Category Archives: Safe Driving

5 Tips For Driving In The Rain

These past couple of weeks we have seen a bit of rain, to say the least. It has put a good amount of water on the ground and snarled traffic all throughout the metroplex. I happened to get caught in the rain and it got me thinking. Some people just don’t know how to drive safely in the rain. I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 tips for driving in the rain.

  1. Turn on your headlights. If your car has daytime running lamps, then there’s a good possibility that your rear lights are not on. Be sure to turn them on so people who are behind you can see where you are!
  2. Slow down! This is a no-brainer. The faster you are going, the less time you have to react to someone hydroplaning or slowing down.
  3. Don’t follow large vehicles. The spray from their tires reduces your visibility drastically. If you must pass them, do so quickly.
  4. Replace your old windshield wipers. I cannot stress this enough. Wipers are the key to your visibility in any amount of rain. If you can’t see, you shouldn’t be driving.
  5. Don’t be afraid to get off the road. If you don’t feel comfortable driving, no one will think less of you for pulling over and waiting for the rain to let up.

The weather in North Texas can be unpredictable much like the downpour we have seen these past couple of weeks. Knowing how to drive in sudden rain-storms is a very valuable skill that we all need to have. There are so many more factors that go into driving safely in the rain, this list is just the tip of the iceberg.

Whatever you do, don’t be this guy!

Do You Know The Real Use Of The Left Lane?

How long has it been since you taken a driving course? Unless you’ve had to take some sort of defensive driving class for a traffic violation, then I’m guessing it’s probably been awhile. I swear, 98 percent of the population thinks that they are an amazing driver. Then you have the other two percent who will willingly admit they are terrible drivers and even go on shows like America’s Worst Drivers. Pretty entertaining show by the way if you haven’t seen it.

Imagine a world where everyone remembers every single thing they learned from driver’s ed and applied it to their everyday driving. Pretty sure we’d see a significant drop in cases of road rage. I’m a realistic person, though, and I know that’ll never happen. But in the meantime, I can share some mini refresher courses on the areas I think need the most attention — starting with the rules of the left lane.

Left Lane Rules

When it comes to the left lane, there are two things people seem to forget: how to use the left lane and how to pass someone in the left lane.

  1. Usage of the Left Lane
    Driver’s ed taught us that the left land is for faster-moving traffic and passing.  You probably don’t belong in the left lane if one or all of the following three things occurs: someone is dangerous tailgating you, one or more cars is weaving in and out of traffic in the other lanes just to land themselves directly in front of you or you see the person behind you making hand gestures or yelling at you. Regardless of how fast these other drivers may be going, the proper thing to do is yield to faster moving traffic in the left lane. Failure to do so results in impeding the flow of traffic, which is not only dangerous, it’s also illegal in most jurisdictions.
  2. Left-Lane Passing
    Have you ever been stuck on a four-lane highway or road because two vehicles are driving at the exact same speed? This is one of my biggest pet peeves and is usually a result of the “cruise control pass”.  Here’s how this happens… John Doe decides that he wants to pass Joe Black so he pulls into the left lane to do so. However, John Doe is attempting to pass Joe Black with his cruise control set at 65 mph. Since Joe Black is only going 62 mph, it takes forever for this pass to be complete which is only two mph faster than the car he is attempting to pass. Remember, when passing someone in the left lane, you must speed up sufficiently enough to get past the other guy quickly.

So there you have it, the rules of the left lane. Know them, learn them, live them. Stay tuned for more lessons in driving.

Can you pick out reckless drivers?

What is an unsafe or reckless driver? Think of it this way, is it someone who speeds or someone talking on their cell as they blow through a stop sign? It’s obvious the latter.

I’m not going to preach to anyone that ‘Speed Kills’ when it has been proven that speed on it’s own is not the killer. We all exceed the speed limit. It’s when you mix in your in ability to control your vehicle because you lack focus. Basically, it’s speed combined with any of the following

1) Drink or Drugs
2) Dangerous Driving
3) Reckless Driving

…. this is what causes the accidents and kills.

Please, always remember. Be safe, be alert, be cautious and arrive alive.

Now the general tone of this video was humorous, but trust me when I tell you that there are plenty more reckless driving videos on the net that I could have pulled up that would have ruined your day. For the time being I hope this video puts some people back in touch with reality when they get behind the wheel.

Focus. Be alert. Know your surroundings, including vehicles, pedestrians and objects. If you refuse to stay vigilant behind the wheel, then you are driving recklessly by default. Please drive carefully.

This is just a friendly reminder from your me and the rest of us at Freeman Grapevine.

Do you use child restraints properly?

I found a perfect example of the how important it is to not only use a protective child seat, but to understand how to install it properly. Read below. I found this story at consumer reports. Not only does it emphasize the importance of child restraints, but also wearing YOUR seat belt as well!

You never think it’s going to happen to you. I was driving up to visit a friend for a playdate, both kids, 2 and 4, in the back. This was a tough winter in the northeast, and the roads were not perfect.

I was trundling along at the speed limit, not talking on the phone, not texting, when I hit some ice on the road. I completely lost control of the car, which hit the snow bank on the side of the highway. The car rolled one-and-a-half times and ended up upside down on the side of the highway.

I was trapped in the seatbelt (thank goodness!) and the kids were suspended from their carseats. Four or five cars stopped, reaffirming my faith in human nature, and helped us all out of the car, which was totaled. The kind strangers stayed with us until the police and ambulance arrived. Bottom line, we were all OK (except for the car).

This is what I took away from the incident: We were very lucky, but it wasn’t just luck that protected us that day. I was driving a Consumer Reports recommended vehicle. The kids were in Consumer Reports’ top-rated, carseats, which happen to be inexpensive. The seats were properly installed. The kids were correctly buckled in. My 4 year old, being just under 40 pounds (he’s a skinny one), was still using the 5-point restraint.

Things could have been, and likely would have been, very different if I didn’t use Consumer Reports ratings and follow Consumer Reports advice. My kids and I walked away from a horrific accident without a scratch. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I owe my life and my family to the people here who work day in and day out to provide this information to the public.

This is just one story out of the 1,000’s of serious accidents that happen every year. Luckily, this one had a happy ending, but not all are as lucky.

A properly used and installed car seat is paramount when driving with children. Further, you can teach them the importance of using their seatbelts as they get older. Hopefully, by the time hey start driving, using their seatbelt will be automatic.

Just have a baby? If you have any questions on how to properly install your car seat, swing by and we’ll show you!

Do you know how to handle a tire blowout?

If you’ve never experienced a tire blowout, let me just tell you that it’s beyond scary. This is especially true if you don’t know how to handle the vehicle in this situation. There are several reasons a tire may blow out. The two most common reasons have to do with the air pressure.  Too low of pressure causes the tire to flex more than they are designed to, and if the pressure if too high, the tires a stressed beyond the designed limits.

The easy way to avoid a blowout, is to check your tire pressure at least once month (especially during the summer). However, checking the tire pressure is not a sure-fire way to avoid a blowout. There could be a defect in the tire itself or the wheel, in which case you’d be none the wiser.

The best thing I can suggest to you is to be prepared. Know what to do and what to expect when it happens.

Step 1: Stay cool.

Ignore your natural instinct to hit the brakes or jerk the steering wheel when you have a blowout.

Step 2: Accelerate slightly.

Accelerate slightly to maintain control of the vehicle. Keep going straight.

Tip: Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands at 10 o’clock and two o’clock on the wheel to avoid losing control.

Step 3: Decelerate.

Ease off the accelerator slowly.

Step 4: Coast.

Maintain your course while the vehicle slows.

Step 5: Apply brakes.

Apply the brakes gently when your car slows to 30 miles per hour.

Step 6: Turn on right turn signal.

Tip: Never stop on the left side of the road, if possible. This is the most dangerous place to be.

Step 7: Pull over.

Pull your vehicle off to the side of the road, and breathe a sigh of relief…you’ve just survived a blowout.

[How Cast]

What you SHOULDN’T do when encountering a tornado on the road

…to seeking cover under an overpass during a tornado

The misconception is that the wind associated with a tornado is confined to within the visible funnel cloud. Unfortunately, a tornado is not a vacuum cleaner hose hanging out of the sky. One possibility why many people think that being under an overpass offers protection is that with something above them, the bridge will prevent the wind from going ‘up’ underneath the overpass. This simply is just not true.

There is no doubt that essentially living at the southern tip of tornado alley we get to see our fair share of destructive tornadoes. Being in your home is one thing, you can take shelter in an interior room. However, what do you do if you are caught out on the road? I know every one’s first instinct is to protect their car and themselves and their first instinct is to take shelter under the nearest immovable object like an overpass. If you know anything about physics, you should rethink this tactic. The fact of the matter is that you may have just made your situation much worse.

Actually, the interaction between a tornado and an overpass is much more like this.

…and here’s a visual reference behind the science.

This is why one of the first and foremost rules in general tornado safety is to get as low as possible, because that is where the wind speed is the lowest! By climbing up underneath the overpass,  you are moving into a place where the wind speeds are typically higher. In addition, under an overpass, it is possible in some situations that when air is forced through the narrow passage underneath the bridge, this might cause an increase in the wind speeds (as mentioned earlier). Further, under different circumstances, the area beneath and just downstream of an overpass might become a debris deposition zone, where piles of debris accumulate. Think a hard rain is uncomfortable? Try being pelted with glass, shards of metal, splintered wood, hail and everything else that’s been hurled into the air.

Information from tornadochaser.net

If on a road, hide under an overpass if a tornado approaches.
The sad fact is this idea has caused many deaths of motorists already. The worst thing you can do is hide under an overpass. Winds can actually be worse under an overpass which makes it a bad place to go. Please listen, never use an overpass for protection.  

Open your windows during a tornado?
Scientists once thought that the low pressure in a tornado caused the normal air pressure in
houses to explode out. It turned out that the strong winds from the tornado destroyed the
houses, not the pressure change. If the tornado wants your windows open, it will open them for you.

The southwest corner of a basement is the safest place to go during a tornado.
The best place to go during a tornado is in a center room of the basement, like ones that are usually found under the stairs that lead down to the basement. I was once thought that the SW corner was the best place to go, but it was found the debris collects it the corners which makes it a bad place to go.

Tornadoes can’t cross water or where rivers meet.
Many tornadoes have crossed rivers & lakes, with out any effect to the tornado.

Tornadoes can not cross big hills or mountains.
Tornadoes have made damage paths up and down the side of 10,000 foot mountains, in Wyoming so the hills in eastern Kansas will not protect you.

Tornadoes can’t/don’t hit big cities.
Miami, FL, Nashville, TN,  Wichita, KS, Fort Worth, TX, and Oklahoma City  have all been hit by tornadoes in the past few years. Take shelter if a tornado warning is issued for your city.

To see what happens when you take shelter under an overpass take note of the people the pass before under the overpass and again after they drove back through.

So far, this has been the deadliest year for tornadoes across the US. North Texas and specifically DFW (none of us forget the tornado that his Fort Worth) are susceptible to extreme weather. It’s my responsibility to make sure that all of you are provided with the best information possible about your car, driving, etc. However, it’s just as important , if not more-so, that you understand the appropriate action to be taken should you ever encounter a tornado while on the road…What you decide to do or not do can potentially have fatal outcomes. I hope you will remember this article if you ever are in this situation.

What’s the right Child Safety Seat for your Baby?

Researching information regarding safety for children, I came upon an article written by the American Academy of Pediatrics on car seats and wanted to share it with you.

All parents have the same worry when traveling with children – safety. What happens if I am in a car accident, will my child be safe? Every year we have accidents that injure or kill young children.  It goes with out saying that the proper use and installation of child safety seats have helped keep children safe. Now, the question is, with so many safety seats being sold, which no doubt overwhelms most new parents, which seat is the right one for your child? The article helps with many questions a parent may have regarding safety seats.

The right safety seat for your child depends on several things like child’s size and type of car you have.  Below is a quick guide produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics on the different types of car safety seats to help you start your search.  But you still need to read more about the features and how to use your car safety seat.

Age Group Type of seat General Guidelines
 

Infants

 

Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats

 

Infants should ride rear-facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. At a minimum, children should ride rear-facing until they have reached at least 1 year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds. When children reach the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their infant-only seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible seat.

 

 

Toddlers/preschoolers

 

Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses

 

It is best for children to ride rear-facing as long as possible to the highest weight and height allowed by the manufacturer of their convertible seat. When they have outgrown the seat rear-facing, they should use a forward-facing seat with a full harness as long as they fit.

 

 

School-aged children

 

Booster seats

 

Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car safety seats. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult belts fit correctly (usually when a child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age).

 

 

Older children

 

Seat belts

 

Children who have outgrown their booster seats should ride in a lap and shoulder seat belt in the back seat until 13 years of age.

 

 

If you have any questions about proper car seat installation, you can always swing by and I’d be more than happy to show you the right way to secure the seat and keep your child safe.

How to Escape a Sinking Car

how to escape a sinking car

This is something we hear on the news from time to time. A car loses control, crashes through a retaining barrier and into a body of water. Would you know what to do if this happened to you?

This type of accident is rare, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. Thinking back on what you know or what you’ve heard, do you think that you would have the presence of mind to recollect the escape tactics that you’ve “heard” about and not panic? For sake of argument, I’m going to say “no”, you won’t. That’s OK, because until I did a little refresher research, I would have fallen into the same category as you: Knowing the theory of escape, but that’s about it.

Check out the video for a visual refresher:

Here’s a website dedicated to this very subject written from a person who’s experienced being trapped in a submerged car first hand. It’s definitely worth looking at.

The bottom line is that you have to remember to stay calm and memorize this simple course of action:

Here’s one more thing to consider. There are small, inexpensive, and convenient-to-carry tools available to the public that are made specifically to shatter a car window to free a trapped victim. I suggest you look into getting one for your vehicle.

From Saveyourlife.us

One is called a LifeHammer. It is only 7 ½ inches in length and weighs 4.9 ounces. It is shaped like a small hammer but with a dual conical shaped hardened steel point at one end. A strike with medium force will shatter a side window. I had my 10 year old daughter try it and she broke the window on the first try. The LifeHammer also has a seatbelt cutter built into the other end. The LifeHammer should be mounted in the vehicle either on the side of the console or anywhere it can be easily reached in an emergency. You can view one by clicking anywhere you see the word “LifeHammer”.

The other tool is called ResQMe. It performs the same functions as the LifeHammer but it is only 3 inches long, weights just over ½ oz. and easily attaches to your keychain. One advantage of ResQMe is that it can go with you wherever you go as long as you have your keys. You can view one by clicking anywhere you see the word “ResQMe”. The Life Hammer is a little more robust and can be used to clear out some of the shattered glass once the window is broken. I keep ResQMe on my key chain and a LifeHammer in my car.

Be prepared, stay calm and know your escape routes. If you have any questions or comments, let me know. If you’d like to share any experience you may have had that is similar, tell us that too…you may save some one’s life one day with your information.

Everybody, drive safely.

“Learn to turn” out of that skid

Sooner or later it’s going too happen to you, the dreaded “SKID”. Losing control of your vehicle suddenly is never any fun, but with a little reeducation you should be able to react without thinking and come out of the spin unscathed.

There is no secret to successfully navigating your way out of a “fishtail”. I’ll bet the phrase “turn into the skid” jumps to mind and that is absolutely correct. Take a look at the video below for a good reminder

Better yet, if you have a new driver in the family go and grab them and watch the video together. There is no substitution for having a good grasp on defensive driving and evasive maneuvers.

Remember, when you lose control of your vehicle staying calm is absolutely essential. Losing your composure could lead to over-correction and a total loss of control of your vehicle…at that point you might want refer back to this blog for a refresher. If you have any question, comments or need the number of a good body shop (kidding), give me a call.

The sad and VERY REAL Consequences of Drinking and Driving

It doesn’t get any clearer than this, folks!

How many times am I going to feel compelled to write about this subject? Does it take the death of someone with some fame to get the public’s attention? Apparently not, because once again Hollywood is setting a prime example of what not to do.

Following the horrific 2011 car crash of “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn, police uncovered that he was driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .196-two times the legal limit.
Dunn was purportedly driving 140 mph on a 55 mph road when he crashed his Porsche 911 GT3 through a rail and into the woods where it crashed into a tree and erupted into flames. Dunn and his passenger, Zachary Hartwell, died at the site. Wrecks similar to this serve as a tragic reminder of the risks of driving intoxicated.
It appears that, Dunn had an earlier DUI accident a few years before, but was in a position to clean up his record through court requirements and was not required to install an alcohol interlock machine on his automobile. If he had survived this collision, Dunn’s upcoming cars would’ve been mandated to possess this piece of equipment for at least one year following his license was reinstated.

What can you expect after a DWI?

Expect to prove you haven’t been drinking when you get behind the wheel! Alcohol interlocks are a technique the government is hoping will cut back the 11,000 deaths each year from drunk driving. Forty-nine states have some kind of interlock condition and 11 states have required provisions subsequent to the initial conviction. The driver has to blow into the machine to check for alcohol for their car will start.

What’s being done?

At this time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is conducting their “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” operation through July 4th in an effort to tag intoxicated drivers before a deadly accident occurs. This week in addition to next week are filled with graduation events, 4th of July picnics, in addition to added summer revelry. Keep the streets safe by following these valuable tips…tips you should already know and be putting into practice.

  • If you are planning to consume alcohol, designate a sober driver ahead of going out. In the event you are impaired, don’t drive.
  • Hail a taxi, make use of mass transit, or phone a sober buddy or member of the family to get you home safely.
  • Plan in advance and stuff a bag to stay over someone’s residence should you know you might be drinking.
  • Report drunk drivers you observe out on the roads at once to the police by calling 911.
  • Always put on your safety belt while in a car or wear a helmet as well as protecting equipment while on a motorcycle.
  • If you happen to see someone about to drive intoxicated or travel with somebody who’s intoxicated, get the keys and aid them reach where they’re going unharmed.

..and I misspoke before…it’s not Hollywood’s problem…it’s all of ours!