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Winter Preparation and Safety Tips

12 Dec

Winter is here with cold days and more snow in the forecast. Whether you are dashing through the snow on four wheels, on two wheels, here some tips to keep you safe this winter.

Driving Tips

  1. Get your car serviced – get a routine maintenance and check for leaks, and parts that need repairs or replacements
  2. Check for recalls – nhtsa.gov/recalls , if your vehicle is under recall, go to the nearest dealer and get it fixed for free.
  3. Know your car – features to know available here
  4. Wipers and defrosters – check your wipers and replace worn blades, check if the defrosters work properly
  5. Tires – some manufacturers recommend replacing the tires every 6 years. Check to see if they have uneven wear or insufficient thread. Learn how to measure thread
  6. Stock your car with shovel, broom, ice scarpers, jumper cables, flashlights, blankets, and emergency markers.
  7. Stay alert and don’t drive distracted or under the influence

Biking Tips

  1. Layer up but do not overdress – look for clothing that is designed to keep you warm without being too bulky and make you sweat. Many stores sell active wear clothes that are both fashionable and functional. Cover your head, your extremities and your ears, and wear clear glasses to protect your eyes.
  2. Wear something bright and equip your bike with good lights (flashing lights have a great battery life but the high powered ones can blind the motorists behind you), it will keep you safe during low visibility conditions.
  3. Equip your bike with wide tires (studded winter tires are best for icy conditions) and shoes with threaded sole so you won’t slip when you break or stop at a light and you have to put your foot down.
  4. If possible, pick streets that will minimize your contact with cars.
  5. Think safety first! – Use your judgment in snowy, slippery and/or low visibility conditions, actively manage risk through strategies to avoid travel, minimize contact with other traffic and/or make yourself as visible as possible through proper lane positioning

Stay safe!

 

Sources: https://www.nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-tips

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Holiday Season is Near, Drunk Driving is the Wrong Kind of Cheer

9 Dec

From December 14th to January 1st, NHTSA will run the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign to raise awareness and prevent drunk driving.  New Jersey is cracking down starting today, December 9, until January 1!

Infographic source: NHTSA

Infographic source: NHTSA

Every year during the winter holidays there is an increase in the number of drunk-driving crashes and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2014 10,076 people died in drunk driving crashes, in 2015 10, 265 people died in drunk driving related crashes. Over a five-year period, close to 4000 died in drunk driving related crashes during the month of December. It is sad to see these figures and the fact that they are going up every year. It is very sad to think that 181 children 14 and younger were among those who died in a crash involving a drunk driver.

The most dangerous times are nights, weekends, and the holidays.  In December 2015, the number of fatal crashes that involved drunk driving was 4 times higher at night than during the day. Let 2016 be the year when the trend reverses.

You can help! Be prepared and have a plan in place before going out. Have a designated driver if you plan to drink, call a cab or try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or a friend by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available at http://ow.ly/RWs3S for Android and http://ow.ly/RWs8h for iPhone users.

Another option for planning a night out, a company holiday gathering or other social events and trips, is to hire a professional driver to get you there safely and in comfort. Greater Mercer TMA members: A1-Limousine, Starr Tours, and Stout’s Transportation have limousines and buses available to ferry you and your guests to holiday festivities.

Other things you can do to keep the Happy in Holidays are: helping other people be responsible, if someone you know has been drinking, don’t let them drive and if you see a drunk driver, call the police.

Happy and safe holidays!

Source: http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov

Winter Safety Tips

4 Dec

December 22st is the first day of winter and although we have enjoyed a long stretch of mild weather, the cold and snow will be here soon. We have some winter driving tips and some winter biking tips to help keep you safe this winter.

Photo credit: flickr.com/Don.Harder

Photo credit: flickr.com/Don.Harder

Biking

  1. Layer up but do not overdress – look for clothing that is designed to keep you warm without being too bulky and make you sweat. Many stores sell active wear clothes that are both fashionable and functional. Cover your head, your extremities and your ears, and wear clear glasses to protect your eyes.
  2. Wear something bright and equip your bike with good lights (flashing lights have a great battery life but the high powered ones can blind the motorists behind you), it will keep you safe during low visibility conditions.
  3. Equip your bike with wide tires (studded winter tires are best for icy conditions) and shoes with threaded sole so you won’t slip when you break or stop at a light and you have to put your foot down.
  4. If possible, pick streets that will minimize your contact with cars.
  5. Think safety first! – Use your judgment in snowy, slippery and/or low visibility conditions, actively manage risk through strategies to avoid travel, minimize contact with other traffic and/or make yourself as visible as possible through proper lane positioning.

winter-633965_19201

Driving

If possible, try to avoid driving in bad weather conditions. Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared, and that you know how to handle road conditions.

Driving safely on icy roads

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid…

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid…

  1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck…

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

Sources: National Safety Council, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services

 

 

Make the Right Choice This Holiday Season

19 Dec
Photo credit NHTSA

Photo credit NHTSA

December was designated Impaired Driving Prevention Month in 2013 after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released new data showing that drunk driving fatalities had increased.  With gas prices lower than in previous years many more people will be driving for the Holidays. The holidays are festive and fun but they are also a time of increased alcohol consumption. To raise awareness and reduce the number of people driving under the influence, the “Drive sober or get pulled over” campaign started December 12th and the crackdown will continue through December 31st.

If you take a look at the statistics you can see why there is a concerted effort to bring this issue under control.  Almost 1/3 of those killed in crashes over the 2012 Holiday period were in drunk-driving crashes. According to NHTSA during the 2012 holiday season, 830 people lost their lives in crashes that involved drunk drivers. That was in December alone!

Another sobering statistic shows that between December 2008 and December 2012, 3,994 people were killed in crashes that involved drivers with Blood Alcohol Content higher than .08 grams per deciliter. 

Although the legal limit is .08 grams per deciliter, alcohol consumption affects people’s ability to drive in different ways. Alcohol is a depressant drug and it reduces speed of reaction, reduces concentration, impairs vision, and some people may feel over confident which may lead to making rash decisions and taking the risk of driving impaired.

That is why it is recommended to have a plan in place if you’re planning to have alcohol for the holidays.   You can designate a driver ahead of time, call a cab, or take public transportation; it is not worth taking the risk.

Other things you can do to keep the Happy in Holidays are: helping other people be responsible, if someone you know has been drinking, don’t let them drive and if you see a drunk driver, call the police.

 As always, we wish you all Safe and Happy Holidays!

 

PS: In many countries the legal limit is lower than the US one, somewhere between .02 and .08 and in some countries (in Europe no less) there is a zero tolerance policy.

In US the legal limit is .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL).” and it is not hard to get there. If you ever wonder how the EBAC is calculated, here is the formula (Widmark formula):
– 0.806 is a constant for body water in the blood (mean 80.6%)
– SD is the number of standard drinks containing 10 grams of ethanol
– 1.2 is a factor to convert the amount in grams
– BW is a body water constant (0.58 for men and 0.49 for women)
– Wt is body weight (kilogram)
– MR is the metabolism constant (0.017)
–  DP is the drinking period in hours. (Source: Wikipedia)

How do alcohol and drugs affect your ability to drive: http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/topics/how-does-alcohol-affect-driving

Thanksgiving travel tips

25 Nov
THX

(Photo credit: AAA)

The 2014 AAA Thanksgiving Travel Forecast is out and it looks like more than 46 million people will be travelling this year, 89 percent will be driving.

The weather forecast for Wednesday, November 26th does not look very good and conditions may be a little challenging.  There is a winter storm watch in effect starting Wednesday morning and lasting until Thursday morning.  Here are a few winter driving tips

  • Make sure you have an emergency kit in your car
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated
  • Make sure you are well rested and eliminate distractions
  • Be patient and follow the rules of the road
  • If you have car problems pull as far as possible off the road and turn on hazard lights , use a triangle warning sign or road flares (instructions on how to use road flares here).
  • Turn on your headlights, using low beam when traveling in snow
  • If you skid, don’t brake or accelerate. Remove your foot from the gas, and gently steer your car in the direction of the skid. When your car starts heading in the desired direction, carefully straighten the wheel.

You can find more winter driving tips here.

For those of you taking public transportation here are a few helpful tidbits:

For NJ TRANSIT NEC – the train will be operating on Holiday Schedule on Thursday November 27th and modified weekday schedules on NEC and NJCL on November 28th. You can find the schedules here .

For NJ TRANSIT Bus – Many lines operate on a Special Holiday Schedule, some starting on November 26th. You can find the schedule here.

NJ TRANSIT announced they will be having early getaway trains.  You can find the schedules here .