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.

Car Accident Checklist

Car AccidentAfter a car accident, it’s easy to forget basic information.  Keep this checklist in your car as a reminder of the steps to take after an accident. Make sure to call the police and don’t discuss who as fault with the other driver(s).

  1. Check yourself and passengers for injuries. Call 911 if medical attention is required.
  2. Move to safety. If your car works get out of traffic and to a safe location. Turn on warning lights. If the scene is safe you should take a picture of the accident before moving your vehicle
  3. Call the police. Unless there is no damage or injury involved, you should only discuss the accident with the police. Do not discuss who is at fault with witnesses or other drivers.
  4. Gather information from everyone involved in the accident including drivers and witnesses. Do not discuss the accident or who is at fault.  We recommend recording the contact information at least one witness if possible.
    1. Driver’s Name ____________________
    2. Phone Number ___________________
    3. Address _________________________
    4. Insurance Company ________________
    5. Policy Number ____________________
    6. Witness Names and Phone Numbers
      1. ______________________________
      2. ______________________________
      3. ______________________________
      4. ______________________________
  5. Get police officer information.
    1. Officer Name _____________________
    2. Badge Number ___________________
    3. Police Department _________________
    4. Police Report Number ______________
  6. Record accident information.
    1. Car Make _________________________
    2. Car Model ________________________
    3. Car Year _________________________
    4. License Plate Number _______________
    5. Time of Day _______________________
    6. Location of Accident _________________
  7. Take lots of pictures. Document as much as possible with a camera including vehicles, drivers, surroundings, property damage, skid marks, etc. When in doubt take a picture but only if it is safe to do so.
  8. Contact your auto body shop. Before you speak to your insurance company call your preferred collision repair shop and get towed. The insurance company will often steer you towards their affiliated auto body shop which might not be what you want. Your collision center can handle your insurance claim.

 Tip: Use your cell phone to take pictures of the scene, and even take a photo of the other driver’s insurance card.

Download the PDF

Keep it in your car to take advantage of special discounts. Bring this paper with you to Direct Paint and Collision to save 20% on your insurance company’s deductible.

10 Tips to Reduce Your Monthly Gas Costs

Gas PumpWith gas being slightly less cheap than at the beginning of this summer, many of us are getting used to spending more on fuel. While we certainly can’t do anything to bring gas prices back down, you can improve your fuel economy by following some fairly simple tips.

  1. Always keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure.
  2. Make sure your fluids (coolants, oil, etc.) are at an adequate level.
  3. Never tailgate in traffic. Instead, allow several car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can coast into a stop.
  4. Try to keep your highest speed at around 60 mph.
  5. Take anything out of the trunk that you don’t need. AAA says you save two percent fuel economy for every 100 pounds removed.
  6. Avoid drive-throughs. Instead, just park and walk into the store.
  7. Make sure you turn your engine off if you’re parked and waiting outside of the kids’ school or a friend’s house.
  8. Check your local supermarkets for frequent shopping discounts that can be used at the gas pump.
  9. Shop around for the best gas prices but don’t go too far. You could waste any savings by traveling far for better prices.
  10. Consolidate your errands whenever possible to reduce the number of miles driven.

Although these tips may not create a drastic change, the small savings will quickly add up. For more tips to improve your fuel economy, be sure to see this article on Philly.com.

Are Your Tires Getting Tired?

tireWith all of your travels this summer, please don’t neglect your tires. The mix of long miles and high temperatures can cause some serious damage, and you don’t want to find out the extent of that damage while on vacation.

It’s a good idea to check your tires before you hit the road on your next road trip. Over the Fourth of July, AAA responded to over 5,000 tire-related rescue calls. They recommend the T.I.R.E. method to to ensure you’re doing it correctly.

Tread and Pressure: Ensuring that your tires are inflated to the recommended pressure will guarantee that they last longer. In order to test the tread, stick a penny into it with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see his entire head, it’s time to replace the tire.

Inspect: Keep an eye out for things like bald spots, errant nails, worn areas, and cracks in your tires as they can be indications of a serious problem. AAA also recommends a monthly inspection of tire air pressure.

Rotate: Have your tires rotated at every other oil change. This will help your tires to wear evenly over time, decreasing the likelihood of a blowout.

Extra: Always make sure you have a spare tire before taking any trips. Many newer model cars no longer come with spares, and it’s not something we often think about until we need it. Be sure to inspect the extra tire the same way you would the others.

We hope that these tips help your summer run a little smoother!

What to Do When a Tree Falls on Your Car

Tree on carAfter that recent storm, Delaware County has seen a lot of damage from trees falling. Even those of us who were lucky enough to escape property damage were wondering what we have done if had been us. That being said, we decided to compile a blog post to make sure that if a tree does ever fall on your car, you’re prepared.

When you first hear that tree limb hit your vehicle, instinct might tell you to remove it and check out the damage yourself. However, that is not a good idea. The damage is done, and you could hurt yourself or cause more damage by trying to pull down the limb. Instead, your first action should be to call your auto insurance company and file a claim.

Dealing With Storm Damage

Whether it’s your tree, your neighbor’s tree, or a tree on public property, the claim needs to go through your insurance if it’s your vehicle. Tree damage, as well as flood damage, should be covered by your comprehensive portion of your insurance plan. Make sure you take plenty of pictures of the vehicle and discuss the extent of the damage with your insurance provider before looking for repair estimates.

While no one enjoys paying the deductible for an accident they didn’t cause, a tree falling is considered “an act of God” by insurance companies. Since no one is to blame, there is no one to ask for payment. The exception here is if your neighbor’s tree has been rotting for some time and then fell on your car. In other words, if you’d previously had a discussion with your neighbor about this tree being dangerous and they did not prevent the accident, they could be at fault. However, this is often difficult to prove.

For more information on dealing with the aftermath of a storm, check out this article by the Delco Times.

Border-to-Border Initiative Stresses Seat Belt Use in PA

seat beltPerhaps you’ve already seen parts of this initiative taking place around Havertown, but PennDOT, state and local police are taking part in a nationwide Border-to-Border initiative to “Click it or ticket.” The initiative began May 18 and will run through June 7.

Pennsylvania is one of 16 states, along with Ontario, Canada, to take special action to enforce seat belt laws during this time. Enforcement is being stressed at state borders, as well as during nighttime trips and on roads known to have high unbelted crash rates. Traffic in these areas may move slowly, as officers look out for unbelted drivers and passengers. Those pulled over for not wearing a seat belt will receive a traffic violation.

Click It or Ticket

PennDOT reported that unrestrained fatalities dropped from 425 in 2013 to 383 in 2014. They stated that the statewide number of unbelted crashes had dropped as well. Despite this improvement, officials say there was still a significant number of crashes and deaths where a seat belt would have made all the difference. There is still room for improvement.

As a reminder, Pennsylvania law states that all motorists and passengers both under and over the age of 18 must be wearing a seat belt. In addition, children between the ages of must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat. Kids under the age of four are required to be in a child safety seat. (Did you know that 3 out of 4 car seats are installed wrong?)

We hope you buckle up everyday! But please be sure to pay special attention to your passengers’ seat belts for the next week, otherwise you could end up with a fine.

Distracted Driving on the Rise in Delaware County

distracted drivingIf you read our previous blog post about April being Distracted Driving Awareness month, you’ll know that it came at a good time. The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts just released data that showed distracted driving incidents in Delaware County have gone up over the past year.

In 2014, police in Delaware County cited 29 drivers for driving with headphones in and another 99 for texting while driving. That’s 49 more arrests than were made in 2013. This upward trend also goes statewide. In total, PA drivers were cited 1,410 for texting while driving and 711 times for driving while wearing headphones in 2014. That makes for a total of 2,121 distracted driving stops, an increase of 263 from 2013.

Are PA Drivers Too Distracted?

Since March 2012, it’s been illegal to read, write, or send a text message while driving in Pennsylvania. Since the “no texting” law took effect, 3,940 tickets have been issued statewide. The most common punishment for texting while driving is currently a $50 fine. To learn more about distracted driving in Pennsylvania, read the full article on the Patch.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 660,000 Americans are using a mobile device while driving at any point of the day. Additionally, an estimated nine people per day are killed as a result of distracted driving. For more information on the dangers, please visit Distraction.gov.

PA Highway Fatalities at an All-Time Low

pa highwayAccording to AAA, highway fatalities are at the lowest level ever recorded in Pennsylvania. In 2014, the traffic deaths recorded totaled at 1,195, setting a record since the state began recording fatalities in 1928. This information came from statistics released by PennDOT.

Obviously, this is great news for Pennsylvania drivers. It means we’ve managed to make our roads safer for all drivers. Here is a breakdown of those traffic deaths by county:

  • Bucks County: 44 fatalities
  • Chester County: 34 fatalities
  • Delaware County: 26 fatalities
  • Montgomery County: 38 fatalities
  • Philadelphia County: 97 fatalities

Crashes Increase Among Two Driving Groups

Despite this record low, fatalities in teen and senior drivers actually increased. In Philadelphia County alone, teen and senior traffic deaths increased from 89 in 2013 to 97 in 2014. PennDOT crash data shows that accidents involving teen drivers alone increased 37 percent within that one year period. Jana L. Tidwell, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, says that teens have the highest crash rate out of any group in the United States — and distracted driving is a factor in 6 out of 10 of those crashes.

Additionally, fatalities in the senior group increased nearly 10 percent. As the number of senior drivers (age 75 and up) on the road continues to grow, Tidwell recommends senior drivers be proactive and self-limiting with their driving. Maintaining and refreshing skills, as well as taking fewer, shorter trips can keep most seniors driving safely for longer. AAA also a PennDOT approved RoadWise driver course to aid in these goals.

For more information, visit the AAA Mid-Atlantic News Releases.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

texting while drivingAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it’s very likely that more than nine people in the US are killed each day due to crashes involving a distracted driver. We can also estimate that at any moment of the day, 660,000 Americans are using some type of mobile device while driving. This is a frightening thought that motivated us to spread the word about National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

In Pennsylvania, it’s been illegal to text and drive since March 2012. The law prohibits any driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) to send, read, or write a text message while the vehicle is in motion. The term IWCD encompasses cell phones, digital assistants, mobile computers, and similar devices. A $50 fine is the common punishment for conviction.

The Facts

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted research that found distracted driving is a particularly big problem for teen drivers. In fact, they found that distraction was a factor in 6 out of 10 teen crashes. The most common forms of distraction included:

  • Interacting with passengers
  • Cell phone use
  • Looking at something inside the vehicle
  • Looking at something outside the vehicle
  • Singing or dancing to music
  • Grooming
  • Reaching for an object

We hope this information helps you to think twice before reaching for that cell phone while driving. For a visual account of the dangers of distracted driving, check out this video released by AAA.

Five Tips for Your Spring Break Road Trip

road tripAccording to AAA Mid-Atlantic, many are choosing local destinations for Spring Break trips. This means that many will be driving for these trips rather than flying, and creating a surplus of Spring Break road trips. Some of the top driving destinations include:

  • Philadelphia
  • New York City
  • Orlando
  • Washington DC
  • Baltimore
  • Clearwater, FL
  • Virginia Beach

If you’re planning to travel to one of these destinations, make sure you’re ready for your time out on the road. Although some of these places are only a few hours away, you’ll still want to be as safe and as comfortable as possible. Here are our tips to prepare for your best Spring Break road trip:

  1. Check your tires, brakes, and windshield wipers before you leave. Be proactive with possible road troubles.
  2. Clean and vacuum the inside of your car. You may even stow a few blankets in the back seat so passengers can get comfortable.
  3. Pack a car charger for your cell phone.
  4. Have a backup plan in case of traffic. It might be a good idea to check out some back roads on your phone or GPS.
  5. Make sure all car documents, such as your registration and proof of insurance, are up to date and readily available.

Follow these tips to make your trip run just a little smoother. After all, no one likes a stressful vacation. For more information about vacation car maintenance, check out a previous blog post.