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Updated: 39 min 19 sec ago

Teenager danger: Five rules for young drivers

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - If you’re feeling nervous about handing the car keys to your teenager for the first time, you’re not alone. It’s a common sentiment given some sobering statistics. According to, 20 percent of all 16-year-old drivers will be involved in an accident during their first year behind the wheel.  And studies show more teenage motor vehicle fatalities happen during the summer than any other time of year. But there are some things you can do to help keep your teenager from becoming a statistic. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has some tips and tools to keep your teen safe.

Though auto accidents are a fact of life for most drivers, even a minor fender bender can impact insurance rates, costing parents and teens for years to come. The good news is research shows teen drivers who follow rules are half as likely to get in an accident. Before your teen hits the road, consider establishing some simple guidelines to protect his or her safety and your wallet:

1. Set a driving curfew. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Set a curfew to keep your teen off the road during these times.

2. Limit passengers. A teen’s relative risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases with each additional passenger. More passengers equal more potential distractions.

3. Make the cell phone off limits while driving. Talking and texting can double the likelihood of an accident. If your teen must use the phone, instruct him or her to pull over before doing so and be sure to set a good example when you are behind the wheel.

4. Empower your teen to exercise his or her rights as a passenger. Only 44 percent of teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them. Remind your teens they are just as vulnerable in an accident as the driver, so they should speak up if they feel unsafe.

5. Be Prepared. Arm your teens with the knowledge of what they should do if they do get into an accident. Mobile apps such as WreckCheck can help take the guesswork out of a tense situation, guiding users through a step-by-step process to create an accident report. WreckCheck uses your device’s location service, camera and audio recorder to document all pertinent information about the incident and provides tips on how to file and follow up on a claim.

A Teen Driver Contract is a simple way to keep your teen accountable. It establishes basic driving ground rules and clearly lays out the consequences associated with driving privileges. The NAIC has developed an online tool to guide parents through building a customized Teen Driver Contract. There’s also a downloadable sample contract to help get you started.

Educating yourself and your new driver about the risks and insurance implications of unsafe driving can save lives and money. As your teen begins his or her journey on the roadways, take time to speak openly and candidly about your expectations for behind-the-wheel behavior.

Categories: Lifestyle

Carpools and school buses: tips for arriving to school safely and on time

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Your children are getting older and with each new grade level they want more independence. You’re OK with that, but you still get a little worried when you think about them getting to school safely each day. Whether they drive themselves, ride in a carpool or they take the bus, safety is paramount.

Follow these safety precautions and you’ll make sure your independent student is there and ready to focus on schoolwork each and every morning.

Tips for traveling by car

* Take your time. Leaving plenty of time to arrive at school ensures no one will be late. It also prevents the driver from speeding, or failing to look before changing lanes or pulling into an intersection.

* Wear your seatbelt. This one’s easy if you’re driving the carpool – everyone buckles up. If your teen is driving alone however, make sure you stress the importance of seat belts. Research shows 17,000 people a year died in crashes, who could have been saved if they had worn a seat belt. No one wants to join that list.

* Make sure the car is ready. Sometimes the weather conditions are less than optimal. That’s why it’s important to have your car ready for any weather. Rain-X Latitude Wiper Blades offer virtually streak-free visibility in rain, sleet or snow, assuring no matter what Mother Nature is doing outside, you or your teen will have clear visibility. And to keep the rain from collecting on your windshield in the first place, use Rain-X 2-in-1 Glass Cleaner with Rain Repellent. It automatically repels rain, sleet and snow, improving your wet weather visibility. Better visibility means better response time. In tests conducted by a major university, response time improved up to a full second or more. At highway speeds, that is almost four car lengths of extra stopping distance.

* Don’t drive distracted. Focus on something other than the road and you or your teen risks causing an accident. When operating a motor vehicle, there’s no place for cellphones, tablets, eating or anything else that might shift focus away from the road. It all can wait until you or your teen reach the destination.

How to keep the bus ride safe and simple

* Head out early. Make sure your kids give themselves plenty of time to get to the bus stop in the morning. Rushing to the stop can lead to accidents, especially if kids must cross a street or two.

* Help the driver. Children should stay 10 giant steps away did this recommendation come from the bus as it pulls up to the stop. This will enable the driver to see them and prevent accidents.

* Dress appropriately. Wearing a hood at the bus stop makes it more difficult for children to see or hear the traffic around them. Ask your child to keep his or her hood down until they get on the bus.

* Wait their turn. Children who run toward the bus as it is pulling into the stop risk falling under or in front of the bus. Instead kids should wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and open its door before walking – slowly – to get on.

A new school year means more responsibility for your child. Whether that responsibility includes getting on the bus by themselves or driving their own car to school, following the proper safety procedures will ensure everyone arrives safely and ready to learn.

Categories: Lifestyle

Home on the road: Insight and advice about America's driving habits

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Our homes may be our castles, but as we do more and spend more time in our vehicles, our four-wheeled chariots are not too far behind.

We eat, talk, work, and sometimes even dress in our vehicles. We do things we’re not supposed to – specifically, texting. And we’re increasingly imposing the same behavior on our cars that we do on our houses.

Eating: These days, the comfort of a dining room or a kitchen table with dishes is no longer a meal requirement; Americans are taking it to the streets! The Hankook Tire Gauge Index revealed that 30 percent of Americans eat at least one meal a week in their car.

Cleaning: Surprisingly, despite the potential mess from the occasional road meal, most American drivers are still managing to keep their little home on wheels in good condition. The Gauge also found that 71 percent of drivers are keeping their car well-managed and 12 percent say they keep their car pristine.

Smoking: Much like in a house, Americans are enforcing the “no smoking” policy in their cars, as 71 percent of Americans say smoking tobacco is their biggest pet peeve in a car. Next to the smoker, 38 percent believe the backseat driver as the biggest car irritant.

Texting: Bad habits in our homes can sometimes be transferred to the car and can be equally hard to break. Nobody likes texting at the dinner table and it should certainly be frowned upon behind the wheel. However, Hankook Tire’s quarterly Summer Gauge index found that despite the strict laws against it, as well as the obvious dangers, 16 percent of Americans text while driving.

Time alone in the car is important for some so it is no wonder so much is being done during that time. But certain habits like multitasking, namely texting while driving which can divert attention from the most important tasks in the car such as driving and safety, should be left at home.

Pay attention to these factors to reach your destination smoothly:

Play it safe: Mute the sound or turn off your phone every time you climb into your car. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving increases the risk of accident 23.2 times over unimpaired driving.

Keep a spare tire handy: According to the Hankook Summer Gauge Index, in the past month, only 41 percent of Americans have checked that their spare tire is ready to use. Before embarking on any road trips, make sure your spare tire is neatly packed in your trunk, inflated to its proper setting, and in working condition if needed in an emergency.

Maintain steering and suspension in proper alignment: Whether it’s the front or rear of your car, misalignment of the steering and suspension can seriously affect the safe operation as well as the stability of a vehicle. Additionally, it can cause rapid and uneven tire wear. When alignment is not corrected, the lifespan of a tire is vastly diminished.

Select the right tires: It can be easy to forget just what kind of tires you have on your vehicle. Be sure to check to see if you’re using the appropriate tires. The new Hankook Ultra-High Performance Ventus V12 evo2 and High Performance All-Season Ventus V2 concept2 tires are perfect for handling varied road conditions.

Categories: Lifestyle

Smart ideas to get your car running, and looking, its best before your next road trip

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Are you a self-proclaimed road warrior who loves when other drivers do a double take to admire your well-cared-for car? Do you like to make others envious of your engine’s soft purr, your car’s immaculate finish, manicured curves and polished accents? Even if you’re not a car connoisseur, summer travel is upon us and now’s the time to get your vehicle road trip ready – inside and out.

Tune in to tune up

Before you hit the gas, it’s important to make sure your car is running properly so you don’t end up stranded on the side of the road. First, check the fluids – oil, coolant, brake and windshield washer. If it’s almost time to get the oil changed, get ahead of the game and do it before you leave. A long road trip can put additional stress on your motor, but clean oil can keep things working properly.

Another way to keep everything running smoothly is to maintain the health of your tires. This not only creates a much safer driver experience, allowing you to handle the car better, but also saves money on fuel. Review your vehicle owner’s manual for the correct air pressure for your specific tires.

The condition of the exterior tire surface should be cared for as well. Driving on bald tires can be extremely dangerous and can cause you to lose control in slick conditions. Tires also tend to heat up on long trips and thin tire walls can result in unnecessary blow-outs. To make sure you have proper tire tread, insert a penny in between several different tread grooves across the tire with the bottom of Lincoln’s head facing down. If the tire tread doesn’t touch honest Abe’s head, it’s time to invest in a new set of tires.

Lastly, check to be certain all lights and signals are functioning properly. Sit in the car and turn each light or signal on and off while a friend observes. This will ensure you can properly communicate with other drivers on the road, especially during night time travel.

Primped and polished

Now that the inner workings of your ride have been tended to, it’s time to give the outside a makeover.

First, give your car a quick wash and then some personality. A fast and affordable way to enhance the look of your ride is with Custom Wrap Removable Coating from Dupli-Color. Change the color completely or simply add a racing stripe or modify your wheels in a few steps.

Whether you’re cruising in a car, truck or motorcycle, the spray on, peel-off formula provides a smooth finish that lasts months, perfect for an extended getaway. Plus, it can be removed in a matter of minutes without the need for tools or solvents.

Custom Wrap comes in six matte finishes – Carbon Black, Graphite Metallic, Performance Red, Arctic White, Patriot Blue and Jet Grey – and even shields against surface scratches from dust and dirt, while protecting from rain, snow and UV exposure. If you happen to notice any pre-travel nicks and chips on the finish, use an exact-match touch-up paint tool, like Scratch Fix All-in-1, to quickly and affordably conceal, cover, seal and protect.

Get your gear in gear

Now that your car is prepared for the road trip ahead, it’s important for you to make sure you’re equipped with everything you need to make your getaway a success. These days, many cars come equipped with GPS but you never know when that might malfunction or a signal is lost. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have a paper map handy in case you need to take a detour or would like to break your planned route and go exploring.

To avoid frequent stops, take tasty, filling snacks like pretzels, granola bars, trail mix or beef jerky. Bottles of water will keep you hydrated, but don’t overdo it otherwise you’ll be making several pit stops along the way. And don’t forget to make sure your glove compartment and trunk are both stocked with emergency essentials like a flashlight, jumper cables, roadside flares, blankets and a first aid kit. And, of course, no road trip is complete without a fun playlist to act as the soundtrack for your journey.

Once you’ve followed these necessary steps to make sure your car is functioning properly and looking great, consider that your green light to go. The open road awaits you.

Categories: Lifestyle

Make the most of summer: 4 easy ways to go boating

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Itching to get on the water and have some fun this summer? Whether it’s fishing, sailing, cruising or watersports, they’re easier and more accessible than many think. Even better? Boating is one surefire way to make every summer weekend feel like a vacation close to home.

Boating is a popular American pastime, with an estimated 88.5 million Americans getting on the water each year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. What’s more, boating is close to home with 90 percent of Americans living within an hour’s drive of a lake, river or ocean perfect for boating.

"The reality is there's a boat for every budget and for boaters, being on the water creates priceless experiences - whether it’s fishing, watersports, sailing, personal watercraft or cruising, spending time on the water with family and friends creates memories for a lifetime," says Carl Blackwell, president of Discover Boating. "Being an avid boater, I know how accessible it can be and how important it is to do your research to figure out what kind of boat fits your budget and lifestyle. One of the best kept secrets is how to get on the water without owning a boat - consider it research since it gets you on your way to becoming a boater before you own one." has four budget-friendly ways to get your feet wet this summer:

* Join the club: Boat clubs are one of the best ways to experience the boating lifestyle. There are thousands of boating clubs and organizations across the U.S. that offer everything from sailing to powerboating and watersports. Members receive access to a fleet of boats for use, plus clubs usually provide maintenance, storage and boating education. Find a club near you using the boat club finder.

* Get schooled: Boating schools and courses are a great way to take the helm and learn the rules of the water. Hone your sailing or powerboating skills by learning the basics in boat operation and have fun in the process. Check out a list of courses and find one that floats your boat close to home.

* Test the waters: Rental options have come a long way with hourly or daily rentals to peer-to-peer options making boating even more accessible. Boat renters can now rent directly through boat owners, creating an affordable way to use privately-owned boats equipped with amenities from insurance to boating education. Another popular option is fractional ownership, similar to lodging timeshares, where members can pre-schedule use of the boat online, and week-long charters that let you fully experience the boating lifestyle.

Climb aboard: Looking to captain your own vessel? There’s a boat out there for every budget, interest and body of water. Use the Discover Boating boat selector tool to narrow down the search for everything from price to number of passengers to boating activities and more. The tool matches you with boats that fit your needs, so you can do your homework and have a head start on shopping.

This spring and summer, don’t get left on the dock and take advantage of the warmer weather aboard a boat. Whether curious about boating or looking into ownership, explore opportunities to get your feet wet and experience the fun of life on the water.

Categories: Lifestyle
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