Car Safety Tips


Tips & Tricks For Driving in the Snow

While the snow looks beautiful coming down, it makes driving way more difficult and increases your chances of an accident significantly.  While it’s best to avoid driving in bad weather as much as possible, it’s often unavoidable- especially in New England. If you must hit the road during a snowy winter wonderland, keep these tips and tricks in mind to stay as safe as possible.

1. Drive Slow– This must be the most obvious thing to state when it comes to driving in the snow, but it has to be said. Really though, actually drive slower and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. The snow makes the roads slippery and reduces visibility so you’ll need to give yourself plenty of more time to react to changing conditions. This advice is heavily aimed at those who drive SUVs, 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive cars. While those type of cars do offer some more traction and control, it does not make you invincible or your car a super SUV. The roads are still significantly less safe and require slow driving.

2. Give Yourself Distance– Most people follow the 2 (or 3) second rule of thumb to calculate the minimum distance they should keep behind from the car in front so that there is adequate time to stop. In the snow, you want to at the very least double this distance. Ideally, triple it. If you do slide or skid on the snow, the farther away you are from other vehicles the safer you’ll be.

3. Lights– ALWAYS have your lights on when driving in the snow. With the reduced visibility, you’ll want to make your surroundings as visible as possible. On the side, you’ll want other drivers to be able to see you as well.

4. NEVER Use Cruise Control- You’ll need extra vigilance and extra control when it comes to driving in the snow. Not only do you need to adjust your speed more frequently when driving in the snow, you’ll also need much more control over steering, even if you’re driving on a straight road. Never use cruise control when driving in the snow. Ever.

5. Avoid Slamming on the Break– If your tires start to skid, most people’s first instinct is to panic and slam on the break- don’t do this. Instead ease off the accelerator and try to steer the car out of potential collisions. Slamming on the breaks once your tires have already locked up and lost traction won’t help. Skidding out can be frightening, but try to stay as calm as possible in order to safely slow down and come to a stop.

6. Beware of Bridges– Bridges are the first to freeze and ice over in cold weather and snow. Unlike roads which lose their temperature on their surface, bridges they are exposed the wind and cold from every angle which promotes the perfect environment for black ice. Even if the roads seem okay in mild snow, use extra caution when you get to a bridge.

7. Clean Your Car– Don’t slack off when it comes to cleaning your car. Even if you’re just driving a short distance, that snow of your roof is a hazard. It can fall in front and obstruct your vision, or it can fly off on to the car behind you which is seriously dangerous. Also, always keep cleaning essentials in your car all winter long such a scraper and shovel and make sure your car has enough windshield wiper fluid for the season.

8. Keep Kitty Litter!– This neat little trick can be a life safer! Getting stuck in the snow is the worst, and the more you try to accelerate out of it, the more you dig yourself deeper. Adding kitty litter behind your tire will provide the traction the tire needs for you to drive your way out. Sand or salt also works well. Keep a bag of it in your trunk of your car if possible.

9. Emergency Kit– While emergency kits are important all year round, they are extra crucial in the winter months. Click here to see what essentials you should have in yours this winter!

 

TIPS & TRICKS FOR DRIVING IN THE SNOW

Driving from Dusk til Dawn- What You Need to know!

With the days getting shorter and the sun setting earlier, there a good chance you’ll be driving between dusk and dawn more and more the next few months. Unfortunately, those can be some of the most dangerous hours to get behind the wheel.  Use these simple safety tips to keep you and your family as safe as possible when on the road.

1. Have a pair of spare sunglasses in the car– While sunsets are beautiful, driving into one can be difficult and dangerous.  The sun at that angle can be incredibly blinding.  Save your self the trouble of desperately searching for those sun glasses when that sun comes down and always keep a spare pair in your car. On the other hand, be sure to remove them as soon as the sun goes down.

2. Use headlights- the right way!– Often people don’t turn on their headlights until they realize they need them- and that’s usually too late. Contrary to popular belief, headlights should be used at all times throughout the day, including dusk and dawn.  While there may be light in the sky, the ambient light at dusk or dawn doesn’t allow for full visibility.  Even if your headlights won’t be completely effective in the ambient light, they do allow other drivers to see you more clearly. High beams or “brights” are rarely appropriate to use.  They can be extremely blinding to oncoming traffic and are not recommended for use except in rural areas with little street lights.  Even so, when using them be very aware of your surroundings. If you hear a car coming towards you, turn off your high beams immediately.

3. Avoid driving tired– The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving, and early morning at dawn are when some of the most tired drivers hit the road.  Unfortunately, we understand working hours dictate many of our schedules and the times we have to drive. If you have to drive very early in the morning, give your self at least half an hour to fully wake up before jumping behind the wheel.  More than anything else, the best way to avoid tired driving is getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

4. Stay on the look out for wildlife– When it starts to get dark, many timid animals feel safe enough to start peaking their way out to investigate the dazzling lights from the passing cars.  While this mostly occurs in rural areas, it’s good to keep in mind that if you see something rustling in the grass on the side of the road, it could mean a furry friend is approaching.

Driving from Dusk Til Dawn (2)

 

Quick Tips to Prepare Your Car for Fall

It’s here! The weather is getting chillier, the sun is setting earlier, and the leaves are beginning to turn. Football season has returned and coffee shops across the Bay State are offering pumpkin spice lattes. Fall has arrived!

Though it is sad to bid summer in New England goodbye, autumn in New England is beautiful. Don’t forget that the changing weather and beautiful foliage can present risks to Massachusetts drivers, keep yourself safe on Massachusetts roads and enjoy the season safely with these tips!

Tires

As the weather cools, your tire pressure can change and fall weather can leave you with low tire pressure. Be sure to take a look at the pressure on your tires and also check their tread and traction – leaves and frost can make the roadways slippery, you’ll need the grip!

Brakes

Roads are more slippery in the fall, so getting your brakes in tip-top shape is extra important.

Heater, defrosters, anti-freeze

The colder weather is coming and before it hits it’s wise to get your car ready! Ensure your car’s heat works and that your coolant (anti-freeze) is at the correct levels for protecting your engine.

Wiper blades

Did you know November is typically the wettest month of the year in Massachusetts? Check that your windshield wiper blades are functioning properly and have no tears that could interfere with use or grow over time.

Be aware of the changing weather

As it gets colder, the road can fill up with hazards, like frost and falling leaves. When driving on leaves, be sure to slow down and give yourself time to stop. Wet or frozen leaves can make roads slippery, and leaves on the road can conceal other hazards like pot holes and bumps. Frost acts just like black ice and can cause dangerous conditions. During a frost, be extra careful on bridges, as they freeze before roads, and take it slow.

How To Care For Your Car After Winter

With temperatures heating up into the 70s this week, we’re getting closer and closer to Spring! While Winter might not be over just yet, it’s time to start de-winterizing your car. From the snow, salt and freezing temperatures, your car has had a rough winter. Here are 6 ways you can care for your car after the winter season.

1. Wash your car! Many times people get lazy in the winter washing their car because they know it’s going to get dirty from the snow and salt the next day. Buy washing regularly, about every 7 to 10 days, you’ll prevent the corrosive salts used to de-ice roadways that can cause rust and damage to your paint. Pay extra attention to the undercarriage, where salt likes to hide and corrode the body of your vehicle.

2. Check your tire pressure. This is especially important to those of you who saw the tire pressure light pop on during the winter. Because air is a gas, it contracts when cold, and expands when heated. If you inflated your tires during the colder months, they could become over inflated during the warmers months.

3. Check ALL fluids levels. Your car engine works on overdrive during bad winter conditions. The can cause fluid levels to drop faster than usual. Be sure to check antifreeze/coolant levels, engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power-steering fluid.

4. Vacuum your car mats. From snow, slush, rain, mud, and more dragged in your car, your interior mats could use a shampoo, or at least a vacuum, to keep your car in prime condition. Bonus** This will help with any allergies you may have.

5. Listen to your brakes. This may sound like an obvious one- if your brakes sound like they’re grinding or squeaking, get them checked. But this is double important after winter. Snowy driving conditions can result in salt and debris building up on your brakes, causing them to bind, and ultimately lead to premature wear. In very severe cases, rust from road salt can cause brake failure. If something sounds or feels off, consult a mechanic ASAP.

6. Rotate your tires. To extend the life of your tires, rotate them as the beginning of each season. Wheels tend to wear quicker in winter driving conditions. If you invested in snow tires, think about putting them away in the next few weeks until next winter. The special tread and rubbery consistency that make them perform great in snow, also make them wear much more quickly that all-season tires.

*Bonus tip: Don’t put off minor repairs! Many people wait with minor repairs if their car still gets them from A to B. But the longer you put off minor repairs, the more likely they will turn into most costly maintenance problems in the long run.

HOW TO car for car-1

How to Drive Safely With Snowbanks

The four blizzards in three weeks have left mountains of snow all around New England. Removing the snow has been challenging for towns everywhere, and with nowhere to move it all, the streets have becoming increasingly clogged. Travel lanes have been reduced from four to two, and two-way roads are now one way. Particularly small streets are so clogged up that even sidewalks cease to exist! If they do, they’re so narrow even the smallest of people have a hard time passing the massive snow banks. With nowhere else to walk, pedestrians than take to the road, resulting in further unsafe road conditions.

Here are a few safety tips on how to drive with massive snowbanks:

1. Drive SLOWER. Although that seems like such obvious advice, it really is so important.   In the winter, tires don’t hold to asphalt as well as they do in the summer. A mistake becomes much harder to correct with snow on the ground. Braking distances become longer, and the ability to dart around quickly in traffic decreases. Even when the roads seem cleared up, it’s still important to drive slowly due to decreased visibility from the snow banks. Many the snow piles tower way above 3 ½ feet- which is eye level for most drivers. The safest way to cross is to slowly come to a stop and then inch out to see if a car is coming. Even if you know that there is a stop sign for the intersected street, they might not able to see it due to the snow banks.

2. Make sure you windows are de-iced so you can properly see cars coming. Not only is driving with iced up windows incredibility unsafe, it is also illegal. You can quickly ice proof your windows by spraying them the night before with three parts vinegar and one part water. The acetic acid in vinegar will lower the melting point of water and preventing it from freezing. If you don’t get to it at night, spray the mixture in the morning to make scrapping much easier.

3. Check the pressure and tread of your tires. Too low pressure or bald tires can be extremely dangerous, especially in snowy weather. Having low pressure can cause heat build up, which can cause the tire to pop at high speeds. Most gas station have air pumps that will let you gauge the pressure and add more air if needed. Bald tires, or low tread means less traction to the road, especially in rain or snow. You can check this by placing a penny (the edge with Lincoln’s head pointing down) in one the grooves of the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires.

4. Drive with your lights on. With snowbanks blocking drivers view, having your lights on with help make you known to other drivers. Even if the sun is out, if it’s snowing always have your lights on. With visibility so low when it snows, having your lights on will help you see other cars coming, and help drivers see you.

Massachusetts has had a record-breaking month with snow, and it will take some time for it all to melt. Keep these tips in mind so you can safely navigate around the snow covered streets!

Driving with Snowbanks

Super Bowl Driving Safety Tips

Who’s excited for the Super Bowl?!

The Super Bowl is a true American tradition, and this year in Massachusetts there is an even higher level of anticipation than usual – the Patriots will face off against the Seahawks! Super Bowl Sunday can be one of the best days of the year, but have you thought about Super Bowl safety?

This Sunday can be a dangerous time for drivers on the road. Not only is Massachusetts going to be hit with more snow this weekend, making the road conditions worst (check out our safety tips for driving in the snow), but drunk driving on Super Bowl Sunday is rampant. More drivers are involved in alcohol-related accidents on Super Bowl Sunday than any day of the year besides St. Patrick’s Day, according to the Insurance Information Institute. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 48% of U.S. traffic fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday are alcohol related.

The best plan of action is to plan ahead. Have a designated driver. Plan to stay overnight at a friend or family member’s house. Book a hotel. Use public transportation. Call a cab or get an Uber. With so many options to travel safely, there is no excuse for drunk driving.

If you are hosting a Super Bowl Party, provide plenty of yummy food so guests don’t drink on an empty stomach. Search Pinterest or Google to find easy crowd-pleasing recipes! Also, offer non-alcoholic drinks for people to sip on throughout the game.

Whatever your plans are this weekend, MassDrive hopes your drinks are celebratory, and your Super Bowl safe! Lets go Patriots!

 

Super Bowl Driving Safety Tips

What You Need To Keep In Your Car This Winter

car in snow

During the winter, the combination of snow, ice, sleet, and slush makes driving much more dangerous than it usually is.  That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for anything!  We’ve come up with a list of everything you should keep in your car this winter should you encounter any unexpected driving incident.

  • Blanket – This is extremely important to have handy should your car break down or refuse to start.  If you’re waiting in freezing temperatures for a tow truck, you’ll definitely want to have a blanket with you to keep warm.
  • Hand Warmers – These are available at camping stores and are extremely useful if you’re stuck outside trying to change a tire or look underneath the hood.  You just have to shake them and keep them in your gloves or pockets and they’ll release heat to help keep you warm.
  • Flashlight – If you’re stranded somewhere at night and need to change a tire or look under the hood, it’ll be pretty hard to see what you’re doing without one of these.  It can also be used to signal your location to a pick up truck.  Make sure you bring extra batteries as well.
  • Cell Phone Charger – Having a car charger for your phone is good to have should your phone start dying if you’re stranded and waiting for assistance.  You don’t want to be unable to communicate with anyone, especially if you’re stuck somewhere after dark.
  • Kitty Litter – Believe it or not, kitty litter is a great item to have should your car get stuck in snow or ice.  It provides traction and can help your vehicle get unstuck, not to mention it’s much quicker to do this yourself than to call a tow truck.
  • Shovel – Much like kitty litter, a shovel can come in handy if your car is stuck in a large amount of snow.
  • Light Sticks – These are inexpensive and can be worn if you need to step outside of your vehicle to fix a spare tire or shovel some snow out of the way.  They will help you remain visible to other drivers and avoid a collision.
  • Ice Scraper/Brush – This is a no-brainer, unless you want to clean snow and ice off your car with your hands.
  • Jumper Cables – Sometimes on cold mornings, if batteries become too cold your car won’t start.  Not to worry though, getting it up and running is easy enough if you have jumper cables and another driver willing to give your car a jump.
  • First Aid Kit – This is good to have on hand should anyone have a minor injury from an accident.  Make sure you understand how to use all of the contents of the kit.
  • Snacks – If you find yourself stranded somewhere for a long period of time, you’ll definitely want to have some snacks with you.  Granola bars or items such a beef jerky are good choices because they have a long shelf life and are a good source of energy.
  • Tool Kit – Even if you’re not a car expert, make sure you know how to change a tire and tighten any loose hoses under the hood.  You’ll also want to make sure you have all of the necessary tools to do so.
  • Flares – These can help motorists find you should you be pulled over in distress.

All of these items can come in handy should you wind up stranded on the side of the road this winter.  They will allow you to stay warm, dry, signal for help, or dig your car out should your wheels get stuck.  Make sure to have them inside your vehicle this winter, and stay safe!

Photo By: haven’t the slightest

car in snow

Halloween Safety Tips For Drivers

Halloween Driving

Are you as excited for Halloween as we are?  It’ll be here before we know it and the streets will be filled with witches, goblins, and ghouls!  Drivers have a responsibility to remain extra alert so that these little monsters stay safe.  These tips are great reminders for all drivers to keep in mind this Halloween.

Make Sure Your Lights Work – On Halloween night, visibility is key.  There will be tons of children on the streets in dark costumes which will be hard enough to see even with working headlights.  Before you leave your driveway, test all lights and turn signals to ensure that they are working properly.

Remain Alert – This goes without saying any time you’re on the road, but it important to be extra vigilant on Halloween night when the streets are filled with young children who may not understand all of the rules of the road.

Drive Slowly – On Halloween night children will be running from house to house in dark costumes and masks that limit their visibility.  This makes it harder for drivers to see them and for them to see oncoming cars,  so be sure to drive slower than usual should any trick-or-treaters unexpectedly run out in front of you.  Be especially careful around parked vehicles, not only could children be standing near them waiting to cross, but they may also be letting children out of them.  You should also drive under the posted speed limit, as there will be more pedestrians out than usual and some may be harder to see than others.

Avoid Distractions – With parents, trick-or-treaters, flashlights, and decorations, there are already enough distractions on the road, avoid any additional ones by putting down your phone, turning off the radio, and limiting the amount of passengers in your vehicle.

Yield to Pedestrians – This is a give in, whether they’re at a cross walk or not, pedestrians always have the right of way and on Halloween night there might be some (especially the young ones) that are more excited than usual and may not utilize caution when crossing the street for their next candy stop.  If you see children attempting to cross the street,  don’t assume that they see your vehicle, make sure you come to a complete stop and give them plenty of time to cross the street.

Utilize Turn Signals – It’s important to communicate with other drivers so that they know what you’re doing.  If you’re going to pull over to make a quick candy stop, make sure you put on your turn signal and use the hazard lights when children are exiting the vehicle.

Avoid Wearing A Costume – If you’re driving and are going to a costume party or are getting dressed up for some reason, wait until you arrive at your destination before you put on any masks or wigs.  These can limit visibility should they slip out of place which can cause a serious hazard to yourself and others.

Use A Designated Driver – If you’re going to a party where alcohol will be served, always remember to use a designated driver, drunk driving is never an option and endangers yourself and anyone else on the road near you.

We want everyone to have a safe, and fun Halloween, it only takes a moment for the night to turn into a nightmare, so keep these tips in mind and share them with the other drivers in your life.

Photo By: OakleyOriginals

 

 

 

Fall Driving Safety

fall drive

When most people think of dangerous driving weather, winter usually comes to mind, but fall has its fair share of dangers too.  Some of the things we love most about fall, like the beautiful leaves and cooler weather can lead to new dangers that you may not think of.  Keep these tips in mind in the fall, and stay safe on the road!

 Leaves – Everyone loves the beautiful red, yellow, and orange leaves that come with the fall season, but they don’t stay on the trees for very long.  Once they fall to the ground and cover the road, they can hide potholes, cover pavement markings, and once it rains, they can make the road extremely slick which is not only a danger for drivers, but pedestrians as well.  Keep your windshield leaf-free to prevent them from getting stuck under windshield wipers in a storm.  Make sure to also be aware of leaf peepers on the road, especially if you live in a rural area.  These drivers may be distracted or make sudden stops, so use caution around cars that are traveling particularly slow or have out of state license plates.  Remain alert when driving in the fall, especially when it’s raining, use the same caution you would if you were driving over ice in the winter.

Frost – After a hot, humid summer, the cooler fall air is a refreshing change, but with the change in temperature comes another thing to be weary of, frost.   Temperatures may feel fair and refreshing during the day, but they can drop dramatically at night.  First thing in the morning, there may still be frost on the road so use caution, especially on overpasses, bridges, or roads that don’t get lit by much sunlight, as this is where frost tends to accumulate.

Tires – With the sudden changes in temperature, tires can contract and expand which results in them losing air pressure so you need to monitor them closely.  Under inflated tires can increase fuel consumption and effect the way the vehicle handles, it is also a major cause of tire failure so be sure to check your tire pressure once a month.

Fog – Fall can be a damp, wet season here in Massachusetts, and we will likely see a lot of dark, foggy mornings and nights.  Keep your lights on during these foggy days, but do not put your high beams on as this can distract other drivers and restrict their visibility.

Back to School Traffic – Fall means back to school season, and there are going to be more pedestrians, school buses, and traffic along with it.  Be extra alert and mindful of speed limits in school zones, and near areas where children tend to be such as playgrounds and athletic fields.  For more in depth safety tips during back to school season, check another one of our blogs which has a ton of back to school  driving safety tips.

Autumn creates some unique driving hazards that many would not typically think of.  Understanding these dangers will make you a better, and safer driver, so be sure to keep these tips in mind!

Photo By: Michael Sprague

 

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