TURN AROUND – DON’T DROWN

Turn Around - Don't Drown

With the tremendous amount of rain & flooding that has occurred this past 4 months across the US, this is a good reminder.  Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. People underestimate the force and power of water.

Over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.

It takes only 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a car and 2 feet of rushing water can carry away almost any other type of vehicle. Also, 6 inches of flood water can knock over an adult. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.

Flood Water in ActionWatch as the driver of a pickup truck in Columbia, South Carolina, does exactly what you’re not supposed to do when encountering a flooded roadway by driving around a barricade into swiftly-moving floodwater.

What’s Under There?The water isn’t really moving very fast and it doesn’t look that deep. You know this road like the back of your hand, after all you drive it every day. Maybe the car in front of you risks it and makes it through. You drove through when it was flooded the last time.

It will be fine, right? Maybe all is well under there but….

The fact is, there is no way to know what is, or isn’t, under that water. Even if the car in front of you makes it, there’s no telling when a road might give way.

Washed Out Road

Turn around and take another route. A little extra time is not worth the risk or your life.

It’s Not Just About YouFlash flood rescues are dangerous for everyone – not just the vehicle’s occupants. Every time you risk your life by driving through flood waters, you are asking first responders to risk their life to rescue you.

Flood Water Rescues

Urban FloodingAreas near streams and rivers are not the only ones susceptible to flooding and flash flooding.

Densely populated areas are at a high risk for flash floods. The construction of buildings, highways, driveways, and parking lots increases water runoff by reducing the amount of rain absorbed by the ground. This runoff increases flash flood potential.

Sometimes, streams through cities and towns are routed underground into storm drains. During heavy rain, the storm drains can become overwhelmed and flood roads and buildings. Low spots, such as underpasses, underground parking garages, and basements can become exceedingly hazardous.

Mountains and HillsLiving in WV we know very well that mountains and steep hills produce rapid runoff, which causes streams to rise quickly. Rocks and clay soils do not allow much water to soak into the ground. Already saturated soil also can lead rapidly to flash flooding.

A creek only 6 inches deep in mountainous areas can swell to a 10-foot deep raging river in less than an hour if a thunderstorm lingers over an area for an extended period of time.

mountain runoff

Watches vs Warnings

Flash Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.

Flash Flood Watch: Be Prepared. A Flash Flood Watch is issued to indicate current or developing conditions favorable for flash flooding. A watch is typically issued within several hours to days ahead of the onset of possible flash flooding.

Remember – always drive smart in heavy rains and flooded areas. Turn around!

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Is The Sun Glaring At You?

What it feels like to drive with sun glare

Sun in Eyes

A beautiful afternoon drive can take a sharp turn for the worse as soon as the sun sinks below your visor. Driving into the sun is sometimes unavoidable and almost never enjoyable thanks to eye searing sun glare.

When the sun is low in the horizon, the angle of the direct sunlight creates a strong glare across the windshield. The bright light can cause temporary blindness that distorts traffic control devices and makes it difficult to see the cars around you.

It’s hard to say exactly how many vehicle accidents are caused by sun glare every year, but across the pond in the U.K., the Automobile Association (AA) estimates sun glare causes over 2,900 accidents annually on British roads.

Next time you find yourself squinting into blindingly bright sunlight, use the tips below to overcome the sun glare and stay safe.

Slow down when the sun is in your eyes Continue reading “Is The Sun Glaring At You?”

May 2019 – Click It or Ticket & Seatbelt Safety

Buckle Up

 

From May 20–June 2, 2019, State and local law enforcement agencies across the Nation are stepping up enforcement to crack down on motorists who aren’t wearing their seat belts.

Enforce Lifesaving Laws

Click It or Ticket isn’t about citations; it’s about saving lives. In 2017, there were 10,076 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States.

Seat belt use is required by law for a reason: In 2017, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives of occupants 5 and older. From 2013 to 2017, seat belts saved nearly 69,000 lives.

If all passenger vehicle occupants 5 and older involved in fatal crashes had worn their seat belts, an additional 2,549 lives could have been saved in 2017 alone.

Face the Facts

The national seat belt use rate in 2017 was 89.7%, which is good—but we can do better. The other 10.3% still need to be reminded that seat belts save lives.

Among young adults 18 to 34 killed in crashes in 2017, more than half (57%) were completely unrestrained—one of the highest percent ages for all age groups.

Men make up the majority of those killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. In 2017, 65% of the 23,551 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed were men. It comes as no surprise that men wear their seat belts at a lower rate than women do—51% of men killed in crashes were unrestrained, compared to 39% of women.

Nighttime is especially deadly for unbuckled occupants. In 2017, 55% of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts.

Bust the Myths

Vehicle type:

There seems to be a misconception among those who drive and ride in pickup trucks that their large vehicles will protect them better than other vehicles would in a crash. The numbers say otherwise: 59% of pickup truck occupants who were killed in 2017 were not buckled. That’s compared to 42% of passenger car occupants who were not wearing seat belts when they were killed. Regardless of vehicle type, seat belt use is the single most effective way to stay alive in a crash.

Seating position:

Too many people wrongly believe they are safe in the back seat unrestrained. 46% of all front-seat passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2017 were unrestrained, but 56% of those killed in back seats were unrestrained.

Rural versus urban locations:

People who live in rural areas might believe that their crash exposure is lower, but in 2017, there were 12,786 passenger vehicle fatalities in rural locations, compared to 10,316 fatalities in urban locations. Out of those fatalities, 49% of those killed in the rural locations were not wearing their seat belts, compared to 44% in urban locations.

For more information please go to: https://www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/click-it-or-ticket

 

April 2019 – Spring Driving Hazards

Hipster man cycling in London

Drastic weather changes, increased traffic, and the temptation to get out and get moving are springtime hazards drivers must prepare for. Drivers must be able to recognize these hazards and apply the right defenses.

Recognize the Hazards

Environment

  • Adverse weather
    • Severe thunderstorms / Fog
    • High winds / Tornadoes
    • Rock / landslides
    • Late winter weather
  • Sun glare
  • Potholes & Damaged roads
  • Increased traffic
    • Pedestrians, Holiday travelers & Animals
    • Bicycles, motorcycles & farm vehicles
  • Road construction
    • Varying speed limits
    • Lane closures & Flaggers

Personal Behaviors

  • Driving too fast for conditions or following too closely
  • Impatience or Distractions
  • Complacency due to warm weather
  • Driving while ill or fatigued due to Allergies or time change

Know the Defense

Continue reading “April 2019 – Spring Driving Hazards”

March 2019 – Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving picture

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

This article will cover the top techniques you can use to scan the road, ensure a safe following distance, and allow adequate stopping distance to help you reduce your risk of a crash.

Scanning the Road

To be a defensive driver, you must see what’s going on. The best way to spot potential trouble is by scanning. Avoid a fixed, straight-ahead stare that may let you drift off into daydreams while on the road. We are all subject to many distractions while driving, both inside and outside the motor vehicle, which can reduce a driver’s concentration on the driving task.

Inside your vehicle, devices such as cellular phones and stereos can interfere with driving. Reaching for a ringing phone, searching for your tunes, eating, and reading (i.e., maps or directions) can increase the potential for a traffic crash. Even conversation between vehicle occupants is a driving distraction.

  • Look ahead: Good drivers keep an eye on what’s happening about 10 to 12 seconds ahead. That’s about a block in city driving
  • Look to the sides: As you approach any place where other cars, people, or animals may cross your path, look to both sides
  • Look behind: Check the traffic behind you frequently (several times a minute) so you’ll know if somebody is tailgating, coming up too fast, or trying to pass
  • Be aware of blind spots: These are areas near the left and right rear corners of your vehicle that are not visible in your mirrors (never rely on your mirrors alone)

Maintain a Safe Following Distance

A safe following distance is a minimum of two (some states suggest three) seconds of space that you should maintain in front of your vehicle.

  • It should take at least two seconds (by counting “one thousand and two…”) for the front of your car to reach the same checkpoint as the car in front of you. Based on the GVWR of your vehicle and the current road conditions, you may need to add additional seconds to ensure safe following distance

Dealing with a Tailgater

Drivers being tailgated are advised to slow down to encourage the tailgating driver to pass. If possible, change lanes and allow the tailgater to pass. If the tailgater persists, go to a well-lit public place or police station and pull off the road.

If a crash is inevitable, letting off the brake in some instances (make sure no car is in front of you and you are not at an intersection) might also ease the force of the impact.

Try not to let other drivers intimidate you by closely tailgating you and possibly blowing their horn. Not everyone is patient or considerate of other people’s travel plans.

Stopping Distance in Relation to Speed

Any regular passenger vehicle traveling at a speed of 20 MPH should be able to stop within a distance of 25 feet. Heavier vehicles and vehicles traveling in combination with other vehicles (towing) have longer stopping distances. Yet, remember that having stopping distance between vehicles is the best braking device.

The four parts to stopping distance are Perception Distance (1) + Reaction Distance (2) + Braking Distance (3) = Total Stopping Distance (4).

  • Perception Distance (1) – This is the distance your vehicle travels from the time your eyes see a hazard until your brain recognizes it (from your eyes to your brain)
  • Reaction Distance (2) – The distance traveled from the time your brain tells your foot to move from the accelerator until your foot is actually pushing the brake pedal (from your eyes to your foot)
  • Braking Distance (3) – The distance it takes to stop once the brake is pressed (from your foot to your muscle input)
  • Total Stopping Distance (4) – At 55 MPH, it will take about six seconds to stop; and your vehicle will travel about the distance of a football field

As speed increases, so do all the above elements. Whenever you double your speed, it takes about four times as much distance to stop, and your vehicle will have four times the destructive power if it crashes.

For further tips on how to avoid distracted driving, please click the link on the following video by AAA Driver Training, The Challenge of Distracted Driving

February 2019 – Car Maintenance

car maintenance

Proper vehicle maintenance should go hand-in-hand with good defensive driving. If an individual can ascertain a problem issue with their vehicle prior to taking it on the road, a great many accidents can be prevented.

 Fluids

Begin by checking under the car for obvious leaks. Driving with leaking fluid may cause failure of the steering, brakes, or radiator. Also familiarize yourself with the location of the fluid reservoirs under your hood, as this can vary from vehicle to vehicle.

Tires

Evaluating the tires for proper inflation and any obvious damage or signs of excessive wear is essential. In a worst-case scenario, a blown tire could cause you to crash. Two methods for measuring tire tread depth are the “Penny Test” (simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you; if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires), or by looking at the treadwear indicator bar that’s molded into most tires (the bars are located at the bottom of the tread grooves in several locations around the tire; when these bars become visibly flush with the adjacent ribs the tire has no more than 2/32 inch of tread remaining, this is a visible indication that the tire should be replaced).

Lights

Ask someone to stand behind your car to check the lights. Turn on the car and activate the directional signals, then apply the brakes and put the car in reverse so the person can see if lights are working correctly. Ask the person to stand in front of the vehicle, then turn on the headlights and activate the directional signals.

 Sights

Check your windows to make sure you have good visibility. Check mirrors to be sure they are aligned properly, giving you a proper view of the road.

Gauges

Know how the gauges on your dashboard should look when everything is working properly. Check the gauges every time you start your car. Check the engine temperature gauge after the engine has had time to warm.

Vents

Check the vents, heating system, and air conditioning to be sure they are in working order so you can defog or defrost the windows when necessary.

Long Trips

Check fluids in the car periodically. Check the oil weekly. Check the brake, power steering, and engine coolant transmission fluids monthly or before a long trip to be sure they are full. Check fluids when the engine is cold. Fill the wiper fluid if necessary. Read the owner’s manual for directions on how to check the fluids. Engine fluid levels—including oil, brake fluid, and power steering fluids—are easy to check via dipsticks found under the hood. Engine coolant is visible in a plastic container apart from the radiator on newer vehicles.

Have the battery tested before a trip. Although you can take have the battery tested by a mechanic, you can check for obvious signs of corrosion on the terminals or for signs of cracks or leaks. Have the battery fixed or replaced immediately if you find anything wrong.

Activate your windshield wipers and sprayer to be certain they work.

Check your air filter before a long trip, as it can affect fuel efficiency and engine performance.

Make sure the spare tire is inflated and serviceable and the jack is present. It’s a good idea to check them periodically even if you aren’t going on a long trip.

For a helpful demonstration on some of the topics covered in this article, please click the link on the following video created by Car and Driver Magazine, Basic Vehicle Maintenance.

January 2019 – Winter Driving Survival Guide

Severe weather can be daunting for automobile travel. Consider the following information to ensure your safety and that of your fellow humans: 

WINTER DRIVING TIPS

  • Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
  • Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • If the car is sliding on ice, turn your front wheels in the same direction that the rear of the vehicle is sliding. For example, if the back of your car slides to the right, turn the wheel to the right.
  • Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
  • Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
  • Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition.
  • Pack a cellular telephone, plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.

TIPS FOR DRIVING IN THE SNOW

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember, it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you must stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

IF YOU SHOULD BECOME SNOW-BOUND

  • Stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm; it’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
  • Avoid overexerting yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled-up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
  • Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
  • If possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

For further information about driving in the wintry elements, please click here to view a video provided by AAA.