- Special Sections
(BPT) - Whether it’s the anxiety of looking at a bank statement after a big purchase or waiting for news from a doctor, facing harsh realities can be nerve-racking. The same mentality applies when dealing with your car discrepancies, be it routine maintenance or even skirmishes with other drivers on - and sometimes off - the road.
These drivers are not abiding by one of the fundamental, unwritten road rules, according to a recent survey conducted by Hankook Tire. In the latest Hankook Tire Quarterly Gauge Index, results showed that 86 percent of American drivers have had their car damaged by others when parked and never received a note from the person responsible. However, despite these findings, the gauge also revealed that only 14 percent of Americans say they have dinged a car and didn’t leave a note, which begs the question: Who’s telling the truth?
Aside from avoiding issues with others on the road, drivers also tend to neglect their own routine car obligations. The recent gauge index also revealed that 57 percent of Americans leave regular car maintenance obligations such as registration, oil changes, and car inspections until the last minute or past the recommended timeframe.
But what the large majority of the driving population lacks in fulfilling some standard car care needs, they make up for in other ways. Seventy-seven percent of drivers make sure to fill their gas tank before or immediately after their gas light goes on. And although many Americans lack manners by failing to leave notes in parking lots, they take pride in their parking skills. Sixty-seven percent of drivers consider themselves “excellent” or “good” parallel parkers, maneuvering into a tight spot in two tries or less.
Now that the fall and winter months are here provide drivers with less than stellar road conditions are here, take into account these helpful car safety tips that will help you be more mindful of your cars basic needs:
Check your tank – Running low on fuel on a regular basis can be hazardous to a car because it causes the fuel pump to pick up debris from the bottom of the fuel tank that can clog the pump or fuel injectors. Be mindful of your gauge, and try to get to the nearest fueling station as soon as you can.
Check your engine – Thirty-one percent of Americans wait to change the oil until past the recommended service date. Not changing your oil often enough allows harmful dirt, particulates and acids to degrade or damage key engine parts.
Rotate your tires – According to the Hankook Tire Quarterly Gauge Index, 33 percent of Americans say tire rotation is the No. 1 routine car maintenance obligation that they put off until the last minute. However, rotating the tires allows them to wear more evenly, increasing the tires’ lifespan.
Choose the right tire – Do you know what brand of tires you have on your car right now? If you said no, you’re not alone. Thirty-six percent of Americans say they don’t know their tire brand. Knowing this information is important to be sure if the tires are appropriate for the upcoming fall and winter driving conditions. The Hankook Winter i-cept evo is a winter tire that provides excellent performance during winter weather conditions.
(BPT) - When cousins Bo and Luke Duke from the television series The Dukes of Hazzard named their car “The General Lee,” they had the famous General Robert E. Lee in mind. Why? The show was set in the South, so perhaps it was to capture the Southern vibe of the Duke lifestyle. Maybe it symbolized rebellion against authority. Who knows? There are as many reasons for naming a car as there are drivers, and the Dukes were in good company when they named theirs.
Thirty-five (35) percent of Americans have named their car in the past, proving that our cars can have a deeper emotional hold on us than just a way to get from point A to point B, according to Hankook Tire’s quarterly Spring Gauge Index.
Gender influences choices. The Gauge showed that women are more likely to consider the car they drive a female, and men are more likely to consider their car male. On the other hand, approximately half of those surveyed stay gender-neutral when it comes to cars, considering their vehicle neither male nor female. Some of the most popular names were “Betsy,” “Bessie,” and “Baby.” On the other end were the more unconventional, exotic titles including “The Accordion,” “Petunia” and “NellyBelly.”
Whether or not you name your car, treat it like a friend and it will take better care of you. This season, treating your car right includes:
Anticipating slick surfaces - Stopping on a wet road can take up to four times the normal distance on a dry road. During wet weather conditions, drive slowly and keep in mind that stopping distances will be longer. Tires like the Hankook Ventus V12 evo2 have circumferential and Aqua Jet lateral grooves that promote efficient water evacuation from the center of the tire’s contact patch to enhance hydroplaning resistance and wet traction.
Learning to change a tire – Whether it’s from a class, a friend, or dear ol’ dad, take a few pointers on changing a tire. And always make sure you pack a spare tire in your trunk. You never know when you’ll find yourself in an unfortunate situation on the road.
Rotating your tires – Tire rotation extends the life of your tires and ensures optimal performance. Many don’t do this routinely, but when done correctly, tire rotation promotes even wear and improved tread life giving you the maximum life out of your tires. A professional tire dealer can get the job done for you in a quick visit.
(BPT) - Babies are measured and weighed frequently in the first few years of life so parents and pediatricians can be sure they are getting a healthy start. But as kids get older, many parents don’t know exactly how tall or heavy their children are. Knowing your child’s height and weight, and using the right car or booster seat when they travel, could save their life.
Booster seats protect children who are too big for a car seat but too small for a seat belt. And yet, according to “Buckle Up: Booster Seats,” a new study released by Safe Kid Worldwide, an alarming number of parents are allowing kids to use a seat belt alone before they are big enough. The report, funded in part by a $2 million grant from the General Motors Foundation, surveyed parents of children ages 4 to 10 and found that seven in ten do not know that a child should be 57 inches tall to ride in a car without a booster seat. Furthermore, in practice, nine out of ten parents move a child from a booster seat to a seat belt too soon.
While car seats, booster seats and seat belts are engineered to offer more protection than ever, anyone who drives a child needs to remember to use a booster seat until a seat belt alone fits safely. Safe Kids offers this easy tip: a child needs to be at least 57 inches tall (4 feet 9 inches) and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds to ride with just a seat belt.
Motor vehicle crashes are the second-leading cause of death for children 4 to 10 years old in the U.S. In 2012, 340 children of this age died in motor vehicle crashes. A third of these children were riding without a restraint that could possibly have saved their lives. Booster seats can reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent compared to seat belts alone.
The report also found that carpooling can be a particularly risky time for small passengers. One in five parents whose children carpool say they “bend the rules” when driving, letting children ride without seat belts and without the car seat or booster seat they would normally use. And 61 percent of parents say they notice other carpool drivers bending the rules.
Safe Kids Worldwide also recommends these tips for parents:
* Buckle up every ride, every time, in the right seat. This is important for everyone, both drivers and passengers. Make buckling up a habit starting when kids are young.
* Remember: A child needs to be at least 57 inches tall (4 foot 9 inches) and weigh 80-100 pounds to ride with just a seat belt. Weigh and measure your child today.
* Be confident that a car seat is installed properly. Learn more about car seat safety and find a car seat inspection event near you by visiting safekids.org.
(BPT) - Aggressive drivers speed, drive too fast or carelessly, change lanes without warning, cut off other vehicles, tailgate and pass in ways that endanger others. Aggressive driving likely causes “a substantial number” of the 6.8 million crashes that occur every year on American highways, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says. Everyone is aware of aggressive drivers, but you may be surprised to learn how many people think that other drivers are the only offenders; the truth is that most drivers should take a closer look in the mirror – aggressive drivers may be closer than they appear.
Eighty-five percent of motorists describe other drivers’ behind-the-wheel behavior as aggressive, yet only 36 percent admit their own driving is aggressive, according to a survey by Safeco Insurance. Despite that discrepancy, the survey also revealed wide-spread agreement on two important points: 82 percent said they experience negative feelings because of how other people drive, and 72 percent said they would welcome the chance to improve the driving experience for everyone and make at least one change to their own behavior.
Recognizing the need to reduce aggressive driving, Safeco launched a “Drive it Forward Fridays” movement. Drivers can visit www.safeco.com/diff, or use the hashtag #DIFF, to pledge to be more courteous drivers, and to share how they’re making positive changes to their driving habits.
The survey also identified behaviors that, if stopped, would make driving more pleasant for everyone. This includes cutting off other drivers (59 percent), using high beams toward oncoming traffic (57 percent) and tailgating (56 percent).
“People’s emotions and anxieties often will play out on our roads and highways, putting us all in tense, high-stress driving conditions that can be dangerous,” says Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist and author of the book “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.” Alpert has also written about road rage. “Changing aggressive driving habits is not only good for society, but it's good for your mental health. Simple positive acts can have a huge impact on how you feel by activating the reward center in the brain - meaning it really can make you feel good.”
Alpert offers some tips to help drivers begin curbing aggressive road behaviors:
* Aggressive drivers cut off other motorists, tailgate, have unnecessary and excessive use the horn, speed and change lanes rapidly. If these behaviors describe your driving habits, resolve to make a change for the better.
* Model good driving behavior by being friendly and courteous on the road. Your good behavior can inspire others to be courteous as well. Give up a parking spot, and when it’s safe to do so, allow other drivers to move into your lane.
* Accept that some undesirable road conditions, such as heavy traffic, slow drivers or excessively fast ones are a normal and unavoidable reality of driving. If you normalize these irritations, you’re less likely to be frustrated by them.
* Don’t take it personally. A driver who cut you off was likely just being thoughtless, and didn’t intend to anger or endanger you. Consider other explanations; perhaps the driver is traveling to an emergency or simply didn’t see you.
In addition to improving your own behaviors and encouraging others to do so, too, avoid antagonizing aggressive drivers. NHTSA recommends you do your best to get out of the way of aggressive drivers and don’t encourage them by speeding up or attempting to block them. Avoid eye contact and ignore rude gestures – in short, don’t encourage bad driving behavior by behaving badly yourself.
(BPT) - It is summer and you can’t wait to get out on the road to head to the cabin, on vacation or just a nice carefree ride with the windows down. But while you may be ready to go, is your car? These quick vehicle inspection tips will help you make sure your vehicle is ready for the open road.
Is it cool in here?
Make sure your vehicle is ready to beat the heat by inspecting the air-conditioning (AC) and engine cooling systems. This means removing dirt and debris from the fins of the AC condenser and radiator.
While you’re near the radiator, check the coolant level. Look in the owner’s manual for the right anti-freeze. A newer car might require a completely different anti-freeze then what was used by that car’s brand a few years ago. “Mixing incompatible anti-freezes can instantly gum up the cooling system,” says Tom Taylor, engineer and vice president of auto parts retailer RockAuto.com.
Also check the cabin air filter that freshens the air flowing into the interior. This filter typically needs to be replaced annually, but it can clog up much faster if the car is driven on dirt roads or parked under trees. “Owners are so relieved when they discover their AC problems are solved by simply popping a new cabin air filter in place behind the glove box,” says Taylor.
Kick the tires
Wherever you plan to go this summer, your tires will take you there; make sure they’re in great shape.
Start by checking the tire pressure. Most tires have a maximum tire pressure printed on the side of the tire, but you want to inflate the tires only to the cold tire pressure printed on the decal inside the driver’s door jam. “With today’s low-profile tires, the difference between the maximum and cold pressures might be 20 PSI or more. Inflate a cold tire to the maximum pressure printed on the tire and it will be seriously over inflated once it hits the hot pavement,” says RockAuto.com’s Taylor.
Keep up that strict oil change schedule
If you want your engine to stay cool and last, it’s essential that you change the oil at the appropriate times and with the proper oil. With older cars, owners might have used lighter weight oil in the winter and heavier oil in the summer. Today’s engines often require the same weight oil year round. “Modern engines use oil as a hydraulic fluid for operating valves and doing other new things. Pour 10W-30 into a new engine that requires 0W-20 and there will likely be problems,” says Taylor. Use the weight of oil recommended in the owner’s manual and don’t forget to change the oil filter too.
Take care of your vehicle and follow these tips and you can be sure it will be there with you for every new mile marker and memory this summer and beyond.