Tag Archives: driving safety

8 Helpful Holiday Hints for the Last-Minute Mayhem

Although not everyone is in it for religious reasons, 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, and that means the countdown is on. To help you stay safe (if not necessarily sane) during the last few days before Christmas Day, we’ve pulled together a list of eight posts you’ll find useful—but might not be thinking about because baking and wrapping is top of mind! 

1. Prepping your vehicle for road trips
If holiday travel is on your agenda and you’re headed over the river and through the woods, make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip—especially if you might encounter winter weather. 

2. Protecting your packages
Porch pirates are real: 23 million Americans have packages stolen from their front porch each year. Definitely read this post if you’re getting packages delivered and you’re considering ways to keep them safe, because you’ll get tips for thwarting the porch pirates who’d like to make your packages into their booty. Or find out if you need a service like Amazon Key or if your home security system will protect your packages for you. 

3. Getting teens to town safely
If you have college students who are homebound for the holidays by car, go over the safety advice in this post to ensure safe travels. If they are traveling by plane or train, see this post for excellent advice to share with them. 

4. Making sure Fido will be fine
If you’re traveling and your pets will need looking after, follow the advice here on finding a good pet sitter and ways to prepare your pet and your pet sitter before you leave. Read more…

5. Decorating with a safety-first mindset
This post offers holiday safety tips to use throughout your home as you’re decorating! Also see tips for keeping your Christmas tree fresh and less fire-prone. 

6. Staying safe if you’re still doing your shopping
Many of us are still shopping up until the last minute! Read the tips in this post to make sure you’re safe, whether shopping online or in person. Although the advice is specific to Thanksgiving weekend, it applies to the whole holiday shopping season. 

7. Taking safety into account when buying toys
All toys are not created equal and some pose a bigger threat than others. Before you start your toy buying, review the safety tips in this post to ensure the toys you give will be both fun and safe. 

8. Giving home security as the gift that lasts all year
If you’re stumped for gift ideas, consider home security. This post explains why it’s an excellent gift the whole year long. Read more…

Despite the decline in the religious reasons for celebrating the holiday, Christmas is still a major event for most Americans, making it a busy time of year that can lead to mistakes and missteps. Review this list of posts for reminders, and stay safe this holiday season and into the new year! 

Wary of Winter Driving? You Should Be! Here’s Help…

Although our part of the country is going through an extremely mild winter (as in little snowpack which will probably lead to water issues this summer), other parts of the country are getting the usual blasts of arctic air and bouts of heavy snowfall. Since winter weather has to be extreme to get people to stay home, plenty of us are out there driving no matter the road conditions. And that’s dangerous.

According to reporting by USAToday.com, over 4,000 Americans have died in winter-related car crashes in the past five years. In fact, car accidents kill more people than weather disasters, and commonsense says accidents are more likely when visibility is bad and roads are slick.

We are all about safety and security at SafeStreetsUSA, and that includes watching out for you while you’re on the road. So we compiled some tips for you for safer winter driving, based on advice offered by AAA…

Before you leave the house
The best way to be ready for winter driving is to be prepared ahead of time. Take time to see to these things long before you grab your keys and coat:

  • Stock your car with things you might need in an emergency, such as blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and medication. Also carry something brightly colored in case you get stuck. (Find more advice here.)
  • Avoid driving while tired. Your reaction time won’t be as good should you need to avoid an accident.
  • Make sure your car is well maintained, and your tires are properly inflated. Or, as we like to say, make sure your car is trip worthy. This is sound advice all year long, but especially in the winter when being stranded will be a bigger challenge.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. This is in part to avoid your gas line freezing, but it’s also sound advice for being prepared for adversity.
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecasts, especially before a long-distance drive or driving in an isolated area. If you can’t postpone a trip, make sure someone knows your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.

While you’re on the road
Once you’ve left the house or work, follow this advice to be a safer winter driver:

  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, whether it’s snow, ice, excess water or sand that’s making it slippery.
  • Accelerate slowly so your tires get a chance to grip the road when the surface is slick.
  • Decelerate slowly because it will take you longer to slow down, and hitting the brakes is a good way to go into a skid on winter roads. You know the stoplight is ahead of you. Anticipate it.
  • That said, be extra careful of other drivers who might hit their brakes hard. Keep your distance just in case.
  • Drive slowly. (Are you picking up on the “slowly” theme here?) Yes, accelerate and decelerate slowly, but also take your turns with care, and be more deliberate and cautious.
  • Take it slow and steady when going uphill, rather than trying to power up the hill. Otherwise, you might set your wheels spinning. Build some inertia on the flat before you get to the hill instead. You want to start your descent slowly too. This will help.
  • AAA says to brake by keeping the heel of your foot on the floor and using the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Try not to come to a complete stop. It’s harder to get going again when roads are slick. This is particularly true on hills, so if you’re going uphill, keep on going even if you have to crawl along to avoid stopping.

If you get stuck
If you get stuck, you’ll be glad you packed emergency supplies in your car! But also follow this advice:

  • Stay with your car. It’s your shelter from the storm, and it’s easier for rescuers to spot because it’s bigger.
  • Walking away from your car in a storm can mean losing sight of it. Don’t do it.
  • Don’t over exert yourself trying to push or dig your car out of the snow. A little effort is okay, but save your strength.
  • If you need rescuing, tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna during the day. At night, keep your dome light on if possible.
  • If you have to, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill but try to conserve gasoline. Also make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow or ice because that could cause carbon monoxide to get into the car when the engine is running.

However, the absolute best advice for driving in winter weather is to stay home. Despite all of your precautions, you’re at the mercy of the weather and the other drivers, who might not be as cautious or prepared as you are. Wouldn’t you rather stay in, wait out the storm, and avoid the worry altogether?

‘Tis the Season to Worry About Teens: Safety Tips for Students Driving Home for the Holidays

If you have a child off at school, you’re likely anticipating their visit during this holiday season, and many of those kids are going to make the trip home by automobile. Looking forward to their visit is only natural, but so is being parental and cautious. Before they get behind the wheel of that car, make sure it’s going to be a safe trip home with these tips.

Teach them car safety before they leave
Before your child packs their bags and leaves for school in the fall, make sure they know car safety basics, like how to check the tire pressure, fill the washer fluid in the car, and do a light check—making sure all brake lights, headlights and blinkers are working. If you live where it typically rains or snows in the fall, checking windshield wipers is also imperative. It’s easy to forget your wipers need replacing until that first long, rainy drive with other cars splashing muddy water up on to the windshield!

Also encourage them to get an oil change in addition to doing these other safety checks a couple weeks before making the trip.

A car safety kit might be smart going away gift for this teenager, one that includes flares and jumper cables. But also add to it to other items they might need if stranded, including a supply of blankets, water and spare food.

If they’re hitching a ride with a friend
What if your child doesn’t take a car to college but hitches a ride home with a friend? Continue to be parental! Just because it’s not your kid behind the wheel doesn’t mean you can’t still stress safety! If your child plans to get a ride with a friend, make sure that they know (and do) the same safety checks as your child. Also, checking to ensure that the friend is a safe and reliable driver is advised. If you have any doubts at all about the reliability of this friend, you have the right to voice your concerns and send your child a bus ticket for that trip home!

Safety while en route
Safety checks before hitting the road are important, but so is safety on the road. Whether your child is driving or getting a ride, make sure they know the route, plan to drive in daylight only, and have a plan for stopping every couple of hours to rest and stretch their legs. Insist that they have a schedule, with a set departure time, time for breaks and an arrival time all penciled in. If they are running late, they need to let you know right away. Also, stress the importance of not driving while tired! If they have a mountain pass to cross or other hazardous conditions, then chains or other precautions (and knowledge about how to use them) are a must.

No matter how they’re traveling, also make sure they leave with fully charged cell phone batteries, or a way to easily charge en route (reminding them at the same time that texting or talking on the phone while driving is not okay). Being aware of areas without cell service and telling someone before entering them might be a good idea as well.

Since many teenagers drive home or get a ride with a friend for the holidays, car safety is an important thing to go over this time of year. It’s best to start these in the summer, before your child heads off to school, but these safety tips are helpful at any time…and some of us have kids well out of their teens who will still benefit from this kind of commonsense advice!

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I feel so much better knowing my family is protected! I spoke with SafeStreets USA in the evening and a technician was able to come install the system for me then for my parents first thing the next morning. Very impressed with his knowledge and care!

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