When you read that it’s colder in MA than it is in Fairbanks, Alaska you start to think how you can possibly stay warm when you’re outside.  But even worse, what would happen if you’re stuck in a traffic jam on I-95 behind a jack-knifed tractor trailer and trapped in your car for an hour, or two or even three?  That’s exactly what happened to some people last year and it’s a distinct possibility of it happening this weekend when temps are near 0 degrees.

Here’s what you need to know to be prepared:

Stay with your car.  You might be tempted to walk and find help but unless there is a building that you know is occupied within your sight, don’t leave your car.  When help arrives it will add more time to your rescue if you’re not with your car.  If you don’t have flares to set, tie a bright piece of cloth on your car to alert anyone passing by.  Be sure to bundle up with extra layers, especially on your toes and fingers, and try to move around any way you can – clapping your hands, moving your legs, etc.

Pack supplies – If you live in a blizzard-prone area, always keep your car stocked with emergency items including flares, a shovel, extra blankets and socks, a pocket knife, a hand crank radio, an extra cell phone, a bottle or canteen to hold water, matches or a lighter and some candles (with a tin can to burn the candles in), dried snack including jerky, candy and peanut butter crackers and a First Aid kit.  If you have a baby, include extra formula and diapers.

Avoid CO poisoning – While you might want to keep the car running for heat, only do so about 10 minutes every hour to avoid running out of gas.  Make sure there is no snow blocking the tail pipe and keep one window open a crack to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  Be sure the window is opposite from the way the wind is blowing to avoid snow blowing into the car.

Stay hydrated and energized – When it’s cold you tend to drink less but you can’t risk getting dehydrated.  Don’t eat snow as your body will still have to work to melt it.  Rather pack some into the canteen or bottle you have in your supplies and slowly let it melt.  Eat candy and protein bars to keep your energy up.

Before ever heading out for a trip let a family member or friend know where you are going, the route you are taking and who’s going with you.  If you don’t arrive at your destination they can immediately give the information to emergency personnel who are searching for you.

 

Disclaimer – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

Changing your tires and filling your wiper fluid are just two of the things you should know in order to keep your car running safely.  Did you know that your headlight bulbs dim 20% over the life of the bulb?

Disclaimer – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

Two HeadlightsWhile most people may assume that teens driving in the thick of winter – when it’s dark, cold and wet – would be more dangerous than driving on sunny, warm days, it’s actually the summer months that are the most dangerous. In fact, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers as this is when they are on the road more than any other time during the year.  In 2013 alone, 371,645 people were injured and 2,927 were killed in crashes that involved a teen driver.

Teens simply haven’t had enough time behind the wheel to become proficient drivers and manage situations such as slippery roads, fog and distracted drivers who might swerve into their lane.  According to National Driver Training, statistics show that five major causes of night traffic fatalities are defective rear lights, defective headlights, fog, driver fatigue and intoxication. While it’s hard to get teens to listen to you, here are some pointers that could very well help save their life as well as their passenger or the other driver.

SLOW DOWN! – Speeding is a major contributor to fatal teen accidents. In fact speeding occurs in 33% of all fatal crashes. Teens feel they have control of the situation but underestimate how slow they’re reaction time can be if someone brakes quickly or switches lanes without warning.

Distractions come in many forms – While the most common distractions are talking on the phone or texting any activity that takes your eyes off the road for even a second could cause a crash. This includes eating, changing a radio station or turning on your GPS and checking yourself out in the mirror!  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it takes a vehicle going 55 mph approximately 265 feet to stop, and you must hit the brakes within one to 1.5 seconds of seeing an obstacle in order to avoid it. At night, every extra inch of visibility matters.

Drive alone – Distractions aren’t just objects and activities but people too. In fact having a single teen passenger in your car can double the risk of causing a car accident. Adding additional teen passengers causes the risk to escalate.  Many states have graduated licenses which prohibit the number of passengers a teen driver can have in the car and limiting night time driving.  Teen Driver Source notes that states with nighttime restrictions in place have reported up to a 60 percent reduction in crashes during the restricted hours.


newbulbsSee and be seen
– Headlights are a driver’s first line of defense for any obstacles on the road, as seeing an object sooner and more clearly allows for more reaction time and a better decision. It’s important to have headlights in proper, working order to ensure obstacles can be seen, with the best lighting available if possible. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your bulbs, it is probably time to do so.  Upgrading to better down road headlight bulbs can help add more visibility, which can equate to additional reaction time. Every foot counts and every second matters. Headlights, like SYLVANIA SilverStar® ULTRAs, provide a brighter light for more clarity which helps maximize downroad visibility. A simple upgrade can make a better driving experience. Without increasing glare or affecting other drivers on the road.

Put it in writing – Develop a contract with your teens about your expectations for when they’re behind the wheel.

Keeping our teens safe behind the wheel is one of the top concerns for parents.  Help keep them safe and arm them with proper information.  The SYLVANIA Automotive Lighting #TravelSafe campaign is working to spread the message of how important safety is during this busy travel period.

 

 

Disclaimer – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

sylphotoLiving in a rural community, the threat of deer and other animals running out into the middle of the road at night is a very real and highly probable danger for drivers. In the past month alone in our town we’ve experienced two serious car crashes – both involving young drivers – that happened at night on dark roads. While speed and distracted driving are always top concerns, visibility is another serious issue.

A study by Carnegie Mellon indicates that nearly half of all accidents occur at night despite 25 percent less traffic on the road due to limited visibility. And, according to the National Safety Council, traffic death rates on the road occur at a rate three times greater at night than during the day.

Recently, AAA conducted testing on headlights to assess capabilities and limitations. The study revealed the potential for significant headlight shortcomings when traveling on roadways that lack overhead lighting, typically America’s rural roads, which account for 40 percent of vehicle miles traveled annually.

“AAA’s test results reveal that headlights found in U.S. vehicles fall short on safety,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “By failing to properly light roadways at moderate speeds, a pedestrian or animal may not become visible to a driver until it’s too late to stop.”

While high-beam settings on halogen headlights improved sight distances by 28 percent at the testing facility, in real-world conditions they may only provide enough light to safely stop at speeds of up to 48 mph, leaving drivers vulnerable at highway speeds. Despite the clear need for the additional visibility that high-beams offer, particularly on unlit roads, a recent AAA survey found that only a third of Americans admit to using these settings regularly.

Most concerning is the fact that halogen headlights, found in over 80 percent of vehicles on the road today, may fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph.

Sylvania Automotive Lighting wants drivers to know that if visibility is a concern, they have choices that can improve their vehicle’s headlight performance.

  1. Restore your headlights. Based on AAA’s study, this can double the maximum light intensity and reduce glare-producing light scatter by up to 60 percent. Sylvania’s headlight restoration kit is unique in that it includes a UV Block Clear Coat, which helps protect lenses from future sun damage. At just $20, it’s an affordable solution with a lifetime warranty that restores headlights to like-new condition.
  2. Change bulbs before burnout. Many people don’t realize that headlights dim over time. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your bulbs, it is probably time to do so.
  3. Upgrade for additional clarity. Whiter, brighter headlight bulbs are available in the aftermarket and designed to provide additional down road and side road visibility compared to standard halogen headlight bulbs. They can help drivers identify and react more quickly to road hazards.

 

Mifold-100How many times have you ended up picking up one of your child’s friends and didn’t have an extra booster seat? And how many times have you forgotten to move the booster seat from your car to Grandma’s or the babysitter’s? Well, there’s a new product hitting the market that can eliminate these problems. Mifold is a new Grab-and-Go Booster Seat that is more than 10 times smaller than a regular booster seat yet just as safe. It’s super portable so anyone can keep an extra in the car.  And, unlike a standard booster seat that lifts a child to be in a position like that of an adult, mifold actually does the exact opposite – it holds the seatbelt down in the appropriate position.

Mifold-9 copyMifold’s patented compact design takes the seat belt off the stomach and the neck, making it comfortable, safe and easy to use. It’s also easy to keep clean and can even be put in the dishwasher. mifold is engineered to protect children from ages 4-12. It’s made using super tough plastic polymers and aircraft grade aluminum, and was created with the help of top designers, engineers and industry experts. Safety is mifold’s number one priority and the company has successfully crash-tested prototypes all around the world.

Invented by a father of four, the grab-n-go mifold seat is now available for pre-orders.

 

Advanced Research Vehicle Developed with Microsoft and Collaborative Studies with Universities Take New Approaches to Combating Driver Distraction

 Toyota_DARV_Sienna_profile

Los Angeles, Calif. (November 20, 2013) – What if we could reduce driver distraction before ever putting a key in the ignition? That’s the focus of the Driver Awareness Research Vehicle (DAR-V) that Toyota unveiled at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show today.

“At Toyota, our focus is not only on protecting people in case of an accident, but also on preventing that accident from happening in the first place,” said Chuck Gulash, Director of Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC).  “While the auto industry will never eliminate every potential driver distraction, we can develop new ways to keep driver attention and awareness where it needs to be – on the road ahead.”

Gulash discussed three specific safety research initiatives aimed at better leveraging vehicle design and interaction to help drivers keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and brain engaged and aware.  These included Toyota’s DAR-V new-concept research vehicle and the funding of two university research programs.

Research Vehicle Helps Reduce Potential Distractions Before Driving
“Cars have become an interaction of multiple screens.  Initially, there was the windscreen, and rear window and the rear and side-view mirrors,” said Gulash. “We now have multiple gauge clusters, large information screens and heads-up displays all feeding us information and competing for our attention.”

The DAR-V was developed in partnership with Microsoft Research to help reduce driver distractions before the key is even in the ignition.  Utilizing Microsoft technologies such as Kinect, the interactive systems integrated into the design of the vehicle display important, highly personalized information on the side window when the driver approaches the car.

Using a combination of gesture control, voice and the key fob, drivers can navigate information such as updates on traffic and the weather, appointments and schedules for the day ahead, and even route details that might include a gas station if the vehicle is low on fuel.  By addressing these critical daily priorities before even setting foot in the vehicle, a driver potentially has more mental bandwidth to focus on driving.

“We need to start thinking of the car and the driver as teammates, sharing the common goal of saving lives,” said Gulash.  “The best teammates learn from each other.  They watch, listen and remember.  They adapt.  They communicate.  And they assist, as needed.  In doing so, over time, a foundation of trust is built.  Together, the teammates are building a common situational awareness of their driving environment.”

Because the DAR-V system can recognize and differentiate between individuals, the system might also be used to reduce driver distractions in other ways.  For example, children might play “games” designed to help them buckle their seatbelts quickly, easing the stress on parents and helping them focus more of their attention on the road.

MIT AgeLab Observes the Human Factors of Voice Command
Gulash also discussed a study undertaken at MIT’s AgeLab which Toyota helped to fund. These results were published in a white paper authored by Dr. Bryan Reimer and Bruce Mehler,  of MIT, whose purpose was expand understanding of the human factors of voice command.

Researchers found that the mental demands on drivers while using voice command were actually lower than expected, potentially because drivers compensate by slowing down, changing lanes less frequently or increasing the distance to other vehicles.  However, in a number of the voice interactions studied, the amount of time drivers took their eyes off the road during voice command tasks was greater than expected. The situation is often more pronounced among older drivers, some of whom were found to physically orient their bodies towards the voice command system’s graphical interface when engaging with it.

Stanford Autonomous Driving Human Factors
This idea of building trust by sharing tasks is being taken to a new level with a collaborative project between the CSRC and the Stanford University.

Using one of the most advanced driving simulators in the country, researchers are studying how drivers interact with new automated safety technologies that are increasingly capable of taking over responsibility for driving the car.  The system combines EEG sensors to track brain activity, skin sensors to measure emotional arousal and eye-tracking headgear to follow directional glances.  The system can perfectly align what’s happening inside the car, what’s happening outside the car and what‘s happening inside the driver’s brain.

The simulator is unique in its ability to instantly shift from fully automated control to driver in full control to mixed control. The research will help inform design improvements to automated systems that will improve how they work in partnership with the driver to improve safety for everyone.

For example, the project will help to understand how a driver responds to a sudden “takeover now!” alert compared to less aggressive commands or explanations. Other issues include studies of how driver abilities are affected by prolonged periods in fully automated mode, including potential reduction in reaction times or situational awareness.

“These are questions that need to be answered”, Gulash concluded, “not only to help build a product.  But also, to build a foundation of understanding and guidelines for how we proceed with further research into the human factors of automated vehicles.”

Disclaimer –  I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

takethepledge

For months I’ve been talking about AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign. You’ve probably heard some of their PSAs and seen the logo all over.  Well, it’s all led up to today – the day that we’re trying to get everyone to go online and take the pledge not to text and drive.  Today is Drive4Pledges Day and there are events going on all over the country, just like the one I’m hosting tonight in Wilton, CT where I’ll screen the powerful documentary One Second to the Next that shows the devastating consequences of texting and driving.

If you’re not in this area, you can view the documentary online on the It Can Wait site where you can also take the pledge.  Take a minute to read some of the reasons people have taken the pledge.

  • A guy whose sister died the day before her wedding due to a driver who was texting.
  • The mom whose teen-age son is now a parapalegic because of a texting driver.
  • The young man who killed someone because he was texting and driving and is living with the guilt and regret for the rest of his life.

The title One Second to the Next is so appropriate – imagine leaving your house to run a quick errand – to the library, to the grocery store or pick up your child from a playdate.  Something you do every day.  And then you get a text from your husband, asking where you are.  It’s just a quick text – it will take only a second to answer with a quick three word reply.  But in that split second you look down to hit “send,” a child rides his bicycle out of his driveway, seemingly out of nowhere, and you’ve hit him.  And in that split second, your life has changed forever. Not only your life, but the lives of both families.

PLEASE DON’T LET THAT BE YOU!

And yes, I’m addressing parents because a survey that AT&T did showed that 77% of teens said that their parents constantly tell them not to text and drive but do it themselves “all the time.”

It’s a hard habit to break, I know.  But texting and driving has become a life-threatening epidemic.

Go online and take the pledge but also help spread the word to everyone!  Here’s a tweet I would ask everyone to send out:

Join #ItCanWait and @ATT for Drive4Pledges Day! Take the pledge to never text and drive again at ItCanWait.com.

Add an It Can Wait Twibbon to your social media avatars to show your support: twibbon.com/Support/It-Can-Wait

 

 

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