6 Summer Driving Tips That Will Keep You Safe

summer driving tips

Statistics show summer is the most dangerous time to drive in the U.S.

Isn’t that weird? Most people worry about ice and snow in winter. They don’t even think about summer!

For safe travels, follow these six summer driving tips (every parent needs to see #4!).

1. Inspect your tires.

Heat causes your tires to deflate. Check their inflation to be safe. Also look for visible signs of damage. This is a must-do before any road trip. If you have any doubts about the condition of your tires, get a second opinion from a mechanic.

2. Look both ways.

School’s out for summer! That means more teens will be on the road.

Teen drivers cause more traffic accidents than any other age group. Don’t assume these teens will follow the rules of the road.

Look both ways before you drive through a traffic light (yes, even if it’s green). Put down the phone and keep your eyes on the road so you can react quickly and decisively. If there’s a new teen driver in your family, you might enjoy these posts:

3. Check your coolant.

Hot temperatures can cause your engine to overheat. If that happens, pull over immediately. Pop open your hood and make sure your coolant tank is filled up. No? Either go to a mechanic or top it off yourself. If your engine overheats again, that could mean you have a leak.

4. Be mindful of your child.

Every parent is familiar with the nightmare of forgetting about the baby in the backseat. This isn’t very common, but it does happen. Roughly 37 babies and toddlers die in hot cars every year. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re busy. Here’s a tip. Every time you travel with a child, put a toy or stuffed animal in the passenger seat. That should jog your memory!

5. Take lots of mini-breaks on long trips.

There is nothing “tough” about driving across the country without stopping. Pull over every two or three hours to prevent fatigue. Take a walk and stretch out anything that’s stiff. One more tip: take a water bottle so you can stay hydrated. Fill it up every time you stop at a rest area.

6. Give bikes and motorcycles plenty of space.

Warm weather means more cyclists will be on the road. Be considerate of these folks. They aren’t surrounded by a protective interior like you. If they got in a wreck, it could end very badly. Increase your following distance to four seconds or more.

Talk to me.

Do you have any summer driving tips that you would add to this list? If so, let me know! Click here to share these tips with your friends so they can have a safe summer like you.

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What to Do If Your Car Breaks Down

car breaks down

Image credit: Car breakdown by Andrij Bulba via Flickr

Here’s a question that shows up in my mailbox a lot: “What should I do if my car breaks down?”

If you drive enough, car breakdowns are bound to happen whether you like it or not — so it’s best to be prepared.

Scared? Don’t be. Here are five smart things to do during a car breakdown (#3 is so simple yet effective!).

1. Get off the road.

Please don’t play chicken!

The sooner you get off the road, the sooner you’ll be out of harm’s way:

If you’re in a neighborhood, try to find a church.

If you’re in a downtown area, pull over in a business parking lot and find someone to give you a jump.

If you’re on a highway or interstate, pull over on the shoulder. Keep moving until you get to a straight section of the road. Don’t stop on a curve where no one can see you!

If your engine comes to a sudden stop, it might be impossible to stop in an ideal spot. In that case, stay inside your vehicle. It’s dangerous to cross the street when there’s cars swirling past in every direction.

2. Call for help.

Got AAA coverage? If so, put that membership to use.

Blocking traffic? If so, call 911 and notify the highway patrol.

Flat tire? You could change it, but it might be better to call a towing service — especially if you’re stopped on the interstate.

3. Take a deep breath.

This is not the time to panic. Close your eyes and take a few calming breaths. Seriously. Conscious breathing is scientifically proven to reduce stress. You’ll feel confident and in control after you calm down.

4. Let people know you’re stuck.

Pop your hood, turn on your emergency lights, and hang a towel or plastic bag out of your window. If it’s dark light some flares so other drivers can see you. No flares? Buy a pair. Do everything you can to get the attention of a police officer or someone who might be able to help you.

5. Expect the best (prepare for the worst).

Invest in a first aid and roadside emergency kit just in case your car ever breaks down. Trust me. They’re really nice to have during a car breakdown! Has your car ever got stuck on the side of the road? How did you deal with it? Tell us in the comments. Please share this blog with your friends so they will be ready for car breakdowns like you.

Watch Out! How to Prevent Pesky Potholes

Pothole_BigPotholes from hell are pestering Americans all over the country. Click ahead to find out what causes potholes and how you can prevent expensive repairs

Potholes can cause significant damage to your vehicle.

Don’t take potholes lightly. They can flatten tires, knock out hubcaps, and mess up your wheel alignment.

According to AAA, potholes caused $6.4 billion in damage last year. On average, potholes cause roughly $5.4 billion in damage every year.

Hitting one pothole probably won’t hurt your vehicle. If you drive over potholes on a regular basis, the damage could add up.

Why are potholes so much worse during spring?

Rain and snow sneak into roadway cracks during winter. If it gets cold enough, water freezes overnight. There isn’t enough space to contain a block of ice, so dirt and gravel get shoved out of the asphalt.

When that water melts, a hole is left in its place. The hole grows in size as people drive over it. Potholes can’t be eliminated due to limitations with the material used to make our roads. Some experts suggest following a strict road maintenance schedule can decrease the severity of potholes.

Cautious drivers can prevent expensive repairs.

There are a few ways to protect yourself. First, heighten your awareness. If you’re not paying attention, you might not see a pothole until it’s too late.

Keep an eye on the car in front of you. If it makes a sudden movement, the driver could be steering to avoid a pothole. Don’t follow them too closely or you won’t have enough time to get out of the way.

Slow down in areas where you know there are potholes. If you roll over a pothole, don’t slam your brakes. It’s better to gently roll over it. Finally, make sure your tires are properly inflated to make a flat less likely.

Share this blog on Facebook and Twitter so your friends can save money and be a safe driver like you. Click here to join Women Auto Know (it only takes a second!).

Mechanically Yours,

Audra

Winter Driving Safety Tips from a Female Mechanic

No time to read it? No problem! Listen to our blog here!

Travel safety is important during any season, but especially in winter, when freezing temperatures and long nights can pose extra dangers for you and your passengers.

Before heading out anywhere in your vehicle, tell a friend or family member where you’re going, including the planned route, and when you anticipate arriving. Keep them updated on any major route or arrival changes so if you are delayed due to a car emergency, they will know. And make sure your cell phone is turned on at all times!

Next, make sure your vehicle is stocked with the following:

  • A full fuel tank
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Non-perishable food and drinking water
  • Flares
  • Shovel and sand or rock salt
  • Hat, gloves and a blanket
  • Tools (screwdriver, duct tape, twine)
  • First-aid kit
  • Pocket knife
  • Matches or lighter
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Paper towels
  • Extra washer fluid (and a spare pair of windshield wipers)
  • If you’re traveling with kids or a baby, pack extra food, warm clothes and blankets, toys and games, and extra diapers just in case.

Next, make sure your car is ready to handle any type of storm.

  • Make sure your heater and defroster are working properly. And always use properly mixed antifreeze, not water in your radiator.
  • Check all your lights—headlights, tail lights, brake lights, signal lights, fog lights.
  • Fill up your window-washer fluid.
  • Make sure your belts and hoses are not loose or brittle or bloated.
  • Check your windshield wipers; they need to be in great condition.
  • Make sure your battery is strong. One additional tip: If your battery is close to its expiration date, be proactive, not reactive, and replace it before it dies so you can do it at your convenience.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated tires; they will give you the best traction.
  • Check the air in your spare tire.
  • Check your tire treads—it’s the tread that grips the road and repels water.

Learn more car safety tips and become auto educated by joining Women Auto Know for free today! Let’s work together to #EndAutoAnxiety and make 2015 the best year ever!

Mechanically Yours,

Audra

Notorious I-C-E! (How to Drive on Ice)

Ice means a lot of things to a lot of people. It can bring to mind visions of colorful icicles during the holidays or cool, refreshing drinks on hot summer days. But for drivers, like my mom, ice can conjure up other mental images.

Ice is hazardous to drivers in a number of ways. Let’s start with the obvious – road ice. When roads are slick and covered with ice, tires cannot get the traction they need to stay where they should. Driving on icy roads requires practice and patience.

Here are the most important things to watch for when driving on icy roads:

· Other Drivers – just because you can control your vehicle doesn’t mean the person in front of you can control theirs. Watch out and drive defensively on icy roads.

· Black Ice – this is especially dangerous because it is hard to see. Black ice can occur with just a little moisture on a freezing day and creates a major driving hazard. Pay attention to the climate and conditions when you are driving, especially at night when the temperature drops.

· Slush – ice can hide under snow and slush. Even if the roads are salted or sanded, a layer of ice beneath can cause you to lose control. Always look for the road under the slush and if you cannot see it, drive cautiously.

Ice is notorious for other problems, even when you aren’t driving! Cars can easily get stuck in ice and slush. This is when kitty litter, sand or other debris can be used to gain traction. Ice can also impair your vision. Always be sure all of your windshields and mirrors are ice and snow free before you drive.

Your engine is not a big fan of the frozen tundra, either. Anti-freeze was aptly named because it acts like a liquid blanket keeping the fluid, fluid on bitter cold days. When fluids freeze up they expand. If this happens inside your engine, it leads to some big-time engine problems. The last thing you want is to be stranded on a sheet of ice with a dead engine, all alone with your kitty litter.

Kitty Litter

Ice can even be a bugger before you get in your car! Electric locks can freeze up quickly. If they do, try using a hair dryer, de-icer or even your breath to melt the ice. But for the love of everything auto – do not stick your tongue on the lock! Remember Flick from a Christmas Story? Stuucckk, stuuuucccckkkk, STUUUUUCCCCKKKKK!

Don’t let ice cause problems for you. If you find that you are stuck, you have Women Auto Know on your side. Practice these safety tips and your icy driving experience can be NICE, NICE, Baby!

Mechanically yours,
Audra

Keeping Kids Safe On (and Off) the Road

Courtesy Google Images

November is Child Safety Protection Month and in support of this cause, WAK wants to offer tips to help you keep your children safe on and off the road. In a world of ever advancing technology, the threats to our children are more subtle than ever. Aside from the hundreds of thousands of children that go missing each year, hundreds of thousands more are exposed to dangerous situations every day.

The best way to keep your child safe is to be aware. This means that as parents, we have to pay attention to everything they do when they are with us, and when they aren’t. As the mother of 3 children, it’s virtually impossible to track my kids’ movements at all times. But I’ve learned to have plans in place to ensure their safety. Here are some of my tips for keeping children safe:

In the Car and on the Road:

  • Always keep your children in age appropriate safety restraints in the back seat.
  • Never leave small children unattended in cars.
  • Keep cars locked when not in use to prevent children from entering while playing.
  • Teach your older children the rules of the road and car safety.
  • Have an emergency kit in your vehicle and teach your children how to use it.
  • Have the number for your insurance or road side assistance readily available where your kids can find it.
  • Keep a cell phone charger and other emergency items in your car at all times.

With Technology:

  • Use parental controls on all devices.
  • Limit internet access and time on internet.
  • Teach children how to use technology safely.
  • Check your children’s devices to be sure safety controls are in place and working properly.
  • Set passwords for all devices to prevent them from gaining unauthorized access.
  • Have discussions about the danger of the internet and how to enjoy the web safely.

In General:

  • Know where your kids are going, when they are expected to arrive and check in to be sure they got their safely.
  • Children should always walk to school or bus stops with a buddy and never alone.
  • Use cell phones or walkie talkies to keep in contact with children when they are playing at friends’ homes or in the neighborhood.
  • Make sure children know their parents’ phone numbers and emergency numbers.
  • Practice stranger safety tips and have a plan for emergencies like fires or floods.
  • Enroll kids in programs like DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and anti-bullying campaigns.
  • Do not post their name, address or other personal information on  their belongings or clothing.
  • Teach children to trust that little voice inside of them that tells them right from wrong and warns them of danger.
  • Provide an open platform for children to discuss their concerns and fears with you. The more they feel they can come to you with the little things, the more they will communicate the bigger things to you later.

As parents, we live busy lives. But it is our responsibility to pay attention to the things our kids say and do, the people they hang out with, and those moments that make the little hairs on the backs of our necks stand up. If we suspect something is not quite right, it is our responsibility to our children to investigate that further. Our children rely on us for everything: food, shelter and most of all, safety. Keeping our kids safe is not only an obligation we have to them, it is a privilege we should treasure as much as we treasure them!

Mechanically Yours,

Audra

I Can See Clearly Now

Vision is one of the most important things that determines safe driving. If our windshields are the eyes of our cars, then the wipers are the eyelids of our cars. When they get full of junk, dirty or damaged, they can’t do their job of keeping our windshields clean and our field of vision the best it can be. If your wipers jump across your windshield rather than gliding smoothly, they probably need to be cleaned. Spray a rag with wiper fluid and clean the blades and your windshield. If this doesn’t solve the problem, the blades or the wipers themselves may need to be replaced. Check your wiper blades regularly for any cracks, splits or tears and plan on changing them every six months in average climates and more often in very wet or extreme climates.

Falling Leaves Hide Driving Hazards

The fall foliage is beautiful… but it can also be very dangerous. As you cruise down the road, your eyes are naturally drawn to the beautiful display of color splashed on the trees lining the highway and country lanes. But when you look up and around you, you are NOT looking at the road in front of you. Falling leaves can pile up and hide driving hazards like potholes and road debris. Leaves can also obscure the white or yellow lane dividers, making it difficult to see where you should be traveling. Keep your eyes on the road and breathe in the beautiful sights around you at stop lights or from the passenger seat. Stay safe this fall ladies!

7 Tips for a Smooth Commute

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traffic-jamWhether we travel for work or for play, commuting can consume a big part of our day. It can also consume a big part of our mental and physical energy. When we travel the same route every day, we get complacent – which for some of us also means BORED. Some of us find distractions like talking on the phone or eating as great ways to beat the mundane boredom. But, unless we have taken the time to plan our commutes properly, these distractions can become hazardous.

Here are a few tips to help ensure a safe and stimulating commute:

  1. Change It Up: The same trip can get old real fast. Choose a different route on alternating days of the week so you can be recharged with new scenery. Just driving at different speeds, with different intersections, curves and stops can keep the brain alert and awake.
  2. Be Prepared: Listening to music or audio books are great ways to keep engaged while on the road. But switching radio stations or shuffling through songs on an iPod while driving can be dangerous. In order to keep your eyes on the road, have a playlist ready and loaded and hit play BEFORE you hit the ignition.
  3. Brain Food: Long drives can slow the brain and reaction time. Stay focused by feeding your brain with power foods that are easy to eat in the car. Pack some trail mix, power bars or energy drinks for commutes and keep them in containers that can be easily stored in center consoles or cup holders.
  4. Adjust Everything: Check your mirrors, your seat position and the location of items you will be using on your commute before you hit the road. If you need lumbar or neck support, have it ready or engaged when you get in the car. Have your phone, purse, snacks, music and anything else you need easily accessible so you don’t have to go searching while driving.
  5. Avoid Traffic Jams: Pay attention to rush hour traffic hot spots and take alternate routes when you can. Steady driving is a lot less stressful than sitting in stop and go traffic. Watch for traffic alerts and check your local traffic advisory before you hit the road.
  6. Commute with Friends: You might not like everyone you carpool with, but having other people to talk to and extra pairs of eyes can make commutes safer and smoother. Pick your carpool buddies wisely and make them take turns filling the tank or driving.
  7. Plan Ahead: Make sure you have a full tank of gas, toll money or toll card and plenty of time to get to your destination. The most dangerous part of commuting is rushing. And as always, check your fluids, lights, tires and wipers to make sure you are road ready and prepared for any emergencies.

What are your favorite commuter tips?

Share them with us and empower other drivers!

Smell Gas?

We’ve all smelled it at the gas station. However, if you smell raw gas when you are driving or before you start your car, check your gas cap. You may have overfilled the tank or left the gas cap loose. If the smell isn’t caused by either of these things, don’t risk driving. Turn the car off immediately. You may have a severed gas line or leaky fuel-injection system that needs professional auto care. Get a hold of your mechanic right away and have the problem diagnosed and fixed.