Tips for driving in a rainstorm – how should you handle wet weather driving

Tips for driving in a rainstorm – how should you handle wet weather driving

The most dangerous time to drive is during a rainstorm when it hits the hardest.  In stormy and rainy conditions, it is more difficult to see other vehicles, road signs and the road itself. It is critical to make sure you can see and be seen.

There are several measures motorists can take to avoid an auto collision during a rainstorm.  First, slow down.  It seems obvious, but many drivers are used to driving certain speeds on certain roads that sometimes they forget the need to slow down during a storm.  Next, turn on your headlights, even if it’s a light rain, this will not only help increase your visibility of the road but will also help other drivers see you better.  While driving slowly, stay in the middle lane, as the water tends to be heavier on the outside lanes and never drive through “moving” water.  “Moving” water can sweep your car off the ground and cause an auto accident.  While driving in wet-weather always maintain a proper distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you – if you need to stop quickly your brake pads will need that extra space to avoid the car in front of you and driving in the tracks of other vehicles can improve traction and help avoid hydroplaning.

With heavy rain, this is what you need to know before getting into your car.   Taking a few precautions and using wet-weather driving techniques will keep you from ending up sopping wet on the shoulder of the freeway, waiting for a tow truck. Or worse.

October is Car Care Month: 10 basic maintenance procedures to keep your car operating at its best

In recognition of National Car Care Month, Gerber Collision & Glass wanted to provide our car enthusiast’s with some tips for how to take care of your vehicle.  This awareness campaign focuses on the importance of car care and maintenance, especially for those that have drastic seasonal changes.

The Car Care Council recommends 10 basic maintenance procedures to keep your car operating at its best for the long haul:

  1. Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  1. Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
  1. Check the battery and replace if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
  1. Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  1. Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
  1. Schedule a tune-up to help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
  1. Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.
  1. Inspect the steering and suspension system annually including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
  1. Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  1. Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.

How to check for an auto recall

Just this week in the new, Honda is recalling 600,000 Accord midsize cars in the U.S. and Canada to fix a faulty power steering hose that can leak fluid and cause a fire .  Because of this, the auto collision department at Gerber Collision and Glass thought it would be a great time to remind folks about the auto recalls.

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set minimum performance requirements for vehicle parts such as brakes, tires, lighting, air bags, safety belts, child restraints, energy absorbing steering columns, and motorcycle helmets.   These Standards are applicable to all vehicles a in the United States.  When a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, the vehicle is recalled.

When the manufacturer or the government concedes that there is a defect an Official Safety Recall Notice, which provides details about the problem as well as instructions on the best way to handle it, is sent to owners who are at risk. In most cases, drivers are advised to bring the car to their dealer as soon as possible.  The auto collision repair department at Gerber encourages you to call your local dealership – Even if you didn’t buy the car there, the maker of your car covers these recalls.

If you would like to check on recalls for your car, you can check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website here.

How to prevent or discourage aggressive driving

To reduce auto collisions resulting from aggressive driving, Gerber Collision and Glass wants to help raise awareness.  There are a number of different ways that you can prevent or discourage aggressive driving.

To avoid being an aggressive driver always allow yourself extra time to arrive at your destination.  If you are in a hurry you’ll often find yourself running stop signs and red lights, weaving in and out of traffic, or making careless turns.  If you know you’re running late, relax – turn on the music to help calm your nerves and forget about the clock.  Fewer auto collisions occur when you are traveling the same speed limit as other motorists on the road – just be late.  You’re appointment will understand and be thankful that you made it safely.

If you are confronted with an aggressive drive first make every attempt to get of their way – don’t challenge them by attempting to “hold your lane”.  This gesture can cause more frustration to the aggressive driver.  Put your pride in the back seat and report aggressive drivers to the appropriate authorities, this will not only get you to your destination safely but also keep everyone else on the road safe that day too.

Aggressive driving has become a serious problem on our roadways.  Keeping your cool and adjusting your driving behavior are the best ways to handle aggressive driving.

Tips to keep you safe if your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road

The side of the road is a dangerous place. No matter how well you maintain your car, the possibility exists that you’ll find yourself broken down on the side of the road. Gerber Collision and Glass wanted to share the following steps from AAA to keep you and your family safe in the event of your vehicle breaks down.

Tips to keep you safe if your vehicle breaks down:

  • Move your vehicle off the road safely away from traffic.
  • Stay inside your vehicle and make sure all passengers stay inside, too. Keep doors locked and only roll down the window enough to ask any passersby to call police.
  • If you can’t move your vehicle off the road, ask all passengers to exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so, and stand away from traffic.
  • If you must walk to a phone, keep your group together.
  • Warn other drivers by raising the vehicle’s hood, tying a white cloth to a door handle or using reflective triangles or flares. Warning devices should be placed far enough away from the vehicle to give oncoming traffic time to react. A good rule of thumb: three devices at 100, 50 and 25 yards from the vehicle – or 300, 200 or 100 feet.

Breaking down on a roadway provides safety challenges so it’s important to be prepared for safety.

Source: What to Do When Your Vehicle Breaks Down, The AAA Guide to Trouble-Free Travel and others

Pet Safety in Vehicles

Pet Safety in Vehicles

 

Before you travel with your pet there are some important things to consider.  Check to see if the pet is covered by your insurance company.  Some insurance companies will pay a percent of the vet bill. 

Get dog ID tags that have your phone number.  This will help your pet get returned to you in case he or she sneaks out of your car. 

Pack a doggie bag.  Bring food, water, medications, togs and a first aid kit.  Feed them a few hours before you leave.  This will prevent them from getting sick in the car.

Keep your pet buckled up.  Have them wear a harness or put them in a crate.  This will keep them from flying around in the car. Without these safety precautions, the driver could become distracted and cause a collision.

Never leave your dog in the car.  They are vulnerable to heat stroke.  Even if it isn’t hot outside they can still be in danger of a heat stroke.  Don’t leave your windows open.  They could get stolen.  Gerber Collision and Glass want to keep your pets safe.

Driving in windy weather

Driving in windy weather

Every driver should know tips on how to drive in windy weather.  Drivers may encounter high gusts of winds while they are driving.  .

Start off by dropping your speed. Be careful of any branches or trees that may fall onto the road. Driving slowly can reduce impact when running into any unpredicted debris.

Trucks, buses or vehicles towing trailers are the most prone to being blown off the course by the wind.  Pay attention to those vehicles.   Always keep both hands on the wheel to make sure you have control of your vehicle.

Seek shelter if the high winds turn into a tornado.  Don’t ever try and drive faster than the tornado in your car.   If there is no shelter close, exit your vehicle and find a ditch to stay in until it is safe.

If you are home don’t get in your car if you know there is a tornado in your area.  Wait until the bad conditions subside.

Gerber Collision and Glass advise you to always proceed with caution when you are driving in windy weather.

Driving in the summer rain

Driving in the summer rain

Gerber Collision and Glass would like to suggest some safety tips for driving in wet weather.  It is imperative that you can see and be seen.  It is more difficult to see other cars and the road.  Please slow down because it takes more time to stop in rainy weather. 

Before you go, make sure you wipe off the bottom of your shoes.  Your shoes will be wet and could slip off the pedals.  Check all of your lights and turn signals to make sure they are working properly. 

Check your tires often.  Bald tires will reduce your traction on the wet roads.  You could end up riding on a layer of water. 

Make sure you replace your wipers once a year.  Bad wipers will distort your view in rainy weather.   Turn on your wipers during bad weather.  Wipers will clear the rain from the windshield with every sweep. 

Make sure you turn on your headlights.  It helps all the other cars see you on the road.  This will keep you safe during rainy weather.  Rain can cause windows to mist up inside the car.  Turn the defroster on and make sure it is on heat.   Drivers should clean their windshield and windows often to help them see well.

If the rain is so heavy that you have no visibility, then it is time to pull over.   Stop at a protected area like a rest area.  If your only option is the roadside, then pull off as far as possible.  Alert other drivers by turning on your emergency flashers. 

Summer is here and so are the rains.  Always use common sense when driving in the rain.  Every driver can make a difference in the rain!

Thieves stealing older cars

Thieves stealing older cars

Would a car thieve rather steal an old car or a new one?  Surprisingly, thieves tend to steal older cars because they are easier to snatch.  There is also a demand for their parts.  They don’t steal a car because they want them or because they want to sell them.   Car thieves usually steal in order to strip the car and sell its parts off piecemeal, generating far more funds than the car itself is worth. The majority of stolen cars go to chop shops.

There are a few things you can do to prevent car theft.  Don’t leave your car unlocked or hide your keys in your favorite hiding spot.  Always roll up your windows and keep your keys with you.  Install a car alarm in your car.  Place a sticker on the outside of your car so everyone knows that you have an alarm in your car.

Add a steering column collar to prevent hotwiring, a steering wheel lock, and get a smart key to keep your ride safe.  Many car thefts know how to steal a car even with an alarm, so get a vehicle recovery system to track a stolen car.

If you have safety devices in place, many car insurance companies will give you a discount.  Please do your part in protecting your car from theft to help keep insurance rates down.  Gerber Collision and Glass direct you to always lock your doors.

Driving with your hazards on

Driving with your hazards on

Do you ever notice people driving around with their hazards on?  It may be raining or snowing, but are we supposed to use our hazards when driving in inclement weather? In most states it is illegal to drive with these lights on.  They are only to be used when your vehicle is stationary along the side of the road.  Gerber Collision and Glass urge drivers to check with your states’ law on this situation.  The law varies from state to state on this issue, but for the most part, driving with the hazards on is illegal. 

Hazard lights disable the turn signal lights, making driving in bad weather even more dangerous.  They also make it harder to tell if the motorist ahead is tapping on the break.  They may also make you think a vehicle is pulled off to the side of the road, when in actuality they are right in front of you.  It is advised to pull into a gas station, or off the road a safe distance, if the weather is too extreme to drive in.

Emergency vehicle kit

 

`Emergency vehicle kit

We may not all be experts, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have the best tools in case of an emergency with our vehicle. Here are some things you should have in your emergency car kit.

A good vehicle tool kit includes:

    * Jumper cables
    * Screwdrivers—Phillips and flat head
    * Pliers
    * Set of socket wrenches
    * Duct tape
    * Electrical wire tape
    * Electrical wire spray
    * Flashlight with extra batteries
    * Small fire extinguisher

 

Gerber Collision and Glass recommend every vehicle be equipped with a vehicle tool kit.  Be prepared and avoid being stranded without any means to repair a broken down vehicle.

Summer is on the way

Summer is on the way

Well, it’s almost the end of another school year.  It’s time to start the barbecues and pool parties.  It’s also time to prepare your vehicle for the summer heat.  Heat can put tremendous pressure on your vehicles engine.  Your car needs to stay cool just like we do, especially during the brutally hot summer months.  Make sure your radiator is cooling your vehicle properly.  Check the temperature gauge and make sure you are not running hot.

Gerber Collision and Glass strongly recommend having a certified mechanic inspect your radiator and thermometer before the heat arrives.  It is also recommended to have your battery tested if you have not replaced it within a few years.  It is just as important to prepare your vehicle for extreme heat as it is with the frigid cold.  Stay cool this summer.

National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Did you know that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month?  We need to look at some issues that are still occurring on a regular basis that inhibit a driver’s ability to focus.  In most cases, common sense is the first issue that goes out the door.  We need to start making better decisions behind the wheel.  Remember, we are not the only ones in danger when we lose attention on the road. 

If you must talk on the phone while you drive, make sure you have a hands free phone.  Cell phone use while driving is still the number one distraction for drivers.  We see people all the time texting while driving.  This leads to more collisions than driving under the influence.  Wait until you get to your destination or pull over if you have to text or dial your phone.

We need to also focus on distractions such as the radio and eating in the car.  Messing with the radio is also very dangerous because it takes our eyes off the road.  Pre- set your radio stations so you don’t have to constantly play with the radio.  Eating in the car can also be dangerous.  Any action that involves removing your hands from the wheel is considered a distraction.

Gerber Collision and Glass want to encourage drivers to practice safe habits behind the wheel.  It may be National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but safety should be the number one focus every day.

School Zone Safety

School Zone Safety

          Over the past few years, safety in school zones has been going through a dramatic decline.  More and more we are seeing careless accidents in school zones. We see drivers going too fast or not stopping at crosswalks.  We need to focus on the issues that have led to this downfall of safety.  Children’s safety should be our top priority.

         Parents and guardians should remind their children that many drivers can be dangerous.  They should also remind their children to cross the street only at crosswalks and intersections.  Urge them to look both ways and use caution.  Children should not try and board a bus until it comes to a complete stop.  After exiting the bus they should only cross the street when in full view of the bus driver. 

                Drivers must remember that children have the right of way.  Stop at all intersections in school zones.  Remember kids don’t always cross where they are supposed to; it’s up to all drivers to be aware and use caution.  Drivers must also stop for school buses when their lights turn red.  Do not try and pass them before the lights change.  Remember you must also stop on both sides unless the lanes are divided by a barrier or median.

                Slow down when entering a school zone.  Obey the posted speed limits.  You will usually see flashing lights with a speed limit posted.  Gerber Collision and Glass cannot stress this issue enough.  Please slow down.  There is no reason that school zone safety should be on the decline.  If we all do our part we can make sure our children make it to and from school safely.

Keep up with your vehicle recommendations

Keep up with your vehicle recommendations

Do you ever get annoyed when you get your oil changed by all the recommendations they come up with.  You may hear you need to get your radiator flushed.  Your rear differential needs attention.  The transmission needs to be serviced.  Gerber Collision and glass recommends you pay a little more attention to these request as they could save you big bucks in the long run.  Make sure you take your vehicle to a reputable service station you can trust.  We all know they want to make more money, but if you find one with a good reputation and honest service your vehicle will thank you.

Rear differential service is one many people pass on.  Do not overlook this.  The rear differential needs to stay lubricated.   Check your vehicle’s manual for how often this should be done.  Make sure your vehicle is being cooled properly.  You radiator can build up with plaque if not maintained, especially if you are driving in extreme conditions.  Transmission service should be done every 15 to 20 thousand miles.  Again, check the manual for your vehicles suggested service advice.  Items like air filters need to be changed or cleaned every other oil change.  You can save money by getting this yourself at your local auto parts store.  Do not ignore these recommendations.  They can be very costly repairs if left undone.

Distracted Driving: Tips for Managing Distractions

Distracted Driving: Tips for Managing Distractions

Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and in a split second, its consequences can be devastating. According to US Department of Transportation, in 2010 alone, over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving collisions.

Distracted driving consists of three areas: Manual, Visual, and Cognitive.  Manual, meaning a driver takes their hands off the wheel.  Visual, a driver takes their eyes off the road. And Cognitive, a driver takes their mind off the road.  All types of distractions can result in an auto collision and endanger the driver, passengers, and any other bystanders.

Some typical distractions include:

  • Texting or Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating, drinking, grooming
  • Talking to passengers
  • Reading, including maps such as a GPS
  • Watching a video, Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

To prevent distracted driving it begins with things you do BEFORE you get behind he wheel …

  • Preset radio stations, MP3 devices, and climate control.
  • Secure items that may move around when the car is in motion.
  • Send the messages you need before you leave and turn off or silence your phone.  It will prevent you from picking up the phone when you here it “beep” or “ring”.
  • Eat or drink before you hit the road.
  • Do your personal grooming at home – not in the car.
  • Review maps and driving directions before hitting the road
  • Ask a passenger to help you with activities that may be distracting.

Distracted driving causes auto collisions and is very serious safety problem.

What to do when you get a flat tire while driving on the highway

Having a flat tire when driving is not only frightening but also dangerous.  If you’re driving down the highway and notice that something isn’t right with your tires, grip your steering wheel and avoid slamming on the brakes.  Instead, Gerber Collision and Glass suggests that you should take your foot off the gas and let your vehicle slow down naturally.

To avoid a rear-end auto collision, steer your vehicle as it slows down into a safe place and then brake lightly until your vehicle comes to a complete stop.  You can always drive on a flat tire if you are at a slow speed.

Also all interstate highways and major roads are patrolled regularly and some even offer a call box phone.  If you’ve changed a flat tire on your own, it’s important to have a mechanic check the vehicle to ensure that no damage as been made to the vehicle in the aftermath.

Auto Collision during Rain, Snow, or Sleet

Motor Vehicle Crash Data recently reported that and estimated 5,505,000 auto collisions had property damage to their vehicles in a single year. Of that number, 620,000 were during rain storms and 184,000 were during snow/sleet.

So what can you do to avoid a collision during rain, snow, or sleet? Gerber Collision and Glass recommends the following:

1. Learn your car. Since each will handle differently, practice driving in winter conditions on roads that are familiar to you  – not on a main road.  Sharpen your winter weather skills and learn how your vehicle reactions to snowy conditions in places that are full light during the day such as an empty parking lot.

2. Drive Slowly.   It is much more difficult to suddenly stop on slick or snowy roads and also be sure to give plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

3. Stay Calm.   If you find yourself skidding during a rain or hail storm, gently ease your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want the front of your car to go.  Do not press on either the brake or gas until you have control of your car.

Those three tips will help drivers avoid auto collisions and if you find yourself driving in severe road conditions, pull over and wait out the storm, you’ll be glad you took the time.  And don’t forget to get your car serviced now to ensure optimal driving conditions.

Child Safety Seats – The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act

Many parents think they have installed their child safety seat correctly, but according to SAFE KIDS USA, 84% of child restraint systems installed have at least one critical misuse.

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act states that any person who is transporting a child under the age of 8 years in a non-commercial motor vehicle on the roadways, streets or highways of this State, shall be responsible for providing for the protection of such child by properly securing him or her in an appropriate child restraint system.

Gerber Collision urges parents and caregivers to visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Information for more information on child safety seats, laws, and safety technicians in your area. Certified child passenger safety technicians can inspect car seats and provide hands-on advice free of charge.

How do I use Carpooling Lanes?

Do you ever see those triangles on the road when your’ on an interstate?  They are usually in the left hand lanes and are there for a certain purpose.  These are called the carpool lanes.  They are usually used during the morning hours and the rush hour in late afternoon.  They are designed to maximize auto capacity of freeways, move more people per vehicle, save travel time, and provide safe travel options; limiting auto collisions.  Don’t take these lanes for granted.  They are strictly for vehicles with more than one occupant.  Some states have passed a law that makes it illegal to be in these lanes during the hours posted without the correct number of people in a vehicle.

Be aware that you may be issued a ticket if you are caught in these lanes if you are not carpooling.  These lanes are a way of eliminating traffic and controlling smog.  Some people in recent years have called them unconstitutional.  Whatever the case, these lanes are there and you should be aware of their purpose.  You can avoid a collision by staying in these lanes if you meet the guidelines.  Gerber Collision and Glass strongly advise staying out of these lanes during the posted carpooling times if you are not carpooling.  This only causes more traffic and headaches, and could put you and other drivers in danger.