Car Safety Tips


Back To School Driving Safety

school bus

It’s that time of year again, back to school season is here! With back to school comes the return of school buses, school zones, and young kids running here there and everywhere.  What does that mean for drivers?  It means it’s probably a good idea to refresh your memory when it comes to back to school driving safety, so check out these helpful tips now that back to school season is in full swing.

  • School Buses – School buses are back on the road and it’s always good to have a quick reminder when it comes to the specific laws around school buses.  First off, they have red flashing lights and stop signs to alert drivers when they are about to stop.  School pupil transport vehicles have red flashing lights and “SCHOOL BUS” signs on top.  They use these signals as warnings letting students on and off.  If the lights are on and the sign is out, you MUST stop regardless of which side you’re traveling on, it’s the law.  The only exception is if a school bus has stopped on the other side of a divided highway with a barrier between travel directions.  That is the only time you do not have to stop.  If you violate this law, a first offense can get you a $250 fine or even a license suspension.  Be sure to go slow even once the stop signs are away and the lights stop flashing, children can often times run out on the street and surprise you, so proceed with caution.
  • School Zones – When it comes to school zones, you should not be going any faster than 20 MPH.  Be conscious of children crossing the street, riding bikes, school buses, and crossing guards.  Keep your foot above the brake at all times and be prepared for anything, children can be unpredictable and may jump out in front of you when you least expect it, so slow down and stay safe on the road.
  • Crosswalks – When you come to a crosswalk, you must yield to pedestrians as they have the right of way.  Look both ways and double check for children in the area.  Children may expect to cross at a crosswalk whenever they want, especially if they are young.  Some may not look before they cross, so don’t assume that they see you coming.   You may think the coast is all clear, but that might be the exact moment a child runs across the street after their toy that rolled into the street.  Double and triple check before proceeding with caution near crosswalks, playgrounds, and of course school zones.
  • Distracted Driving – Distracted driving is dangerous enough as it is, and there’s no reason to be on the phone when you’re driving, but if you’re in a school zone or anywhere near an area that kids gather, it becomes even more dangerous because children have been known to unexpectedly dart across the street, so you need to give the road your full attention.  If you’re a new driver under the age of 18, any and all cell phone use while driving is against the law.  Texting and any internet related activities are illegal for all drivers, although if you are over 18 it is legal to make a phone call while driving, but try to avoid doing so if you’re in a school zone, near a playground, or any other area where children gather.

Don’t forget to always check and re-check crosswalks before proceeding, go the speed limit or slower in school zones, avoid distracted driving, and be mindful of the laws associated with school buses.  We want drivers and of course pedestrians to stay safe on the roads, so keep these tips in mind this back to school season!

Photo By: Sean

Staying Safe In Construction Zones

construction zone

Whether you’re on the highway or a street in your neighborhood, road construction is a way of life for all drivers.  During the summer there is more construction going on than ever and not only can construction zones be dangerous for drivers, they can also pose a danger to the workers as well.  Keep these safety tips in mind next time you end up driving through a construction zone.

  • The best piece of advice we can give when it comes to construction zones is to avoid them.   Not only do they cause traffic, the more cars there are the more potential there is for an accident.  511 is know as America’s Traveler Information Telephone Number and can provide you with the best and safest routes available, even if you’re just commuting to work.  You can find information about various coverage areas from 5:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, and from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays. You can visit their website to get real-time traffic updates and create customized alerts! Another great tool we love?  The Waze traffic app that is updated in real time by other users on the road and provides the best and most updated routes taking traffic into consideration.
  • If you do find yourself approaching one of those bright orange signs reading “construction ahead” and don’t have time to take an alternate route, make sure you obey the posted speed limit.  Speeding is one of the biggest hazards for both drivers and construction workers.  If you’re speeding 10 miles over the limit and suddenly need to change lanes, you could potentially cause a major accident if you’re not able to get over in time.  You will also face big fines if you’re caught speeding in a construction zone, typically they are doubled and police officers do not take enforcement lightly.
  • When it comes to merging, the biggest risk factors are merging too late or at a high speed.  Both can result in deadly collisions and even if an accident does not occur, no one likes that person that waits until the last possible second to merge in an attempt to beat just a few more cars.  Get over as soon as possible and make sure you are going at a speed that is safe for yourself and your fellow drivers.
  • Be aware!  You need to be totally focused on your surroundings, not only the other cars, construction signs, and detours, but also the workers and their vehicles.  Construction vehicles may be working closely to the highway and it’s important to make sure they are able to see you as many have bad blind spots.  Some of them may even move onto the highway and come extremely close to oncoming traffic, and are slow to maneuver if an emergency ever did arise.  Workers are often located on the shoulders of highways so keep an eye out for them as well.

As always, safety is the top priority when it comes to driving.  Even though construction zones can be painful to sit through and delay your commute, they are unavoidable and it’s important to be as safe as possible when you find yourself in one.

Photo By: Bill Selak

May Is Global Youth Traffic Safety Month!

teen driver

The National Organizations For Youth Safety is celebrating Global Youth Traffic Safety Month again this May!  The official U.S. launch was on May 8th in Washington, D.C.  and it’s an important initiative to unite youth across the country to focus on the leading cause of death for them and their peers: traffic related crashes.  In honor of this month, we’ve contacted driving schools across Massachusetts and gotten some top tips for new drivers from the schools’ owners, instructors, and even a police officer!  These tips are coming straight from the experts, so be sure to share them with your new driver and make sure they’re staying safe on the road!

  • Parents and teens need to respect and obey junior operator laws.  Teens need to focus on driving without distractions for the first 6 months of driving.  As teens get more experienced and better at driving, they get more confident and their speed creeps up.  This can be both good and bad, they are now keeping up with the flow of traffic but going too fast and being distracted can lead to accidents which is why it’s so important for them to focus.  Parents also need to list their teen on their insurance policy, and if the teen isn’t listed on your policy, don’t let them drive your car!  If they were ever to invite their friend along for a ride in a parent’s car and get into an accident while they were still a junior operator, not only is that against the law and dangerous, but it also creates insurance issues for the parent.  Obeying the junior operator makes everything safer and easier for both teens and parents.  – Driving instructor and Police Officer Dave Avery, Avon Auto Academy
  • Look ahead and be aware of what other drivers on the road are doing, for example if you see brake lights or a traffic light ahead, slow down.  Try and think a step ahead so that you can prepare for what’s coming on the road! – Donna, Elm Auto School
  • Make sure you come to a FULL stop at stop signs, which lasts for 3 seconds.  If you’re stopped behind the line but can’t see if any cars are coming, pull up a little and stop again.  – Sarah Warren, Lexington Driving School
  • When you’re on the entrance ramp of the highway and are about to merge, look for a gap in highway traffic into which you can safely move.  Remember to yield the right-of-way to drivers already on the highway.  Never stop short at the end of the on-ramp, instead take the on-ramp slowly while preparing to merge.  Always, always, ALWAYS signal so that drivers are aware that you plan to enter the highway.  Upon leaving the on-ramp and entering the flow of traffic, you must accelerate to match the speed of vehicles already on the highway.  In a perfect world other drivers would move over to let you onto the highway but that doesn’t always happen, so be alert and plan your merge accordingly! – Molly Sullivan and Anthony Parolisi, Methuen Auto School
  • Before you do anything, whether it’s merging, making a turn, or pulling out of your driveway, the two most important things to remember are to signal and look!  Put your directional on and make sure you look both ways before doing anything, it will keep you safe and make sure that all other drivers are aware of what direction you plan on going. – Jay, Chelmsford Auto School

These are great things for all drivers to keep in mind, but especially those that are new to the road.  These great tips are easy to remember and cover the most important things that new drivers should focus on.  Share these with any new driver you may know in honor of Global Youth Traffic Safety Month, stay safe!

Photo By: State Farm

Keeping Your Teen Safe On The Road This Summer

teen driver

Did you know that summer is the most dangerous time of year for teens to be on the road? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest for drivers between ages 15-20.   It makes sense, less time in school, more time for parties, going to the beach, road trips, and endless other places to drive to during the summer season. Don’t let your teen become another statistic, share these safety tips with them and help them practice safe driving this summer!  Remember to set a good example as well, teens pick up habits from other drivers that they observe and you don’t want them to think it’s ok to send a quick text or ditch their seat belt just because they’re going somewhere close.  These tips may seem like common sense to some, but new drivers  don’t have as much experience behind the wheel and may not consider things that drivers with a little more experience would consider obvious.

  • Click it or ticket!  Wearing your seat belt is not only a good idea, but it’s also the law here in Massachusetts.  New drivers may think it’s no big deal to hop in the car and ride down the street to the store without their seat belt just because it’s close, but accidents can happen anywhere. Make sure your teen knows just how important it is to wear your seat belt.  Did you know that drivers and passengers increase their risk of injury or death by up to 50% by not wearing a safety belt?  Those are odds you don’t want to gamble with so remind your teen of the importance of their seat belt and set a good example when you’re driving as well!
  • Talk To Your Teen About Car Maintenance – Again, some things that may seem obvious to experienced drivers may not be so clear to teens.  Make sure your teen knows how to check their tire pressure, put air in the tires, knows how often they need an oil change and tire rotation, and knows how to check and replace the car’s fluids.  A problem as small as low tire pressure can cause the car to handle differently, and may even potentially lead to an accident.  Make sure your teen knows exactly what to look for when it comes to their car.
  • Understand the Dangers of Distracted Driving – Although teens are the least experienced drivers on the road, they are typically the most likely to use their cell phones when behind the wheel.  Averting your eyes from the road for even five seconds, or the amount of time it takes to send a quick text, can lead to a major accident.  Even having too many passengers in a car can be a major distraction, paying attention to friends, music, and the road all at the same time is difficult for any driver, but especially those with little experience. If your teen still has their junior operator license, make sure they are following the rules and regulations that go along with that, which can be found here.
  • Communicate the Danger of Drinking And Driving – Again, this may seem obvious but it’s still a good idea to sit down with your teen and make sure they understand exactly how important this is.  Underage drinking continues to be an issue and although there are attempts to crack down on it, teens still find access to alcohol and it’s important that parents communicate how dangerous and deadly drinking and driving can be.  Make sure your teen knows not to drive themselves, or get into the car with anyone that has had a drink.
  • Limit Unnecessary Trips – Unless your teen has a purpose for their outing, they shouldn’t be going out “just for a drive”.  The less time they spend on the road, the less likely they are to be in an accident.
  • Make Sure Your Teen Knows Where They Are Going – If your teen is taking a trip to the beach or a concert, make sure they know exactly how to get there to prevent getting lost.  If their destination is nearby, take a test drive out there with them and make sure they know exactly where they’re going. If their destination is too far for a convenient test drive, make sure they have a GPS system, and fully charged cell phone to use in case of emergency.

These tips will help your teen make smart decisions and stay safe on the road this summer.  Make sure they understand how important it is for them to give the road their undivided attention, distractions while driving have caused fatal accidents in the past, and the sad thing is that they are typically preventable.  The sooner your teen understands these tips, the safer they will be!

Photo By: State Farm

Driving In The Rain? Follow These Safety Tips!

rain driving

Although us New Englanders are used to driving in the wettest, slickest, and foggiest conditions, we can always use a quick reminder on how to safely drive in the rain.  The most important things to remember are making sure you are visible to other drivers and that you yourself can see.  These tips will keep you safe and are great to share with friends, family, and co workers!

  • First, make sure that your vehicle is rain ready.  Make sure that your wind shield wipers are securely attached and not bent or deteriorating, after a rough winter like the one we just had, it may be a good idea to replace your wipers.  You should also check and be sure that all lights are working, especially your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals, as it is extremely important to remain visible to other drivers.  As soon as you get in your car, turning on the headlights should be the first thing you do if it is raining.
  • You should also check your tires before driving in the rain, make sure they have enough tread and aren’t bald.  Bald tires can not grip the ground or create traction which makes it much easier to hydroplane.
  • Did you know that hydroplaning can occur at only 30 MPH?  Slow down!  Driving in the rain is dangerous enough without speeding, it may even be smart to go slower than the posted limit, depending on the severity of the weather.   
  • Keep your distance from other cars, especially large trucks since they can splash up some major water and mud that can make visibility even worse.  It’s also a good idea to keep about three car lengths between you and the car in front of you while driving.  Stopping takes longer when it is raining, and if the roads are slick it can be even more difficult to stop in time, and if you rear end someone you are technically at fault!
  • Try and avoid driving through large puddles, the water can cause some hefty damage to the brakes or electrical systems in cars.  If you do happen to go through a large puddle, test your brakes once you are through just to be sure they are working properly.  If you find your brakes are not working, they are likely too wet to function and the only way to dry them out quickly is by lightly tapping on them repeatedly to generate heat and dry them.
  • If you find your windows fogging up, turn on the defroster to clear off the windows.
  • If you follow these tips you should be able to safely get to and from your destination in the rain, however accidents happen.  If you do find yourself skidding out when it’s raining, take your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want to go.  If you have a car with anti-lock brakes, hit them firmly while steering the car where you want to go, if your car does not have anti-lock brakes, do not use the brakes.
  • Always remember, if it is raining so hard that you can’t see, pull over!  It’s better to wait the rain out than to endanger yourself or other drivers.

There you have it!  Now you can head out into the rain a little more prepared than you were before, and can share these important safety tips with other drivers!

Photo By: faungg

Talking To Your Teen About Distracted Driving

teen driver

In honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness month, we wanted to continue spreading the awareness and give you some tips for talking to your teenager about the dangers of distracted driving.  Teens are some of the most frequent texters, tweeters, and social media addicts out there, and phones are staples of our daily lives in today’s world.  It can be difficult to put our phones down even for a moment, but in the moment it takes to respond to a text or look at your phone, anything can happen.

Although it can be difficult to unplug from your mobile device while driving, it’s necessary to fully concentrate on the task at hand.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers.  These accidents can be prevented, and talking to your teens and setting a good example for them are some of the most important things you can do for your young driver.  The following facts, figures, and tips will come in handy when you sit down with your teen to talk about the dangers of distracted driving.

According to a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center for drivers ages 16-21, nearly half of the respondents said they had talked on their handheld phone while driving in the past 30 days.  Although this statistic is not surprising, it is nevertheless frightening to know that so many drivers on the road are endangering their own lives as well as the lives of other drivers and pedestrians.  The majority of drivers acknowledged such behavior as dangerous, but 48% of respondents said they had witnessed a parent talking on their phone while driving in the past 30 days, which is why it’s extremely important to set a good example for your children or any young drivers that you interact with.

It doesn’t hurt that it is illegal in Massachusetts for anyone under the age of 18 to use their cell phone while driving.  Remind your children of the penalties associated with distracted driving.  The first offense will get you a $100 ticket, plus a potential license suspension.  Once your teenager has their license and therefore freedom, they won’t want to lose it.  Knowing in the back of their mind that they could potentially lose their license if caught, they will be more likely to think twice before picking up their phone while behind the wheel.  You should also remind your young driver how important they are to you, and how much it would affect you if anything ever happened to them.  If they understand that their actions can have a serious impact on others, they may be less likely to take unnecessary risks.

Giving your children the facts and talking to them really can make a difference!  According to the same survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center, concern about distracted driving convinced about three fourths of those surveyed to stop or decrease such behavior.  More than 60% say they were influenced after reading or hearing about the problem, 40% were convinced by related bans (such as the one here in MA that prohibits any cell phone use by drivers under the age of 18), and almost 30% by their family talking to them.  Your actions as a parent can make a huge impact on your child!  Young drivers learn by example, so set a good one!

Photo By: State Farm

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

distracted driving

The National Safety Council is recognizing April as distracted driving awareness month!  Many of us are guilty of it, but distracted driving is a dangerous habit that does not only jeopardize the person who is driving, but also anyone else on the road in that vicinity.  When you take a second to pick up your phone or read a text, you take your eyes off of the road for the split second it takes for an accident to occur. Thousands of people die every year because of distracted driving, help spread awareness this April, and set a good example for your own friends and family to follow!

So, how can you help?  First, you can take the pledge to drive cell free.  Starting with your own habits is the best way to end distracted driving, and from there you can convince others to follow your lead.  Did you know that the NSC estimates that 25% of car crashes involve cell phone use?  Those crashes are entirely preventable, and driving is a task that requires the driver’s undivided attention.  Drivers need to have their hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and brain focused on driving.  All three of those things are necessary to drive safely, and ANY cell phone use behind the wheel(even hands free)  is dangerous.

So what else can you do?  Spread the word!  Tell your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone who will listen about the dangers of distracted driving!  If someone calls you while they’re driving, tell them to call you back once they reach their destination.  There are many common myths and misconceptions about distracted driving, and although many people think they can multi-task, it is impossible for the brain to focus on the conversation you are having as well as the road.  You can read more about distracted driving myths in this infographic from the NSC called The Great Multitasking Lie.

If you’re wondering why cell phone use is being targeted as such a dangerous distraction while driving, it’s because there are many more drivers being distracted by cell phone use than anything else!  How often do you see someone putting on makeup or digging around in their car for something?  Definitely not as often as someone is on their cell phone, in fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about 9% of all drivers are talking on their cell phones at any given daylight moment.  This fact sheet from the NSC has more information regarding the scary truths about distracted driving.

Here in Massachusetts, certain types of distracted driving are even illegal.  Using your phone for texting or any internet-related activity is illegal for all drivers in the state, but drivers under 18 are prohibited from any and all cell phone use while driving.  What happens if you get caught texting and driving?  The fine for a first offense is $100, and after that it only goes up.  A second offense will get you a ticket for $250, and after that $500!  Sending a quick text can get pretty pricey if you get caught!  Police officers are having a difficult time enforcing the law, but they are employing new methods to catch distracted drivers!  You can read more about these methods and driving laws here.

If you’re not fully convinced of the dangers of distracted driving, the NSC has compiled these stories from family members of distracted driving victims, the sad thing is that these incidents could have been prevented if the driver simply ignored their phone.  So take the pledge, and start spreading the word about distracted driving this April!

Photo By: OregonDOT

 

Prepare Your Car For Spring!

spring driving

Don’t you feel like we just told you how to prepare your car for winter?  Well it’s officially spring (even if it doesn’t feel like it), and there are a few small tips you should follow when it comes to your car and the change of seasons.  These small preparations can prevent serious damage, and if you do notice an issue with your car, you can fix it before it causes more damage to yourself or your vehicle.

  • Tires – You need to keep a close eye on your tires right after winter.  This winter has been especially treacherous in terms of snow and ice, so your tires have definitely taken a beating.  Check the tread and make sure your tires aren’t bald, you want to have plenty of traction when the April showers begin.  You should also check the air pressure and make sure it is at the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, which can be found in your owner’s manual.  Finally, if you’re using snow tires, switch them over to summer tires or all season tires.
  • Fluids – It is very important to make sure the fluids in your vehicle are all at the proper levels.  Most fluid bottles have a dipstick or fill line so you know exactly how much is needed, if you’re not sure which fluid bottles are where, your owner’s manual most likely has a guide.  The most important fluid to check is the windshield wiper fluid!  A lot of this can get used up during the winter months, when your car is at its dirtiest and you’re constantly trying to see out your window so make sure you atleast check that fluid level.
  • Windshield Wipers – Speaking of your windshield, check those wipers!  Snow and ice can do some serious damage to your wiper blades after a long, snowy winter.  Now that it’s spring, consider investing in a new pair if your current ones have some damage.  Cars usually have specific sized blades so bring your current wiper blade with you when you go shopping for new ones, that way the associate can find an exact match.  You don’t want to get caught in the rain with a faulty pair of wipers, not only is it dangerous for you, it’s also dangerous for other drivers on the road if you can’t clearly see your surroundings.
  • Belts and Hoses – We know not everyone is a mechanic, but anyone can check a few basic things under the hood.  First, check the belts that you see, pull on them and if they’re loose, take your car over to your local mechanic and have him take a look at them.  When it comes to hoses, check for any visible cracks or leaks that you may see.  If you catch certain problems early enough, it can prevent you from having to pay an arm and a leg for a major repair down the road.
  • Spring Cleaning – Spring time means spring cleaning!  Take your car over to your local car wash and get it spruced up.  All of the slush and salt on the roads during the winter can get your ride looking pretty grimy by the time spring rolls around, so get it looking shiny and new with a fresh wash and wax.  You may also want to consider getting the interior cleaned too, nothing like a little spring cleaning to get yourself organized.

Now that spring has sprung, take a look at these tips and see how many apply to your vehicle.  If you’re unsure about anything under the hood, it’s best to take it to your mechanic for a check up just to ensure everything is running smoothly.  Taking your car in for a check up or to have preventative measures taken is the best way to save your money and prevent serious and expensive damage down the road, so follow these tips and keep your car looking shiny and new for another season!

Photo By: fauxto_digit

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day Safety Tips

designated driver

The big day is almost here!  St. Patrick’s Day is a major holiday here in Massachusetts, and we know how much everyone loves to enjoy some Guinness and green beer, however, even though it’s a party we all need to behave responsibly for our own safety, and the safety of those around us.  Don’t let us stop you from enjoying the day, but we do want to give you some tips that will help you get home safely and avoid any trouble along the way.

  • Designate a driver.   Yes we know this tip is overused but it is honestly so important!  Knowing you have a safe ride home at the end of the night will allow you to enjoy the festivities that much more, whether it’s a friend in your group or a sober family member that comes to get you at the end of the night, avoid driving if you have been drinking at all!  If you have underage siblings that can drive, offer them a few bucks to be your chauffeur for the night!
  • Leave your keys at home.  If you don’t have your keys, you won’t be tempted to drive anywhere.  Both local and state cops will be cracking down on drunk drivers especially hard this weekend, and there will be many more roadblocks out than usual so you don’t want to get caught in a bad situation.  If you’re going out for a few drinks, don’t even give yourself the ability to get behind the wheel, leave your keys at home!
  • If you’re going to be out in Boston, we recommend utilizing public transit or cabs for your travels.  Due to the festivities taking place across the city, some MBTA service routes will be operating on a special schedule or will be diverting their routes.  The St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston will be a major source of congestion, and buses will not be able to service the Andrews or Broadway T station beginning at 11 AM, although Red Line services will still be available.  The details regarding the altered MBTA bus routes can be found here.  Commuter rail lines will run on their typical Sunday schedule, and their will be no disruption in T service.  In terms of cab service, this list of companies has been authorized by the City of Boston.
  • Other cities across the state also have cab service available so the above tip does not only apply to those that are celebrating in Boston.  Look up cab companies that service your city prior to going out, you’ll be glad that you have a few options to call since many smaller cab companies get extremely busy on St. Patrick’s day, and the wait time can get longer and longer as the night goes on.
  • If you do notice someone driving that appears intoxicated, contact the authorities right away.  You should be able to tell them the color, make and model of the car, license plate number, and the direction that they were traveling in.  Drunk drivers do not only endanger themselves, they put the lives of innocent people in danger with their own actions and should be pulled over before they harm themselves or anyone else.

The luck o’ the Irish won’t get you out of trouble if you’re caught driving while intoxicated, so use these tips and if you plan on drinking, avoid driving at all this St. Patty’s Day.  Not to sound like a broken record but not only are you endangering your own life by drinking and driving, but you’re also risking the lives of those around you, which is a risk no one should ever take!  We want everyone to enjoy the holiday while also staying safe and being responsible, so keep these tips in mind when you’re making your St. Patty’s day plans!

Photo By:  Caitlinator

Who’s the Better Driver? Men or Women?

Ah, the age old battle of the sexes. While you may have your own theories about which is the better driver, let’s let the facts speak for themselves. This infographic gives some great insight… so who is it gonna be?

Women's car insurance from Direct Line Direct Line Car Insurance
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