Monthly Archives

December 2016

Helping Your Teen Know Their Vehicle

By | Safety | No Comments

Helping Your Teen Know their Vehicle

Congratulations your teen has passed their driving course. You might be feeling excited, nervous…scared — or a jumbled feeling of all three. Don’t worry, this is totally normal. In addition to you accompanying your teen on the road as they hone their skills, help your new driver become familiar with his/her car:

  • Pumping gas

What type of fuel to select at the pump
Where the gas cap is located
How/where to pay
Safe practices at the pump
Setting a good rule of thumb on when to refuel

  • Keeping track of maintenance schedules

Discuss vehicle stats like the make, model and where the VIN is located
Have him/her read (at least skim) the vehicle’s owner manual
Discuss the type of oil the vehicle uses
Mileage and preferred location for an oil change
How to check the vehicle oil level
Adding windshield washer fluid
Discuss or share relevant smartphone app

  • Learning how to check tire pressure and adding air when needed

Where on the vehicle the recommended tire pressure and tire size is located
How to check the pressure
How to inflate tires to the recommended tire pressure

  • Jump-starting the car

Location of jumper cables – the use of jumper cables is not for a vehicle that has an electronic ignition system or an alternatively fueled vehicle
Where the vehicle’s battery is located and how to access it
Practice where to place the cables and safety guidelines

  • Knowing where the jack, lug wrench, and spare tire are and how to use them

Recommend a local tire dealer or service garage for assistance
The size and location of the spare tire and how to remove it
Discuss a safe place to pull off the road and where the hazard lights are located

Why this is so helpful

Educating your teen about their car means they hopefully won’t be that person who runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere because he/she drove around with a nearly-empty tank, the one whose tire blew out because he/she forgot to check the pressure, or ignored vehicle warning lights.

Expert Picks – The Safest Vehicles for Your Dollar

By | Safety | No Comments

Expert Picks – Safe and Affordable Vehicles for Your Teen

With 2017 knocking on your door comes the feeling of a new, fresh year.

Perhaps buying your Teen a vehicle is part of your New Year plan?

Cars and trucks come with many new or improved safety systems to help drivers avoid a crash.

Newer safety features include:

  1. Closing in on a car too quicklyForward-collision warning, with or without an auto brake, is on top of many car shoppers wish list.
  2. Changing lanes into an unseen car Blind-spot warning and rear cross traffic alert are available and a real eye-opener. This is a top rated safety feature by folks at Consumer Report.
  3. Backing out – Whether it be your driveway or the grocery parking spot. Backup cameras are more common on newer vehicles. Backup cameras could become standard on all 2018 vehicles.
  4. Driving distractedLane departure warning alerts you when your vehicle’s wanders out of your lane, helps keep you straight!

While all these safety features are incredible and extremely beneficial, the reality for most parents is buying an additional car is a financial decision. Buying a new model year or even a one or two-year-old vehicle might not be in the budget. With this reality in mind, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has compiled a list of budget-friendly used vehicles with critical safety features for your new teen driver.

IIHS’s picks are broken out into two categories:

Best Choices: Recommended used vehicles for teens starting under $20,000
Good Choices: Recommended used vehicles for teens starting under $10,000

Furthermore, the IIHS’s recommends purchasing a vehicle for your teen be based on four main principles:

  1. Steer clear of high horsepower vehicles.
  2. Bigger, heavier vehicles may provide better protection in a crash.
  3. Consider Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This feature helps maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads.
  4. Your vehicle should have the best safety ratings possible.

Note: There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.

IIHS recommends at a minimum your vehicle also include:

  1. Good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test
  2. Acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test
  3. Four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The list and recommendations are a guide to help you buy a vehicle with both safety and affordability in mind for your teen / high-school / college driver, whatever your budget.

Happy Shopping!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Top Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle

By | Safety | No Comments

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Top Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle

Winter arrived early for a lot of folks in the U.S. even though the “first” day isn’t technically until December 21, 2016. As temperatures continue to drop it is important to have your vehicle ready for your everyday commute and before you embark on any road-travel plans.

Top Tips:

  1. Prioritize any scheduled, routine maintenance/tune-up for your vehicle.
  2. Check the battery or ask to have the battery checked by your mechanic. Replacing the battery or making system repairs, including simple things like tightening the battery cable connections is important this time of year.
  3. Check your windshield wipers (especially the driver side), wiper fluid and defroster for all perfect working order.
  4. Inspect your tire pressure and age of your tires. Properly inflated tires save lives! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), under-inflated tires are the leading cause of tire failure, which accounts for 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year. Your vehicle manufacturer posts the recommended tire pressure on your vehicle either near the driver’s door jam, on the glove compartment door or in the owner’s manual. It is recommended that you do not inflate tires to the maximum pressure molded onto the tire’s sidewall.
    Should you need to purchase new tires either due to wear or age, NHSTA recommends checking out for tire ratings. You’ll need to ensure the tread is sufficient with no uneven wear, and that the rubber is in good overall condition. It is also important to have a spare tire, ideally a full-size spare.
  5. Keep a car safety kit in your vehicle that includes some cold weather supplies such as; jumper cables, gloves, flare, water, blanket, extra vehicle fluids, working flashlight, basic tools, cell phone charger and an extra set of winter clothing.

How Does a Graduated License Work?

By | Safety | No Comments

How Does a Graduated License Work?

According to the Governors Highway Association report in December 2016, Novice drivers have higher crash rates. Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs allow young drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges.

Most GDL programs include three stages:

Learner Stage: Supervised driving, cumulating with a driving test
Intermediate Stage: Limiting unsupervised driving in high-risk situations
Full Privilege Stage: A standard driver’s license

GDL driving restrictions for novice drivers vary from state to state, the three below are the most common:

  1. Cell Phones/Texting: 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers. (See GHSA’s Cell Phone laws page for more information.)
  2. Nighttime Driving Restriction: 48 states and D.C. restrict nighttime driving during the intermediate stage.
  3. Passenger Restriction: 46 states and D.C. restrict the number of passengers during the intermediate stage.

Curious about the GDL Laws in Your State?

Click here to find out your own State’s GDL laws. You can also check out your licensing agency’s Web site for the driver manual your teen can read and a parent guide to supervised driving.

Most States require parents to certify their teen has completed the required amount of supervised driving practice – ranging anywhere from 30 to 50 hours – before your new driver can qualify for their intermediate license. Some States also require a 6 to 12-month waiting period.

A very simplistic Teen, Parent driving log is available here for download. More examples are available here.

A Parent’s engagement and oversight are crucial in enforcing their teen follow the GDL laws. Set driving ground rules with your teen and explain the consequences for breaking them; then get it in writing and, most importantly, enforce the rules.

Available for download is a sample parent/teen driving contract. Additional examples are available here.

December 2016 Proposed GDL Updates

In a report released December 1, 2016, by the National Safety Council (NSC) and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) both organizations are calling for a three-step, multi-year licensing system that applies to all new drivers younger than 21 (rather than the current law that only applies to drivers age 18 or younger).

Recommended requirements would include:

  1. A mandatory in-vehicle technology to track practice hours
  2. A full-year ban on carrying passengers and driving at night
  3. Decals to aid identification
  4. On-going driver’s education classes
  5. Parents would also be required to spend at least 50 hours supervising their teens driving