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Many states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. The reason is the number of deaths attributed to this seemingly harmless activity: 2,600 deaths nationwide every year, by some estimates. In fact, those numbers may actually be too low, due to the continued rise in cell phone use behind the wheel. If you think that talking and texting while driving isn’t a big deal, consider this: One researcher compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a cell phone to that of a 70-year-old driver. What’s more, working a cell phone behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent.
It isn’t just cell phones that cause distractions, however. Eating, applying makeup, fiddling with electronic devices or interacting with passengers also diverts a driver’s attention in potentially deadly ways.
When You See the Police Car
If a police car is following you with its siren blaring or emergency lights flashing, pull over to the right quickly (but safely) and come to a complete stop in a safe place.
Pulling over right away isn’t an admission of guilt. It just means that you were alert to everything that was happening around you. Also, by stopping as soon as you can, you’ll have a better chance of figuring out exactly where and how the officer says you violated any traffic laws. This information can be useful should you and a lawyer later need to prepare a defense.
Pull over in a way that will be most likely to calm down an angry or annoyed traffic officer. Use your turn signal to indicate any lane changes from left to right, and slow down fairly quickly, but not so quickly that the officer will have to brake to avoid hitting you. Pull over as far to the right as possible, so that the officer won’t have to worry about being clipped by vehicles in the right lane when coming up to your window.
Right After You Stop
After you’ve pulled over to a safe spot, you should normally turn off your engine. At this point, you might want to show the officer a few other token courtesies. You have little to lose and perhaps something to gain.
Roll down your window all the way. Put out a cigarette if you have one and discard any chewing gum (within the car). You might also want to place your hands on the steering wheel, and, if it’s dark, turn on your interior light. These actions will tend to allay any fears the officer might have. After all, police officers have been killed in traffic-stop situations, and the officer’s approach to the vehicle is potentially the most dangerous moment.
Your dignity might be offended a little at this point, but remember that you’re just doing a few simple things to put the officer in an optimal frame of mind.
Also, stay in the car until and unless the officer directs you to get out. Finally, don’t start rummaging through your back pocket for your wallet and license, or in your glove compartment for your registration, until the officer asks you for them. For all the officer knows, you could be reaching for a weapon.
Excuses to Search
A police officer who stops you for a traffic violation is normally not allowed to search your vehicle. But there are several exceptions to this general rule.
After pulling you over, an officer will watch for any sort of “furtive movement.” A sudden lowering of one or both shoulders, for example, will tip the officer off that you’re attempting to hide something under the seat.
An officer enforcing a traffic stop isn’t looking just for furtive movements. Officers will look for anything incriminating that’s in “plain view” (like open beer or wine bottles, joints, or roach clips). Discovery of one item in plain view often leads to a thorough search that reveals more incriminating or illegal objects.
If you’re arrested and your car is towed, the police may generally make an “inventory search” afterward, even if they have no reason to suspect there’s anything illegal inside
For example, five stars do not always add up to six or more airbags. Some car makers provide only enough (four) airbags to earn the five-star rating.
For complete peace of mind, be sure to check there are two front, two side (usually in the outer cushion of the front seats) and two head-protecting “curtain” airbags that drop down from the roof above the side windows – front and rear.
Some cars have knee-protecting airbags under the steering column and near the glovebox, while others also have rear-seat airbags.
When shopping for a new vehicle, the world is your oyster. Every vehicle in every automaker’s lineup is available for your perusal. You can purchase a fully loaded minivan for those big family vacations, a sleek new sports coupe for your next mid-life crisis toy or a stripped down compact for your new college graduate. The sky is quite seriously the limit. With hundreds of different models of sedans, sports cars, trucks and SUVs on the market right now, it’s up to you to pick out which type of vehicle suits you best. This isn’t as tricky as it sounds. Once you know what size vehicle you’re looking for, you can do research online to figure out which ones you’d like to test drive. To help you out, here are some things you should consider when narrowing down your list of new cars.
Automakers offer just about every feature imaginable on their newest model year vehicles. Some will make your car more comfortable, others make it more attractive and some will even make it safer. Depending on your price range, some of these features like heated seats and darkness-detecting lights may come standard. In other cases, you’ll have to pay extra for anything above the baseline. Since some of these features are worth more than others, we’ve created a rundown of everything you’ll be able to add to a new car accompanied by our opinion on their values.
Backup cameras can be incredibly useful gadgets if you find yourself needing to Parallel Park regularly. They can make squeezing into a space easy for even the shakiest parkers. And the technology they use is constantly becoming more advanced. The only downside is that these cameras are usually included as part of a “premium” package on midrange cars, making them a bit pricey for some budgets.
Remote entry has come a long way in the last couple of years. Every new model comes with a remote key fob these days and you can unlock many of them simply by approaching the car with the key in your pocket. The newest models of the Ford Escape and Mercedes-Benz SUVs offer hands-free access not only to the doors, but also to the back hatch as well. Just wave your foot under the bumper and the door will open on its. If you have to haul a lot of things around, this will definitely be a useful investment.
Those power mats that charge your electronic devices just by touching them have finally made their way to vehicles like the new Dodge Dart. Unfortunately, these mats are often more trouble than they’re worth – you have to install an accessory onto every device you wish to charge plus you need to pay the dealership a premium to install the mats in the first place. In our opinion, you should just stick to the good old fashioned outlet chargers that you can buy for about $10.
Nothing feels better than a warm seat after you’ve just come in from the rain or snow. However, their utility is limited unless you live in area that sees a significant amount of inclement weather. Luckily, most vehicles that offer heated seats include them as a standard feature. If your vehicle requires you to upgrade to heated seats, you may not t be missing much by skipping them.
Winter wipers – with the rubber coverings that keep ice from collecting on the blade – have become very popular. They’re great in the winter, but make sure you take them off in the spring. Winter wipers are heavy, and if you use them all summer, you’ll wear out the wiper motor prematurely.
And when using your wipers in the winter, remember to turn them off BEFORE shutting off the engine. Why? Water frequently freezes overnight during the winter. And if your blades freeze to the windshield, when you go to start your car, the wiper motor may burn out trying to get them back to the “rest position,” while you’re sitting there wondering, “What’s that burning smell?”
Are you and your family planning to drive to a holiday get-together this year? Whether you’re heading to Grandma’s cottage or a favorite vacation spot to celebrate holidays with family or friends, AAA has simple tips to help make your drive a smooth one, so you can arrive at your destination safely and without incident.
- Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
- Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
- Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
- If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
- Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
- In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and enjoy your holiday with family and friends.
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Although we never suspect it would happen to us, vehicle breakdowns do happen and can really put you in a bind if you’re not prepared. It’s recommended to, at a minimum, keep jumper cables, a quart of motor oil and a small tool kit. It’s also a good idea to keep triangle reflectors or flares in the instance you are stranded in the dark. You never know when something is going to happen to your car, so it’s best to be prepared.
Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is tremendously important to your car, as it keeps the engine from freezing in cold temperatures. Before you head into winter, make sure your car isn’t low on coolant and that there aren’t any leaks in your vehicle’s engine that could cause coolant to drain out. Many mechanics recommend drivers use a 50/50-mix of coolant and water in their radiators, which usually results in a lower engine freezing point than just coolant.