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Category: Safety and accidents

A tiny orange Smart car is parked, plugged into a charging station.
The Smart Fortwo – a little car with big passenger protection.

You may have heard a grumpy refrain from an elder that “smart cars” offer no protection in an accident. The one that comes to mind is this tiny car, made by the manufacturer, Smart Fortwo. It’s one of the smallest cars on the road and depending on the model, is either gasoline-powered or electric. While a car this size is an extreme example often used in safety concerns, it actually holds up fairly well in crash tests.

So are EVs any better in crashes than gas-powered vehicles? Despite news stories about EV fires, it turns out they may have some safety advantages to traditional vehicles.

Some EVs are safer than others

Though having a smaller car may be more dangerous than a full-size sedan, the little Smart car has better safety ratings than you think. The car received 5 stars on their Fortwo’s side crash safety test

Tesla’s vehicles are among the safest on the road. The Tesla Model X is on the Kelly Blue Book Best Rated Electric Cars of 2019, and the Tesla Model 3 received top crash test ratings in various safety organizations.

Other EVs with great safety ratings include the Chevrolet Volt, the Subaru Crosstec, and Volvo XC60 and XC90.

Easy maintenance = fewer accidents

Electric cars are simpler and require less maintenance. There are simply fewer parts to take care of, and therefore, to malfunction or cause a breakdown. They don’t need oil changes, fuel filters, spark plugs, or emissions checks. Needless to say, the fewer things that can go wrong, the safer you’ll on your drive.

Less maintenance also means less cost for you in the long run. You’ll be more likely to spend on repairs when they do actually arise, making sure your vehicle is in working order.

More space for safety

Fewer components also mean engineers have more room to add safety features in EVs. The motor has more room to be moved within the car and leaves more crunch-room for collisions.

Less chance of a fire

A black Smart car is on fire on the side of the freeway
Electric vehicle fires are rare compared to their gas-fueled counterparts.

Despite the appearance of electric car fires in the news, occurrences of EV fires are much rarer than gasoline-powered vehicles. An average of 150 gasoline-fueled car fires occurs daily. However, since EVs are relatively new, the news focuses on EVs and the dangers they pose.

However, while EV fires are rarer, the fire are more difficult to put out due to the nature of a battery. This is a drawback, but ultimately a small one considering the fire will be less likely to happen in the first place.

For more on safety, follow AMM Collision on Facebook.

 

 

A split screen shows a young woman on the phone with her mom. Both look uncomfortable. The caption says 'Mom, I crashed my car.'

It’s every teen’s nightmare: Getting in a car wreck and having to tell your parents. As if the accident weren’t bad enough, telling your parents adds another layer of conflict. You don’t want to let them down or risk punishment. However, being mature and honest can help you earn your parent’s trust and resolve the issue in a more timely manner.

Watch our video below to see how some of these scenarios work out, using hones, humble and candid responses.

 

Here is what is happening in our different approaches:

In Scenario 1, Daisy, our teen driver, is calm, gentle, and straightforward with the details. She prepares her mom for the bad news by telling her first that she has to tell her something she won’t want to hear.

Then, she gives the essential details in a calm, clear manner. This helps her mom to stay calm and reassured as well. By showing responsibility and giving her mom the important information upfront, Daisy’s mom takes those cues and doesn’t respond reactively.

In Scenario 2, Daisy is a little blunter and does not give as many details. Her mom reacts more negatively, but when Daisy tells her she is sorry, she is a little more forgiving since Daisy admitted responsibility.

In Scenario 3, Daisy doesn’t take caution, and her mom reacts. Notice that Daisy doesn’t give details about the accident other than rejecting blame. This causes her mom to believe she is irresponsible since she doesn’t admit any fault, nor does she apologize for the incident. While this is not necessarily a “wrong” way to tell your parents you were in an accident, it isn’t the most practical approach.

Other tips

Not every teen-parent relationship is the same and these conversations can go a hundred different ways. While we wanted to show the difference in tone and responsibility in the call, there are other factors to consider as well.

Call them on the scene

A blue convertible sits in the middle of the road with its front end crushed in.

Your parents will appreciate you calling them as soon as possible. Call the police first if any party is injured, or the cars cannot be removed from the road. Next, call your parents.

Try to stay calm so you don’t escalate the tone of the call, as Daisy did in Scenario 3. If you’re both calm, you can make better decisions and take care of things quicker. Being hysterical will make the situation worse.

Try starting with this: “Mom, I’ve got some bad news.” Just like Daisy did in Scenario 1, starting with this allows your parents to mentally prepare for what you’re about to tell them.

Be as clear as possible

There are a few things your parents will want to know. Firstly, are you OK? Be sure to tell them if you’re hurt. If you’re just sore or shaken up, tell them this and tell them you think you’ll be fine.

Secondly, what happened? Try to explain what caused the accident. It could be as simple as “I lost control of the car,” or “I didn’t react fast enough to (insert other car’s action here).”

They will also want to know the condition of the car. What kind of damage it has (like the front is crunched, or the passenger-side doors are caved in) and how bad it is. This can be helpful if they’re meeting you at the scene, as another way to mentally prepare them for the reality of the crash.

Be prepared for a variety of emotions.

Your parents love you and want you to be safe. So they’re going to be conflicted whether to be mad that you acted unsafe (even if you didn’t mean to) and they’re also going to be happy you’re all right. They may be angry at the other driver. They may be happy you felt comfortable coming to them right away. Whatever the case, telling them is the right thing to do.

Share your location

Your parents may want to come to the scene if you’re close by. Having them there can be reassuring and helpful. Even if you’re embarrassed by the situation, it’s probably best to have them help you. As you saw in all three scenarios, Daisy’s mom is ready to head to the crash scene, and Daisy has sent the location address.

Offer to help with the damages, if possible
A person sits on the floor with a bunch of 100 dollar bills fanned out in their hands
If you can help pay for the damages, you should offer to do so.

After the crash, it’s important to talk about who’s going to be responsible for paying for the damage. Usually, teens don’t have much money to repair the car, especially when they need it to get to work. So, many parents will either pay for it or compromise.

However, if you have an allowance, you could offer to put part of it toward repairs. The same can be done if you have a job. Depending on your income, you might be able to work out a payment plan for you and your parents to divide up the costs.

If you aren’t able to financially help with the cost of repairs, offer to make up for it in another way. You could take on more chores for a certain number of weeks.

Your parents will further trust you for wanting to take responsibility for the damage.

If you were being irresponsible, you may not want to tell your parents, but doing so will make them trust you even more. Recognizing irresponsible behavior and correcting it in the future will help you become a better driver.

Remember, trust goes a long way. Whether you admit it or not, you likely depend on your parents. You can help one another by communicating openly and honestly.

For more teen content visit our In the Front Seat teen driver page.

Driving Test Practice 2 (Intermediate)

This quiz is designed to help you pass the Texas state driving exam. Take the test as many times as you want, and find explanations to your answers after the quiz.

Answer and explanations

How’d you do? Whether or not you passed with flying colors, it’s helpful to know WHY something is the way that it is. Here are the answers for this quiz:

1. At night, you should turn your high beam lights to low beam when…

Correct answer: All of the above

Explanation: High beams can reflect on precipitation in the air and make driving even more difficult. They also can have a blinding effect on other drivers, so it’s best to turn your high beams off whenever you are approaching another driver – both from in front and behind.

2. Areas of the road you cannot see in your mirrors are called _________.

Correct answer: Blind spots

Explanation: These spots are not visible unless you turn your head to look in that direction. Newer cars have detection for blind spots that make them less dangerous.

3. When a vehicle’s tires leave contact with the road and rise on top of water, it is called ___________.

Correct answer: Hydroplaning

Explanation: Hydroplaning is when you lose control of the vehicle because the tires are not gripping the ground. This is most common in the first 30 minutes of rainfall. Though it is not called a “water scoot,” your car is basically scooting on water. Drifting is different in that the tires maintain contact and traction, but the centrifugal motion allows the car to pull to the side, going a different direction than the tires.

4. In Texas, you must have your lights on a half-hour after sunset until….

Correct answer: A half-hour before sunrise.

Explanation: Usually, this time is somewhat bright outside and the streets and other cars are visible even before the sun breaks over the horizon. It’s worth mentioning that keeping your lights on all day can further prevent accidents, but it is not the law, as in this case.

5. It is illegal to park within 15 feet of ___________.

Correct answer: A fire hydrant

Explanation: Fire trucks need to have access to a fire hydrant in an emergency. They cannot use their hose to put out flames without it. If your car is in the way, it is preventing firefighters from doing their jobs in a timely manner. In fires, every second counts. It is not illegal to park near houses or mailboxes, though the postal service may leave you a note to park elsewhere so they can reach the mailbox.

6. Before changing lanes, you should…

Correct answer: Check your mirrors and look over your right shoulder to the rear

Explanation: While you should be looking all around you for other vehicles, physically turning in all these directions is dangerous. Mirrors make it easy to see what’s happening around you. And, of course, there’s your blind spot, where you’ll have to turn around slightly to check.

7. Following too close behind a vehicle is known as ___________.

Correct answer: Tailgating

Explanation: Tailgating is dangerous, but highly common on the road. Be sure to keep your distance with the car in front of you, to give you enough stopping time should that vehicle slam on the brakes.

8. A broken yellow line allows you to…

Correct answer: Cross over into the opposing lane to pass a vehicle, if it is safe

Explanation: Sometimes, cars in front of you may be going under the speed limit and holding up traffic. A broken-yellow line allows you to pass them on the left if no one is coming toward you. This can be dangerous. Be sure you can see far enough ahead of you to make sure you have time to pass.

9. When approaching a flashing yellow light you should…

Correct answer: Slow down and approach with caution

Explanation: A flashing yellow light usually means there is other traffic or pedestrians you may have to slow down for. Even though they shouldn’t cause you to stop, being unwary could cause you to get in an accident.

10. On a roadway with 3+ lanes, which lane offers the smoothest flow of traffic?

Correct answer: The middle lane

Explanation: The right lane is dangerous because people are speeding up and slowing down for getting on and off the freeway. The left lane is the fast lane, and often has people going in and out passing others. The middle is usually more constant and steady.

Answer and explanations

How’d you do? Whether or not you passed with flying colors, it’s helpful to know WHY something is the way that it is. Here are the answers for this quiz:

1. Which occupants of the vehicle need to be wearing proper seatbelts and safety restraints while the car is in motion?

Correct answer: The driver and all passengers

Explanation: While you may not be fined, as the driver, for passengers over 18 who aren’t buckled in the car, they can be ticketed for not buckling up. As the driver, you are responsible for your own seatbelt and those of kids in the car. But it’s always good to remind your passengers to buckle up in any case.

2. If a tire blows out, you should …

Correct answer: Keep the vehicle moving straight

Explanation: You have less control over the car when a tire blows out, so try to keep the vehicle as steady as possible. Don’t jerk the car to another direction or slam on the brakes. Slow down gradually, and when you do, slowly move to a safe spot on the side of the road where you can put on your spare tire or call for help.

3. Under Texas law, you may not park…

Correct answer: In any of the above

Explanation: Sidewalk and crosswalk paths are protected because vehicles are deadly to pedestrians. All of these instances provide a safe path where they can cross without unexpectedly getting in the way of traffic. You may not park in an intersection because it would interrupt the flow of traffic.

4. If you approach an intersection with no signs or traffic lights, you must…

Correct answer: Yield to vehicles on the right

Explanation: An intersection without signs or traffic lights can be dangerous. Slow to a stop and move after the person to your right.

5. In Texas, the speed limit in urban districts is ____ unless otherwise marked.

Correct answer: 30 mph

Explanation: If you can’t find a speed limit, staying under 30 mph is legal.

6. In Texas, if you intend to turn, you must turn on your signal at least _____ feet ahead of the turn.

Correct answer: 100

Explanation: A hundred feet is plenty of time for drivers around you to be aware of where you want to go. In an urban setting, if you put your blinker on too early, you’ll probably pass several turn-ins where other drivers might assume you’re going to turn. If you need a visual of what 100 feet looks like, here’s the slip ‘n’ slide equivalent.

7. When you approach a railroad crossing that a train is approaching, you must stop at least ____ feet from the tracks.

Correct answer: 15-50

Explanation: Trains do not have the ability to stop quickly, and are often going faster than you think. When the crossing arms go down, come to a stop a safe distance away. Allow yourself space in case of an accident that might push you into an oncoming train.

 

8. What is the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC)?

Correct answer: .08%

Explanation: Drunk and buzzed driving is extremely dangerous, as you’ve probably heard. That’s because your senses are distorted and your reaction time is much shorter. Never drive if you feel buzzed. If you’re unsure, get a ride home just in case.

9. If you are on a multi-lane highway, you should use what lane for passing?

Correct answer: The left or middle lane

Explanation: The left lane is intended for passing, though the middle lane works for passing cars on the far right lane.

10. To avoid a head-on collision, you should…

Correct answer: Steer right toward the shoulder or curb

Explanation: Steering toward the left could seem like a good idea if the vehicle appears to be coming at you. However, the car could correct at the last minute, in which case a crash would be unavoidable. Do not keep going straight. Your chances of a head-on collision are greater, which often result in a fatality. If you steer right, even if you have to drive off the road, it’s better than being in a head-on collision.

Taking the driving test is stressful. We’re here to help.

Driving Test Practice 1 (Easy)

This quiz is designed to help you pass the Texas state driving exam. Take the test as many times as you want, and find explanations to your answers after the quiz.

What should you buy for your first car?

Are you setting out on your own? Getting your first job? Just want some independence? Choosing a vehicle to buy can be confusing. Take our quiz to see what kind of car you should buy.

 

If you’re looking for your first vehicle, there are several factors you’ll want to consider before you buy.

Safety

A young man with long blonde hair sits in the driver's seat of a black jeep, looking back at the camera
Is safety a priority for you?

Various vehicles have different degrees of safety. Sedans, SUVs, and electronic vehicles tend to have the best safety features. They’re not built for style as much as they are for function, so they’re often tailored to be safer rather than hotter. The only safety drawback is that some of these vehicles are smaller and provide less protection if you’re hit by a large vehicle.

Trucks can be very safe because you’re up higher if someone hits you. They become more dangerous when you’re driving through curves at higher speeds. Trucks are top-heavy and more likely to rollover.

Sports cars are similarly built for function instead of safety. They’re smaller and therefore less protective in big crashes, but they can navigate quickly, which could also help prevent an accident.

The least safe of our list would be motorcycles and mopeds. Both offer little protection from crashes and could end in serious injury. The positive for these vehicles is, like a sportscar, navigability.

Passenger capacity

You might not think about driving anyone but yourself for now, but later on you might find yourself wanting to carpool with friends. Sportscars, motorcycles, and mopeds only allow for one passenger – maybe more for sports cars, but with crunched backseat space. Trucks sometimes have cramped passenger space as well.

Sedans, SUVs, and EVs often have more spacious interiors for packing in the friends for a late-night Ihop trip.

Adventure compatibility

If you’re an outdoor type, you might want a vehicle that can carry all your supplies through some rough roads. When it comes to toughness, pickup trucks and SUVs are your best options. Not only are they better equipped to handle off-roading, but they’ll have space for camping gear, kayaks, etc.

If you’re the type to explore what the city has to offer, you might be better off with a moped or smaller vehicle. This gives you better MPGs and can get you in a tight parking space in town that a big truck just couldn’t.

Fuel efficiency

Though you might not be thinking about gas now, you’ll thank yourself later for getting a fuel-efficient vehicle when you’re at the pump.

The most fuel-efficient will be an electric vehicle. This can be more cost upfront for the vehicle and possibly an at-home charging station. However, it’ll be much cheaper overall than paying for gas every week. Bonus? You’ll prevent CO2 from being expelled into the atmosphere.

A young woman sits on a motorcycle in a tropical setting. She has sunglasses and short overalls
Do you care if your car reflects your personality? Are you looking to make a statement?

After EVs, mopeds and motorcycles are next up. The less car, the less weight to drag you down.

Next in efficiency are hybrids, sedans and sports cars often get the best MPGs. They’re more aerodynamic, which means your car will be working less against the wind. The less resistance, the better fuel efficiency.

The worst for fuel efficiency are trucks and SUVs. They’re bigger, heavier, and less aerodynamic.

Cost

Any type of vehicle can have a high price tag, but this is typically the price range for all these types of vehicles:

A person sits on the floor with a bunch of 100 dollar bills fanned out in their hands
Are you short on cash or rolling in the dough?

Note that overall cost is affected by how you use the car, how much gas you have to put into it, and how well you keep up with maintenance. For a starter vehicle, we typically recommend a sedan or SUV since they are in the lower price range, but also have better safety features.

The aftermath of a collision, with a silver car facing an upside down red car on a freeway.

Statistically speaking, everyone gets in more than one accident in their lifetime. As a teen, your chance of having an accident is greater than everyone else. Ages 15-19 are also three times as likely to be in a crash than drivers 20 and older. Crash-prevention tips can literally save your life.

Here are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself safe on the road.

  1. Turn on your headlights

Cars drive closely toward the camera at night, the street illuminated with their headlights
Night and day, headlights can alert drivers to your location.

Even when you can see fine, other traffic may not be able to see you in some situations. Leaving your headlights on during the day makes it easy for others to see you and possibly prevent an accident knowing where you are. This is an easy safety tip to follow, especially if you have automatic lights that you don’t have to worry about turning on and off.

  1. Use your horn

It may be a little intimidating at first. Honking often sounds angry, and if that’s not what you’re going for, you may be reluctant to do so.

However, your horn is another useful tool to let cars know where you are. If a car starts to drift into your lane, a few quick honks will alert them to where you are.

To be safe, don’t lay on the horn for more than two seconds. Angry honking can lead to road rage, and sometimes confrontations from other drivers.

  1. Keep your cool

On that same note, keeping your own head will help you make better driving decisions. People drive more aggressively when they are angry, and usually, that leads to impulsive and unsafe maneuvers.

Let the other driver lose their head. If you make angry gestures or lay on your horn, it will only escalate an unsafe driving situation.

  1. Always have your phone with you

A smartphone with a map on it is mounted to the driver's side dashboard
While phones can be distracting if used while driving, having your phone with you while driving could save your life.

Though you shouldn’t be looking at your phone on the road, your phone is also a life-saving device. Map applications can help you get to safety if you are in an unfamiliar area. In an emergency, you can call 9-1-1 or someone you trust to help you as soon as possible. Weather alerts can let you know if you’re in danger of flood zones, a tornado, or other natural threats.

Be sure to use Bluetooth and hands-free applications while driving. But keeping connected can keep you out of a dangerous situation.

  1. Slow down

You’ve heard it a million times. But this isn’t just because driving fast is dangerous. It’s also because it’s hard to stop or maneuver around a dangerous situation on the road. Think about in-town driving. The speed limit is 45 but the guy in front of you is only going 40. Even though the speed limit is 45, slow down to allow space between your vehicles until you can safely pass them. If you don’t, that person could brake suddenly, leaving little to no reaction time for you to hit your brakes as well.

  1. Start slow

When you start to move at an intersection, don’t punch the gas. Instead, watch the cars around the intersection to make sure no one else is coming your way illegally. Starting slowly also allows you more time to spot pedestrians and bicyclists as well.

  1. Watch the sides of the road

Similarly, looking out for people, animals, or debris in the road can help you prevent an accident. Seeing these obstacles ahead of time gives you more reaction time to slow down.

  1. Never assume what a driver will do

People often leave their blinkers on unintentionally, signaling a lane change that will never happen. Many also change their minds at the last second. The best thing to do is to wait and let that person make a move before pulling onto the road or trying to pass them.

  1. Stay in the middle lane

A motion shot of a driving lane in between a semi truck on the left and a black car in the right lane
The middle lane is often the safest choice when traveling on a freeway.

If you’re on a freeway, the middle lane is typically the safest. The fast lane can be dangerous because people use it to pass others. The right lane is often dangerous because of people merging and exiting the roadway. If you don’t need to pass or exit the freeway, just stay put in the middle.

  1. Regular care and maintenance

A young man with short hair and glasses works under a car.
You don’t have to be a mechanic to keep up with regular maintenance.

While you might not think about this if you’re parents help you take care of your car, it’s important to know how to maintain it for the future. Keeping your tires inflated correctly, doing regular oil changes, tire rotations, and fluid checks can all prevent disaster later on down the road (pun intended). Take the time to care for your vehicle – you’ll wish you had if you find yourself stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire.

A deer stands in the middle of a snow-covered mountain forest road.
Deer are a dangerous threat to cars, especially at night.

Whether you’re driving on I-10 west toward San Antonio or up I-35 to Austin, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. These rolling hills boast their beauty all year long with magical views of spectacular sunsets. What might be the only drawback of driving through the area you might ask? Being in a deer collision.

 

According to an annual report done by State Farm, the likelihood of hitting a deer in Texas is 1 in 157. Texas was ranked the 37th riskiest state where drivers are most likely to collide with a deer or animal. November is a notorious month for deer-related collisions, as it’s the beginning of the general season for deer hunting.

Even the most cautious of drivers can find themselves face-to-face with an animal on the road. Sometimes, a deer collision is unavoidable, so we’ve come up with a few steps you should take after hitting a deer.

1. Make sure no one in the vehicle is injured

Hitting a deer can cause death or severe injury to you and passengers in your car. It’s important to get help for any injured persons before anything else.

2. Move your vehicle to a safe place

Pull to the side of the road, out of traffic’s way, and turn on your hazard lights. This will let you fully assess the damage without being in harm’s way. The lights will also allow other drivers to be aware of you (and possibly the deer) on the road.

3. Call the police

If a deer is blocking traffic, it could be a threat to other drivers. Call your local law enforcement agency and notify them of the situation. If you can move the dead deer out of traffic, do so, but do not tag or remove the deer from the area.

4. Document

Take photographs of the road, your surroundings, and damage. This can be helpful for filing an insurance claim.

5. Don’t touch the animal if you can avoid it

A frightened and wounded deer could hurt you or itself. Do not touch the animal if you don’t need to immediately move it off the road for safety.

6. Contact your insurance company

File an insurance claim if you have car damage you wish to be repaired. Keep in mind that your insurance premium may go up if you make a claim. However, you’ll want to do so for serious damage, since the repair will probably cost quite a bit.

7. Don’t immediately drive away

Look for loose parts, broken lights and other hazards as deer can cause serious damage to your vehicle. Drive away slowly and keep an eye out for unusual noises or movement of your car.

A deer stands in the middle of a paved road near tall, green trees

Texas had nearly 110,000 reported animal collisions from June and July of this year. Be more aware during the hours before sunrise and just after sunset because that’s when drivers are most likely to be in a deer collision. One estimator in the Dripping Springs area says the average cost to repair a vehicle with deer collision damage can range anywhere from $3,000-$5,000.

If you’ve been in a deer collision accident, upload your photos of the damage to our Smartphone Estimating Tool to get a quick and easy estimate.

A close-up of an illuminated speedometer and check engine light.
A check-engine light can mean a number of things.

If you have ever had the “check engine” light come on in your car, chances are you probably thought, “What is wrong with my car?” If you have ever asked that question, you have one thing correct, there is something wrong with your vehicle. A recent study shows about 10 percent of cars on the road currently have their check engine light on. The light has a variety of meanings and there could be a number of issues wrong with the vehicle.

Onboard diagnostics

A check engine light is one of the many lights on your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics. When the car’s computer system detects a problem, the light comes on, and the computer stores a code. This code can be read with a diagnostic computer at a repair shop to tell them what’s wrong.

What does the check engine light mean?

There are several reasons why a check engine light comes on in a car. In general, the light is an indication there is a problem with your vehicle’s emissions system. More specifically, it could mean there is a loose gas cap or the engine is misfiring. Other reasons include needing to replace the O2 sensor, catalytic converter, mass airflow sensor, or spark plugs.

What to do

If your check engine light illuminates, the vehicle should be checked by an automotive repair technician to determine the problem. If the light is blinking, there could be a serious problem with the vehicle, such as a misfiring engine, and the car should be stopped as soon as possible.

A steady light could be one of the less urgent issues, but the car should still be taken to an automotive repair shop for a diagnostics check. There may be a problem that could further damage your engine or consume excess fuel if not addressed. Either can cause more costs in the long run.

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