Daytona Speedway saw one of its most horrific crashes at the Coke Zero 400 in July when Austin Dillon’s car clipped the wall at the finish line and sailed into the crash fence, injuring five fans. Dillon walked away from the crash, but events like these are sobering reminders of how far we still have to go with auto safety—both in NASCAR and on the civilian streets.
An 850 horsepower NASCAR and the Toyota Camry you drive to work aren’t mutually exclusive when it comes to safety. Many of the technologies that keep us secure on America’s streets and highways started in a stock car lab, where engineers and crew members designed features to protect drivers under the most extreme conditions (and NASCAR has seen some very extreme conditions). That same engineering saved Austin Dillon’s life in July, and they could save yours in even the mildest collision.
1. Fuel Cells
Most people think fuel cells and relate it to something in science fiction, but fuel cells are nothing more than gas tanks, and they’ve come a long way. Until 1964, fuel cells were just welded metal containers that would leak after a crash and risk a fire or explosion. But when was the last time you saw a car catch fire after a crash, NASCAR or otherwise? Fuel cells are now reinforced with a rubber bladder and foam to absorb the shock of a crash and reduce the chance of leaks. After a series of fires from races in the early 60s, the metal gas tanks of the past were finally obsolete.
Blowouts were another issue plaguing drivers in the 1960s. They were even causing fatalities at high speeds, so designers at Goodyear went to work on an internal lining that would protect the walls of a tire and prevent blowouts at high speeds and during sharp turns. That same technology is now standard in even the cheapest tires we buy at the body shop and save possibly thousands of lives every year.
3. Better Seats
Your mid-size sedan may not have standard racing seats, but the comforts you take for granted started in racing. After NASCAR figured out how to make fuel cells and tires safer, they turned efforts to better seats. Drivers were experiencing terrible whiplash during collisions, and the mandatory padded head rest was born in the 70s and 80s (where it was greatly improved). Even the smallest fender bender can leave your neck in pain for weeks, and much of that is avoided with a simple head rest.
4. Crumple Zones
Baby boomers and older generations look back on the “golden age” of cars that were made with “real American steel” and not “plastic from China.” There’s no doubt that American classic cars are some of the most beautiful machines ever engineered, but they also got drivers killed.
“Crumple zones” are areas of the vehicle that classic car enthusiasts might label as cheap because its designed to, as the name suggests, crumple upon impact, absorbing as much shock as possible to protect the driver. NASCAR stock cars are surrounded by crumple zones to absorb high-impact crashes, and regular cars on the road use the same technology.
source: Social Monsters
Autumn is here and the nation is cooling off. We’re falling off Daylight Savings Time (except in Arizona, Hawaii and most U.S. Territories), so it’s getting darker sooner, too. While many of us welcome cooler weather, you need to adjust your driving behavior and make sure your teen drivers are doing the same. Winter brings pretty much all the dangerous conditions for the roads: ice, sleet and snow. Throw in holiday shopping traffic and it’s quite a challenging mix.
Talk About Cold Weather Driving with Your Teens
Driving in cold weather is an experience that can’t be easily replicated, so you need to have a serious conversation with the younger drivers in your home.
You have already discussed the dangers posed by distractions, speeding and alcohol with your teens, but now it’s time to discuss the challenges posed by the end of Daylight Savings. Remind them that driving in the dark requires more concentration to see what’s out there and because roads start to freeze over when the sun goes down.
- They must drive more slowly when roads are icy or wet.
- Everyone must wear seat belts.
- Apply brakes sooner and more gently in icy conditions.
- Put more distance between the car and the vehicle in front of it.
- If they start to spin or slide, turn the wheel into the direction the car is going. It doesn’t sound right, but it’s the only way to get the car to straighten out.
Look Over Your Car With Your Teens
Before you take the car in for a seasonal tuneup, check it over yourself with your teens. DriveTime suggests a few basic things to review:
- Check wiper blades, which degrade more quickly in hot weather.
- Test your heater and defroster.
- Make sure there’s enough antifreeze.
- Verify all the lights are working, particularly backup and brake lights.
- Perform some basic battery and tire maintenance.
Once you have an idea about the shape your car is in and have done whatever maintenance you can on your own, schedule an oil change and tire rotation. Most shops do free checks on larger systems as well. Then show your kids the bill, so they understand the expenses associated with car maintenance.
Put Together a Car Emergency Kit
You should have basic emergency tools in your vehicle, even if you only drive locally. While you can buy kits online or at auto part stores, they often include items you have at home, such as a blanket, waterproof rain jacket, drinking water, duct tape, tools and flashlights. DMV.org lists 30 items you can easily put in a milk crate or sturdy box and put in your trunk. Buy items you don’t have at home, including charger cables, towing ropes, light sticks, emergency triangles and emergency instructions (you can download these from sites like the Red Cross and Popular Mechanics).
Review your first aid kit. If you haven’t checked yours since last year, pull it out and replace items that have frayed, melted or expired. Or buy one of our auto emergency kits for your teen driver today!
Source: Social Monsters
Eighty-four percent of vehicles on the road need parts or servicing, according to a 2014 Car Care Council survey. Performing routine maintenance checks on your car is the best way to avoid these issues and make sure you and your family stay safe on the road. Here is a checklist of some of the most important maintenance items you should maintain to keep your car safe.
Maintaining your car’s braking system is the most vital part of keeping your vehicle safe, says Autos.com, which provides a comprehensive safety maintenance checklist. Bad brakes can cause you to slide into a car in front of you, into an intersection or off the road. You can do a simple check of your brakes by pumping them several times with the engine off until you feel the pedal become firm. You should be able to hold the pedal for 10 seconds without feeling movement. If you feel movement or softness, get your brakes checked.
Keeping your tires in good shape is vital to maintaining control of your vehicle on the road. Bad tires can cause you to skid or swerve, which can be especially dangerous in bad weather.
Begin your tire inspiration by checking the sidewalls for nicks or bulges. If your tires are worn, they need to be replaced. Finally, check the pressure with a gauge and inflate if necessary. Check your tires once a month or before you go on a long trip, and replace them at least once every 10 years.
3) Lights and Signals
Your lights and signals let other drivers know where you are and where you’re going. If these indicators are not working, another driver might not realize you’re about to turn, or they might miss you in the dark. A comprehensive check of your lights and signals should include your brake lights, front and rear blinkers, front and rear hazard flashers, rear reverse lights, side marker lights, and high and low beam headlights.
Maintaining proper fluid levels will help you avoid mechanical problems. It will also keep you from getting stranded, which can become a safety issue in bad weather or driving in the desert. A general inspection of your fluid levels should cover your brake fluid, engine oil, engine coolant, transmission fluid and power steering fluid.
5) Electrical and Safety Systems
Checking your instrument panel can give you an early warning of issues such as engine problems. Check to make sure no warning lights are on, such as lights to check your engine or airbags. Make sure all dash and accessory lights work properly. You should also check safety features, which include your seatbelts and horn. If you have a small child, check the car seat.
6) Engine Issues and Other Items
The checklist covers the most essential safety maintenance items, but there are a number of other issues that come up periodically. For instance, if your engine isn’t running properly, you might need to pop the hood to give it a look. Items you can glance at include your radiator, belts, hoses and spark plug wires, among others. Occasionally, engine valves may need maintenance. Most valves use nitrile-based seals. These can become brittle from long-term overheating, causing problems such as low lubrication or flooding. Eric the Car Guy demonstrates how you can do a compression test to check the condition of your valves. It’s a good way to get a baseline of the mechanical health of your engine.
Source: Ruth Ann Monti/Social Monsters. Ruth Ann provides copywriting and content development for all things webby. Her interests include content development and SEO topics and small business issues, including technologies that support them.
For Donna Uzzi, the tragic death of her son, Anthony, in a car accident that flipped the vehicle into a canal, was a wake-up call to the threat of getting trapped in a car. Car entrapment in a submerged vehicle is a serious threat, however, it doesn’t get much attention. Whether it’s due to flood or car accident, seconds count when it comes to escaping your vehicle. As the anniversary of Anthony Almonte’s memorial approaches, we’d like to touch on the importance of sharing awareness about car entrapment and driver safety. Share this article with someone you love and get the word out.
In the fall of 2009, Anthony, 17, was in the car with friends. While on the main road, the boys were involved in a car accident and hit a guard rail causing the posts to collapse and act as a ramp, which in turn, helped flip the car into the water of the canal. The car wound up upside down in the water. Only one of the boys was able to get out. The other three, including Anthony, were not saved in time.
“Before this accident, it never occurred to me that it would be so difficult to get out of your car when it’s under water,” Donna Uzzi said. “I am amazed how little people think of the possibility when it happens so often. Now I notice so many canals that are not properly protected by guard rails.”
Wanting to honor her son and prevent another parent from ever experiencing her same pain, Uzzi started Think First For Safety Corp. In this video, she shares with the audience the experience of what it is like to be trapped in a car and how difficult it is to maneuver in the dark.
Uzzi believes the resqme tool can help with her cause of not only spreading the world about submerged vehicle entrapment, but saving people’s lives if they find their selves in similar situations. “[The emergency response team ] ended up having to break the windows,” she said. “I know they ended up having to call for knives to cut the seatbelts.”
Despite the pain, Uzzi believes there is something valuable the public can learn from her son’s death. She continues to educate the community about teen driver safety awareness and safety on the road, in general.
“We all need to THINK, Together we can Help Inspire Necessary Knowledge,” said Uzzi. “Educate ourselves and save our loved ones. It is now my personal mission to make sure everyone has a resqme and knows what to do if they should ever find themselves trapped in a car.”
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Finally, share this article with someone and let’s get the word out about submerged vehicle entrapment and make safety your priority.
It’s widely known that speeding, drink-driving and failing to wear a seatbelt are all highly dangerous when behind the wheel, but just as potentially lethal is the failure of drivers to give their full attention to the road. Drivers who become distracted pose a danger not just to themselves, but to pedestrians and other road users, and with the rise of smartphones, people are becoming further inclined to take their focus away from where it should be.
Every year, more than 1.2 million people around the world are killed in car crashes or road traffic incidents. Did you know that driver behavior is responsible for nearly 90 percent of such crashes? Or that road traffic fatalities are projected to become a more common cause of death than HIV/AIDS, violence or all forms of cancer?
This infographic by Southside Motor Factors identifies the main categories of distracted driving, while pinpointing 8 common reasons as to why drivers dangerously divert their attention from the road – reasons such as 1) eating or drinking 2) changing the song on their iPod 3)taking a phone call 4) texting 5) applying cosmetics 6) sleeping 7) checking their social media profiles 8) and even slowing down to check out another accident.
The infographic is intended to call our attention to the factors that affect our attention while driving. If you are guilty of any of these distractions, or if you continue to engage in some of them, hopefully it will make you realize just how dangerous it can be. It’s better to lose one second of your life than to lose your life in one second.
Source: Southside Motor Factors
By Laurent Colasse, founder and president of resqme, Inc.
As their memorial anniversary approaches, we at resqme, Inc. remember college softball athletes Ashley Neufeld, 21, and two of her teammates, Kyrstin Gemar and Afton Williamson, who went on a late-night stargazing adventure in their SUV, Nov. 1, 2009, only to crash into a farm pond in Stark County, North Dakota. Tragically, Ashley, her teammates and her dog were unable to escape when the car was submerged in water, cutting short the lives of these talented young women.
In the wake of Ashley’s fatal accident years ago, we partnered with the Neufeld family to raise funds with our resqme 2-in-1 keychain rescue tool. Over the years, the Neufeld’s have been a source of inspiration and strength and I had the pleasure of visiting them again on my recent trip to Canada.
I traveled the road west of Winnipeg to Brandon to visit the friends whose cause is very dear to my heart. Phil and Bev Neufeld are the surviving parents of Ashley Neufeld, who died in 2009, along with two friends when their SUV crashed into a farm pond in Stark County, North Dakota. Ashley was 21 and a student at North Dakota’s Dickinson State University. As I drove the long, flat road crossing a bunch of agricole fields from Winnipeg to the Neufeld’s in Brandon, Canada, I recalled our work with the Ashley Neufeld Memorial Fund – a cooperative effort with her parents to prevent tragedies like this from happening to other families. Resqme tools emblazoned with the logo of Ashley’s memorial fund have raised more than $50,000 for the Fund’s causes and helped save the lives of others in danger of vehicle entrapment.
I was greeted warmly by the Neufeld’s and their son, Jeff. Ashley was a gifted softball athlete, so we went to see the progress of the new softball field being constructed in Brandon in part through funds from resqme sales imprinted with Ashley’s name. This softball park will be named under Ashley Neufeld in memory of her love for this sport. After a fine dinner at Blu restaurant, whose owner has been particularly supportive of the Neufeld’s cause, we returned to their home where I visited Ashley’s bedroom – everything has remained the same as she left it years ago. Her room was beautifully decorated in green colors with dark blue stripes and it was full of pictures of herself playing softball for Dickinson State University. A black metal chest was sitting on the floor, and on top of it was a wood box with a picture of Ashley with her dog, Easton, engraved with the year she was born and the year she died. Inside the box remain her ashes until the softball field is completed.
Phil and Bev’s intentions are to erect a granite memorial at the entry to the field, in which a portion of Ashley’s ashes will rest. I offered to have the resqme foundation participate in this project by funding the cost of the monument. We chatted for a little while longer and I went to rest and reflect on an emotional day. The next morning, I was treated to Bev’s home-cooked breakfast and we visited Brandon’s sport outlet – this was the store where resqme tool sales in the community started in 2009 and continue today, selling to benefit the Ashley Neufeld Memorial Fund.
Returning to my sweet home in Santa Barbara I’m struck at how this trip has been an amazing experience full of intense emotions and I realize how fortunate I am to meet such wonderful people in a short period of time. They said that I have changed their life since they’ve known me, but equally, they have changed mine. And I am grateful to somehow help make a difference in others’ lives.