Okay, be honest: how often do you check the air pressure in the tires on your vehicle?
Do you forget to do it at the gas pumps when you fill up your car? Are you too busy in the morning to check it before you leave for work or school? Are you too wiped out when you come home from a busy day to pull out your tire gauge? Hey, it's really not that big of a deal, right?
Driving around with underinflated tires can increase your chances of getting involved in an auto accident -- and the statistics bear that out. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied crash data from between and 2005 and 2007, and determined that vehicles with low tire pressure were three times likelier to be involved in accidents where tire-related problems were a factor than vehicles with properly-inflated tires. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, some 260,000 accidents occur each year that involve improper tire pressure, and more than 10,000 people are injured in these incidents. Take note, auto insurance companies.
The auto industry addressed this problem in 2007 by equipping every new vehicle with tire pressure monitoring features. This electronic system illuminates a light on the vehicle's dashboard when it detects tire pressure that is more than 25% too low. So that means that the problem of underinflated tires has been eliminated, right?
Another NHTSA study reveals that 43% of vehicles equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems still have tires which are not correctly inflated. For cars and trucks without these systems, that figure jumps to 57%. And when drivers ignore this problem, they boost the odds of getting into an accident because of the adverse effects that underinflated tires have on driving, such as:
That's why it's vital to inflate the tires to levels that are recommended by the manufacturers. This information can be found on the inside of the driver's side door jamb. However, keep in mind that these figures are for "cold" tires -- i.e., tires which have not been driving on the roads for a few hours. Therefore, the best time to check tire pressure is in the morning before you leave your home … and then inflate them accordingly.
Also, don't wait until your tires "look low" before you fill them up. Research has shown that drivers can't easily tell the difference between a properly-inflated tire and one which is 25% low on air. So set up a fixed schedule to inspect your tires (every month, every gas fill-up, etc.).
The hazards of underinflated tires should not be ignored or downplayed. Even if your vehicle has a tire pressure monitoring system, you should still dig out the tire gauge every so often and check air pressure manually. It only takes a few minutes, but if it can help you avoid potential dangers later, it's worth it -- right?
Tags: safauto, safe auto, tire air pressure
Did you hear? Nevada is officially the first state in the union to allow self-driving cars. Well, sort of.
Self-driving cars present new challenges, and all sorts of interesting conundrums. For example, if the car is driving itself and gets in an accident, who's at fault? If a car is improperly programmed, and starts speeding, is the driver liable? Nevada is in new legal territory here, and so far, they're playing it pretty safe. Here are the new rules of the road.
#1) People Can't Own Them, Only Corporations…
…and only corporations who are currently in the process of testing and refining self-driving vehicles. That's pretty much Google and...uh...Google, so at this point, very few of the licenses are being handed out. So if you were expecting to wake up in Nevada tomorrow and summon your robot car to drive you home...sorry.
#2) Two People in the Car at All Times
The tests require two people in the car, at all times. So the car definitely isn't allowed to dawdle down the road by itself, although that would probably make a highly entertaining Disney movie.
#3) One of Those Two People Has to Be Behind The Wheel
This one just makes a lot of sense: even Google agrees with it. One person needs to be behind the wheel, and has to be able to quickly take control in the presence of serious problems or computational malfunctions. In other words, no malfunctioning “kill cars” will be on the roads in the near future, which, really, we view as one less thing to worry about.
#4) If There's a Legal Violation, Whomever Is Behind the Wheel Is Responsible
This goes back to rule number three: the person behind the wheel is responsible for spotting problems and nipping them in the bud. Fail to do so, and you've got the state of Nevada asking some pretty pointed questions.
The basic logic is that whoever would take control of the car in a dangerous situation the computer can't resolve is the one who has to pay the ticket or report to court.
#5) Robot Cars Need The Same Amount of Auto Insurance as the Rest of Us
If you were hoping to maybe automate your car and save a little money, sorry: the rules are written so that self-driving cars need to have the same amount of insurance as a human car.
What the Future Holds
In the future, Nevada foresees owning a self-driving car as having the same licensing structure as getting a motorcycle or other specialty driving license: you'll need to attend more training and be certified to own and operate the vehicle.
But it won't be Nevada that decides whether or not self-driving cars can get on the road: that's a decision that lies entirely in the hands of the federal government. As it stands, even those with the most to gain think it's going to take two to three more generations of design and study before fully autonomous cars are ready for the government to decide how road-safe they are. But, hey, we're getting ever closer.
Tags: safe auto, safeauto, self-driving car
Say you get into a fender bender. It's minor, nobody's car is damaged, and both you and the driver agree that involving your insurance company is going to be aggravating. Wouldn't it be great if you both agreed to just pay the other's damages and not involve all that paperwork?
No. No it wouldn't. In fact, it's a bad idea.
While you're not obligated to report an accident to your insurance company if the car itself isn't seriously damaged (i.e. requiring major body work or repairs that might compromise the value of the vehicle), and the paperwork can seem annoying, it's a whole lot better than the alternative. Here's why.
Reason #1: It Probably Won't Even Increase Your Premiums to Report Minor Accidents
The big concern is that reporting an accident might raise your premiums...but before assuming that will happen, you should take a close look at your policy. Most policies have a damage amount below which nothing is "chargable." Roughly translated, if the damage to your car is minor, just knocking a ding out of a fender or painting over a scrape, they'll likely just pay it out and not raise your premiums.
So, be aware before thinking about it.
Reason #2. The Other Guy May Decide Not to Pay
The truth is, if you have nothing but a handshake agreement to pay the other's cost, you could be in a world of trouble once he sees the bill and decides it's too rich for his blood...or the contact information he gives you rings up the local pizza place.
Even if the information is legitimate and he just refuses to pay, you have no evidence that he's the one who dinged your car. If you take him to court, you'll have to demonstrate you're not the one trying to rip him off, as well. And if you do go to court, your insurance company might hear about it, and show up asking a few pointed questions you'll have to answer.
Reason #3. The Other Guy May Call His Insurance Anyway, and Then You're Really in Trouble
There's just no guarantee this other motorist you don't know won't be on the phone to his insurer the minute you're not in his line of sight, and that's where your problems really begin.
If he contacts his insurer, and you don't, it's going to be your barely-documented word against his well-documented word. Scammers in particular love this because it lets them report injuries that you never saw, but will be on the hook for if you get roped into a lawsuit.
This is why you need to contact your auto insurance company, regardless of the situation, instead of relying on handshake deals. You don't just pay your premiums to be covered in the event of an accident; you pay premiums because it means the insurance company is on your side, investigating the accident and collecting information as soon as you alert them. But if you don't alert them, they're hobbled, and you're almost certainly looking at a rate increase...if you're lucky.
So, as tempting as it is not to: call your insurance company. You'll be glad you did.
Image Credit: http://www.bayareainjurycenters.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/CAR_ACCIDENT1.png
Tags: safauto, safe auto, report an accident
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