Black Friday Driving Tips

black fridayDid you know the name Black Friday originated in our very own Philadelphia? It was originally used to describe the heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic on the day after Thanksgiving.

Now, we don’t blame you for putting your life in danger of anxious, overly-caffeinated shoppers running on nothing more than a few hours of sleep and a belly full of turkey, because we have all participated in the madness at some point. Who doesn’t love great deals and the not-so-subtle unwrapping of the holiday spirit in the form of bright lights and giant Christmas trees?

The truth is that the most terrifying part of Black Friday is the driving, especially those parking lots. Nothing can put a damper on your holiday spirit quite like a car accident. That being said, here are some of our Black Friday Driving Tips to keep in mind:

Philly traffic Patch

Photo Credit: Greater Philadelphia Patch

On the Road

  • Stay alert. Many other drivers are going off little to no sleep, so pay attention and drive defensively. Don’t position yourself near an erratic driver.
  • Put the phone down. Of course you want to use all your deal-hunting apps while simultaneously sending a text to your kids, but don’t do it. Distractions can wait.
  • Maintain a distance. You also might be tired yourself, so leave extra room between you and the car in front of you.

In the Parking Lot

  • Park at the side entrance. Many malls and bigger stores have side entrances that are less crowded. It will be easier to get in and out without running into problems.
  • Walk off the side dishes. Don’t wait around for the best spot in the parking lot. Parking a little farther away may mean more walking, but the spots will be less crowded and easier to manage.
  • Use your headlights. Even during the daytime, keeping your headlights on reduces your crash risk.

Be safe and take our advice. You could just avoid the day altogether and buy yourself (or your loved ones) a new auto paint job from Direct Paint.

If you do end up with a Black Friday accident, be sure to give us a call.

Before and After Fender Bender

This 2013 Kia Sorrento 4X4 SX recently came into our Collision Center after an accident, and luckily everyone involved was okay. As you can see in the photos below, the vehicle suffered significant damage to the bumper area on the driver’s side.

With over 30 years  of auto body repair experience, the team at Direct Paint and Collision was able to get our customer back out on the road quickly. We offer collision towing and rental cars in addition to auto body repair to make a stressful process simpler. In fact, we can bring a rental vehicle along with the tow truck to an accident site so that you’re able to continue on with your daily routine until your vehicle is repaired.

See the before and after photos below:

To reach our body shop, give us a call at  (610) 449-9162!

AAA Supports Bill to Change Child Passenger Safety Law

baby on boardAlthough it’s recommended you keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, it’s not actually required by PA state law. Pennsylvania requires that all children under the age of four be properly restrained in an approved car seat in the front or back of a car, but it does not specify which direction the seat faces.

House Bill 1551, which was referred to the House Transportation Committee on September 29, 2015, would require all children under one year of age be secured in a rear-facing safety seat, and AAA is voicing its strong support in hopes that the legislation will be reviewed soon.

Child Safety Guidelines

car seatChild restraint guidelines made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend that children remain rear-facing until they weigh at least 20 pounds and are at least one year old to prevent injury in a crash. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear facing car seat until they are at least two years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacturer.

“Numerous studies confirm that children are safer in rear-facing car seats, as they do a better job protecting the head, neck and spine of an infant during the impact of a crash,” said Jana L. Tidwell, Manager of public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Crashes are often outside parents’ control, however, properly securing a small child in a vehicle should be a parent’s number one priority. Therefore AAA strongly encourages the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee to amend HB 1551 to correspond with guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, rear facing until children are two years old, the safest way to transport a child.”

Although car seats have been around for years, evidence shows that many of us still aren’t using them properly. In fact, up to 75% of car seats may be installed improperly. For more information and tips on installing your car seat, check out a previous blog post.

The Streets Could Be Scary this Halloween; Drive Safe

HalloweenAs with any holiday weekend, Halloween is certainly a time to enjoy yourself but to also beware of impaired drivers on the road. No mask, makeup, or costume, will be able to disguise the dangers of drunk driving. This year, the Philadelphia area is lucky enough to have a Temple football game happening the same night so that even those who don’t enjoy Halloween will have something to celebrate.

If you’ll be hosting a Halloween party this weekend, make sure all of your guests have designated drivers. Uber is always an option as well! If you happen to be the designated driver of the evening, keep these tips from AAA in mind to spot impaired drivers on the road:

  • Driving too slow or too fast for conditions.
  • Crossing the center line repeatedly.
  • Signaling inconsistent with driving.
  • Swerving, weaving or drifting between lanes and the sides of the road.
  • Accelerating and braking rapidly.
  • Driving with the headlights off at night, or failing to dim high beams.
  • Making wider turns than necessary.
  • Responding slowly to traffic signals (sudden stops, delayed starts).
  • Driving into opposing traffic.
  • Driving too closely to other vehicles or objects.
  • Stopping without cause.
  • Turning abruptly or illegally.

If you see any drivers exhibiting these behaviors, do your best to stay away from them and contact police. And most importantly, enjoy your Halloween!

Animal Strikes High in October and November

deerDeer mating season is officially upon us and, unfortunately, it’s also the worst time of your vehicle collisions with deer. According to State Farm’s annual report, PA drivers are more likely than drivers in all but one other state to hit a deer. It’s estimated that 1 in 71 PA drivers will hit a deer within the next year.

From now until December, deer will be more active than usual — especially at dusk and dawn. According to PennDOT, there were 3,696 reportable crashes last year involving deer or other animals, resulting in 11 fatalities. Follow the following tips from AAA to prevent an accident or reduce damage from a collision:

  • Use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic.
  • If you see a deer, look for others following close.
  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Try your horn to scare away animals.
  • Use your brakes in an imminent collision, don’t swerve.
  • Never approach a wounded animal. Call 911.

Check out some PA driving statistics from 2013

PA Crashes with Roadside Objects

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Do You Understand All of the Safety Features in Your Vehicle?

DashboardRecent studies have shown that many Americans don’t fully understand the ways the technologies in their vehicles are keeping them safe on the road. In fact, many reported feeling caught off-guard when these features kicked in, thinking the vehicle may have malfunctioned.

According to a study from the University of Iowa, 40% of drivers have reported their vehicles reacting in “unexpected” ways. The majority of respondents were familiar with at least one of the nine safety features included in the study, but were not familiar with all of them. The following features were included in the study:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Anti-lock Braking Systems
  • Automatic Emergency Braking System
  • Back-up Camera
  • Blind Spot Monitor
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Traction Control
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert

You can find the full published study, which examined both knowledge of safety features and the use of defensive driving techniques, here.

In order to address the issues brought to light by this survey, the University of Iowa partnered with the National Safety Council to create a national campaign to help educate consumers. offers consumers information about safety features, as well as instructional videos to show how these features work. The campaign also plans to develop graphics, animation, social media, a game, and even an app to help educate drivers.

The History of the Popemobile

PopemobileYou may have heard that Pope Francis will traveling around Philadelphia this weekend in a modified white Jeep Wrangler. This is different from the usual Mercedes-Benz Popemobile in which most popes have ridden over the years. The Pontiff has also chosen other rides such as a Kia Soul and an Isuzu D-Max when traveling to South Korea and the Philippines.

This got us wondering about the various popemobiles of Pontiffs past. That’s when we stumbled across this illustration from the Washington Post, and decided to share some highlights with you.

Chair & Carriage

Technically, the first popemobile wasn’t an automobile at all. In the 1800’s, twelve footmen carried the “sedia gestatoria” or “chair for carrying” around on their shoulders with the pope inside, lifting him high on special occasions to be seen over the crowd. However, several popes were not fans of this method and the tradition was eventually retired in 1978.

Several papal carriages were also used in the 1800’s, many of which are on display at the Vatican Museum. These carriages were very intricately designed and pulled by horses.

The Automobile

Prior to 1929, a dispute between the Vatican and Italian government kept the pope confined to Vatican City. When the disagreement ended, an automobile seemed a more feasible method of transportation and several were gifted to him in anticipation of his travels. Among the first vehicles listed in the Vatican car collection were a Fiat 525, an Isotta Fraschini Type 8, and a Lictoria Sex.

Over the years, other gifted vehicles included:

  • 1930 Mercedes-Benz Nürburg
  • 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300d
  • 1964 Lincoln Continental
  • 1974 Citroen SM

Security Vehicles

Two assassination attempts (Paul VI, 1970 and John Paul II, 1981) motivated a shift in the way the church altered popemobiles. Now, the vehicles had to maintain higher security while still allowing the pope to be high enough to be seen by the masses.

This started with armored vehicles, and eventually led to the bulletproof, clear glass-enclosed compartment that most of us can remember John Paul II traveling in.

However, Pope Francis seems not to be a fan of the enclosed cars. He’s likened the standard “pope box” design to a sardine can, and plans to see the United States in an open-sided Jeep Wrangler instead.

For more information and illustrations, be sure to check out the article from the Washington Post.

Automakers to Install Automatic Emergency Braking on New Vehicles

Braking SystemAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, nearly one third of all crashes on U.S. roads are rear-end collisions. Actually, one of these accidents happens roughly every 17 seconds. This issue has been a major focus for insurance companies and major automakers for years, constantly searching for ways to reduce the threat of rear-end collisions and consequently the number of deaths, injuries, and repair costs.

Last Friday, ten of the world’s largest automakers announced that, with the help of federal safety regulators and an insurance industry trade group, a new safety mechanism could do just that. They announced that automatic emergency braking will become a standard feature in cars sold in the United States.

A Major Change in the Industry

These systems will use technology such as cameras, radars, or lasers to detect an impending crash and warn the driver to take action. If the driver does not take action, the brakes will be engaged. Many believe this signifies a change in driver safety, where automakers focus on preventing crashes instead of solely focusing on protecting drivers and passengers during a crash.

The automakers involved in the automatic braking feature include Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo, who accounted for more than 57 percent of U.S. car sales last year. Each company has agreed to work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop a timeline for installing the new standard feature.

For more on this story, and how it’s bringing us one step closer to self-driving cars, check out this article at

Tips for Wet Weather Driving

Rain DrivingAfter a fairly dry summer, it would be normal for us to experience an autumn with a good deal of wet weather. Unlike snow, rain won’t cause work and school to close but driving in intense rain can be just as dangerous.

Not only can the rain make it difficult to navigate your vehicle, but a severe thunderstorm can cause small stream flooding in just one hour. Here are some tips provided by AAA to drive safely in wet weather:

  • Slow down and create more distance between yourself and the car in front of you. With as little as 1 1/2 inches of water on the road, cars have to move a gallon of water per second to keep tires in contact with the road. Driving too fast could cause you to hydroplane.
  • If you can’t see the road or line markings, don’t attempt to drive through the water. It doesn’t take much for your car to get stuck or to even get pulled away with the water.
  • If you start to skid, avoid slamming on the brakes as this will only throw off the car’s balance. Instead, continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go.
  • Never use cruise control in wet weather. You will need to slow down and accelerate periodically, which you can’t do in cruise control. Also, wet weather driving deserves your full attention.

Keep in mind that the best wet weather driving tips involve preventative action before ever starting the car. You’ll need to ensure your headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals are all in great working condition. Also, check the condition of your windshield wipers and tires.

For more information, check out this article from AAA.

Maintenance Tips for College Drivers

driverAs parents, many of us get into the habit of catering to our college-age children while they are home. This might mean doing their laundry, cleaning their dishes, or even performing regular maintenance on their cars. While this is a very kind gesture, you need to make sure your son or daughter is capable of performing these maintenance tasks while they are on their own. According to AAA, the following are great tips for before classes start:

  • Make sure they know how to check tire pressure, inflate tires, and identify any tire abnormalities that could signify something dangerous.
  • Refresh on basic maintenance skills to keep the car running in the best condition and avoid high repair costs.
  • Go over the owner’s manual with your college student. Show them where to find the maintenance schedule and discuss the importance of following that schedule.
  • After you’ve toured all of the dorms and cafeterias, try and find a local repair shop with some good reviews. This way, both you and your child can rest assured that there is a trustworthy mechanic in the area if needed.
  • Stock up the car with all of the emergency essentials. These include a snow shovel, windshield scraper, empty fuel container, jumper cables, flash light, road flares, as well as a first aid kit.

At the very least, following this advice will bring you peace of mind while your baby is away. For more information on how to prepare for cars at college, check out our previous post on common mistakes made by college students.