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Traffic Safety Info. and Tips for the Road

Avoid accidents this winter by following a few simple safety tips from MultistateTrafficSchool.com---

Call or click: 877-Infraction.com (877-463-7228): 

It was the first big snowfall of the season and I was out driving on the freeway when it happened. I had been travelling carefully, unsure that my little sedanwould be able to keep traction as the snow kept piling up, when a large SUV came flying out of nowhere, attempting to pass me as if the roads were dry. Just as the SUV had gotten ahead of me, the driver lost control. The vehicle spun wildly for a few seconds and then crashed horrifically into the median with a sickening crunch.

Somehow, the driver was unhurt. Many others, however, are not so lucky. Each and every winter, people are injured or killed because they are unprepared or overconfident on snowy, icy roads.

The following rules for driving safely in winter weather are not particularly difficult to follow and doing so will keep you much safer on snowy roads. Even if you are a veteran driver from a snow belt state and don't give venturing out in a blizzard much of a second thought, keeping these safety tips fresh in your mind can keep you on the road and in control.

1. Make sure you and your car are properly equipped before you leave.

Do a quick check of your vehicle before you hit the road. Make sure that your car has ample antifreeze, the windshield is clean and you have plenty of windshield washer fluid, the headlights are clean and in working order and the tires have tread and are properly inflated. Also, make sure to have your battery tested, to avoid being stranded in the cold with a car that won't start.

In addition to your vehicle's mechanical equipment, it's important to keep some extra items in the trunk or glove box in case of emergency. Equip your car with a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, warm clothes, and a blanket. Remember to have sunglasses in the car as well. It always amazes me how many people I see driving in the winter without them. The glare of the sun off of snow and ice can be more intense in the winter than it is in the summer.

One last thing to remember, perhaps the most important of all: Your cell phone.

2. Slow down and drive smoothly.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but even if you're driving an SUV or a four-wheel-drive truck, you cannot safely do 80 mph during a snowstorm. Four-wheel-drive may help your vehicle get going in the slushy stuff, but it's of no use when you're trying to steer or safely stop on a slippery road surface.

It is also important to avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and turns. Doing so can cause your vehicle to lose traction and can launch you into an uncontrollable skid, leading to a collision.

Driving too quickly is the main cause of accidents in winter conditions. Just be patient and accept the fact that it is going to take longer to arrive at your destination.

3. Do not tailgate.

It is important to remember that it takes a much longer distance to stop your vehicle in the snow or ice due to the greatly reduced traction, even with just a light covering on the road. You may think that the driver in front of you doing 35 mph on the freeway is going too slow and needs a reminder in the form of you riding their bumper, but doing so is dangerous. Be patient and stay back until it's safe to pass.

Tailgating often leads to accidents, especially if you are driving in stop-and-go traffic. If the car in front of you stops abruptly and you are following too closely, you can reflexively slam on the brakes and end up sliding into it. The resulting accident may be no more than a fender-bender, but having to deal with it on a busy road in the snow is certainly something that you want to avoid, especially if other cars are sliding around as well. Many serious accident injuries come from a second impact from another car after a seemingly trivial collision.

4. Do not use cruise control.

For some, driving with cruise control has become almost second nature. Sure, it prevents you from getting leg fatigue, keeps you from unwittingly speedingand is great on long trips, but driving with it on in winter conditions can be unsafe. Thus, if cruise control has become a staple of your driving habits, make a conscious effort to ensure that you are not using it in winter weather.

Using cruise control in the snow, ice or even rain is dangerous because if your car hydroplanes or skids, it will accelerate and rapidly spin the wheels since it will be trying to maintain a constant speed. If this happens, it will be more likely that you lose control of your vehicle.

5. Pull over or stay home.


Remember, there is no shame in making the logical decision to stay in when the conditions are bad. You may be late arriving to your destination, but arriving late in one piece is much better than the alternative. Your boss will understand.

 

3 Things Drivers Do

-To Make Us Mad- Aggressive Driving Can Still Get You Ticketed.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world. And by that we don’t just mean angry -- we also mean crazy. You can see it on the road, daily.

We have a problem with aggressive driving, one that manifests itself in many disturbing and dangerous ways, from road rage to fatal traffic accidents. It’s gotten worse in recent years, as the population has increased -- leading to more cars on the road, leading to greater traffic congestion, leading to shorter tempers and more flat-out aggression.

The fact that we’re in the worst recession in 80 years doesn’t help, either. So many people are so stressed out these days about lost jobs, making ends meet, and general financial strain, that getting on the freeway can seem akin to gladiatorial combat.

“Aggressive driving has definitely become more of a problem,” says Saul Gomez, a public information officer for the California Highway Patrol who was previously a patrolman. “Part of that is because we spend more time in our vehicles, in stop-and-go traffic, and it takes longer to get to where we’re going.

“So, people get reckless. They get this notion that if they drive more aggressively, they will get to their destinations more quickly, but that’s obviously not true. You might save two seconds, but you’re just increasing your stress level, and often putting yourself and other drivers in dangerous situations.”

Russ Rader, vice president of communications for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, notes that speeding -- an obvious form of aggressive driving – accounts for about one-third of all of the fatal car crashes in America. And, running traffic signals -- another form of ‘aggro behavior – is one of the most common causes of accidents in metropolitan areas.

In these cases of aggressive driving that clearly qualify as traffic violations, Rader says that law enforcement has the tools to more effectively enforce these laws – like mounted or mobile cameras that can catch drivers in the act of speeding or running traffic lights. But “they are not deployed very efficiently, because government officials often let vocal minorities dictate traffic safety policy.”

The use of such cameras have reduced the rates of speeding red-light running in European nations and Australia, where they are widely used, says Rader.

Gomez just wishes motorists would have more respect for one another. “Selfish driving, selfish parking -- those kinds of behaviors are just going to create problems for everyone,” he says. “I think the daily driving experience would be a lot less stressful if everyone would just extend the same courtesy to others that you would want them to extend to you.”

While driving over the limit and blowing through a red light are both clearly against the law, what about examples of aggressive driving that, in the minds of many motorists, may fall into a gray area? While many drivers wouldn’t describe their behavior as “road rage,” we’re willing to bet that most have engaged in one of the three behaviors identified below.

Jackrabbit Starts

For example, we’ve often seen macho types punch the pedal and explode away from a stoplight as though they were launching a rocket from a lift-off pad. If this particularly obnoxious maneuver does not cause them to exceed the speed limit, does that constitute a violation? And how dangerous is it?

“If that driver accelerates so quickly that the tires break traction with the road, that is definitely an example of driving at an unsafe speed, and is so reckless and aggressive, that he’s probably violating one law or another,” says Gomez. “He can be cited for reckless driving, or depending on road conditions or traffic congestion, that could get him a ticket for driving at an unsafe speed for those conditions.”

And, adds Rader, “any time you do something like that, whether out of anger or just showing off, that kind of sudden acceleration reduces your margin of error, if something you were not anticipating suddenly appears in front of you, like a bicyclist or pedestrian darting out in front of you, or the vehicle in front of you doing something you didn’t expect, [it] can lead to someone getting hit.”

Highway Courtesy

Another frequent and obnoxious expression of behind-the-wheel aggression is speeding up on the highway so that another driver cannot change lanes in front of you. Or, worse, speeding up in a way that impedes other drivers from safely merging onto the freeway from an entrance ramp.

“That’s very common,” laments Gomez. “I’ve seen it in my own vehicle, and I’ve seen it while on patrol. In fact, that’s probably the most common example of aggressive driving I see -- refusing to let someone else get ahead of you.

“And by speeding up like that, you are not doing any service to yourself. Again, you might end up two seconds ahead, but you’re potentially causing a collision, because the driver trying to merge doesn’t have much room to work with, because the ramp is ending.

“And if, by speeding up like that, you end up following the car ahead of you too closely, that’s definitely a violation.”

Rader concurs: “When people behave like that, you’re just egging the other driver to anger. It’s happened to me, and it’s definitely a safety hazard.”

Blocking The Road

Sometimes, there is such a thing as “passive-aggressive driving.” Put another way, selfish driving that just plain violates common courtesy, among other things. In this instance, we’re talking about the clueless narcissist who stops his car in the middle of the road – typically a side street – and starts talking to a friend or acquaintance he’s spotted on the sidewalk, or emerging from a parked vehicle.

“You definitely don’t want to be stopped someplace where another driver could come up behind you and not be expecting a stopped vehicle,” asserts Rader. “We’ve found that this scenario is a factor in a lot of crashes in urban and metro areas.”

Gomez confirms that this is more than just evidence of self-absorption, it’s also unsafe, and it’s also a violation. “That is obstructing the flow of traffic, plain and simple,” states Gomez. “And if a police officer spots something like that, the driver is definitely going to end up in a conversation with the officer. Depending on the traffic conditions, and how nice the officer is, the driver may end up with a ticket, or just a verbal warning.”

What To Do?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests five things to do if you’re confronted by road rage or aggressive driving:

1. Get Out of the Way. First and foremost, make every attempt to get out of their way.
2. Put Your Pride Aside. Do not challenge them by speeding up or attempting to hold-your-own in your travel lane.
3. Avoid Eye Contact. Eye contact can sometimes enrage an aggressive driver.
4. Gestures. Ignore gestures and refuse to return them.
5. Report Serious Aggressive Driving. You or a passenger may call the police. But, if you use a cell phone, pull over to a safe location.

 

10 tips for winter

-Heed this advice and stay safe on your journey  

 

A San Francisco man was found dead Wednesday nearly two weeks after getting stranded with his family in the snowy Oregon wilderness. James Kim's wife and kids, thankfully, were rescued from their car, but Kim set out on foot days before to seek help for his family.

This story gained national attention and underscores just how dangerous winter driving can be.

The months between November and March constitute one of the busiest road trip seasons. Snowbirds (people with summer homes in northern states from Idaho to Maine) head south in numbers large enough to give a crucial economic boost to the Sunbelt, especially California, Arizona and Florida. Add in winter sports enthusiasts, business travelers, holiday vacationers, foreign visitors and students, and it’s easy to understand why America’s highways are jammed even when temperatures plunge and driving conditions can be challenging.

If you find yourself hitting the road during adverse conditions, consider these 10 tips to stay safe on your journey.

1. Know your route and keep abreast of weather conditions. The Web can be great source of current weather information. Make a list of Department of Transportation road-condition hotlines and consult them every few hours while you’re on the road. Pay special attention to avalanche conditions along your route, because temporary road closures are common in mountain areas.

2. Drink plenty of water. When the weather is chilly, dehydration might seem unlikely, but according to a study by the Mayo Clinic, as little as a 1-2 percent loss of body weight can lead to fatigue and reduced alertness — both of which can be deadly when you are driving in icy conditions. Carry (and drink) five to six 16-ounce bottles of water per day. Keep them with you in the passenger compartment, as they might freeze in the trunk.

3. Eat enough food. Your body needs more nourishment in cold weather than it does on a balmy summer day. Avoid candy bars and other quick-sugar-release snacks. Sandwiches, fruit or a thermos of hearty stew are much better choices. Carry a day’s worth of high-energy food and water in a warm area of your vehicle in case you are stranded for a few hours.

4. Pack a winter travel safety kit. Include a cell phone, an ice scraper and brush, a tow rope, cat litter (for use as a traction aid), blankets, a good flashlight, a candle, matches, a good book, a portable weather radio and a can of lock de-icer. (Never use hot water on glass or locks — it will refreeze and create a bigger problem.) Here’s a more detailed list of road trip supplies.

5. Slow down. A good rule of thumb is to reduce speed by 50 percent in snowy conditions. Blasting through snowdrifts may look cool in TV advertisements, but it’s way too hard on your vehicle to be worth it. Equally important: Don’t go too slow. Your car needs momentum to keep moving through snow on grades.

6. Keep a light touch on the controls. Smooth operation is the key to keeping control in slippery situations. Nervousness can lead to a hard clench of the steering wheel, which can result in loss of control. Consciously loosen your grasp or stretch out your fingers from time to time to help prevent that white-knuckled grip.

7. Know how to recover from skids. When braking on a slippery road, it’s all too easy to “lock up” your wheels by stepping on the brakes a little too hard. If you start to skid, steer the vehicle gently in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go and don’t touch your brakes. This used to be called “turning into the skid,” but tests have shown that drivers often misinterpret these words in real-life situations. Here’s a detailed explanation of skid recovery.

8. Keep your tires in good condition and properly inflated. Cold weather reduces tire pressure, so check and adjust frequently. Tire tread depth should be at least 1/8-inch, and good snow tires with lugs will outperform just about any all-weather tire on the market. Carry (and be able to install) traction-control devices like snow chains whenever you know you’ll be in a snowy area. Sometimes such devices are required, and if you don’t have a set, you’ll be forced to pay a premium to acquire them on the spot.

9. Make frequent rest stops. Winter travel is much more fatiguing than summer cruising, so stop every hour or so. Get out, stretch — maybe even make a few snow angels! It takes only five minutes to significantly improve your level of alertness.

10. If you get stuck, stay in your vehicle. Stay warm and wait for assistance. Make sure that your exhaust pipe is clear of any obstructions, including snow and ice; if you don’t, carbon monoxide gas can build up inside the vehicle.

Whether you’re hitting the road in winter for work or for pleasure, preparation and knowledge can help keep you whistling “Let it Snow” instead of fighting frostbite in a snowdrift.

road with Motorcycles

-What drivers should know about sharing the road with Motorcycles

Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance, say 3 or 4 seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.

Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, thus some riders, (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change. Make sure a motorcycle’s signal is for real.

Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of wind, road debris, and passing vehicles. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off.

Because of its small size a motorcycle seems to be moving faster than it really is.

Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.

Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden by objects inside or outside a car (door posts, mirrors, passengers, bushes, fences, bridges, blind spots, etc.). Take an extra moment to thoroughly check traffic, whether you’re changing lanes, pulling out of your driveway, making a left turn across traffic, or turning at intersections.

Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes quick stopping difficult. Allow a motorcyclist more following distance

Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle’s better characteristics, but only at slower speeds and with good road conditions. Don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.

Carrying a passenger complicates a motorcyclist’s task. Balance is more difficult. Stopping distance is increased. Maneuverability is reduced. Predict more problems when you see two on a motorcycle, especially near intersections.

Mirrors are smaller on a motorcycle and are usually convex, thus giving a motorcyclist a smaller image of you and making you seem farther back than you really are. Keep at least a three or four second space cushion when following a motorcyclist.

There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don’t "recognize" a motorcycle and ignore it (usually unintentionally). Look for motorcycles, especially when checking traffic at an intersection.

At night, single headlights and taillights of motorcycles can blend into the lights of other traffic. Those "odd" lights could be a motorcycle.

 

Driving Tips

Driving a Vehicle is easier said then done, specially in over populated cities and new inexperienced Drivers find it more challenging. Here we have put forth some tips that would help you in Safe and Secure Driving.

Basic Driving Tips

• Always wear your seat belt and make sure all passengers buckle up, too.

• Adjust your car's headrest to a height behind your head-on your nect to    minimize whiplash in case you're in an accident.

• Never try to fit more people in the car than you have seat belts for them to use.

• Obey the speed limits, Going too fast gives you less time to stop or react. Excess    speed is one of the main causes of teenage accidents.

• Don't run red lights.

• Use turn signals to indicate your intention to turn or to change lanes. Turn it on    to give the cars behind you enough time to react before you take the action.    Also, make sure the signals turns off after you've completed the action.

• When light turns green, make sure intersection clears before you go

• Don't drive like you own the road; drive like you own the car.

• Make sure your windshield is clean.At sun rise and sun set, light reflecting off    your dirty windshield can momentarily blind you from seeing what's going on.

• Don't blast the radio. You might miss hearing a siren or a horn that could warn    you of possible trouble.

• Make sure your garage door is completely open before backing out of it.

• Drive into your garage straight, not on an angle.

• Make sure your car has gas in it. Don't ride around with the gauge on empty    who knows where you might get stranded.

• Don't drink and drive, and don't ride with anyone who has been drinking.Call    parents or friends to take you home if you need a ride.

• Don't take drugs or drive if you've taken any. Don't ride with anyone who has    been using drugs. Even some over the counter drugs can make you drowsy.    Check label for warnings.

• Don't drive with small children or even small teenage friends as passengers in a    front seat that has a passenger-side air bag. They should be buckled up in the    back seat.Recent transportation studies show that small children may be injured    by the air bags even in low impact collisions. (Actually, it's safer not to drive with    friends and kids in the car when you're learning to drive. They can be    distracting.)

• Don't talk on the car phone, put on make-up, comb your hair, or eat while    driving. People who talk on car phones while driving are four times more likely    to have an accident. If you need to make a call, pull off the road to a safe spot    and park.

• Don't leave your car in cruise control when you're driving late at night or when    you're tired. If you fall asleep at the wheel, the car will crash at the speed you've    set your control to maintain.

• Don't fiddle with the radio while you are driving. It's better to wait until you can    pull over and stop because even taking your focus off the road for a few    seconds could lead to an accident.

• Use good quality tireand make sure they are inflated to the right pressure    (check your owners manual for what is right for your tires and car).

• Maintain your car. Bald tires, a slipping transmission, or a hesitant engine could    lead to accidents

• Use headlights during daylight driving, especially on long stretches of desert    highway and rural roads to make you more visible to oncoming drivers.

• Watch out for potholes, especially after bad weather

• Be on the lookout for motorcycles, bikes, and pedestrians

• When driving to a new place, get complete directions before you go. Figure out    what exits you need to take before hand.

• If your car has been parked outside during a snow storm, check the exhaust    pipes to make sure they are clear before starting up the car.

 

Driving Safety Tips

-Driving in Snow and Ice

The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.

Don't go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared (TIPS), and that you know how to handle road conditions.

It's helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you're familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner's manual for tips specific to your vehicle.

Driving safely on icy roads

1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.

3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.

5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

6. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.

7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

8. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.

9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid...

1. Take your foot off the accelerator.

2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.

3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.

4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.

5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid...

1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.

2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck...

1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.

2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.

3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.

4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.

5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.

6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

7. More Tips

Sources: National Safety Council, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services

 

Driving In the Country

Watch out for deer and other large and small animals. If you see a deer approaching, slow down and flash your lights repeatedly. Often, the deer will run away.

Also, if you see one deer, watch out for others close by the often travel in pairs or groups.

Watch out for pigs, chickens, cows, and skunks, too.

When driving in the desert, watch out for animals like camels.

If you get an insect like a fly or a bee in your car, don't try to kill it while you're driving! It could take your attention off the road and you could crash. Instead, pull over and park as soon as possible and get the bug out of the car or ask a passenger to take care of it

 

Driving In Bad Weather

Turn your headlights on anytime you need to turn your windshield wipers on in rain, fog, sleet, freezing rain, or snow. It will help your visibility and also help other drivers see you.

In winter, keep an ice scraper with a brush in your car in case it snows or sleets. Also check that you have wiper fluid/deicer in your car. If it gets messy while you are out, these will come in handy.

Double the space you normally leave between you and the next car. You'll need more space to stop on slick roads.

Brake gently

Make sure your exhaust tail pipe is clear if you've had to dig your car out of snow or ice or if you've backed into a snow bank. If your tail pipe is blocked you could get sick or die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

When driving on slippery surfaces like ice or snow use gentle pressure on the accelerator pedal when starting. If your wheels start to spin, let up on the accelerator until traction returns.

Check that windshield washer works-you may need it in snow and sleet.

Watch out for severe weather warnings before you drive. If a strong storm come on while you're on the road and it's raining too hard to see, try to find a safe place to pull over until the worst of the rain is over. If you see a tornado coming your way, safety experts suggest you find shelter or if that's not possible, then get out of car and find a ditch to take cover in, protecting your head and neck. It's hard to outrun a tornado.

Braking in bad weather can be tricky.

When braking on wet roads:

• If you have ABS (anti-lock) brakes, do not pump brakes

• If you skid with non ABS brakes and your wheels lock up, let up on the brakes to    unlock the wheels, then brake gently.

Listen to radio traffic reports and adjust your travel plans accordingly.

Keep windows and windshield clear. Make sure wipers are working.

Leave a window open a little bit to keep windshield from fogging up and to give you fresh air.

Watch for danger spots ahead. You've probably heard that bridges and overpasses may freeze before the roads do.

When starting out in bad weather, test your brakes to see how far it takes you to stop.

If you are stuck in ice or snow, try putting your floor mats under the edge of the tires to give them traction

Parallel Parking Tips

Learning how to parallel park is one of the hardest skills for new drivers to learn.

• Signal and pull up approx. 3 feet away from the car you want to park behind, aligning your rear tires with the other car's rear bumper.

• Put car into REVERSE, and turn wheels ALL THE WAY to the RIGHT.

• Slowly back-up until you are at a 45 degree angle. STOP.

• Turn the wheels ALL THE WAY to the LEFT.

• Slowly back-up until you are parallel with the curb.

• If done correctly you should be less then 12 inches from the curb.

• Practice will improve your judgment.

• Select a space that is at least six feet longer than your car.

• Flash your brake lights and put on your turn signal before you pull in.

• Always look back to check traffic.

• Take it slow and ease into the spot.

 

Parallel Parking exiting

• Back-up straight as far as you can go without touching the car behind.

• Turn your wheels all the way to the left (in the U.S.) Then make sure that you    put your car in drive.

• Put on your turn signal.

• Check traffic, including your blind spot.

• Make sure your right fender has enough room to clear the car in front of you.

• Turn wheels slowly to the right when you are halfway out of the parking space.

 

Common Traffic Myths

-Is This Illegal?

 

Introduction

Akin to urban legends, there are some traffic laws we've heard of but have never gotten around to verifying. There are other common driving practices that make us wonder, just because Dad taught us that way, do such behaviors hold up in a court of law? To help sort it out, we've assembled a short list myths and separated traffic fact from fiction.

Read More

Technology Wars: Cops vs. Speeders

Cops In the Sky

Can Police Give You A Ticket For "Sounding" Too Fast?

 

Skidding and Hydroplaning in Rainy Conditions

Losing control of your car on wet pavement is a frightening experience.

Skids are scary but hydroplaning is completely nerve-wracking.

Hydroplaning happens when the water in front of your tires builds up faster than your car's weight can push it out of the way. The water pressure causes your car to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water between your tires.

Taking these simple tips into account can save your life.

1. You can prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. Steer and brake with a light touch. When you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal.

2. If you do find yourself in a skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas, and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes. This procedure, known as "steering into the skid," will bring the back end of your car in line with the front. If your car has ABS, brake firmly as you steer into the skid.

3. Avoid hydroplaning by keeping your tires inflated correctly. Maintain good tire tread. Don't put off replacing worn tires. Slow down when roads are wet, and stay away from puddles. Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you.

4. If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly. This could throw your car into a skid. Ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the road again. If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping actions. If your car has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally. The car's computer will automatically pump the brakes much more effectively than a person can do.

5. A defensive driver adjusts his or her speed to the wet road conditions in time to avoid having to use any of these measures.

 

Thieves

- Thieves Could Hack Cars Through Tire Systems- Plus Four Other Vulnerabilities of Vehicle Technology

As our cars become more technologically advanced, they leave the door open for vulnerabilities. Latest in the technological flawbook appears to be tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), revealing just how small that hole needs to be in order for a tech savvy thief to crawl through.

A group of researchers from Rutgers University and the University of South Carolina discovered that you can hack into a car's electronics wirelessly though tire systems, which means any modern vehicle could be vulnerable to an attack at any time, even while it's being driven down the road.

In their study, researchers used a car's tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) as their entry portal. Tire pressure monitoring has been mandatory on new cars since 2008 and uses a sensor on each wheel that transmits data over radio frequencies to a vehicle's electronic control unit.

By sniffing for signals from the TPMS, these researchers were able to track two different vehicles and even interfere with the signals. At this point, the real world implications are limited because TPMS sensors have a very short range and update the car's ECU only every 60-90 seconds. However, these findings underscore how as vehicles get more wireless connectivity, it's important to ensure those wireless connections are secure and encrypted to prevent mischief.

Over the last few years, other vulnerabilities have been found in vehicles. While most of these aren't cause for concern today, they nevertheless point out that that technological advancement comes with compromises.

- Geo-location: Cars with onboard navigation systems are in a never-ending conversation with the sky above. Acting as a unique signal with a series of satellites, your vehicle essentially has its own "mailing address." Locating that address by compromising the satellite network could reveal your location to someone who wanted to find out where you were traveling. What's at stake: your location.

- "Home button" robberies: Related to navigation systems, there have been reports that thieves target vehicles with navigation systems and garage door openers visible. The thinking is that if a thief can get access to your navigation system, he can press the home button (which most drivers program to their real home address) and then use the garage door opener to get inside. What's at stake: Your car and potentially your home.

- Physical Access to the car's brain: In an earlier report, our Craig Howie reported on the dangers of allowing someone access to the OBD-II port of a vehicle, which is the access point for the car's brain. "Someone -- such as a mechanic, a valet, a person who rents a car, an ex-friend, a disgruntled family member, or the car owner -- can, with even momentary access to the vehicle, insert a malicious component into a car’s internal network via the ubiquitous OBD-II port (typically under the dash). The attacker may leave the malicious component permanently attached to the car’s internal network or, as we show in this paper, they may use a brief period of connectivity to embed the malware within the car’s existing components and then disconnect." What's at stake: A lot. Access to the all the vehicle systems can be found here, which means everything from accelerator to brakes.

- "GPS Jammers" Allow Thieves A Getaway: The super technologically advanced thief is looking a few steps ahead. Knowing that many cars come with GPS systems, onboard tracking systems such as OnStar and other theft devices, there have been reports that thieves are buying GPS jammers from China. These systems essentially block the car's own GPS signal, preventing the law from locating the car. What's at stake: the safe return of your car.

 

Flood Safety

-10 Things to Know about Flood Safety

Flooding can occur as streams and rivers overflow their banks, when dams or levees break, with run-off from deep snow cover, or any time there is rainfall with significant duration and intensity. Keep these facts in mind to stay alive and dry.

1. Flash floods can come rapidly and unexpectedly. They can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, or when a dam or levee fails and even a sudden release of water held by an ice or debris jam. Be cautious during storm seasons, or any time that flooding is common in your area.

2. You may not have warning that a flash flood is approaching.

3. Do not drive unless absolutely necessary.

4. Do not drive through flooded areas. If you see a flooded-out road ahead, turn around. Find another route to your destination.

5. If there is no other route, get to higher ground and wait for the waters to subside.

6. Even if the water appears shallow enough to cross, don't try it. Water hides dips in the road. Worse yet, there may be no road at all under the water. Flooding can scour away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground beneath.

7. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

8. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control or possible stalling.

9. One foot of water will float almost many vehicles.

10. Two feet of rushing water can sweep away most vehicles — including SUVs and pick-ups.

Also see the  thunderstorm driving safety tips

Sources: FEMA.gov, NOAA.gov  

 

Severe Thunderstorms and Lightning tips

• Tune in to your radio to stay informed of approaching storms.

• If you see a tornado or hear a tornado warning, don't try to outrun it. View    tornado driving safety tips.

• Turn on your headlights (low beams) and slow down. Many states require the    use of headlights during rain.

• Allow extra distance for braking.

• Do not drive unless necessary.

• Pull safely onto the shoulder of the road away from any trees that could fall on    the vehicle.

• Stay in the car and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rains subside.

• An automobile provides better insulation against lightning than being in the    open.

• Avoid contact with any metal conducting surfaces either inside your car or    outside.

• Avoid flooded roadways.

• Avoid downed power lines.

• Check your windshield wipers and tires regularly to insure that they are ready    for severe weather.

• Approach intersections with caution Treat traffic lights at intersections as stop    signs.

• How to deal with a hail storm.

• Visit our flood safety tips for how to deal with flooding.

Source: FEMA.gov  

 

Defensive driving rules

It's not something we happy-go-lucky roadtrippers like to dwell upon, but about 50,000 people die each year in collisions on the roadways of the United States. By most estimates, over twenty-two million are injured. The costs associated with such collisions are staggering -- often quoted at more than $80 billion. This carnage is unnecessary since nearly all collisions are preventable. How? Glad you asked! RoadTrip America's contributing expert Robert Schaller has the answers. In this collection, "70 Rules of Defensive Driving," he shares wisdom gained from nearly fifteen years of teaching defensive driving and traffic law in his home state of Arizona.

1. Pay Attention 2. Don't Trust NOBODY!
3. Yield Anyway! 4. Don't Speed!
5. Don't Drive Impaired 6. Wear Your Seat Belt!
7. Buy and Use Safety Devices 8. Motorcyclist, Protect Thyself!
9. Don't Run Red! 10. Drive Precisely
11. Chill Out! 12. Look Down the Road!
13. Create Space 14. Drive to Communicate
15. Drive Predictably 16. Always Signal Your Intentions
17. Know Your Blind Spots! 18. Avoid Distractions
19. Avoid Backing Up 20. Beware of Intersections
21. Be A Freeway Pro 22. Know How To Stop
23. Know When To Use Your Headlights 24. Slow Down in Rain or Snow
25. Maintain Your Tires 26. Take Care of Your Vehicle
27. Get Rid of Tailgaters 28. Maintain an Even, Measured Pace
29. Check for Hydroplaning 30. Know How To Recover From A Skid
31. Avoid Head-On Collisions 32. Be A Safe Passer
33. Avoid the Single-Vehicle Collision 34. Deal with Light Glare
35. Never Play Chicken With a Train
37. Practice Animal Avoidance! 38. Don't Prevent Others from Passing
39. Drive Your Van Safely 40. Practice Smart Bicycling
41. Share the Road With Bicyclists 42. Exercise Prudent Courtesy
43. Recognize the Futility of Rushing
45. Start Rested -- Keep Fresh! 46. Share the Road With Trucks
48. Give Way on Mountain Roads
49. Make Safe and Sane Left Turns 50. Connect Your Mind To Your Eyes!
51. Make Defensive Stops! 52. Slow Down When Approaching Intersections!
53. Beware of Traffic Holes! 54. Turn Right, LOOK Right!
55. Avoid Changing Lanes in Intersections 56. Don't Abuse the Two-Way Left Turn Lane
57. Avoid "Reverse Traffic" Lanes 58. Move Right When Approaching Intersections
59. Beware of Stopped Vehicles at Crosswalks 60. Use the Center Lane for Safety
61. Never Stop on a Freeway! 62. Don't Cross a Freeway Median!
63. Seat Belts and Air Bags Go Together! 64. Avoid Head Injuries
65. Don't Ride in Pick-Up Truck Beds! 66. Secure Loose Objects!
67. Keep Your Child Safe in the Center 68. Don't "Pump" ABS Brakes!
69. Choose Your Route for Safety! 70. Use Uncle Bob's Defensive DrivingSystem
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