Tire Problems

Most of the population think tire problems start and end with a “flat” and “incorrectly inflated tires” but there are other problems that can occur. A good rule of thumb is to compare the front left tire to the front right tire and a similar way with the back tire as tires don’t tend to become worn at the same rate.

Bald tires: A tire becomes bald from overuse which may make the tire blowout in hot conditions. This will mean that you are more likely to lose condition in extreme conditions. Such tires are much more likely to lose pressure. There should be exposed indicator bars if your tires need to be replaced.

Bubbles: External bulges in the tire. A rubber tire consists of “cords” which are at 90 degrees to the tire’s run (It might help to think of it in similar way to a piece of paper, it is harder to tear left to right than tear downwards). A forceful object can separate the cords and create a bubble. Having more than bubble or bulge is rare but occurrences have been spotted, probably due to manufacturing defect.

Flat spots: A worn part of the tire, caused by parking for long periods in the same place or by locking your brakes. You should fill your tires to capacity; drive at least 150 miles (which will solve the problem if the difficulty was being parked in one place). If it is not fixed, release some of the air in the tire through use of a valve. And if it still seems a problem, take it to a mechanic.

Squealing: This tends to occur when the vehicle is cornering. This is due to an uneven tread – some peeling may become apparent when examining the tire. Again it can be fixed by increasing the pressure in your tires. It may be even be due to loose wheels, in which case the wheel nuts should be tightened.

Underinflation: Generally, tires not being at the correct thickness which as well as making them hard to drive with may also create a burning smell due to excess heat. You can obtain Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems to check the problem or you could just check it at a service station. It’s a good idea to do this before going a long journey as you are likely to be stuck somewhere and it might be dangerous to stop.

Vibrations: This are generally felt when you operate the brake pedal or when the brake caliper sticks (these are used to slow the vehicle). Problems similar to vibrations which might be undetected by passengers in the car may be found by using a roller device called a Tire Problem Detector over the tire. Apparently they are due to an out-of-balance wheel, as it relates to the axel and its partner wheel. It’s quite usual for a tire which is more than a year old to become uneven on one side. It can be fixed by loosening a wheel weight. 

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What is a Tune-up?

A tune-up is something that car with a non-electric ignitions need to go through either every year or every 10,000 miles or so. If your car has an electric ignition and maybe a fuel injection system it should be all right for 25,000 to 100,000 miles.

A tune-up makes sure that your car is working at its peak and if you only travel for short distances or you pull a trailer (for example a boat or camper) it may be that your car needs to be tuned more often than the norm.

You can probably tell if the car is not working to its peak, but here are a couple of things to watch out for.

  • A stalling engine, which will be a problem if you need to move away quickly from the lights or similar. This may be due to worn spark plugs; it’s recommended that they should be replaced. Or it could be from a weak battery or maybe a faulty electronic component. Generally a car stalls of extremes of hot or cold, but if you can’t find the problem it’s best to have a mechanic look at it.
  • Engine running rough. This is when shaking and bouncing happens more often than you might reasonably expect. Again it may be linked to the spark plugs but it could also be a vacuum leak (a car is full of a number of hoses for air to travel through and these may have become worn) or dirty parts.
  • Black smoke from the carburetor. Only older vehicles use carburetors and black smoke is a sign something is wrong. A carburettor cleaner should be employed to remove excess amounts of carbon from this part of the car.

An engine working to its best of its ability shouldn’t make excess noise but it’s just possible that it is caused by tyres rubbing against metallic parts or something similar.

When you tune up your car you should begin by checking the oil. Helpfully for the beginner the cap in the engine is marked “oil.” Only do when the car has cooled down. The dipstick should be wiped with either a rag or a paper towel. If the towel looks especially black or it has noticeable “chunks” the oil may need changing.

Put the dipstick back and remove it for a second time. You should be able to notice the notch on the dipstick which tells you how full the oil compartment should be. If it’s noticeably low add oil to the engine, making sure that the oil is of the right quality and the right type for you engine. It’s best to use a funnel in order to avoid spilling the oil. Ask if you don’t know what kind of oil is appropriate.

Next move onto the tires, are they at the right pressure? You should be able to find a pressure gauge at most garages. It is best not over-inflate the tires.

Other fluids such as brake fluid and radiator fluids should also be checked. You should next check the battery, brakes and lights. Looking at these items is especially important if you are traveling a long way, but should be part of your regular routine. People do forget though.

Car Accidents – What You Might Learn From Google

A car accident is a serious business and indeed may be big business. Marketers and advertisers want to know what people are searching for regarding car accidents and whether they are targeting the right people. When it comes to searches, Google is King, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to know what is happening in Yahoo searches, or Facebook, in LinkedIn or other websites.

But let’s just stick to Google.

“Car crash” gets 1,700,000,000 results while “car accident” gets 827,000,000 results. As accident is the more accepted term it might lead one to wonder whether people are looking for car crashes in some kind of voyeuristic way or if they want to try and prevent them.

“Injured in a car accident” gets 157,000,000 results while “injured at home” gets 471,000,000 results and “injured at work” gets 367,000,000. So “injured at home” is three times more likely to be searched for than “injured in a car accident” and “injured at work” is about 2.5 times more likely be searched for than “injured in a car accident”.

“Car accident other person at fault” gets 55,770,000 results. Even worse, “Car accident other person no insurance gets 268,000,000 results.

These searches are gold dust for the advertisers who can market the product in Google Ads at the top and bottom of the list of results or they might choose to push themselves onto the first page.

It seems a lot of people might just be nosy. There are 667,000,000 results for “car accident near me.” The results include traffic reports, newspaper headlines, possibly gruesome YouTube footage and well as advice for making a claim.

“Car accident family” has 447,000,000 results whereas “Car accident person” has 368,000,000. We’re sentimental about a family and no doubt people worry more about being in a car accident with their family than being alone.

Something people seem to do when in a crash is Google car parts, this can be seen when Googling “Car accident Ford” for instance. Dealerships also give advice on what to do after an accident, according to the results.

Work problems associated with car crashes include crashing the company car, suing for lost job after a car accident, wondering if you could lose your job thanks to an injury sustained by a car accident and will the job cause mental anguish resulting in problems at work.

Home problems associated with car crashes include having to change the layout of the house due to injuries, having to alter your household routine in order to do exercises and whether you should go home after a car accident.

When it comes to accidents, Google reveals that some serious problems relate to the chest area, blunt force trauma may cause broken ribs and collapsed lungs. A person with a heart concern may just go into cardiac arrest and there’s a risk of internal bleeding. It’s evidently a difficult time and the internet might be trying to help, but it’s important to seek medical advice as well as just using Google.

Keep safe out there.

A Look at Car Health

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In January, we take a look at how we might change our lifestyle. So why don’t we look at our cars as well? Nowadays you don’t even need a mechanic–you can diagnose the problem itself.

Well, the word “diagnose” is a bit strong. Look at it this way. You see the light on your dash that says something is wrong? You still don’t know what’s wrong. Well you can, if you have a car health monitor.

They’ve had code readers for a long time. Think of it this way. Your car has a number of sensors on critical parts. If you have low oil pressure for example it triggers the engine light. So all these sensors are triggering the same light, but your car knows which one was triggered and if you get a code reader, it will tell you which one.

External Diagnostic Devices

Aside from getting a better description of a problem than just a dash light, the other reason to get some sort of car health monitor is peace of mind at the mechanic. How much more confident would you feel walking you’re your mechanic and saying, I’m pretty sure my alternator is shot,” vs saying, “my car sometimes won’t start.”

You feel the difference? You might not have a clue what an alternator is, but how much faster are you going to get answers to simple questions like, “when could you have this done,” or “what’s it going to run me to fix this?”

With the old method your mechanic grins broadly and says, leave it with me for the day and I’ll call you when I know what’s up. Then he hooks up the same machine you could buy…when he gets around to it…later today.

Another place that has a car health monitor is the auto parts store. Although they have their own health monitoring service it will save you a trip if you purchase one of your own. If your problem doesn’t need to be fixed right now you’ll wait for the weekend, if you have to go to the store to find out what’s wrong, you’ll end up buying the part while you’re there.

Is there a difference between a simple code reader and a diagnostic? Yes! An external diagnostic can read into the code or even double check the reading that are causing the diagnostic. Some are even programmed to check against the way that engine type is meant to operate. It’s a language interpreter of sorts.

OnBoard Diagnostics

This type of monitor is the OnBoard Diagnostics which started in the early 1990s. It could be said that these tools are in the second generation of development, though having said that OBD-II came out as early as 1996.

There are various different types of device, the most common of which is a type of scanner which operates by plugging into your scanner and displaying the car’s info on a little screen. The simplest of these can only show the Check Engine codes, but the more advanced models can give a whole variety of codes for whatever predicament.

If you’re confused about why we’re talking about plugging something in when it’s called an OnBoard Diagnostic it’s because there is a port where you engines computer can attach to an external code reader or diagnostic, and an OBD can just stay plugged into that port, then broadcast wirelessly to your phone or other device.

What all does my ODB monitor?

Things that can always be shown on the scanner are fuel rate, the voltage of the O2 sensor, the voltage level of the battery and the time that your engine has been running, even for something like a loose fuel cap. The idea of the scanner is to show you information beyond the simple flashing lights on the dashboard.

OBD Ports

It has been illegal since 1996 to not include an OBD port in a vehicle, though of course older vehicles will have to rely on the older type of scanner. The port has sixteen pins and it is regular practise for mechanics to use the port in order to work out the fault with the car.

There are various protocols associated with these ports. A protocol is dependent on what type of vehicle it is, for instance is it a Ford or a General Motors vehicle? In 2008 the Controller Area Network was introduced and all vehicles have to use the same protocol.

With a special USB adaptor attached to the port you can read these codes from your laptop, rather than a scanner screen. Most of these tools do work the same way though. Alternatively some of them work via an app on the regular type of tablets and smart phones. Some produce current data (also known as “live data”) so you know that there is a problem as soon as it occurs. The phrase “peace of mind” must surely be mentioned here.

The Chemical Composition of a Car

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The purpose for examining the Chemical Composition of a Car is to search out ways to make cars safer, lighter, stronger etc. Anything a car company learns from such investigation then goes through a lengthy analysis but does eventually result in improvements to the vehicle itself or to the manufacture process—but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Shell:

A car is mostly steel, which is an alloy (not just a compound) of mainly iron and carbon. The difference between a compound and an alloy isn’t terribly technical. Compounds are two or more elements combined by whatever means, that bond chemically to form a new substance. Think of it more like baking a cake, where the results are not only more than the sum of the parts, but the entire nature of whole is transformed into something new. An alloy, on the other hand, results from introducing metals of different kinds into a molten steel. The effect is to produce something that is fundamentally the same as it would have been, except that it takes on properties from the foreign element. Think of it like adding high carbon steel to low carbon steel to produce a sword that in not brittle but is hard enough to hold an edge.

Steel is used for low cost as well as being resistant to corrosion. A car also contains an amount of aluminium which has steadily increased in price in recent decades. One main reason for price hikes in aluminium is the large amount of electricity used in it’s manufacture. More expensive renewable energy, plus more things (like cars) that run on electricity causes the price to skyrocket. Using aluminium is an attempt to make the car as light as it can be.

The shell of a car undergoes a phosphorous acid bath. Phosphorous acid is a compound of phosphorous, hydrogen and oxygen (all acids contain hydrogen, by the way). Although not the safest chemical to use it is has been granted Safer Choice Criteria, meaning that it is currently the lesser of the available evils.

Fuel:

Gas and engine oil is made of hydrocarbons which enter the environment as a result of car usage. The current thinking is that the best way to reduce gas emissions is to employ solar energy or electric power, but many European countries have invested in “clean diesel,” which is less processed than car gas and contains more energy. But again such an alteration won’t happen quickly. Engine oil may need also to be altered but what to alter it to is still a mystery.

A substantial change to the composition of gas occurred in about the 1990s when leaded petrol was phased out, even if it happened at different times in various states. The reason why lead (or to be more precise a chemical compound containing lead) was used since about 1925 to this decade is that it was felt that it was almost impossible to do otherwise. Frank Howard said that lead was a “Gift from God” and as with everything else it’s hard to change the establishment.

Engines:

Though an engine is all about converting chemical compounds many do not stop and think what chemicals are in the actual engine itself. A number of the parts are plastics, including flow passages and molded composite parts. Luckily in recent years plastic materials have been replaced by a safer metal.

There is extensive research going into the use of ceramics in engines. Sounds a bit crazy but the Japanese are doing pretty cutting-edge things with ceramics that are superior in weight to strength ratio, until they hit certain temperatures. The Jury is out, but…

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Tires:

Rubber which makes the tires as well as various items in the car is mostly carbon and oxygen but also contains trace elements of Zinc, sulfur and other elements. Rubber can’t really be described as environmentally sound though. On one hand rubber does decompose, on the other hand it takes about 50 years to decompose.

There is also Silicon in rubber, as well as in the car’s windows. In order to stop squeaky noises, Silicon is also used as it makes an ideal lubricant. It shouldn’t be applied to the rubber part of the door but to the metallic part.

Exhaust:

The majority of the material that comes out of a car exhaust is Nitrogen, with water vapor (or H2O ) and CO2 making about 13% each. Although these are considered non-toxic they still make a contribution to the greenhouse effect.

What might be the biggest surprise element in your car is copper! There’s a lot more copper in your car than you probably expect because it’s an element of the braking system. If you didn’t have copper in the car, you’d have problems.

In conclusion:

You don’t think of a car as a bundle of chemicals but it is a factor in our environment. Car chemical improvement is a continuous process. Researchers want to replace current chemicals and substances with something “better.” Better means something safer, less impactful on environments, lighter, or maybe something most cost-efficient.

Transporting Pets Safely

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The main problem with pets in cars is the heat, as it can be raised to 20°F in around 10 minutes, and reach 30°F in about 20 minutes. It will take 60 minutes for the temperature to be 40°F hotter than outside.

But that’s not the only pet/car conflict. Other concerns include allowing a dog to ride in the back of a pick-up truck, as dogs can easily fall or jump from this area and will be killed on impact.

loading-652314_1920.jpgThough often not fatal, the injuries to your pet can be severe. One possible countermeasure is a tether, but it’s not a perfect solution and many home-brew solutions create a risk of tangling or dragging your canine behind the vehicle. It’s much better to invest in a kennel for your pet, which will require some kind of protection from the elements.

Oddly, not all states have banned dogs riding in the back of a pick-up truck. As far as animal safety is concerned, it should be Rule 1.

Another concern is a pets ability to distract a driver, which can obviously lead to damaging more than just the pet. This is best solved by housing your pet in a kennel. If you’re noticing a theme here, you are correct, in general pets should be in some kind of carrier while they are in the car.

Qualities of a Good Kennel

It should be large enough for the pet to both stand up and sit down in, and even turn around. Make sure it’s well ventilated. It is worthwhile trying out the pet in the carrier first before embarking on the trip. The carrier should be secured so that it doesn’t move around too much.

Open Windows

Letting a dog stick it’s head out the window used to be common but it’s not a good idea. There is the risk of them being injured by objects being thrown out of other cars, rocks kicked up from the road, or by signs and tree branches.

That’s just the risk to your pets, in reality, the cause of people no longer letting dogs have their heads out the window is that we’re paying so much more for our cars. If you do drive with the window down be sure to get waterproof seat covers.

Car Training your Pet

The first trip that you take your pet on shouldn’t be too long, just to get them used to traveling in the car. After traveling in the vehicle a few times the animal will become calmer and more suited to long journeys.

Note: Some animals, like some humans, will suffer from car sickness and never adjust to riding in a vehicle. You’ll need to get medicine from your vet in order to transport these pets.

What to Bring

Whether it’s a long road trip or a day excursion, you’ll need to bring some items with you. Including…a food bowl, waste scoop and plastic bags. Think about the animal’s medication too and you might even like to create a pet first aid kit. Finally, don’t forget their favorite toy.

Traveling with Pets

Pets that don’t typically run away from their yard sometimes wander off when in public parks or hiking trails. For security purposes it helps if your pet is microchipped. For longer trips, a travel tag will also be of assistance to you.

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If you are traveling between states it is a good idea to bring documentation of the pet’s rabies vaccination even if some states don’t require those details. Just to be safe.

Carry bottled water when traveling with a pet, especially on very hot days. Your pet can’t reach a drinking fountain, and don’t take for granted that you’ll have access to adequate hydration for your pet.

 

Drunk Driving Solution

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Op-Ed by A.R. Bunch

It’s holiday season 2019 and it’s time to talk about the number one driving mistake people make.

Some topics in our society don’t get the real attention they deserve because of the negative emotions surrounding them. To a degree this makes sense. Back in the day no one really thought twice about driving when they were tipsy. Alcohol related incidents were hardly tracked as a separate thing, and the thinking was simply, “vehicles are dangerous.” MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) waged a campaign to change that.

By singling out alcohol related accidents and constantly bringing attention to it as a source of danger, and the high price paid by innocent victims, MADD paved the way to lower legal limits, harsher penalties and expanded responsible parties. For example, most states hold bartenders liable for over serving clients turning them from enablers to the first line of defense advocating for their customers whose judgement may be impaired to seek a better way home.

This is all great, but in order to truly combat the issue, it’s always more impactful to stay grounded. The reality is that a legal limit that’s functionally zero, BUT not really zero, begs the question, “are we inviting people to think they might be okay,” when the reality is they’re gambling with fines and jail time.

If government really intended to end drunk driving wouldn’t they drop the limit to zero and require bar tenders to insist that a ride is arranged before selling a patron one drink. The Kicker Blog is not advocating for these laws, merely pointing out that 0.08 blood alcohol level is a cloudy thing to communicate to people going out for a fun evening.

drunk-driving-40574_1280Government makes a bit of coin doing a catch and release with people who make a mistake. By setting the limit at a point when the average person could probably still operate a vehicle safer than they can when driving tire or emotional, the government is almost tempting people to chance it.

To their credit MADD has shifted there marketing away from condemnation to target people who don’t see themselves as career alcoholics. The idea is to get otherwise responsible people to think responsibly and have a plan before they cut loose.

Bottom line: the goal is to raise awareness, have stiff penalties to act as a deterrent but not destroy the life of an otherwise productive member of society. That’s probable the goal of the current system, but it’s created an unofficial catch and release program. How do we as a society build in clemency without created an official free pass for the first offense?

Currently, one DUI and you’ll never obtain a CDL, NEVER. It will also deter your ability to obtain work in other fields with high standards, like law enforcement, insurance agents, financial advisers.

You slam one beer at a football game when you’re 21 and drive your inebriated friend home and you could lose access to roughly one in three fields of employment. That’s a high and lasting price to pay for a mistake that only mildly endangered people. The goal again, is to get people to make better choices. In the case above, the 21-year-old was attempting to make a good choice. Misguided though that decision was, he/she may have prevented an accident.car-accident-1538175_1920.jpg

The Kicker Blog would like to advocate for a path to glory. The price for driving above the legal limit needs to be set apart from driving while intoxicated. The penalties for both need to be clear and applied consistently. The penalty for driving above the limit should be geared toward deterring and redemption. It could include a mandatory night in jail, fines, a vehicle breathalyzer installation, mandatory AA meetings, and a multiyear probation. However, after successful completion and a few years, the DUI should leave a person’s record.

The penalty for drunken endangerment should be punishment. It should reflect the severity of someone’s lack of judgement. After all, driving intoxicated is reckless endangerment, and one step of away from attempted manslaughter. Obviously your second offense at driving above the legal limit should be treated as a compound offense and raises to the level of driving while intoxicated.

Until these changes are made you need to know this:

You can get a DUI for as little as one drink, the penalty is far worse than you imagine, and special patrols are actively hunting for it.

If you get a DUI this holiday season, you are entitled to an attorney and you are a complete idiot if you don’t get one.

The answer, far simpler than changing that laws, is to make plans to drink OR drive. Simply don’t mix them at all. There are so many options from taxi to ride-share, carpooling, call a friend, even tow trucks that are sponsored by MADD to get your car home from the bar.

Quick TIP #1:

Don’t take a ride from a “sober stranger!” Take a friend out with you, and if for any reason you are alone at a bar, ask the bar tender to arrange a ride for you. Most bars are happy to avoid the fine they’ll pay if you leave them and get in an accident.

 

What’s News: new car seat law in WA State

OLYMPIA — In less than a week, some kids may need to remain in booster seats well into middle school.
Governor Jay Inslee approved updated regulations on car and booster seat use, which go into effect Jan. 1.
KOMO-TV reports the new rules require children older than 4 years old but shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches and who have outgrown their child harness seat to use a booster seat. That means most kids will need a booster seat until 10 to 12 years old.

Too much? Comment and let us know!

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Safety Season: Drive Alert

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The Holiday Season at The Kicker is Safety Season. Every Monday we’ll post about safety and include helpful information and tips to keep you and you’re family as safe as possible on the roads. If you’d like to find helpful links to all this information and more please check out our Safety Tab on thekickerblog.com (Drive Safe, Buying a Safe Car, After Accident Action Steps).

Advice to Young Drivers

Young drivers are perhaps more likely to push their luck, but they are certainly not alone in taking chances driving when they probably shouldn’t. The first reason is likely that we feel comfortable driving. We often drive the roads our routes we’re going to take and its not convenient to not drive home.

This time of year, in particular, people are driving tired. The days are short and we’re busy. People don’t sleep well with the sudden shift in temperature. Then add in the time change. The roads are filled with people who would probably admit that they’re not at their best…if they thought about it, which they aren’t.

Driving makes you drowsy.

The expanse of the open road. Mile after mile of nearly identical stretches of highway. The same song on the radio, again. Driving can make you tired for many reasons. Let’s examine a few:

Driving at night

This time of year we’re driving in the dark to and from work. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to feel well-rested and function at their fullest. Even if you get that, if you got it at a time you’re not used to sleeping it’s not quality sleep. If you’re driving at a time you’d normally be asleep your circadian rhythms will try to put you to sleep when it’s dark out.1

Long drives across different time zones

We notice jet lag with air travel, but holiday road trips still drive across time zones which is what it takes to knock your body clock out of sync. This sort of tiredness is extra dangerous because we might guard against driving on no sleep, or driving more than ten hours in a day, but it’s possible to wake up fresh and be jet lagged a few hours later. i-am-954818_1920

Driving alone

If there’s a chance you’ll get drowsy its a good idea to have another person their. Ideally this is someone you can trade off driving with, but even a non-driver can keep you engaged and help your brain stay active.

Good (or bad) vibrations

Some people generally get drowsy when driving, which is likely due to steady vibrations at low frequencies (according to RMIT in Australia2 ). If you are susceptible to this it can lull you into a state of relaxation within 15 minutes of steady driving. If you’re not normally cursed with this problem, you may experience it when other factors are present, like lack of sleep, or when taking a long road trip.

To combat the potential for drowsy driving, here are a few tips to share with your truck drivers to help them stay alert and focused on the road ahead.

Ways to stay awake while driving

1.  Stay hydrated – don’t only drink caffeine

While downing a cup of coffee or an energy drink may help you stay awake while driving for a short distance, over long trips, drinking plenty of water helps keep your body temperature cool and prevent you from feeling sluggish and drowsy.

2.  Pack healthy snacks

We’re not just being picky, candy bars, fast food and convenience store chips can make you spike and crash. Instead, think protein. (Almonds, sunflower seeds, and fruit.) Or pull over occasionally for a healthy meal that includes complex carbohydrates.

3.  Chew gum

Studies show chewing gum can help keep your brain active, although the exact mechanism for this is not clear. A study in 2012 noted that chewing gum heightened subjects’ heart rates and showed noticeable improvements in vigilance.3 Grab the sugarless variety and you can even help prevent cavities.

4.  Laugh

Listening to stand-up comedy may help keep your brain focused and eyes on the road. Plus laughing can’t hurt. Can’t stand stand stand-up comedy? Try an audiobook or a podcast to keep your mind engaged during a long drive.

5.  Smell essential oils

While this may sound out of the ordinary, a quick sniff of an invigorating oil like peppermint, grapefruit or even eucalyptus will help stimulate the brain’s nervous system to keep you alert without the caffeine or sugar rush & and it won’t make you need to stop and pee.

6.  Turn on that AC or roll down your window

Keeping the cold air flowing in your vehicle can help you from becoming too comfortable and nodding off.

7.  Moisturize those eyes

Staring at the road for long periods of time causes you to forget to blink! Keep eye drops on hand for when your eyes start to feel even the slightest bit dry. If you’re a contact lens wearer, always pack an extra pair in case you need to make a quick change.

8.  Sing!

This is where a great playlist comes in handy. Don’t just include songs that pump you up. Include ones you know you can karaoke to.   Here’s a link to a road trip mix the Kicker compiled.

9.  Catch your Zs

It may seem obvious but get 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep the night before a holiday road trip.4 With all the planning for a trip its a discipline to get to bed on time the night before. It’s better to arrive late than not arrive at all. This gives your body and mind a chance to repair itself and unwind so you fall into a deep, peaceful sleep.

10.  Practice positivism

Studies have shown that people who approach life with a ‘glass half full’ mentality often run down slower than pessimists.5 A podcast from a motivational speaker might get you back on track.

When all else fails – see a doctor!

If you often find yourself nodding off at the wheel, see a doctor. You could have a condition that requires attention. Micro-napping can be a symptom of sleep apnea which is a condition the severely impacts your health when not treated. Narcolepsy is another concern.

Sources

1 http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf

2 https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2018/jul/vibrations-cars-drivers-sleepy

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22061430 (2011) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938414002868?via%3Dihub (2012)

4 http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf

5 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12831914_A_Neuropsychological_Theory_of_Positive_Affect_and_Its_Influence_on_Cognition

What Your Insurance Co. Needs to Know

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The hours after a crash are frustrating and confusing. It’s very likely that you need to call your insurance company, and they’re going to ask you a lot of questions, but are they totally looking out for you?

Here’s some quick tips to consider when making that dreaded call.

  1. Don’t start by assigning blame (or admitting blame). Your best defense is to give your insurance company as much detail and factual information as you can. Don’t be afraid to make a short video or voice recording while the memory is fresh in your mind. (assuming you are safely off the road)
  2. Damage comes in three forms, damage to your car, damage to their car or cars, damage to property, and physical injury to your or others. Some insurance companies have different claims departments for physical injuries than automobile claims. Grab you cell phone and get as many photographs as you need to document all these types of damage. It will be handy when you partner your description of the accident with your photos.
  3. Look for witnesses who weren’t involved in the accident. Collect more statements and contact information than you think you need because a lot of people don’t really want to get pulled into it. People will go so far as to give you wrong names and contact info. When possible text them your number so you can hear if it dings their phone. Remember that your insurance company takes a lot of claims and may actually come across the same witness to several accidents, which could change how they interpret what’s going on.
  4. AAA recommends collecting from and providing to other drivers with the following information:
    1. Full name and phone number
    2. Driver’s license and license plate numbers
    3. Company name and contact information for their insurance company
    4. Insurance policy number
    5. Names and contact information for any passengers
    6. Basic information about their vehicle — make, model, year and color
  5. With all the emotions and adrenaline take a step back and remember that this is why you have insurance. To err is human. Your rates may not even go up. Your car will car will be fixed. This is all an inconvenience like taxes, but not the end of the world. Likely no matter who is “responsible” for the accident, it’s not really about looking for a “bad guy.” Someone made a mistake. It will all work out.
  6. Be a little suspect. Accidents do happen every day, but many of them are engineered by con men. Your insurance company will be looking for this type of fraud and will ask questions designed to find it. Before an accident is the best time to gather the information that will ultimately protect you against this type of fraud. Is a vehicle near you already damaged? Is the driver paying more attention to people in cars than to driving their own vehicle? After the accident do they go on the offense trying to create a false narrative for bystanders? Remember, even though you must be calm, you don’t have to be nice and let someone interpret the accident for potential witnesses. This is a good time to say, “I don’t agree with that version of the facts. Lets let the police sort out what happened.”

Original Story by Allison Wachtel