Category Archives: Tips

Stay Safe on the Roads this Winter

winterdrivingWith the beautiful summer months behind us, winter is quickly approaching. Not surprisingly, car crashes drastically increase during the winter months (November-February) compared to the summer months. By following these simple winter driving tips, you can help to make roads safer and possibly save yourself from a costly accident.

• Clear snow and ice from windows and lights – It is important to make sure you can clearly see the roads to avoid ice and snow. Keeping your headlights and taillights clear will assure that others can see you and help to avoid being hit.

• Leave plenty of room for stopping – Roads get icy and slippery during the winter months, so it is important to give yourself plenty of room to stop in case of slick conditions.

• Check the current road conditions – Check the weather to see how the road conditions are near you. If they are very poor, avoid going out unless absolutely necessary.

• Pay attention – Look out for patches of ice and snow as they can be slippery and cause you to go off the road. Keep off of your cell phone and watch for others to make sure they are not braking quickly or pulling out in front of you.

• Slow down – Driving slower than usual can help to avoid going off the road on black ice or on slick snow.

In addition, remember to pack warm clothing, blankets, food, and water in your car in case of an emergency. Having a fully charged cell phone is also important, so that you can call for help if you need to. By following these simple guidelines, you can help to keep roads safer this winter.

Volkswagen Emissions Control System Recall

recallAccording to Consumer Reports, Volkswagen has admitted to circumventing the emissions control system in about 482,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. since 2008 with the 2.0-liter diesel engine, leading many people to refer to the situation as ‘Dieselgate.’ It is believed that as many as 11 million vehicles worldwide may be affected.

In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation to Volkswagen for failure to comply with Clean Air Act regulations. The EPA found that certain Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen models were emitting more pollutants than legally acceptable. There has been an ongoing investigation into which engines and models have violated the laws.

It is reported that the car maker has set aside 6.7 billion euros to help cover the costs of the recalls and another 2 billion euros for compensation payments related to its manipulations of carbon dioxide emission levels. According to the Center of Automobile Management in Germany, the costs of fines, lawsuits, and vehicle refits caused by the rigging of the diesel emissions tests could exceed 30 billion euros (about 34 billion dollars), making this one of the most complex and costly fixes in automobile history.

According to Consumerreports.com, the impacted models are:
• Audi A3 (2010-2015)
• Audi A6 Quattro (2014-2016)
• Audi A7 Quattro (2014-2016)
• Audi A8/A8L (2014-2016)
• Audi Q5 (2014-2016)
• Audi Q7 (2013-2015)
• Porsche Cayenne (2014-2016)
• Volkswagen Beetle, Beetle Convertible (2012-2015)
• Volkswagen Golf (2010-2015)
• Volkswagen Golf SportWagen (2015)
• Volkswagen Jetta, Jetta SportWagen (2009-2015)
• Volkswagen Passat (2012-2015)
• Volkswagen Touareg (2013-2016)

Find more info about the recall here: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/guide-to-the-volkswagen-dieselgate-emissions-recall-

The 10 Worst Days of the Year to Drive

Motorcycle-in-traffic-thumb-240xauto-4553According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, AAA, and other various sources, there are a number of days each year where it is clearly more dangerous on the road. The following are the top ten worst days of the year to drive:

1. Memorial Day Weekend – This holiday weekend is often considered to be the start of summer. Many people make special plans that typically involve traveling and there is an increase in alcohol consumption. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that about 44% of all traffic fatalities that occur over Memorial Day weekend are alcohol-related.

2. The first Monday after Daylight Saving Time starts – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that traffic fatalities on the Monday after changing to Daylight Saving Time increases by about 17 percent.

3. Black Friday – People flock to malls and stores, leading to overcrowded parking lots and increased traffic in concentrated areas. Progressive Insurance found that the number of claims on Black Friday doubled and parking lot claims rose by 36 percent, with many of the accidents being rear-end accidents.

4. NFL Game Day – The Highway Loss Data Institute did a study that revealed claim frequency around a stadium increases on game day. A home-team win only raises collision claims by about 3 percent, while a home-team loss raises claims by about 9 percent, likely due to aggressive driving.

5. Friday the 13th –A large UK insurance company, Aviva, found that collision claims went up by about 13 percent on Friday the 13th when compared with other days during the same month. No matter what season Friday the 13th fell in, the numbers always increased. The study also found that about 9 percent of drivers keep a lucky charm in their car.

6. New Year’s Day – Surprisingly it is New Year’s Day, not New Year’s Eve, which is more dangerous. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety data, January 1st ranked as the number 1 day of the year with the highest percent of deaths related to alcohol. New Year’s Day is also one of the highest days for car theft.

7. The 4th of July – According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, July 4th is the second deadliest day of the year for drunk drivers with about 42 percent of accidents involving a drunk driver.

8. Thanksgiving – An increased amount of cars on the road across the U.S. makes Thanksgiving one of the busiest travel periods during the year. Since Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday, many travelers are also on the road on that Wednesday.

9. Christmas –The Christmas season can be stressful for people, which can lead to more accidents. A state farm survey found that 32 percent of drivers were more likely to be aggressive and have road rage during the holidays.

10. St. Patrick’s Day – St. Patrick’s Day festivities typically include a lot of alcohol intake. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that two out of five car crash fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day involved a drunk driver.

Remember to take extra precautions when driving on these dangerous days!

Stolen Vehicle Crash Fatalities Up in Milwaukee

cartheft2

This year alone, 10 people were killed in Milwaukee car crashes involving a stolen vehicle. The victims were either occupants of a stolen vehicle or were in another vehicle involved in a stolen vehicle crash. This is a significant increase compared to previous years. According to the Milwaukee police, there were only 2 fatalities due to stolen vehicle accidents in 2014. The amount of stolen vehicle deaths this year represents about 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in Milwaukee in 2015.

What is even more troubling is that some of these accidents have involved teenagers. In November, two teenagers were killed in separate crashes in Milwaukee involving underage drivers without licenses. To see a list of all of the incidents involving stolen vehicles this year, see the article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here: http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/deaths-from-crashes-in-stolen-vehicles-up-sharply-in-milwaukee-b99623076z1-357239181.html

To avoid car theft, remember to always lock your car doors, park in well-lit areas, and lock garage doors. You should never leave your car running unattended or leave your windows open. For added security, you may want to consider installing a GPS tracking system or alarm system on your car. Also, do not leave valuable personal property in your car. Many car thefts happen when a high-value item is visible in a vehicle.

Bicycle Safety Reminders

black bikeDuring summer months, more people opt to use bicycles for transportation. Some bike to work, while others bike for recreation. No matter how long you have biked, why you bike, or where you bike, it is important to brush up on bicycle safety.
• Always wear a properly fitted helmet
• Check your equipment – Use the correct bike for the terrain, check tire pressure and brakes, and make sure your seat is at a proper height.
• Make yourself visible – Wear bright or reflective clothing, add lights and reflective tape to your bike, and use a bell or horn to alert pedestrians and drivers if you are passing nearby.
• Follow the rules of the road – Use turn signals, go with the traffic flow, obey traffic laws, yield to traffic appropriately, stay alert, and always look before turning or moving out of the bike lane.
• Avoid road hazards – Lookout for potholes, broken glass, gravel, storm grates, puddles, railroad tracks, etc.
• Avoid distractions – Do not talk or text on a phone while riding a bike, do not drink and ride, and always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars.
• Dress appropriately – Always wear comfortable shoes. Wear sunglasses, bike gloves, rain gear, etc. based on the weather conditions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides in-depth tips and information for bicyclists. Find additional resources here: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Bicycles

Drowsy Driving Can Cause Serious Accidents

DrowsyMainMany of us know about the risks of drunk driving, but what about drowsy driving? This issue received more attention recently when actor/comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured, and his friend was killed, after they were hit by a fatigued semi-truck driver. Unfortunately the reality is that an accident similar to this could happen to anyone.

Drowsy driving significantly increases the risk of a crash because like an intoxicated driver, the driver is less alert, has slow reaction time, and cannot respond safely if a dangerous situation arises. Approximately 30% of road crashes involve fatigued drivers.

It is important for each of us to recognize if we, or someone driving us, is being affected by driver fatigue. The signs of driver fatigue include:
• Having trouble focusing or narrowing attention
• Head nodding
• Inability to keep your eyes open
• Zoning out or suddenly not being able to remember the past few minutes
• Constant yawning or rubbing of eyes
• Drifting in and out of lanes
• Slow reaction time

The main causes of driver fatigue are lack of quality sleep, not enough sleep, and driving at times of the day when you would normally be sleeping. A variety of factors can influence the likelihood that you will become fatigued, such as if you have been awake for an extended period of time, the time of day you are driving, your sleep the night before, your level of physical or mental activity, or certain medications you take. The people prone to be more fatigued while driving are insomniacs, young drivers, shift workers, commercial drivers, and business travelers.

If you find you are riding in a car with a drowsy driver, offer to take over driving or have the driver take a break. If you notice that you are becoming drowsy while driving, acknowledge it, allow others to drive, and don’t try to continue driving when you are not in the proper state. Once you can recognize the signs and take control of the situation, you can significantly reduce the risk of a crash.

Be a Smart Pedestrian – Know How to Stay Safe!

pedestrianAs the seasons shift into spring and summer, people spend more time walking outside and enjoying the weather. While it is an exciting time, it is also a more vulnerable time for pedestrians. According to safekids.org, unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S. for children ages 5 to 19. However, teens are at the greatest risk with a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.
Motorists are responsible for looking out for pedestrians, but it is also important for pedestrians to be vigilant and take precautions to stay safe! We’ve gathered some tips to help you be a smart, safe pedestrian:

• Be alert! Put down your electronic devices! Any distractions prevent you from using all of your senses, which could result in an accident. Always look left, right, and left again when crossing the street.

• Always use sidewalks and paths when they are present. If there is not a sidewalk on a street, walk facing traffic on the edge of the road and stay as far from the travel lane as possible. Cross at street corners and designated crosswalks. Use pedestrian push buttons and follow traffic and pedestrian signals.

• Talk to children about how to be safe while walking. Instruct them to always listen to crossing guards at their school. Children under 10 should be accompanied in parking lots and streets.

• Make eye contact with drivers and watch for cars that are turning at intersections.

• Watch for cars or trucks backing out of parking lots, driveways, and alleyways.

• Wear reflective, bright colored clothing or carry a flashlight during nighttime or bad weather.

• Be ready! Pedestrians have more at stake than motorists, so you should be prepared in case an unexpected event happens.

While some of these simple tips may seem obvious, many pedestrians are guilty of not following them. It is important to review the basics, especially with children, because these everyday actions are vital to your safety. Stay safe and enjoy the nice weather!

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month!

With the increasing temperatures, there is also an increase of motorcyclists on our roads and highways. Motorcycles are a popular mode of transportation due to their low initial cost, recreational use, and good fuel efficiency. However, motorcycle fatalities make up approximately 11 percent of all highway fatalities each year, which is why The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to use Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to remind all motorists to ride safely and smartly.

Share The Road – All motorists should safely share the road with motorcycles. It’s important to be extra alert to keep motorcyclists safe. Always check your blind spots and keep a greater distance when driving behind a motorcyclist. Motorcyclists are also reminded to make themselves visible to other motorists and be cautious when on busy roads or highways.

Ride Sober – According to the NHTSA, statistics show that the percentage of intoxicated motorcycle riders in fatal crashes is greater than the percentage of intoxicated drivers on our roads. It is important that motorcycle riders ride smart and sober.

Wear a Helmet –In the event of a crash, a motorcycle does not provide much protection, so it is important to protect what you can by wearing a helmet. Drivers and passengers should always wear helmets.

Be Prepared – Driving a car and driving a motorcycle involve different skills and knowledge, so it is important to have a proper license and a good amount of experience if you will be operating a motorcycle. Also, make sure your motorcycle is properly maintained so that it is safe to ride.

motorcyclesafety

Get a Car Check-Up for Safety

Most of us go to the doctor to get a regular check-up, but is your car, which you use so often, getting a regular check-up? Many people don’t get their car looked at until something has gone wrong, but it is important to do preventative maintenance and make sure everything is in working order. Use the following list to ensure that your car is being maintained properly:

Fluids – Important car fluids include oil, gas, power steering fluid, automatic transmission fluid, coolant, and brake fluid. Each fluid plays a key role in the function of your vehicle. With certain fluids, you may notice when it’s time to add more. For example, if you feel surges of resistance as you turn your wheel, you should check the power steering fluid. With other fluids, you can look at the reservoir or use a dipstick to check levels. Most fluids can be topped off as needed, but it is recommended to get the automatic transmission fluid and brake fluid changed about every 2 years. Always make sure you are using the correct fluid type and never ignore leaking fluids!

Brakes – Your brakes are probably one of the most important things to check regularly. Brake failure can be devastating. Check the brake fluid and brake-pads, and replace the pads based on how safe the thickness is.

Filters – The filters in your car are constantly working to ensure that other areas of your car work properly. The fuel filter prevents impurities from clogging injectors, and the average replacement time is about every 2 years. The air filter keeps the airflow to your engine free of contaminants and can be replaced about once a year or as needed.

Electrical – The electrical components in your car, such as the battery and spark plugs, are what help fire up your car and keep it running. A mechanic can help you determine when your car battery needs to be replaced. If you suddenly notice that your car mileage is suffering, your engine is running poorly, or you fail an emissions test, it might be time to replace the spark plugs. The average spark plug replacement time varies between 30,000-100,000 miles.

Tires – Eventually every car needs fresh tires. Safety can be compromised when your tire tread wears down. The best way to confirm that tires need replacing is to use a tread depth gauge. It’s also important to occasionally get your tires rotated and the alignment checked.

Belts – Engine Belts keep your alternator and water pump active and can be replaced about every 3 years. Timing belts keep car valves from knocking into the pistons and are replaced on average every 60,000-90,000 miles.

Physical Inspection – Parts on your car that you physically see, such as the windshield wipers and lights, should be changed or fixed as needed. If you notice your wipers leaving streaks or impairing your visibility, it may be time to replace them. Various lights on your car, such as the blinkers, brakes, headlights, and interior, play an important role in your safety. Generally, lights will get dimmer over time and should be replaced every 2-3 years. Occasionally check the air pressure in your tires, and always listen for any strange sounds, which may indicate that something needs maintenance.

Ignoring any of these important components can lead to expensive repair bills and compromised safety, so it is important to go through this list regularly. Since car maintenance varies by make and model, always confirm with your owner’s manual or a mechanic before changing or replacing anything.

Unsafe Car Parts Recalls – February 2015

recallThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently notified the public about several safety recalls. The recalls come from the Office of Defects Investigations and are in regards to various car parts. The following information is provided on the NHTSA website (http://www.safercar.gov/). Clicking on the campaign ID number will bring you to the recall information webpage.

NHTSA Campaign ID Number: 15V069

Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC is recalling two specific vehicles. One is a 2015 Range Rover Sport Vehicle manufactured November 16, 2014, and one is a 2015 LR4 vehicle manufactured November 11, 2014. In affected vehicles, the 3.0L V6 supercharged engine may have improperly torqued connecting rod bolts. The connecting rod may separate from the crankshaft and the engine may seize, which can increase the risk of a crash. Beginning April 2, 2015, Land Rover is expected to start remedying these issues by notifying owners, and dealers will replace affected engines, free of charge. Owners may contact Land Rover customer service at 1-800-637-6837 and reference recall number P055.

NHTSA Campaign ID Number: 15V088

Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC is recalling certain models of the following list of vehicles:

2013-2015 E350 Sedan, E350 4Matic Sedan, E350 4Matic Station Wagon, E400 Hybrid Sedan, CLS 550 CGI, CLS550 4Matic
2013-2014 E550 4Matic Sedan
2013 E63 Sedan, E63 Station Wagon, CLS63
2014-2015 CLS63 4Matic, E63 4Matic Sedan, E63 4Matic Sedan “S”, E63 4Matic Station Wagon
2015 CLS400
2015 E400 Sedan, E400 4Matic Sedan, CLS400 4Matic
2014 CLS63 “S”

Affected vehicles have a rubber seal at the back of the engine bay that may temporarily stick to the hood when it is opened. It may then fall into the engine bay when the hood is closed, which can come into contact with parts of the exhaust system, increasing the risk of a fire. The recall is expected to begin by mid-March of 2015. Mercedes-Benz will notify owners of this, and deals will attach four additional retaining clips to the rubber seal, free of charge. Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-201-573-5339 and reference recall number 2015020001.

NHTSA Campaign ID Number: 15V093

Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Land Rover Ranger Rover vehicles that were manufactured between the dates of August 23, 2012-February 5, 2015. They are also recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Range Rover Sport vehicles that were manufactured between June 16, 2013 and February 5, 2015. In affected vehicles, the occupant classification system may improperly classify a light weight adult front passenger, which may result in the front seat passenger air bag to be disabled. If the air bag is disabled during a crash, there is an increased risk for injury. This recall is expected to begin April 17, 2015, and Land Rover will notify owners. Dealers will update the software, free of charge, to remedy the problem. Owners may contact Land Rover customer service at 1-800-637-6837 and reference recall P059.

For more information, questions, or safety-related complaints and concerns, call the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236.