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Air Bags Work – They Save Lives

Air bags saved an estimated 1,043 lives in 1998 alone. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that tragically 96 children have been killed or injured by the force of a deploying air bag. In many cases, the children were riding in the front seat either in a rear-facing child safety seat or “out of position” – either unbuckled, or not wearing the shoulder portion of the safety belt.

An air bag in not a soft, billowy pillow. Rather, to work effectively, an air bag comes out of the dashboard at rates of up to 200 miles per hour – faster than a blink of an eye. Drivers can entirely eliminate any danger to children from a deploying air bag by placing kids properly restrained in the back seat. With or without an air bag, the back seat is the safest place for children to ride.

As the number of motor vehicles equipped with air bags increases, the risk to kids riding in the front seat will also increase. That is why we must all work to educate people now that air bags save lives and work best when everyone is buckled and kids are in back, properly buckled up.

Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Tips

Air bags and safety belts save lives. All Americans, and especially parents and caregivers, need to understand how to maximize the lifesaving capabilities of these safety devices and minimize the risks.

KIDS RIDE IN BACK. Infants should NEVER ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag. Children, typically ages 12 and under, also should ride buckled up in the back seat.

CHILD SAFETY SEATS. Young children and infants always should ride in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats. The safety seat should be held properly in place by the vehicle’s safety belts and the child should be correctly buckled in the child safety seat. A child who has outgrown a convertible child safety seat will need to ride in a booster seat for the vehicle’s safety belts to fit properly.

WEAR BOTH LAP AND SHOULDER BELTS. The shoulder strap should cross the collarbone, and the lap belt should fit low and tight. The shoulder strap should never be slipped behind the back or under the arm – this is a dangerous habit, especially in cars with air bags.

MOVE THE FRONT SEATS BACK. Driver and front passenger seats should be moved as far back as possible, particularly for shorter statured people.

For more information, contact

Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign,
National Safety Council, 1025 Conn. Ave.,
NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20036;
(202) 625-2570 (tel.); (202) 822-1399 (fax);

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Distracted Driving

Studies Show Distracted Drivers Are A Leading Cause of Motor Vehicle Accidents, and while we all need to be more careful when behind the wheel of a car, should you get into an auto accident, we are here to help should you get into a car accident.

Whenever you’re driving a vehicle and your attention is not on the road, you’re putting yourself, your passengers, other vehicles, and pedestrians in danger.

Cell phones have gotten a lot of negative media attention recently — but other more low-tech distractions cause most traffic accidents. Have you ever spilled hot coffee on yourself? Dropped something on the floor while driving? These are two of the distractions drivers cited most frequently as reasons for their road traffic accidents, according to a recent study done by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). Fiddling with a radio or climate control system is the next most-cited distraction. Believe it or not, some commuters regularly read the newspaper, shave, or apply make-up on their way to work. The fact that most of them are operating a motor vehicle at the same time doesn’t seem to concern them. NETS suggests that you allow plenty of travel time, preset your climate control and radio, and put all reading material in your trunk.

A late 1970s Indiana University study of “Precrash factors involved in traffic accidents” identified driver inattention as the leading cause of automobile accidents. On a recent CNN “Talkback Live” program that dealt with driver distraction, (transcript is here) Mark Edwards, Director of Traffic Safety at the American Automobile Association stated, “The research tells us that somewhere between 25-50 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in this country really have driver distraction as their root cause.” Csaba Csere, editor of Car and Driver magazine continued,” I don’t think we’re being misled, but I think we need to keep these statistics in context. When we talk about 20-50 percent of accidents being caused by driver distractions, that isn’t quite what the study said. And that study said they’re factors.” He continues “… safety experts tell us that half the accidents are caused by drunk driving, 70 percent are caused by aggressive drivers, 30 percent are caused by speeding. All of a sudden, you know, we’ve got more causes than accidents, and it’s very, very difficult to decide exactly what the causes are.” Csere offered the following advice “…the most important safety factor is a competent driver paying attention to the task behind the wheel. Unfortunately, we’re always going to be distracted by certain things, and the key is picking your spots. Don’t try to dial your cell phone when you’re on an icy road. Don’t tune the radio when you’re negotiating traffic in a complicated intersection.”

Stressful or heated conversation can lead to driver distraction just as easily as a cell-phone call — and combining the two is a formula for disaster. Talking on the phone has become a way of life for millions of auto-bound Americans. More than 85 percent of the 100 million cell-phone subscribers regularly talk on the phone while driving, says a survey by Prevention magazine. A 1997 study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that drivers who talk on a cell phone are four times more likely to be in an accident than drivers who don’t. Drivers throughout the country report seeing distracted drivers talking on cell phones as they drift into other lanes or run through red lights or stop signs. In some cases, the results have been fatal. Newer phones address some of these problems. Recent developments in cell phone technology include voice-activated dialing, built-in phones, headsets, and speaker phones; all can help drivers concentrate on the roadway.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association has created some cell phone safety tips. You may be surprised to see some infractions that you regularly commit.

  • Get to know your wireless phone’s features such as speed dial and redial.
  • When available, use a hands-free device, such as an earpiece or a phone cradle.
  • Position your cell phone within easy reach.
  • Let the person you are speaking with know you are driving. If necessary, suspend the call in heavy traffic or hazardous weather conditions.
  • Do not take notes or look up phone numbers while driving.
  • Dial sensibly and assess the traffic. If possible, place calls when you are not moving or before pulling into traffic.
  • Do not engage in stressful or emotional conversations that may divert your attention from the road.
  • Dial 911 to report serious emergencies only. It is a free call from all cell phones.
  • Keep conversations short and sweet. Develop ways to get free of long-winded friends and associates while on the road. Don’t use the cell phone for social visiting while you drive.
  • Hang up in tricky traffic situations– without warning if necessary. You can explain later– because you’ll still be alive!

Since 1995, 40 states have proposed bills concerning cellular phone use in cars, but the $40-billion-a-year cell-phone industry has successfully lobbied to keep those laws off the books. The industry claims that not only are cellular phones safe to use while driving, the phones help drivers by allowing them to quickly report emergencies such as accidents, and car jackings.

There’s a whole different set of problems comes from the new in-car navigation systems. They’re all the rage, but if you’re not used to them they’re an additional distraction. Built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) computers require you to go through multiple screens or voice commands to program your destination. Computer voices tell you to “turn left now,” or “turn around as soon as possible,” when your driving strays from the recommended route of travel. Users report that the “computer” voice soon becomes annoying, like a back seat driver. The problem arises when you mute the voice and rely solely on the screen and buttons. If you’re driving by yourself, chances are excellent that you’ll end up rear-ending someone in traffic. The owners’ manuals all state that navigation systems should be operated only by a passenger, or while a lone driver is stopped at the side of the road. We find, though, that these recommendations are usually ignored.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just opened the 60-million-dollar National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) at the University of Iowa. The NADS will test the distraction levels of drivers confronted with in-car electronic devices such as computers, navigation systems, and cellular phones. The unit will also be used for studying aggressive driving, driver fatigue, headlight glare, and the effects of prescription drugs and alcohol.

NHTSA has advised Americans not to use cell phones or other high-tech gizmos while behind the wheel, and Smart Motorist agrees with them. Don’t try to change lanes on the freeway while you’re putting sugar in your coffee or hunting for a radio station, and don’t argue with your spouse or kids as you dodge through rush-hour traffic. Aggressive driving combined with a distracted driver can quickly escalate into a lethal situation.

The figure below illustrates the distribution of causal factors related to driver inattention found in a 1989 North Carolina study (Wierwille, W. W. & Tijerina, L. 1995). An analysis of driving accident narratives as a means of determining problems caused by in-vehicle visual allocation and visual workload. The element “interaction with another person or animal in vehicle” when broken down further indicates that the specific acts of talking, listening, and arguing account for about 38 percent of the 210 incidents reported in the data. A component of this may involve the act of turning towards and looking at the passenger, a behavior not characteristic of cellular telephone conversation. Hand-held cellular telephones nevertheless sometimes require the driver to change position in order to achieve better reception of the signal and ensure the connection is not lost. Thus, it would appear that the analogy between the two activities is not that straightforward.

This analysis also serves to highlight the potential risks associated with in-vehicle conversation of any kind, if pursued at inopportune times. Thus, development of means to address or mitigate the distraction potential of cellular telephone conversation, at least, appears worthwhile. (Please note: cellular phone use was almost non-existant in 1989, the year the data was collected. Everyone agrees that the actual numbers of distractions attributed to cell phones today would be exponentially larger.)

– Article Source:

Studies Show Distracted Drivers Are A Leading Cause of Motor Vehicle Accidents

Image source – Wierwille, W. W. & Tijerina, L. 1995

For some fun, here are several videos the highlight how distracted some drivers can get! 🙂

Car Care 101 For College Students

(NewsUSA) – While some students are dropped off at college by their parents, many more keep vehicles on or near campus. Regular maintenance and service performed back in the hometown or at a

reputable repair facility near campus will keep those wheels dependable.

For some collegians, a vehicle is basically a way back home between semesters, while others use their car more frequently, for regular transportation to part-time work or daily transportation to and from campus. Either way, lack of maintenance can cause inconvenient, and potentially unsafe, breakdowns.

Vehicles that are infrequently used are prone to battery failures, moisture accumulating in gasoline lines, and poor engine performance. Those used for frequent, short trips to and from campus have little chance to warm up thoroughly and can fall prey to premature exhaust system failure and excessive engine deposits that can adversely affect engine performance.

A new Care Guide tells students and parents, in plain, non-technical language, what to do to maintain their vehicle for safety, dependability, and value. Tech-savvy students can order the free guide, published by the Car Care Council, directly from the council’s Web site at

The guide, which can be stored easily in a vehicle’s glove box, explains the most common preventative maintenance procedures and repairs that need to be performed to help keep vehicles operating safely and reliably. It also includes a list of questions to ask when these maintenance or repair procedures are being performed at a repair shop.

A Car Care Checklist is included to remind busy students what vehicle systems need to be maintained and when service or repair should be performed. To further familiarize students with their vehicles, the guide has clear, concise descriptions of 12 major vehicle systems and parts.

Examples include steering and suspension, fuel and air intake, belts and hoses, and more.

Even students who typically depend on their fathers or uncles for car care between semesters or during the summer months will benefit from the guide by learning about the vehicle’s warning systems, service lights, and various symptoms before a breakdown occurs.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer-education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For more information, visit

Here’s how to keep the shine on your car’s paint

Many of us become dissatisfied with our rides long before they have lived out their useful lives. They may still perform well, get great gas mileage, maintain a smooth steady ride and exhibit near-perfect reliability but we just aren’t happy with them anymore. More often than not, it’s because of their appearance and more specifically the condition of the body paint.

Whether it’s surface rust, peeling, fading, or an excess amount of commuter scars, paint failures and defects are quite different than any other area of vehicle maintenance and repair; by the time it really bothers us, it can often be perceived as too expensive to rectify. This is mostly caused by the fact that it’s hard to simply refinish one area of an eight- or nine-year-old vehicle without ending up with a patch-work look. And of course it’s something that is well beyond the scope of most do-it-yourselfers’ skill and facility level.

But there are some easy and relatively inexpensive ways to keep the paint lasting as long as the loan payments.

Keep it clean: This should really go without saying, but many drivers don’t realize that a good portion of the road grit, dust, and grime that collects on their vehicles can do far more damage than simply detracting from the looks. Acidic and basic compounds can etch into the paint causing bubbling, peeling, and cracking. Organic sources such as bird droppings and certain insect secretions can be the worst. Getting these contaminants off a soon as possible will go a long way to keeping the shine. If a full car wash won’t fit into the schedule, a quick blast from the garden hose on affected areas is better than nothing.

Keep it waxed: A good quality car wax from a trusted brand such as Turtle or Meguiar’s can provide an invisible shield to keep dirt from sticking and penetrating the outer layer of paint. It can also reduce the effects of the sun’s radiation when it comes to keeping the paint from fading. Depending on where you live and drive, it’s best to wax your vehicle every third or fourth wash.

Keep it shaded: Parking in direct sunlight is a good way to prematurely fade darker colours of body paint, but avoid parking under trees. Many trees can drop sap or other resins onto the paint and, in the case of coniferous trees, their needles can be acidic. While the majority of us don’t have the opportunity to seek out shaded spots when parking at work or home, a breathable car cover that’s custom made for easy installation can be a cheap investment compared to the cost of repainting a vehicle.

Keep it protected: While no one wants to drive a bubble-wrapped vehicle, there are some functional, yet stylish alternatives to protect key areas. The leading edge of a vehicle hood takes all the pounding from stone chips and gravel blasting. A front hood protector, or air deflector as they’re commonly called, can reduce a lot of this risk. Soft front end covers or bras should be avoided as they tend to trap moisture and stain paint.

covered Ferrari cars are pictured at the International Motor Show IAA in Frankfurt Main, Germany, on September 8, 2013. The 65th IAA features around 1,100 exhibitors from around the world and takes place from 12 to 22 September. AFP PHOTO / DPA/ BORIS ROESSLER /GERMANY OUTBORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images

Covered Ferraris at the International Motor Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany

Most drivers know about the benefit of mud-flaps and they’re an easy DIY type job. But fewer know about protective plastic film known as gravel guard. This is available from most auto-body, auto-glass shops, and some general auto-parts stores. It’s a peel and stick product that can be applied to almost any area of the vehicle’s body. Some carmakers even apply this coating at the factory to high impact areas such as lower rocker panels and fenders.

The biggest benefit this plastic shielding can offer is in terms of reducing stone chips and paint peeling around the wheel wells. If you’re good with an x-acto knife it can even be an easy DIY home driveway job. 3M now markets an aerosol spray version available at Canadian Tire. Both the film and spray product is removable.

Written by  BRIAN TURNER | Featured in