Passenger Safety Feed

Summer Driving Safety Tips

Fiesta (3)

These next few months will see the streets, roads and highways packed with more vehicles than ever before. The weather is nicer, the kids are out of school, vacations are scheduled, summer road trips are planned. But before you hit the road, it is important that you check your vehicle and review summer driving safety tips.

  • Conduct a basic safety check of your vehicle. Check the levels of your fluids: oil, antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid. Check your tire pressure, wiper blades, lights, and A/C.
  • If you have children, be sure you're aware of heatstroke concerns that arise in warm weather. Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
  • Remember to share the road with other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. It will be crowded out there, so be aware of people who may not see you.
  • Have an emergency roadside kit stocked with a car charger for your cell phone, a first aid kit, flashlight, flares, jumper cables, gloves and blankets, and tools. 
  • Be sure to have an updated GPS on hand (or a physical map or atlas, if you're so inclined) for your designated navigator to guide you safely to your destinations.
  • Don't forget water and snacks, and even entertainment for the passengers. Build a playlist of road trip songs, tablets with downloaded games, and a pillow to stay comfy.

 For more tips and ideas, check out this great interactive guide courtesy of the NHTSA.


Waze Speed Limit Alert Coming to U.S. 'Soon'

Waze speed limit alert coming soon
credit/ Waze

    "You probably know the feeling. You might be driving on a business trip or a road trip. Or you might be driving down a road you’ve driven at least a thousand times. Suddenly it happens. You look at your dashboard and think to yourself, 'What’s the speed limit on this street?'" (Waze)

    Waze, the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app, has now added a way to resolve this issue.

Continue reading "Waze Speed Limit Alert Coming to U.S. 'Soon'" »

What's the Difference Between Four-Wheel Drive and All-Wheel Drive?

Four-wheel drive vs. all-wheel drive for a Pennsylvania winter.

    Sometimes the terms all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are used interchangeably. However, the systems are actually quite from one another.

    Most vehicles are propelled only by two tires (one axle), in either the front or the back.

    Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive split the power to all four wheels (both axles).

Continue reading "What's the Difference Between Four-Wheel Drive and All-Wheel Drive?" »

Why Winter Coats and Car Seats Don't Mix

Wearing winter coats in the car poses a big risk to children.

    Next time you bundle up your child in their winter coat before buckling up, you may want to think twice.

    A recent report from NBC showed that there's a real danger associated with car seats and kids in thick winter jackets.

    Adjusting the car seat straps so that children's coats can fit in the seat with them makes it more likely for that child to be ejected from the car seat in the event of an accident.

Continue reading "Why Winter Coats and Car Seats Don't Mix" »

IIHS Announces Changes to 2016 Top Safety Pick Criteria

Earning a Top Safety Pick award will be tougher than ever for automakers.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) toughened the criteria for vehicles to earn a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award.

    In 2015, models with an "acceptable" rating in the small overlap test were able to qualify for either award, provided their other crash test scores were "good."

    However, for 2016, the IIHS requires good ratings in all crashworthiness tests (small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests).

Continue reading "IIHS Announces Changes to 2016 Top Safety Pick Criteria" »

Don't Believe the Bad Winter Car-Care Advice on Facebook

Bad winter car care advice.

    Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. However, some posts can't be taken too seriously — especially in regard to car care tips.

    A few of the "tips" circulating are actually memes or jokes. Taking this advice to heart could harm you or your vehicle.

    Some examples of unsound advice:
    *Do not try at home. Will cause damage to your vehicle.

Continue reading "Don't Believe the Bad Winter Car-Care Advice on Facebook" »

IIHS to Introduce New Headlight-Focused Safety Test

New safety test eyes headlight performance.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ ratings are among the automotive industry's most coveted distinctions.

    Now, another test may be added to the already-extensive list of evaluations.

    The focus? Headlights. Specifically, adaptive headlights.

Continue reading "IIHS to Introduce New Headlight-Focused Safety Test" »

Deer-Vehicle Collisions Tend to Spike in Late Fall


    Deer-vehicle collisions are common in Western Pennsylvania — especially during fall — but not necessarily because of hunting.    

    According to the Pennsylvania State Game Commission, deer naturally move more during fall because of increased activity associated with breeding season. The game commission notes that "deer-vehicle accidents occur more frequently on Sundays when no hunting is allowed than on Saturday (high hunter participation day) and one to four hours after dark, which is after hunting hours." 

    These accidents can affect drivers physically as well as financially.

    Annual estimates of deer damage exceed $2 billion nationwide. Car damages account for $1 billion.

deer crossing

    It's important to remember: do not swerve to avoid hitting a deer. Human injury is more common when drivers try to maneuver away from the animal and rather crash into roadside objects or other vehicles. 

Tips for Motorists

  • Don’t count on deer whistles or deer fences to deter deer from crossing roads in front of you.
  • Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If anything looks slightly suspicious, slow down.
  • Slow down in areas known to have a large deer population; where deer-crossing signs are posted; places where deer commonly cross roads; areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland; and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.
  • Deer do unpredictable things. Sometimes they stop in the middle of the road when crossing. Sometimes they cross and quickly re-cross back from where they came. Sometimes they move toward an approaching vehicle. Assume nothing. Slow down; blow your horn to urge the deer to leave the road. Stop if the deer stays on the road; don’t try to go around it.
  • Deer frequently travel in family groups and single file. Just because one has crossed, doesn’t mean the threat is over. Its crossing could be a signal that others may follow, which they sometimes do blindly. 

Important Facts for Drivers

  • Drivers who hit a deer are not required to report the accident to the game commission.
  • If the deer dies, only Pennsylvania residents may claim the carcass. To do so, they must call the game commission for a permit number within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer.
  • The permit number issued by the agency lets meat processors and law enforcement officials know that possession of the meat is legal, and not the result of poaching.
  • Antlers from bucks killed in vehicle collisions must be turned over to the game commission.
  • If a deer is struck by a vehicle, but not killed, drivers are urged to stay their distance because some deer may recover and move on. However, if a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, drivers are encouraged to report the incident to a game commission regional office or other local law enforcement agency. If the deer must be put down, the game commission will direct the proper person to do so. 



The Best Apps for Drivers

    J.D. Power and Associates' 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report found that at least 20 percent of new car owners have never used half of their car's tech features. Generation Y owners were found to be even less interested at all when it comes to in-car entertainment and connectivity. (Bankrate)

    Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power and Associates, says that, "In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they're familiar with the device and it's accurate."

    Since drivers tend to use their phones or tablets in lieu of in-car tech, here's a list of the best auto-related apps for drivers' devices.

WazeWaze (iOS and Android)
    The go-to app for those on the road boasts one of the biggest reporting communities - including traffic jams and gas prices. Users can post information about accident locations, police speed traps, weather conditions or road hazards. "The beauty of Waze is how simple it is. Users just need to have the app open on their phone while they commute." (Autoguide)


DailyRoadsDailyRoads Voyager (Android)
    DailyRoads is essentially a dash cam that continuously captures videos and photos during your journeys. The app records everything, but drivers can choose what they keep by touching the screen. "The video evidence can be invaluable in case of accidents, insurance fraud, police abuse, protection from crash-for-cash scams and differences of opinion with other drivers." (DailyRoads)


CarMinderCarMinder (iOS)
    CarMinder offers a ton of options to track maintenance, log trips, record repairs and note mileage all in one easy-to-use app. (Tom's Guide)


CanaryCanary (iOS and Android)
    Parents can save some nerve-wracking moments while their teens have the car. Canary notifies parents if their iOS or Android device is in use while the car is in motion. An alert is also sent when the vehicle is traveling above the speed limit. "You can create geo-fenced safe areas, blacklist others as off-limits and define a curfew time." (Tom's Guide)


HonkHonk (iOS and Android)
    The Honk app saves drivers time erasing the time spent in pay station lines or looking for change. "Just select the length of time you want to park and tap Pay Now. Your credit card is automatically billed and a receipt is sent to you via email. We alert you when your time is running out and allow you to simply tap Pay Now to top-up from wherever you are." (Honk Mobile)

    Plus, parking enforcement officers have access to the app's real-time list of license plate numbers, so you won't need a ticket stub or receipt. (Honk Mobile)



What are some of your go-to in-car apps?

Coffee Poses Risk Behind Wheel

    Many drivers consume their morning cup of joe on the road and never think twice about the safety risk a simple cup of coffee poses. However, that caffeinated brew may be a big distraction.


    A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows a staggering 80 percent of car accidents are caused by some form of distracted driving. (NY Daily News)

    The study ranked coffee as the worst thing to eat or drink behind the wheel.

    A separate study conducted by ExxonMobil found that 83 percent of drivers admit to drinking beverages behind the wheel. Meaning that, instead of focusing on the road, drivers fixate on their drink. The task at hand (driving) is secondary.

    But distraction isn't the only cause for concern. Burns from spilling scalding hot liquid were a noted concern in the NHTSA study. "Even with a travel lid, hot coffee can find its way out of the opening when you hit a bump."


    According to the Burn Institute, a third degree burn can occur within just one second of contact with a liquid heated to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Coffee brewing machines should maintain a water temperature between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal flavor, easily above the threshold for a third degree burn. (National Coffee Association)

    The domino effect drivers face from distraction to injury to accident may have some people think twice before sipping their java on the go.