Car Safety Tips


Make Sure Your Car Is Ready For This Cold!

My goodness, it is a COLD one out there today. If you have to travel today, I hope it is not far and that you get there safe and warm! One way to help make sure you’ll arrive at your destination safe and warm is to ensure that your car is properly winterized. Cold weather, ice and snow present your car with challenges you didn’t have to think about during the summer months. Use this checklist to make sure your car is up-to-date and ready for these freezing temps!

Winterize Your Car: A Checklist for Getting Your Vehicle Ready for the Snowy Season by MassDrive

Winter Driving Tips

snow driving

Whether you’re excited for the snow or not, it’s important to be sure you are staying safe!  Keep these tips in mind when venturing out into the snow this winter, for many of you these tips are refreshers but it’s always good to have a reminder to stay safe!

  • If you must venture out onto icy or snowy roads, wait until after the sand trucks and plows have gone by.  They should be able to break down the worst of the snow and will make it much easier for you in the long run.  Even if you have to wait a while for them to service your street, trying to drive on roads that have not been plowed or sanded is not only dangerous, but will take much longer anyways so staying inside until the plows and sanding trucks have gone by is worth the wait.
  • If you are on the road with plows and sanding trucks, DO NOT try to pass them.  Many of them have limited visibility, especially if it is snowing out.  Even though they are pretty slow, the plus side to being behind one of these trucks is that the road will be freshly plowed or sanded and that much easier to navigate.
  • Give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination, there is no doubt that the snow or ice on the road will slow you down or create traffic, so be sure to leave with plenty of time to spare.
  • Decrease your speed and leave more than enough room between yourself and the car in front of you in case you have to stop.  You don’t want to skid out on  ice and rear end the person in front of you, an accident in which you would be at fault!
  • Ride the brake when driving in snow or ice, it will help you avoid skidding out and will keep you at a safe speed!  If you do start to skid out or your wheels lock up, slowly ease up on the brake until you come to a stop.
  • If there is any type of precipitation, make sure that your lights are on.  Even if it is still light out,  rain or snow can limit visibility for many drivers so you want to make every effort to remain visible on the road.
  • If you know in advance that it’s going to snow, be sure that your windshield wipers are working properly, you don’t want to get caught in the middle of a storm with a malfunctioning wiper blade!
  • Make sure you have an ice scraper in your car!  You don’t want to get stuck waiting inside your car while the defroster melts the ice on your windows.
  • Be extra careful on bridges and overpasses, these tend to freeze first and even though there may not be any ice on other parts of the road, these areas are notorious for black ice so reduce your speed and remain aware when traveling over these.
  • If your vehicle has four-wheel drive, use it!  It may use up more gas but will make your commute through the snow much easier and will provide more traction and decrease your chances of skidding out.

The most important piece of advice we can offer is to stay indoors!  Don’t drive on roads that are snowy and icy unless you absolutely must, and if you do then make sure that you are properly insured and know who to call should anything happen!  If you have any questions or would like a quick quote give us a call at MassDrive!  Our agents would be happy to answer any and all questions you may have and will make every effort to get you the lowest premium possible!

Special thanks to weather.com for many of these tips!

Photo By: Ruthanne Reid

 

Car Seat Installation Checklist

Properly installing a car seat is one of the most important aspects of keeping your child safe while driving. From ensuring you have the right size seat for your car to resources to learn more about carseats for children, the Car Seat Install Checklist from MassDrive will help you keep your little one safe on the road. Download now and stay safe out there with your family!

Installing a Car Seat Checklist

Traveling With Pets Checklist

At MassDrive, we love our pets! Some of our favorite days here in the office are when our pets come to visit. We understand that it just wouldn’t be a family vacation without your furry friends, and that traveling with your pet can be difficult. Bringing your pet along on a long car ride isn’t quite a walk in the park, but traveling prepared can help make the trip safe and comfortable for everyone. Download our interactive MassDrive Traveling with Pets Checklist to ensure that you and your pet have a happy, safe journey wherever you may be driving.

Happy travels!

Traveling with Pets Checklist

Travel Tips For Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel days of the year, friends and family driving across towns, cities, even states to spend the day with their loved ones.  There are a lot of things to keep in mind when traveling, whether you’re taking public transit or driving yourself.   Be sure that you are minmizing stress and maximizing on family time this year with these tips!

  • If you’re driving to visit relatives this year and know you will be going through a toll, consider getting an E-ZPass.  The transponder attaches to the front window of your car and is linked to one of your credit/debit cards or a checking account.  Once you go through the E-ZPass lane when paying a toll, your transponder is scanned and the money is taken right out of your account!  That’s definitely much easier and less time consuming than waiting in line to pay with cash.  If you do plan on paying with cash, try and find out exactly which tolls you will be going through and how much they cost, that way you can have your money ready and waiting when it is your turn to pass through.
  • Plan your route in advance and plan an alternative route should your original option be a traffic nightmare.  Be sure that you have any necessary directions at your disposal either via GPS or designate the front passenger as your navigator.
  • Stressing about traffic?  Not anymore!  Check out our blog on Traffic Apps that will help you save time and avoid the rush when traveling to your intended destination.  No one likes sitting in traffic, but especially not when there’s a huge delicious meal waiting for you!  These apps all have unique qualities so check them out and decide which one is right for you!
  • If you are traveling via the MBTA, the majority of commuter rail and T lines will be operating on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving day itself.  However, the Fairmount, Greenbush, Kingston/Plymouth, and Needham commuter rail lines will not be operating at all on Thanksgiving.  To accomodate riders going to and from Logan Airport, the Silver Line will be adding additional service during peak travel times before the holiday, and continuing until Tuesday, November 27, 2012.   For more detailed information on each specific line,buses, and the ferry click here.
  • If you will be flying during the holiday weekend, allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the airport and get through security, as there will likely be a large volume of passengers all weekend and lines will be longer.  Also, be sure to check the status of your flight at least 24 hours in advance to be sure that it is scheduled to depart/arrive on time.  You can visit www.massport.com  for a list of arrival/departure info.
  • The most important tip we can offer is don’t drink and drive!  If you plan on having a few drinks designate a driver!  Driving during the holidays is always dangerous because of the extra heavy volume of cars, you don’t want to risk adding alcohol into the mix!
  • Before you head out on your holiday excursion, be sure you are properly insured!  If you have any questions regarding coverages or would like a quote, give us a call at MassDrive!  Any one of our agents would be happy to help you this holiday season!

We want everyone to have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving so follow these tips to be sure you’re staying safe and beating the traffic this holiday!

Photo By: epSos.de

 

 

Winterize Your Car: A Checklist for Getting Your Vehicle Ready for the Snowy Season

Whether you’re ready or not, winter is coming! Winter driving can be dangerous, so make sure to prepare your car for the season. With this checklist from MassDrive, you’ll be ready for winter driving in no time.

Winterize Your Car: A Checklist for Getting Your Vehicle Ready for the Snowy Season

Trick Or Treating Safety!

It’s hard to believe that Halloween is tomorrow but before you know it costumed children will be wandering the streets in search of endless amounts of candy!  This can be a nightmare for both drivers and nervous parents since the excitement of the holiday can sometimes distract from basic safety.  When you’re out and about tomorrow night, keep these tips for drivers and trick or treaters in mind to ensure that everyone stays as safe as possible!

Drivers:

  • Find out exactly when children will be trick or treating in your neighborhood!  Each town varies but it should be listed either on the town website or in the local paper.  It’s definitely important to know and during designated trick or treating times try to avoid residential streets that will be busy with children or totally stay off the road if possible.
  • Turn on headlights earlier than usual, the extra visibility doesn’t hurt especially since it has been darker than usual the last few days thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
  • The most important thing that drivers can do is to stay as vigilant as possible, drive slower on residential streets, or anywhere that visibility is limited, and remain aware of children that are trick or treating and may unexpectedly jump out in front of cars.
  • As always, do not text and drive and try to limit any cell phone usage on Halloween unless it is an emergency.  Halloween is very busy on the roads and dangerous for trick or treaters so it is especially important to give the road your full attention!

Trick Or Treaters and Parents:

  • Make sure trick or treaters are as visible as possible, bright costumes are great but reflective tape and flashlights are even better.  If your trick or treater doesn’t want to ruin the look of their costume with reflective sneakers or gear, try and attach reflective tape to their candy bag!  Flashlights are another great way to remain visible to drivers, just make sure the batteries are new or fully charged before going out.
  • Plan your route in advance!  This is especailly important after the hurricane, make sure there are no road obstacles, power lines, or branches blocking your expected route so that you can make alternative plans if that is the case.  Try and avoid roads that you know are busy with cars, odds are they will get even more backed up on Halloween and be that much more dangerous.
  • Respect your neighbors, only trick or treat at houses that have outside lights on.  Some neighborhood residents may not wish to participate or may be away so do not approach a house if it is in darkness. Don’t allow children to cut across driveways or run accross lawns which may upset some neighbors.  Also, abide by designated trick 0r treating times.  Don’t show up too early before your neighbors may be expecting visitors and try to finish up by the deadline, we know it’s tough to walk away from candy but sometimes you have to draw the line before a sugar rush kicks in.
  • Be practical in your costume choices, try to avoid costumes that drag on the ground as they are a hazard that could cause children to trip and fall, not a good scenario when the roads are busy as well.  Another thing to keep in mind is footwear.  Trick or treaters are going to have to cover a lot of ground if they are going to get as much candy as possible which is why footwear is so important.  Kids will be walking through lawns, up hills, and for longer distances than many are used to, so make sure they have comfortable shoes, preferably sneakers.  Although pirate boots and princess shoes add to the costume, they are not practical for children who will be out trick or treating.
  • Make sure that any props (such as sticks, swords, wands, etc) children may have for their costume are flexible so that they can’t cause injury.  Also, make sure any masks they may be wearing provide full visibility and let them breathe.
  • Parents, make sure to pay extra attention during Halloween, keep your trick or treaters close by and instruct them to walk, not run from house to house.  Hold hands for children that are extremely small and try to stay in a big group if possible.

Whether you are checking out some of these haunted Halloween attractions, taking a haunted drive, or even visiting Salem, keep these important safety tips in mind!  They apply to drivers everywhere and are good to keep in mind not only for trick or treaters, but anyone out on foot for Halloween!

Photo By: Scott & Elaine van der Chijs

 

Fall Driving Tips

Now that fall is officially here, there are some important tips to remember when it comes to driving.  With the change of seasons comes a change in driving conditions, and there are important rules of the road to remember for each time of year.  Even though we are not yet dealing with snow on the ground (knock on wood),  there are other dangers to watch out for and work around while driving.  These tips will give you a quick refresher on what exactly to look out for:

Wet Leaves – The brightly colored leaves on the trees are one of the most beautiful parts of the season, however once they begin to fall off the trees we have a problem.  Wet leaves are extremely slick and can be just as dangerous as ice on the road.  They reduce traction making it easier to skid out or hydroplane if it’s raining.  Another hazard?  They can also cover up the yellow and white lines that divide lanes which limits visibility and creates dangerous conditions for yourself and others on the road.  Treat slick leaves on the road as you would ice, drive slowly and cautiously and be extra aware of other drivers.  Being a defensive driver could save your life, even if you are obeying all of the rules of the road, other drivers may not be.  Stay alert and watch for any unsafe behavior such as speeding or weaving in and out of lanes, especially when there are wet leaves on the ground.

Frost – Hard to believe it but sooner than later we will be waking up to a fresh coat of frost on our windshields.  You know what that means?  Stocking our cars with ice scrapers and turning up the defroster!  Make sure that you’re prepared for your morning commute, there’s nothing worse that running late because you have to wait for your windshield to defrost.  Now that it’s getting colder, frost will not only accumulate on your windshield but in cold, wet areas on the road as well.  Be especially cautious near bridges with water underneath them.  The combination of cold air and the water underneath the bridge causes the temperature of that part of the road to drop lower than other areas of the road, creating black ice.  Areas underneath overpasses can also be dangerous because they get little to no sunlight.  Pay extra close attention during the early morning and evening hours, typically the darkest and coldest times of day.

Driving In The Dark – We lose a minute of sunlight each day in the fall, and until we turn our clocks back in October it will only keep getting darker earlier at night and later in the morning.  After enjoying the daylight until about 9 PM in the summer months, it can be quite an adjustment driving in the dark on your way home from work now that fall is here.  As the days pass it is only going to get darker sooner, so don’t forget to adjust your headlights both in the morning and at night.  This is especially important in thickly settled districts, it will be much harder to see children playing outside, bike riders, and even people doing yard work outside once it starts to get dark in the early evening.  Remember to adjust your headlight accordingly if you don’t have automatic ones, and be extra cautious when driving during the dark evening hours.

Prepare Your Car For Winter – It’s never too early to be prepared!  Winterizing your car is a process that takes multiple steps and it’s never too early to start!  As we mentioned earlier, make sure you have an ice scraper in your car so that you’re prepared for any frost that may potentially slow your commute.  You should also set aside some time to have your vehicle looked at by a professional, make sure the brakes, heater, lights, battery, fluids, and defroster are all working.  You don’t want to be stranded or have any car troubles when the temperatures drop!  We will post even more tips to winterize your car once the snowy season is closer, but for now these tasks will set you on your way to a winterized vehicle ready to take on the snow!

As always, one of the most important tips we can offer is to make sure you are properly insured.  Accidents are much more likely to occur during the colder months due to slick roads, which is why it’s so important to make sure you are covered!  Give us a call or click MassDrive to get a quote from one of our agents today!

Photo By: visualthinker

 

School’s Back In Session, Don’t Forget These Rules Of The Road!

Back to school season is here!  You know what that means?  More school buses, student drivers, and school zone speed traps to look out for.  In case you need a refresher course on some of the rules of the road we’ve listed a few below, pay close attention, you never know when there might be a pop quiz!

School Zones always come up quickly and it’s important to slow down and follow the speed limit for the safety of the nearby students as well as yourself.  Don’t forget:

  • The speed limit in a school zone is 20 MPH.
  • School zones have a sign with the posted speed limit and either flashing lights during the hours that the speed limit is in effect, or will state those hours on the school zone sign itself.
  • Don’t forget to keep an eye out for crossing guards or any nearby children that are walking or riding bikes.

Now that students are back in school, school buses are back on the road!  Bet you missed seeing them on your morning commute right?  Similar to fire trucks, there are a few specific laws that apply to these vehicles while driving:

  • You must keep a distance of 100 feet between your car and a school bus.
  • You must come to a complete stop behind the bus if the red lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended, regardless of what side of the road you are on.  This is so students entering and exiting the bus can safely cross to either side of the street.  You must remain stopped until the lights stop flashing or the stop sign folds back.
  • A first violation of this law can lead to a license suspension and a fine of $250, so pay attention and keep your distance!

There are a few other laws that we wanted to point out that are good to remember especially when there are more students on the roads:

  • It is state law to yield to pedestrians at cross walks, whether they are already crossing or waiting to cross.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 (students, that means you!) are prohibited from using any and all mobile devices while driving, the only exception is to report an emergency.
  • Junior operators (drivers between the ages of 16 1/2 and 18 who have had their license for less than 6 months) are prohibited from driving between the hours of 12:30 AM – 5:00 AM unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Junior operators are prohibited from carrying passengers under the age of 18 (except for siblings) for the first 6 months of driving, this is an attempt to minimize distractions.

These are some of the most important rules to remember, especially now that students are back on the road!  Keep these laws in mind next time you are driving through a school zone, at a crosswalk, or behind a school bus.  Although these laws may slow us down at times, they save lives and benefit the students as well as the drivers!  Don’t forget to make sure you are properly insured!  Contact us at MassDrive for a quote and ask our reps about the different types of coverage you would need to make sure you are totally covered in case of an accident!

Photo By: Svadilfari

 

 

 

 

 

Time For An Oil Change? Find Out Why They Are So Important!

Getting your oil changed is necessary if you want to keep your car performing its best.  Think of an oil change like spring cleaning, you have to get rid of some junk so that things can run as efficiently as possible.  If you don’t do your “spring cleaning”, the junk will just continue to pile up and create an even worse situation. So, get the facts and learn why an oil change is so important, how often you should get one, and what happens if you don’t.

Making sure you have fresh oil is so important because it lubricates the many parts that comprise the engine.  It also acts as a cooling agent and prevents the engine from overheating.  Over time, oil becomes less effective thanks to exposure to heat, air, and moisture.  This results in the oxidation of the oil which causes it to thicken and become sludge like, once this happens the oil has lost its effectiveness and can no longer combat the dirt and metals that are constantly moving around the engine.  This debris is corrosive and slowly breaks down the engine.  If debris continues to scrape against the inside of the engine, it can lead to expensive repairs that could have easily been avoided by paying the $50 or so that it costs to get your oil changed.

There are many different types of oil to choose from, which can be overwhelming if you are unfamiliar with cars.  Basically there are two major types, conventional and synthetic.  The major difference is that the “base oil” used in synthetic oil is considered to be more “pure” because the molecules that comprise this oil are all made to be an ideal weight and consistent size.  All oil also has additives, which are mixed into the base oil to change the viscosity, protection properties  and heat breakdown levels of the oil.  The oil that is used in synthetic oil has more sophisticated additives that allow it to perform more consistently in extreme weather conditions.  Synthetic oil flows through the engine more easily which improves its lubricant properties which leads to it protecting the engine better than conventional oil.  Your owner’s manual should tell you the best option for your car, but it’s also important to take into account how many miles are on your car and what type of climate you live in.  If you have over 75,000 miles on your car or live in an area with extremely hot or cold temperatures, it may be wise to consider getting synthetic oil during your next oil change, even though it is slightly more expensive.

So how often should you change your oil?  There are mixed reviews out there, but the general consensus is that conventional oil should be changed every 3,000-5,000 miles, and synthetic oil (which lasts longer) should be changed every 5,000-7,000 miles.  However, every vehicle is different and your owner’s manual will give you the most accurate estimate for an oil change.  It’s also good to take into account factors that can shorten the life of your oil, such as extremely hot weather or frequently taking short trips.  So, be aware of your mileage and if you see the “change oil light” come on, change your oil ASAP!

We can’t stress enough how important it is to get your oil changed in a timely manner!  Putting it off can cause major damage to your engine which is one of the most expensive parts of a car to repair.  So keep watching your mileage, and definitely consult your owner’s manual to figure out which type of oil is best and to get a better idea of exactly how often your car is recommended to get its oil changed.  Taking these simple steps can save you some serious headaches and money in the future!

Information from: Firestone Complete Auto Care and Ezine Articles

Photo By: Robert Couse-Baker

 

 

 

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