cheapskate-dom, but when deferring maintenance means that you’re starting to compromise your own safety, or others around you, that’s when we get annoyed.

It’s not uncommon for us to see customers’ cars at our garage with bald tires, bad shocks, a turn signal or headlight that’s burned out, or poor wiper blades. Blowing off those repairs isn’t just dangerous — it might also cost you more money in the end. Look at it this way: Which bill would you rather pay? Four new tires or having to replace 50 of the botanical garden’s prized Asian thorn bushes and doubled insurance premiums for the next five years? We rest our case.

While it’s less immediately dangerous, driving a car that’s burning oil to beat the band is also obnoxious. Ask my brother how many otherwise sweet old ladies give him the finger when he pulls up next to them at a light and surrounds them in a thick cloud of smelly, blue smoke.

Don’t be a jerk: Maintenance is not just for you. You’ll improve your own safety and that of your fellow drivers by keeping up on necessary repairs.

7. Taking two spaces in a parking lot

Is there anything more obnoxious than announcing to the world, “My BMW paint job is more important than your ability to park?” Of course, if the car is a ’66 Plymouth Valiant and the driver is currently wearing adult diapers, the issue may be driving ability rather than obnoxiousness. So consider the circumstances.

Don’t be a jerk: When my brother comes across an expensive car that’s taking up two premium spaces, he likes to squeeze his 20-year-old heap right in next to the car. Not only does he get a space, but also he knows the owner of the offending trophy car is going to stroke out when he sees it. Of course, my brother has also had his nose broken a few times. So consider parking elsewhere, and think about leaving a note on the offending vehicle instead, suggesting that the driver kindly not hog two spots in a busy lot the next time they run errands.

Also, if you have a car that’s so precious that it can’t be parked close to anyone else’s, park it at the far end of the parking lot. That way, you inconvenience yourself rather than everybody else.

8. Staying in the far left lane

We all need to work together if we’re going to get home in time to watch “Jeopardy!” That includes pulling back over to the right after you’ve passed a slower-moving vehicle. Staying in the left lane forces everyone to go at exactly your speed, or pass you unsafely on the right. It also raises the blood pressure of those who want to go even a little bit faster. You’re going the speed limit? Fine. Let the police enforce the law. And remember, some drivers might have very good reasons for driving faster than you on any given day. They might be trying to make sure their mother-in-law catches her plane home.

Don’t be a jerk: Use the passing lane for passing. And when you’re in it, always keep an eye on your rearview mirror and be aware if someone is coming up faster behind you so you can get out of the way in time.

9. Not acknowledging making a mistake or overreacting to an honest mistake

Driver A makes a stupid mistake, causing Driver B to swerve. Driver B, having just planted his beak directly into his Starbucks Frappuccino, delivers Driver A the one-finger salute. Driver B is offended, and responds in kind.

We all make mistakes. Remember that when someone pulls out without seeing you. Sure, honk if you need to for safety. But do you really have to follow it up with an Al Swearengen-like diatribe? If the person is decent enough to hold up a palm and indicate “Sorry!” can’t you say, “That’s OK”?

And similarly, when you make a boneheaded move, don’t slink off as if you didn’t notice that you almost caused a five-car pileup. Acknowledge that you screwed up. Mouth “Sorry.” Look a little sheepish. Hold up a palm asking for forgiveness.

If more people apologized for their lunkheadedness and more people accepted their apologies, the roads would be a lot more humane.

Don’t be a jerk: Remember the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you when you pull out of your parking space without looking.

10. Dangerous loads improperly secured

The laws of physics are immutable. So, unfortunately, are the laws of stupidity. If you’re driving at 75 mph, twine, a bungee cord and your left hand will not keep a Sealy Posturepedic from setting sail above the interstate. Trust us on this.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of people who — through impatience, laziness or lack of schooling — don’t understand the basics of force, leverage and wind loading. As a result, those of us who follow them have to drive with our hearts in our throats until we can get around them and hope the load doesn’t let out at that moment. And what about the guy behind you?

Oblivious as they may be, these drivers can leave a trail of chaos behind them. And if their load comes unhinged, they’re going to have a bad case of survivor’s guilt.

Don’t be a jerk: If you’re carrying something that doesn’t fit inside your car, get professional help or advice in securing it before driving. And have all mattresses and 4×8 sheets of plywood delivered.

11. Picking your nose

Let’s be perfectly clear about this: We’ve got nothing against picking one’s nose. According to fossil records, it’s a habit that dates back to the Stone Age. But, being forced to watch someone up to the second knuckle in a mining operation is enough to cause anyone to lose his breakfast burrito.

Don’t be a jerk: Don’t assume nobody is watching — especially at stoplights where people tend to survey their surroundings.

via Bankrate

Categories: auto, travel

Your GPS Will Disable Itself If It’s Going Too Fast

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Whether it’s your windshield mounted Garmin or your pocket slung smartphone, your GPS device is programmed to disable itself under certain conditions.

If it’s travelling faster than 1200 MPH or above 65,000 feet in altitude, the GPS function will shutdown.

These restrictions were put in place to help ensure the technology could not be used for malicious intentions by foreign governments or terrorists.

Modern commercial airplanes do not typically approach this speed or altitude, so you can’t test this unless you build your own missile or weather balloon.

via Broken Secrets

Categories: safety, travel

Pet Accessories for Cars

These days, cars come with lots of amazing accessories. Automatic seatbelts, GPS units, hooks for anchoring infant car seats and a host of other safety features provide a sense of security. Luxury accessories like seat-back televisions and multizone temperature controls make driving a little easier. Some cars even come outfitted with outlets for powering computers and other electronics.

It should come as no surprise, then, that humans aren’t the only creatures to benefit from great car accessories. More pet owners are updating their cars to accommodate their favorite critters. Whether we’re road tripping with Fido or simply shuttling kitty to the vet, today’s broad range of pet travel accessories make your best friend’s ride more comfortable while minimizing any potential distractions.

5: Pet Seat Covers

It’s happened to all pet owners: One minute your car is immaculately clean, the next it’s the covered in pet hair. You can’t put the windows down on a nice spring day without choking in a swirling cloud of shed fur. If you’re tired of arriving at your destination studded with pet hair, the answer is simple: Cover your seats.

Animal seat covers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Vinyl or cloth covers clip around the rear headrests and tuck underneath the seat’s edge for a snug fit; they’re super lightweight, and simple to unclip, shake clean or machine wash. You can often purchase custom-fitted seat covers from automobile manufacturers. These fit your seats like a glove and trap animal hair so that it doesn’t fly around in the air too much. For hatchbacks, station wagons and SUVs, another great option is to place durable, washable rubber mats in the cargo compartments.

4: Pet Ramps

Sometimes older dogs, especially bigger breeds, need a little extra help getting into the car.When you think of pet ramps, you might imagine a pampered socialite coaxing her teacup poodle up a ramp while a white-gloved butler patiently holds open the rear door of a stretch limo. While pet ramps might seem like an indulgence, to the elderly pet owner or the creaky-kneed Great Dane, they’re a lifesaver.

For pets that are too large to be lifted into the car, too elderly to jump on their own, or too tiny to spring into that tall SUV, pet ramps are essential accessories. Ramps also save pet owners the backbreaking work of having to lift reluctant animals into the car. There are several varieties, including folding ramps, telescoping ramps and fixed ramps. Look for one that’s lightweight and convenient to store, but sturdy enough to bear the weight of your pet. A good pet ramp will have a nonskid surface and is easy to clean. Another great pet accessibility accessory is a seat extender, “backseat bridge” or pet hammock, which give large animals more room to stretch out. A hammock can also double as a seat cover.

3: Pet Harnesses

What says happiness better than a pooch standing head and shoulders out of the car window, ears flapping and tongue lolling? Though your pet may love this freedom, it’s not the safest way for him to travel. In the same way that people benefit from seatbelts, pets benefit from harnesses. Not only will a pet harness keep your companion from flying through the windshield in a wreck, it may also prevent the wreck itself by minimizing the considerable driving distractions a pet can cause.

Pet harnesses generally fit animals that are 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) or larger. Most consist of a padded chest plate that slips over the front legs and buckles to a standard seatbelt, strapping pets comfortably in place for the duration of a car trip. Other harnesses work for dog walks, too, making it a snap to go from car to trail.

2: Pet Barriers

Pet barriers give everyone the right amount of space.Left to their own devices, pets will wander all over your car, creating all kinds of distraction. Anxious animals may paw at you or even try to jump into your lap. Mischievous pets may knock over coffee cups, or startle you with loud mewling or barking. While pet harnesses are a great way to tether your animal companions to one spot, some pets don’t adapt to them well, and you might want to allow your pet a little more mobility, especially on long trips. In these instances, you can turn the cargo bay of your hatchback, station wagon or SUV into the perfect kennel-on-the-go with a pet barrier.

Pet barriers come in many varieties — adjustable metal tubes, wire gates or soft fabric mesh. Many car manufacturers offer pet barriers custom-made for your station wagon or SUV. Adjustable aftermarket varieties are just as effective, and fabric “backseat” models are also available for drivers of sedans and sports cars. Using a pet barrier keeps pets from jumping into the front seat and minimizes mess by confining pet hair to a single area of your vehicle.

1: Pet Emergency Travel Kits

Unexpected things happen when you’re on the road. Paws sometimes get injured on pit stops in unfamiliar places. Hot sun pouring in through the rear windows dehydrates your furry friends. Some animals, especially cats, will get carsick.

One way to combat the unknown is to follow the Boy Scout motto and “be prepared” by packing an emergency travel kit for your pet. Some shops advertise rugged nylon totes with matching collapsible dog bowl, collar and lead, as well as basic first aid supplies. Survivalist shops even offer military-style pet travel kits with MRE-like emergency water and food rations for your animal.

Think of a pet emergency travel kit as a diaper bag. You’ll want to pack the essentials: a water dish or collapsible bowl, water, pet waste bags, treats, and food. Basic first aid supplies — antiseptic, gauze, tape and any medications your dog might be taking — are also handy.

No matter whether you’re traveling hours into the tundra or toting your pet along on errands, pet travel accessories provide a safer, cleaner travel experience for both you and your pet.


via HowStuffWorks

Categories: auto, pets, travel