Your driving habits have a direct impact on your car’s fuel
consumption. Planning your travel, following speed limits, maintaining safe
following distances and paying attention to traffic, weather and road conditions
will keep you safer, allow your vehicle to operate more efficiently, and
ultimately, save you money.
Here are a few ways you can improve your driving to get
better gas mileage:
Accelerate gradually. Avoid jackrabbit starts.
Anticipate your stops. When approaching a red
light, let your foot off the gas as early as possible.
In summer, drive during cooler parts of the day.
Cooler, denser air can boost power and mileage.
Avoid long warm-ups in the morning. They’re
unnecessary and waste fuel.
Use air conditioning. Today’s air conditioners
create less drag on the engine than driving with the windows open.
Maintain recommended tire pressure. Low pressure
reduces fuel economy and can damage tires.
Keep the air filter clean. Clogged filters
reduce fuel economy and increase exhaust emissions.
On August 21, 2017, millions across
the U.S. witnessed an awe-inspiring total solar eclipse. While
the excitement surrounding them is understandable, and as a reminder,
eclipse-seekers should map out their viewing location in advance, and to be
safely off the roadways while gazing at the skies.
When will we see the next one?
The next total eclipse for North America will come on April 8, 2024. That makes it seem as if eclipses are rare, when, in fact,
they’re not. They happen about every 18 months as seen from somewhere in
the world. However, for any given spot on Earth’s surface, total solar eclipses
don’t happen very often.
ASI also offers the following tips for drivers during the 2024
Do not attempt to watch the eclipse while
driving. Exit the roadway and park in a safe area away from traffic. The peak
darkness phase will last just 2-3 minutes.
According to NASA, you should avoid looking
directly at the sun without proper eye protection. The only safe way to look at
the uneclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse
glasses” or hand-held solar viewers.
Drive safely. Eagerness to view the event is
not an acceptable reason to drive aggressively or while distracted.
Drive with your headlights on. Not only will
you be more visible to other drivers, your forward vision will be improved.
Watch out for pedestrians. There may be people
standing in or along the roadway watching the eclipse.
Be on the alert for distracted drivers.
Other drivers may attempt to watch the eclipse
and drive at the same time.
Keep additional space between you and other
Reduce your speed so you have more time to
make an emergency maneuver, if needed
Just after sunrise and before sunset the sun can shine
directly into drivers’ eyes, leaving many motorists driving with a glare. This
glare can make it much harder to see the road ahead and potential hazards
creating an added risk to drivers. When sun glare is an issue slow down and use
extra caution especially while driving through school zones.
So how can you protect yourself? Here are some tips for
motorists when driving into the sun:
Invest in polarized sunglasses – they can help
Utilize your sun visor – it can help to block
out the sun.
Leave more following room – when the sun is in
your eyes it can be hard to see what the car ahead is doing. This is one more
time when it pays to leave more room between you and the next vehicle.
Drive with your headlights on to increase your
visibility to other drivers
Keep your windshield clean, inside and out
Check your windshield for pitting and cracks
Avoid storing papers or other items on the
If having a difficult time seeing the road, use
lane markings to help guide you.
Rarely will visibility be absolutely perfect while driving,
but if motorists know this and make the proper adjustments, you can minimize
any additional risks that come with less-than-optimal visual conditions.
National Drive Electric Week,
September 14-22, 2019, is a nationwide celebration to heighten awareness of
today’s widespread availability of plug-in vehicles and highlight the benefits
of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and
more. They are fun to drive, are less expensive and more convenient to fuel
than gasoline vehicles, are better for the environment, promote local jobs, and
reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Are you considering going electric? Come
talk to owners who have successfully done so.
Started in 2011 as National Plug-In
Day with the simple idea to hold simultaneous events across the country on the
same day, by popular demand we have expanded to an entire week of events and
changed the name to emphasize the thing we all want to do: drive electric. We
expect National Drive Electric Week 2019 will again grow to include more events
in more cities with more drivers reaching out to share the many advantages of
driving electric with the public.
Each event is led by local plug-in
drivers and advocates and typically includes some combination of EV parades,
ride-and-drives, electric tailgate parties, press conferences, award
ceremonies, informational booths, and more. Plug In America, Sierra
Club, and the Electric Auto Association serve as the national team providing support to the
events throughout the country. We are pleased to partner with the many other
organizations and individuals working to bring National Drive Electric Week to
communities across the country.
Do you have an electric car and want to attend this year?
There are several places across the country where this event is being held.
Save the date and find out more here: https://driveelectricweek.org/index.php
Smoke, fog and heavy rain can all lower visibility on roads.
To ensure safety, follow these important safe driving rules:
DRIVE WITH LIGHTS ON LOW
BEAM. High beams will reflect back off of precipitation, smoke
or fog and further impair visibility. Keep all vehicle lights in good working
order to avoid collisions.
SLOW DOWN. Keep a
safe stopping distance between vehicles and avoid passing and/or changing
lanes. Wet pavement can result in skidding and hydroplaning. Be patient and
stay alert. Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.
SIGNAL TURNS well
in advance and brake early when approaching a stop. Braking distances should be
increased in low visibility conditions.
Turn off the radio and cell phone and keep conversations to a minimum. Focus
your full attention on driving.
USE WIPERS AND DEFROSTERS.
Keeping the windshield, windows and mirrors clean and clear is critical for
maximum visibility. Wipers should be replaced at least once a year to guarantee
NEVER STOPON THE ROAD, it may result in a chain-reaction
collision. If you must pull off the road, signal first and carefully pull off
as far as possible. After pulling completely off the road, turn on hazard
Now that you’ve survived
driving in one of the most brutal winters in our nation’s history, getting
around in spring should be a breeze, right? Not exactly.
Spring presents its own
unique challenges to motorists, experts say. For starters, there can be a
“letting your guard down” mentality that sets in as the ice and snow have
melted away, and pure giddiness over rising temperatures prompts a sense of
abandonment. But there are special, seasonal challenges that drivers need to
keep in mind.
With that, here are some
that a wet road can be just as slick as an icy one. Tires will hydroplane and lose contact
with the road, which is as dangerous as hitting pure ice. Also, rain causes oil
dripped from passing vehicles to rise to the top of the water surface,
increasing the slick factor. Stay in the middle lanes as water tends to pool in
the outside ones, according to SmartMotorist, a nonprofit that seeks to promote
the distance between you and the vehicle you’re following in the rain. Three seconds is considered a safe
distance in normal circumstances. During a storm, increase this to eight
seconds. The three second rule is a simple way to double-check that you are
driving at a safe following distance. Choose a fixed point (like a road sign or
a building) that is even with the car in front of you. If you reach that same
fixed point before you can count to three, then you’re driving too close to the
car in front of you and you need to fall back a bit.
worn tires. Worn treads will
cause a loss of traction, increasing your chances of sliding. Also, even if the
tread is fine, you need to make sure the tires are properly inflated. An easy
way to check that your tire has an acceptable tread is to do the penny test.
Simply put a penny into the groove of the tread. If you can see Lincoln’s head, your tire needs repairing. Find out more
about tire safety here: http://tampabaydrivingschool.com/?p=2625
wiper blades. A winter’s worth
of snow, ice and salt can beat down the wipers, so you may need to replace
those, too. Also, clean your windshield with good window washer to improve
wiper performance. This will also remove oily film that can reduce visibility,
according to CarJunky.com, an automotive parts and maintenance site. You should
also clean the inside of the glass to remove film that increases moisture
on the lookout. Spring is also
Pothole Season. In places that snow and ice have dominated the winter months,
the spring thaw can cause dangerous potholes. Avoid them if you can, but if
not, don’t brake while traveling over them. Slow down, release the brake before
impact and go over the pothole. Braking causes your tire to slam into the edge
of the pothole with more force than if you’re rolling over the hole.
The last thing most people consider in the new
car buying process is the set of tires that come with the vehicle. We tend to
gravitate towards the style and performance, the color, whether it fits our
lifestyle or not, the ergonomic comfort of its interior, the sound system, and
if it’ll fit into our budget.
We unconsciously assume if the car is new that the tires are fine
and don’t give them a second thought nor do most of us ever take the time to
ask questions or read the manual about tire care and safety. Yet our lives, and
those of our children and other loved ones, ride on them every day. How
important are all those extra goodies that you added on if you get a flat on
the side of the freeway at midnight and you’re by yourself? If you’re lucky
someone will stop to help.
The most important feature on a vehicle that you must consider is
tires. Turning, stopping and emergency maneuvers all depend on your tires being
in good condition and properly inflated. Great drivers can walk up to their
vehicle and notice an under-inflated tire and others can get in a vehicle with
a flat tire and drive away. Which are you?
TIRE TREAD The amount
of tread remaining on a tire impacts handling, traction, and stopping distance.
As a tire wears and the tread depth is reduced, these characteristics begin to
TIRE AGING When it
comes to tire aging, it is very simple: the older the tires are, the higher the
risk for failure.
TIRE INFLATION A tire
must be able to hold the weight of not only the vehicle, but also any
additional load the vehicle might be carrying such as fuel, passengers, and
TIRE MAINTENANCE Proper and
Timely tire maintenance is crucial to safety. All of the tires on your vehicle
should be inspected, inflated, and rotated on a routine basis.
The more you know about your tire’s
health, the better off you will be driving.
In Truckee, California, 25-year-old Timothy Brooks flew into a rage after another car cut him off on the highway. He followed the offending car to a bagel shop where the driver, 47-year-old Robert Ash, had stopped to eat. After yelling at the older man, Brooks attacked him, stabbing him to death with a knife. Brooks was convicted of second-degree murder.
In Little Falls, New Jersey, May Lee and her two children were run off the road by Milton Aganon, 25, who’d been tailgating her at 80 miles an hour and gesticulating at Lee to get out of the way. When Aganon finally passed Lee, he cut her off so suddenly that she was forced to swerve to the shoulder lane, flipped over a median and landed in a ditch. Both of Lee’s legs were broken, and the children suffered minor injuries. Aganon served nine months in jail.
These may sound like unusually violent or rare incidents. However, studies from the AAA research arm show that at least 1,700 people are injured or killed in road rage incidents each year.
So who are these lunatics on the road? Are they normal people in their daily lives who convert to maniacs behind the wheel? Or is there a certain type of person who is more prone to go ballistic on the beltway?
Psychiatrists have an actual name for the kind of seething rage that goes beyond the speeding, tailgating, honking, or passing on the right that many aggressive drivers regularly do when they drive. People who experience road rage so violent that it leads to an assault against another driver, passenger, or car may be suffering from “intermittent explosive disorder” (IED), according to a report in the Archives of General Psychiatry. This disorder could affect up to 7 percent of the population, or about 16 million Americans over their lifetimes, according to the authors. This disease — the psychiatric disorder most closely linked to impulsive violence — usually begins in childhood or adolescence and includes repeated aggressive outbursts involving property destruction and/or injury over many years.
That’s not great news for those of us on the road. Although no agency keeps official statistics on road rage events across the country, reports of so-called “aggressive driving” incidents have increased by about 30 percent since 2010, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The “reasons” given for violent disputes that ended in injury or death include:
“He cut me off …”
“She wouldn’t let me pass …”
“It was an argument over a parking space …”
“Nobody gives me the finger …”
“The so-called ‘reasons’ for disputes are actually triggers,” an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report observes. “While the event that sparks the incident may be trivial, in every case there exists some reservoir of anger, hostility, or frustration.”
You think you’re pretty good behind the wheel, right? Here’s part 5 of what you might be doing while on the road. See parts, 1-4 in our previous posts.
Doubling up in a median When turning left without a protected light, it’s already risky enough to pull out halfway and wait in the median for a hole in traffic. But when the guy across from you also pulls into the median to do the same thing, it blocks the first car’s vision (yours) entirely.
Yielding the right of way when it’s really yours I know you have only the best intentions when you let four people pull out in front of you. But letting people go out of turn creates a knock-on effect that will impact all the traffic behind you. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.
Thanks for being part of this mini-insensitivity training!
You think you’re pretty good behind the wheel, right? Here’s part 4 of what you might be doing while on the road. See part 1, 2 & 3 in our previous week’s posts.
the car in front on an uphill stop sign/light Your car might be an automatic, so when you’re on a hill you don’t go
backwards in that moment between letting off the brake and hitting the
accelerator. But for anyone in a manual, especially someone that’s not terribly
experienced with a clutch, you’ve upped the stress factor by reducing the
margin for error. You’re being insensitive if you then honk at that driver if
they roll back a little when the light changes.
Dive-bomb braking As you know, the best way to brake for a turn is not to wait until the last second and slam on the brakes. Still, most drivers — yes, this probably includes you — do this annoying thing where they lightly press the brake pedal as the turn approaches without really slowing down. Essentially, you’re still waiting until the last second before you brake for real, and because your brake lights have been on the whole time, the person behind you has no warning when you brake harder. Instead, practice what’s called limo braking: when you start braking, press the pedal harder than you normally do, then ease up as you get closer to the turn, so you’re still slowing down enough for the turn, but not screwing with the driver behind you.
left too early If you’re in a left-most of a double left-turn lane, there’s nothing more
frightening than trying to figure out if the person on your right is going to
cut across the line. Often, they will.
Come back next week for part 5, to see what else you may be doing without realizing it.