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.

3 out of 4 Car Seats Installed Wrong

car seatInstalling a car seat for your child may seem like a simple task, but it should be taken very seriously. These devices keep children safe in vehicles, and it’s scary to think that roughly 75% of car seats could be installed improperly.

AAA shares the top six car seat installation mistakes:

1. Not using a safety seat.

Safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, using a booster seat with a seat belt for older children reduces the risk of injury by 59 percent.

2. Not reading safety seat instructions.

With so many parents incorrectly installing car seats, it’s important to read the seat’s manual, as well as the car’s owner manual.

3. Using restraints for older children too soon.

Toddlers should not be turned face forward until they are at least two and the maximum weight for the seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children under age 13 should sit in the back seat.

4. Installing safety seats too loosely.

A properly installed car seat should not move more than 1 inch in any direction. You should use your car’s seat belt or LATCH system to secure a safety seat, but not both (unless stated by the manufacturers).

5. Adjusting seat harnesses incorrectly.

According to AAA, “Safety seat harnesses should always be snug and lie flat without twists. Harnesses should be at or below the child’s shoulders when rear-facing and at or above the shoulders when forward-facing in order to hold the child’s body upright and against the seat. The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.”

6. Keeping loose items in vehicle.

Secure all loose items in a car, including purses, umbrellas, groceries, etc. If you are forced to make a sudden stop, these items could harm a child.

Here’s some tips from the NHTSA:

  • Determine if your child is in the right seat for his or her age and size;
  • Read the instructions and labels that come with your child’s car seat and read the vehicle owner’s manual for important information on installing the seat in your particular vehicle;
  • Go to your local car seat inspection station to have your seat checked by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician;
  • Use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) restraint system or seat belt to install your car seat and use the top tether to secure forward-facing car seats;
  • Register your car seat and booster seat at SaferCar.gov so you will be informed if there is a safety recall on your model; and
  • Always wear your seat belt to set a good example. Unbuckled drivers are more likely to have unrestrained children in the car.

What are the biggest mistakes that you think people make with car seats?

Beware of Potholes

PotholeAlthough it’s nice and sunny today, not too long ago snow blanketed the streets. We’re happy to see that cold weather go, but now we’re left with the annoying aftermath — potholes.

In March 2014, AAA responded to 27,639 tire-related calls and from the looks of things, this year could be just as treacherous. Actually, pothole damage cost our nation $6.4 billion last winter. In order to avoid damaged tires, bent axles, ruined wheel alignment, and costly repairs, AAA has a few tips for motorists:

  • Keep an eye on traffic patterns. Cars that slow down or move quickly to other lanes may be a sign of major potholes or road damage ahead.
  • Beware of snow, ice or water that may be concealing a deep pothole.
  • Report major potholes or road damage to your state or local transportation department.
  • Avoid swerving. Swerving can cause a loss of vehicle control.
  • Slow down. Carefully avoid sharp impact with potholes.
  • Roll through. Rolling through the pothole is better than braking rapidly.
  • Inflate tires properly. Over inflated and under inflated tires increase risk of tire and wheel damage.

Be sure to take these tips seriously, but make sure you stop and think if your vehicle does get damaged as a result of a pothole. Remember that filing a claim with your insurance could affect your rates in the future. According to a survey by Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) , 65% respondents who needed repairs opted to pay for them out of pocket.

For more about pothole repair in our area, check out this article by CBS Philly.

Winter Car FAQs

There are so many myths when it comes to proper car care in the winter that it’s pretty hard to keep them all straight. We often have customers ask us about the best ways to start their cars and get moving on cold mornings, so we decided to compile them all into one FAQ post.

Q. Should I let my car warm up before driving?

A. Unless your was built before 1990, the answer is no. Modern cars don’t have carburetors that need to warm up. Post-1990 vehicles should be ready to go in just 30 seconds. For more information, refer to a previous blog post.

Q. Should I start my car every day that it’s cold, even if it’s not being driven?

A. This is not necessary. In fact, there’s evidence that starting it without driving or taking short trips could cause damage to the vehicle. In any case, you’ll be needing more frequent oil changes.

Q. Do I need to drive around after getting a jump?

A. This one is true. After getting a jump, you should drive around for about 20 minutes to allow the battery to continue charging. Otherwise, you may have a hard time getting the car to start on your next errand.

We hope these answers put some family arguments to rest and allow you to operate your car confidently through what is left of winter. If you do get stuck out on the road, don’t forget to call Bob & Joe for a tow!

car in snow

Auto Insurers Pressuring Repair Shops to Use Cheap Parts

Broken HeadlightIn a new article released by CNN, auto repair shops throughout the country are making claims that major auto insurance companies are pressuring them to use cheap or damaged parts for repairs or risk losing business.

In some cases, these faulty parts can make a vehicle dangerous to drive. However if the shop refuses to make the cheap repairs, the insurance company will steer business away and point their clients toward a shop that is willing to go along with the program. While most major insurance companies deny these claims, more than 500 garages from 36 states are joining in a lawsuit against them.

According to CNN, an auto body shop owner in Monroe, Louisiana showed one of these “junkyard parts” to reporters. The insurance company sent a replacement headlight for a Toyota Tacoma that had clearly been damaged, then glued and screwed back together. CNN reported that he had taken the headlight out of the wrapping in that condition.

What does this mean for the customer?

Although an insurance company may provide you with a list of recommended repair and body shops, it is ultimately your choice where you take your vehicle. It’s against the law for an insurer to steer you toward a garage you don’t want to use.

After you’ve been in an accident, call your insurance and let them know where you’d like the car to be repaired. Next, ask for your claim number and provide to your trusted shop. At Direct Paint & Collision, we’ll take care of everything else.

For more information, read the entire CNN report.

Do You Need to Worry About Car Hackers?

Car TechnologyWe live in a world where our cars now know very much about us — everything from our favorite radio stations to our home addresses. Have you ever wondered what’s keeping this information safe when vehicles are connected to the internet? Or how easy it is for someone to gain access to this information?

According to computer engineers, access to your vehicle isn’t as secure as one might think. In fact, one day hackers could possibly have the ability to crash your car. According to CNNMoney, a report was compiled by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey’s staff that included inquiries from most major car manufacturers. The report found that although 100% of modern cars have wireless technology baked in, many of the access points to this technology are insufficiently protected.

The Findings

According to the source, you should think of your car like you would a smartphone. At least five major auto makers track your physical location, your car’s fuel and speed, and details about how you steer, use your seat belt, and apply the brakes.

Additionally, the report says that 50% of car makers collect driving history and transmit it to computer servers. Many auto companies assert a right to share this information with marketers. The report found that only two car makers allow drivers to disable data collection, five companies allow you to delete data from your dashboard, and two auto makers don’t collect personally identifiable information at all.

Now, Senator Markey is asking federal regulators to promote clear safety and privacy standards.

Keeping Your Car Clean in the Winter

winter carIn the winter, it’s common to see cars driving around covered in road salt. This white dusting is unsightly, and often lasts long after the snow has melted. However, you don’t have to be stuck  with this corrosive coating all season. Here are some tips to keep your car clean even when the weather’s cold.

Invest in Rubber Floor Mats
Your slushy, salty wet shoes are bound to soak the carpet in your car. If you don’t want to be left with stains and a musty scent, it’s a good idea to lay down towels then place rubber mats on top. this way, you’re protecting your floor and can throw the towels in the wash if they get dirty.

Keep Up with Regular Washes
Most people are hesitant to wash their vehicles in the winter, but regular washes are really the only way to keep them clean. Whether doing it yourself or going to a car wash, be sure to do it in the daylight when the temperature is at least 40 degrees. Use warm soapy water, and a dash of baking soda may help to get rid of the salt.

Dry, Dry, Dry
We can’t stress this enough. After you wash your car, be sure to dry it thoroughly to avoid freezing. You’ll even want to leave the doors open while you dry so that water doesn’t pool in the crevices and freeze them shut.

Be Mindful of Where You Park
Instinct might tell you to park your car in a heated garage. However, these garages often cause slush to melt and corrode your car’s paint quicker. While parking on the street opens your car up to the elements, frozen salt may actually be the safer choice.