Category: Central Texas
Cars are not so environmentally friendly. The latest CO2 emissions data (2017) puts the U.S. as the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gasses, only second to China. And one-third of that contribution is from transportation. We all need transportation to get to and from work and other activities, especially here in the sprawling land of Texas. Often, cars are among the least eco-friendly.
But just because transportation is problematic doesn’t mean we can’t use it while reducing our carbon footprint. There are many steps we can take to reduce emissions while driving.
First, take the quiz to see how much you know about being an eco-friendly driver. Then, read more about these questions (and their answers) below.
Are you an eco-friendly driver?
In 2015 transportation emissions accounted for about a third of total emissions in the U.S. Passenger vehicles make up 60 percent of this. New technology has allowed for lower emissions in vehicles, but there are other ways your drive can impact the environment as well.
Take the quiz below to see how much you know. Then, read more about these answers below.
As you can see, being efficient isn’t always straightforward. Here are our answers and why they’re important.
1. What is the best way to conserve energy on the road?
There is some truth to each of these statements. Turning the AC off and rolling the windows down can reduce your fuel consumption, but only when going about 40 mph or under. And even then, it depends on your type of vehicle.
Going an average of 55 mph is an agreed-upon speed for optimum efficiency, but not 65 mph. And turning off headlights can save a bit of gas, but, this too, depends on the type of headlights. The effects of both can be marginal.
The one consistently useful tactic of conserving energy is to start and stop gently. Gas is wasted on sudden increases or decreases of speed. While slow stops and starts may not be viable in every situation on the road, it’s a good rule to drive by.
2. What sort of car is the most eco-friendly?
Your best bet for an eco-friendly car is going to be an entirely electric sedan. Some all-electric options include the Audi A3 e-Tron SUV, the Chevrolet Bolt, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, the Kia Niro EV, and, as mentioned in the answer, the Nissan Leaf.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are recently-recalled Volkswagen models that include the 2014 Jetta. Several VW models faked their emissions test results and actually produce more emissions than recommended by the EPA.
3. Which of these has an impact on your fuel efficiency?
All of these answers had big impacts on fuel efficiency. Cars vary greatly on MPG. Hills and rough roads can contribute to a lower fuel efficiency because your car will have to work harder against the elements of friction and gravity.
One factor you may not have realized, that impacts your carbon footprint, is the kind of electric grid your city has. However your state fuels electricity determines whether that energy is high or low emissions in the long run. If you’re charging up your EV in West Virginia, odds are you’re doing more harm than you would using gas-powered vehicles. Why? Because 92% of West Virginia’s power grid is fueled by coal-fired electric plants, and coal emits more CO2 than gasoline.
4. Which of these is not a direct fuel source for cars?
This is a little more straightforward. There is no way to power your vehicle via wind (at least not yet!), though some cities partly power their electric grid with wind energy. This energy is more eco-friendly than coal-produced electricity.
5. A typical passenger vehicle produces about how many tons of carbon dioxide per year?
The average vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of CO2 every year. That’s over 10 thousand pounds just for one family vehicle.
6. Which of these is not helpful in reducing your transportation footprint?
There’s no advantage to keeping a low vehicle occupancy except for the extra weight causing a bit of drag. Overall, it’s more eco-friendly to carpool when possible to reduce the number of trips taken.
Talking about reducing trips, doing all your errands in one go will save gas, as opposed to taking several separate car rides.
Idling through the drive-thru is taking a greater toll on the environment as lines for fast food grow. In 2018, an average of 234 seconds was spent in drive-thru lines. That’s several minutes you could be saving gas by walking in the door.
Another way to reduce your car emissions is to unload unnecessary weight and/or drag. Especially if you have an outside weight like a kayak loaded on the luggage rack or a tow trailer attached.
7. Which of these car maintenance items can help you get your best MPG?
Car maintenance helps make sure your car isn’t using more energy than it needs to. For things to run smoothly, you’ll want to keep it in top condition.
8. Which is a benefit of electric vehicles?
People may actually wave at you on the street, but it’s not likely. The biggest advantage to an electric vehicle is that they quickly make up for their (typically) high price tag in energy savings. Unfortunately, their emissions do not fight CO2 emissions, but we can’t have it all, can we?
To find a smart, efficient vehicle, visit the EPA’s website.
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Honestly, with America being a sprawling nation, it’s practical for different areas to have different driving laws. Some terrain requires different safety than others, some cities are prone to different (bad) driving habits, and people in different areas have different takes on what makes drivers safer.
With that in mind, there are some driving laws that are just plain wacky. Here are a few of our favorites.
An old law says that drivers can go the wrong way on a one-way as long as they have a lantern attached to the front of the vehicle.
Don’t honk your horn at a sandwich shop in Little Rock – it’s illegal for drivers to honk “at any place where cold drinks or sandwiches are sold after 9 p.m.”
It is illegal in CA for women to drive in…a bathrobe?
It’s also illegal to shoot animals from a moving vehicle. Unsurprising, but quite specific.
Just in case you didn’t know the steering wheel is of vital importance, Illinois made it illegal to drive without one.
It is illegal in NV to drive a camel on the freeway. But not on city streets, where you’re free to hold up traffic to your heart’s content.
Dogs and other pets must buckle up in the car or at least be in a pet carrier. One too many drivers were distracted by pets sitting on their laps while driving.
Also, those who have been charged with a DUI cannot apply to get a vanity license plate if the incident was within 10 years of the application. Trivial, but their lawmakers’ hearts were in the right place, I guess.
Women are not legally permitted to pump their own gas or change their own tire. Of course, that’s assuming there will be a man around to do it for them.
In Sag Harbor, it is illegal to disrobe in your vehicle.
Rollerblading on the road in Ohio is illegal. Get off the road, kids!
In Hilton Head, it is illegal to have trash in your car.
In Lubbock, it’s illegal to drive within an arm’s length of alcohol.
In Richardson, U-turns are illegal.
In Galveston, it’s illegal to drive down Broadway before noon on Sunday.
Also, across the state, it’s illegal to drive without windshield wipers. Though there is no law against driving without a windshield!
By now you probably know how insurance works (hopefully). You pay monthly for a certain amount of coverage, and depending on what you pay, your insurance will cover part, or all, of your accident damage. But if you get in an accident that isn’t your fault, the other driver should have insurance to cover the damage.
Unfortunately, even though car insurance is required in almost all states, many drivers go without. This can result in additional fines or even a suspended license for uninsured drivers.
In some states, uninsured drivers are still required to cover certain costs of your accident. In New Hampshire, for example, insurance is not required, but a financial responsibility law requires individuals to show evidence that they have the resources to cover damages should an accident happen. However, buying the minimum car insurance policy is still easier and more financially responsible.
Some states also have no-fault insurance, which means that instead of determining who was to blame for the accident, each motorist is covered by their own insurance company. Your insurance pays regardless of who was at fault and you won’t have to prove it was the other driver to get covered. Texas is not one of these states, but they include Florida, New York, and Massachusetts among others.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When you purchase your insurance, you’ll have the option to get uninsured motorist coverage (UIM). This will cover your costs if you get in an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance.
UIM is required in some states and required to be offered by insurance companies in some states. It’s basically an extra guarantee that your accident costs will be covered should the worst happen.
If you get in an accident with an uninsured driver, you can also file a lawsuit against them. You have to build a case that shows that the other driver was at fault. This isn’t a guarantee you’ll get your bills paid, however. Many drivers don’t have insurance because they can’t afford it, let alone your medical bills. This route is often for more extreme cases of negligence and serious medical bills.
In Texas, we have a minimum requirement of bodily injury and property damage liability. This will cover up to a certain amount of damages to the other driver’s car damage and medical costs. The Texas minimum coverage is 30/60/25, which means it will cover the other driver up to 30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damages.
It’s important to know what kind of insurance you have and how it will supplement your accident costs.
UIM coverage is not required in Texas, but it is a good idea to have it anyway. Even if the other motorist in an accident does have insurance, but it doesn’t fully cover your costs, UIM can make up the difference.
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Anyone who lives in the Central Texas area is no stranger to traffic and construction delays. Whether it’s construction, rush hour, or a wind turbine blade stuck in an intersection (yes, it’s real), traffic is all but guaranteed to be slow.
But just how slow? Texas A&M Transportation Institute has released their annual report on Texas roads for 2018, featuring the most congested roads in the state. Here are some of the highlights in Austin.
The cost of congestion
It’s apparent traffic is a problem when it makes us late to work, but it is also a problem for pollution and a waste of resources.
In Austin alone, the report found a cumulative delay of 66 million hours and 24 million gallons of wasted fuel. That’s about 37 olympic-pools-worth of gas.
Our time sitting in traffic also adds up – a commuter who spends 45 minutes a day commuting spends the equivalent of 15.6 days in the car per year. And that’s just for work travel, alone.
At the top of the list for Austin’s most congested roads is IH-35 from US 290 N to Ben White Blvd, where the annual delay per mile is 1.3 million hours. This is the span of IH-35 that goes from North Loop through downtown and south of Lady Bird Lake.
Anyone who has been through downtown could probably tell you it’s the worst stretch of traffic in the city, but the extent of its congestion is mind-blowing.
It is followed by the next segment of IH-35 south, from Ben White to Slaughter Lane, where the annual delay is nearly 500,000 hours per mile.
For freight-related traffic, IH-35 in Austin is also the most congested in the entire state.
Honorable road congestion mentions include:
- Mopac from US 183 to S Capital of Texas Highway
- IH-35 from Parmer Ln to US 290 N
- S Lamar from W 45th to W Cesar Chavez
- Cesar Chavez from S Mopac to IH-35
- US 183 from E Ben White to N Mopac
Texas A&M Transportation Institute has gathered this data since 2010 to measure traffic and monitor roadway volume and speed data, in order to reduce gridlock in the state.
The institute, along with many other sources, attribute a rising population with worsening road congestion across the state. A survey in 2016 found that 83 percent of Austinites are unhappy with our driving conditions in the city.
Many solutions have been attempted, and failed, and no feasible alternative has been proposed. Without a solution in sight, the best thing Austin drivers can do is shoot for non-peak hours to travel or use public transportation as much as possible.
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You’re driving home and tired. To keep yourself awake, you’re jamming to your favorite rock station, but not really paying attention to your surroundings.
All of a sudden, a deer pops out of nowhere, and you to swerve around him.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It is important for drivers to revisit night driving safety and avoid accidents in situations like this. Did you know that along with the increase of drunk drivers, the chances of an accident are three times greater at night than the daytime? Whether it is rush hour or a clear road, driving safely takes a lot more effort at night.
Check out these tips to help you drive through the night safely.
1. Headlight control
Turn your headlights on at least an hour before sunset. Not only does it make it easier to see in the dark, it also helps other drivers see you in the dark. Be considerate to other drivers around you and avoid using your high beams when approaching or behind another vehicle.
2. Clean headlights
Always keep your headlights clean. Make sure they work properly; otherwise replace the bulbs as soon as possible. Without working, clear headlights, there is a greater risk of getting into an accident as someone might not see you on the road.
3. Avoid distractions
It is already difficult to see in the dark, so we want to limit as many distractions as possible. Stay off your phone and pay attention to the road and surroundings. Avoid listening to loud music to hear the approaching traffic. Since it is harder to see at night, we must rely on our other senses for a safer drive.
4. Speed control
It is harder to see where we are driving in the night than the daytime, especially in the areas without street lamps. Always keep a safe distance from the car in front of you and avoid getting too close! Slowing down will also give you a better chance of stopping safely if a deer runs onto the road.
5. Stay up, be alert!
Continuously check all mirrors when driving for blind spots and any movements. Not only is it hard to see other motorists, it’s as difficult to see animals on the road. Avoid eating a heavy meal before driving to avoid drowsiness, and stay hydrated. If you need to take a break from driving, stop by a hospital. This is a safe area for a stop.
6. Beat the darkness
Try to leave earlier than later. When it is lighter, we are more awake and attentive to our surroundings than when we drive at night. Our vision is not compromised, and we avoid the greater risks of night driving. This will accommodate the possibility of city traffic and slow-downs as well, which may set us back to arriving several hours after dark.
We all have scary stories of driving at night. These tips can help avoid future situations and keep you safe. For more driving tips and car care, follow us on Twitter @ammcollisionctr.
Have you ever wondered who requires collision repair shops to be in compliance with regulations? The real answer is that there is not a comprehensive law in Texas that governs collision repair. However, there are still inspections and regulations shops must meet.
Any time you have an issue with auto body repairs made to your car, you should always speak with the management first. If this doesn’t resolve your situation, depending on the issue, there are state agencies and organizations that can assist.
Not What You Paid For
It’s always good practice to review your bill before paying and take a close look at the work that was completed. Contact the Texas Attorney General’s office if you believe you were over-charged or given repairs that weren’t needed,. They can determine if your circumstance falls under the Deceptive Trade Practices – Consumer Protection Act.
The body shop’s business practices need to be reviewed because it’s possible this may have happened to more than one customer.
Requirements for Body Shops
A body shop also has to follow environmental rules established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
These rules focus on air quality, proper waste disposal, water, and other regulations having to do with the effect on the environment. The agency ensures businesses, including collision shops, follow these rules.
AMM Collision is here for any of our customers should they have a concern over their repairs or our procedures. We welcome feedback so we can continuously improve and provide customers the best quality collision repair.
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In-car screens, often referred to as vehicle infotainment systems, are becoming a common built-in feature on most newer cars. Like many other devices, including cell phones, these are adding to driver distractions, and consequently leading to accidents.
The AAA Foundation conducted a study recently that showed while the technology is convenient in some ways, it results in some startling statistics related to distractions while driving.
No-texting law in the Lone Star State
The most commonly talked about distraction while driving is a cell phone. That’s why legislation was created in Texas, and other states, to address this issue. As of September 1, 2017 in Texas, it is against the law to text, read, or write messages on your phone while driving. This law refers to handheld communication devices and does not address the in-car systems.
As with any device, officials urge drivers to only focus on the road while operating a vehicle.
Greater chance of having a collision
In the past, AAA has conducted studies on driver distraction and discovered that if a driver stops focusing on the road for just two seconds, it can double the chance of having a car wreck.
The recent study found that when drivers use the in-car technology systems, they had more than 40 seconds of mental and visual distraction. And about 40 percent of drivers nationwide use these systems.
The study compared drivers using 30 different types of systems, including those that allowed web surfing and checking social media sites. Any of these can lead to a serious car accident.
No one wants to experience an accident caused by distracted driving. If you do get into an accident, AMM Collision is here to repair your car so you can safely get back on the road again.
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It’s the season for family and friends to come together and enjoy time with one another. This can mean travelling by car, along with many others who will head out on the highways and roads. Increased traffic on the roads means greater chance of an accident. here are a few safety tips to stay on the road and out of the body shop.
Always have patience in traffic. It helps to leave early for your destination so you don’t feel rushed. Speeding on the road increases your chance of an accident, and puts others in danger too. Take your time and enjoy the ride. Don’t make the experience of the road trip more stressful than necessary.
Get a good night’s rest
Never take a road trip while drowsy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 72,000 accidents nationwide are caused by drowsy drivers.
If you do travel overnight, consider traveling a short distance and then stopping for a rest break. Do not drive if you’re having trouble focusing on the road. If that is the case, pull over somewhere you feel safe and take a break. Well-lit grocery stores, shopping centers and even casinos often have lit and monitored parking lots where no one will bother you.
Monitor the roads and weather
Prior to leaving for your road trip, take a look at the road and weather conditions to determine if you might encounter any hazardous weather. Pay attention to travel warnings, and if it is unsafe for driving, wait until the conditions improve. Follow this same step on the return home.
If you do not feel comfortable driving in specific weather condition, like snow, look for alternate methods of travel or different routes so you can avoid having an accident.
Watch your surroundings
Accidents can happen on residential roads, rural roads, and major freeways. No matter the time of day, pay close attention to everything around you while driving. If you are on a busy freeway, pay attention to other cars and anything on the road. When a route takes you down a wooded area, watch for animals that could dart in front of your car. Watch out for children riding bikes or playing on the road residential areas.
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Annually across the country, there are more than one million deer-related accidents. The Central Texas area is no stranger to these types of collisions and as a local auto body shop, AMM Collision repairs dozens of cars involved in accidents with deer each year.
Any time you are driving, it is important to keep your eyes on the road. Pay close attention when driving in hilly and wooded areas where deer may suddenly come out and run toward cars. This is common in the Hill Country, especially in the evenings when animals are hard to spot outside your immediate line of sight.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid hitting a deer.
Deer typically roam more often during dusk or dawn, so pay attention if you are driving during these hours. If you are not familiar with the area where you are driving, look for caution signs that alert drivers to wildlife in the area.
Remember, if you see one deer there may be more nearby. They normally travel in packs.
Make a bright path
If the roads are not well lit and you do not have oncoming traffic, use high beams to create a brighter path and give you a better opportunity to see a deer before you come upon it.
If you see a deer, slow down and brake firmly, but never swerve. Swerving can cause you to hit another car or lose control. Instead, brake and honk your horn loudly, which can potentially scare the animal away.
The deer may move, but since you won’t know what direction they may go, swerving can make the situation worse.
If you hit a deer…
Using extra caution can help to avoid an accident, but it still may not be enough. If you do hit a deer, call law enforcement and the local game warden.
Don’t touch the animal if it is injured as it could hurt you. It’s best to have trained professionals care for an injured deer. If the deer is dead, it is OK to move it off the road, but it is against the law in Texas to take it with you.
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Texas implemented a state no-text law for drivers in September 2017. While many counties already had cell phone bans, this new law bans reading and writing text communications across the state.
For some, it is an adjustment to wait to text or use hands-free devices, which is why we’re providing some tips.
Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.
Out of sight, out of mind
If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a message, it is time to kick the habit. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Either put it in the glove box on silent, or put your phone on airplane mode so you can’t receive messages. Removing the temptation from your immediate reach will encourage you to wait until later to check your phone.
Mount your phone, but don’t touch it when moving
Though it’d be ideal to turn your phone off or put it out of sight, some people use their phones for navigation or screening calls. For this, we recommend a magnetic dash mount for your phone, placed in a spot that’s close to your line of vision. This way, even if you need to look at your phone for navigation, you aren’t taking your eyes far off the road.
Your message alerts will still pop up if you’re using your phone or navigation features, however. Some phones have the option to turn off alerts for specific apps. If you’re most tempted by your messaging app, turn off the alerts when you’re about to drive.
Know the law
City ordinances that were in effect prior to the state law are still enforced, including hands-free ordinances. Invest in a Bluetooth device if your car is not equipped with this feature. This will allow you to talk and also send messages through a voice-to-text app or feature on your phone.
With the no-text law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice-activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.
The no-text law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped, but once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down. If an officer sees a driver in motion with their head looking down, or the car not maintaining a lane, the officer can pull the car over.
Texting and driving accidents can be prevented. Share these tips with other Texas drivers and make our roads safer.
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