Conserving Fuel

Bad driving isn’t just unsafe. It’s expensive.

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.
  • Drive the speed limit.
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Tips for Drivers During a Solar Eclipse

The next total eclipse for North America will come on April 8, 2024.

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 solar eclipse:

  • 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 vehicles.
  • Reduce your speed so you have more time to make an emergency maneuver, if needed
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Dangers of Driving Into Sun

Driving on a beautiful sunny day can provide stunning scenery, but it can also create a hazard if the driver’s view is compromised by a glaring sun.

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 reduce glare.
  • 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

Additional tips:

  • Keep your windshield clean, inside and out
  • Check your windshield for pitting and cracks
  • Avoid storing papers or other items on the dashboard
  • 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.

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National Drive Electric Week 2019

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 AmericaSierra 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

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When Visibility is Low, Drive Slow

Keep the windshield and headlights clean to reduce glare and increase visibility.

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.

REDUCE DISTRACTIONS. 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 best performance.

NEVER STOP ON 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 flashers.

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Spring Driving

Warmer weather doesn’t mean the roads are safer for drivers.

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 tips:

  • Realize 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 safe driving.
  • Increase 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.
  • Replace 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
  • Check 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 buildup.
  • Be 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.
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Tire Safety

Remember, these are the only things between your car and the road.

Tire Safety

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 INFORMATION

  • 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 diminish.
  • 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 payload.
  • 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.

Here are 4 more reasons tires are so important: https://www.mccluskeychevrolet.com/reasons-your-cars-tires-are-so-important/

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Road Rage: When Stress Hits the Highway

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.”

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You’re Driving Insensitively and Don’t Realize It – Part 5

Best way to navigate a median.

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!

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You’re Driving Insensitively and Don’t Realize It – Part 4

Oops!

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.

  • Crowding 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.
  • Turning 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.

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