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Tag: safety

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.

 

 

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.

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 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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The interior of a Mercedes, featuring a leather steering wheel and dashboard.
You don’t have to have a luxury or new vehicle to have the features you want.

Have you ever found yourself lusting over luxury car features you know you could never afford? New technology has made cars more comfortable, safe, and connected than ever.

The good news is that many of these features can be added to your older vehicle. We’ve compiled a few of our favorite add-ons that can make your car feel up-to-date.

Seat warmers

A close-up of a front driver's seat with a black pad strapped to the bottom and back of the seat. Red arrows show where the heat goes.
Seat warmers are an easy and affordable addition to any car.

On cold days, seat warmers are the envy of every bum. These seat warmers sit on top of your seat and often have extra cushioning as well. Just slip over your seat and plug into the cigarette lighter and your buns will be toasty in no time.

Backup camera

A close-up of a florida license plate shows a small round black camera at the top middle.
This discreet backup camera fits on top of your license plate.

You don’t have to have a newer car to have a backup camera. Plenty are now available from popular electronic retailers. Just place the camera on your back bumper or license plate and you’ll be able to watch from your in-car screen. No need to be afraid to back into a parking space anymore.

Lane assist and collision warning sensors

Photo of online listing for a Garmin dash camera and description.
This dash cam doubles as a lane-assist device.

Not only are these helpful to give you peace of mind, but crash-prevention sensors are shown to reduce collisions. These are often on the pricey side, but often cheaper to add on your own than buying the car with the features built in at the dealership.

This Garmin camera works as both a dash cam and a lane-assist device. Some devices come with sensors for each corner of your car that improve the accuracy of collision warning.

Bluetooth connectivity

A photo of a small round device with three buttons.
Bluetooth connectors like this are an easy shortcut to hands-free connectivity.

There are several options for connecting audio in your vehicle, but the easiest by far is using a Bluetooth receiver. The receiver sticks to your dash via magnet and plugs into the audio input in your car. It allows you to play music or make hands-free calls through your car speakers.

Bluetooth connection is a gamer changer for both convenience and safety – and in some cities/states making a call is only legal hands-free.

Remote start

Photo of a remote start product in a yellow box labeled Viper. The box shows a phone and parked cars in the background.
Devices like this can start your car with a push of a button.

Though it requires installation, it’s easy and affordable to get a remote start system put into your older vehicle. Starting remotely can help you heat up or cool down the car before you get in. Many also come with a GPS component that can help you locate your car when you forget where your car is in the parking lot.

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Jumper cable clamps attached to a red battery.
Knowing how to jump a car can save time and get you back on the road.

Jump starting a car is something all car owners have to do at some point in their lives. Whether we left our headlights on overnight, or just need a new battery, it’s important to know how to start your car when it dies.

The good news is that the jumping part is pretty easy. The hard part is (often) finding another car to jump your own. But once you do, just follow these easy steps.

What you need:

The stalled car, a car with a working battery, and jump cables

Directions:

Step 1: Make sure both cars are turned off: So the cables can reach, you want the engines of both cars near each other, but NOT touching.

Step 2: Connect one end of the red (positive) cable to the positive terminal (POS or +) on the car battery stalled. Do the same with the working battery.

Step 3: Connect the end of the black (negative) cable to the negative terminal (NEG or -) of the working battery.

Step 4: Connect the other end of the black (negative) cable to an unpainted metal surface on the car with the bad battery. Do not connect to the negative terminal of the car with the bad battery. This could result in the battery exploding.

Step 5: Start the car that has the good battery. Let the engine run for a few minutes before starting the car with the dead battery. If the car doesn’t start, let it run for a while longer. It may help to rev the engine of the good-battery car a bit to give it a boost.

Step 6: When it starts, remove the cables in reverse order and let the jumped car run for some time to give the battery a chance to properly recharge.

If your car does not start, you likely need a new battery.

A small portable battery charger with a cassette-sized battery and two small clamps.
Some portable battery jumpers are extremely compact.

For safety on the highway, we recommend you using a portable battery jumper. The process typically the same as mentioned above, except you won’t have to rely on another car for battery recharge power. This way, even if there is not another car available, or a safe place for another car to stop and help, you can get back on the road quickly.

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Picture shows a dark road with only the pavement, reflective lane stripes and curve markers.
Limited visibility also comes with a shorter reaction time to prevent a crash. Avoid driving in the dark, if possible.

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.

Graphic explains statistics of night driving.
We can all take steps to be safer drivers, especially at night.

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

A before and after photo of a foggy-looking headlight and a clear one.
Cleaning your headlights regularly can make a big difference in night visibility.

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

Road sign on the side of a flat Texas road shows a normal speed limit of 80mph and a night limit of 65mph.
Slowing down at night gives you more time to react to dangers on the road.

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 Facebook.


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