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Safety Tips

Airbag Safety

Widespread Misuse of Airbag On-Off Switches

Airbag switches are often misused, needlessly endangering children and depriving adults of life-saving protection according to a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey.

According to the survey more than 12 million pickup trucks and a smaller number of passenger cars and cargo vans, without rear seats, are equipped with airbag on-off switches. Proper use of the switches requires drivers to turn the airbag off for children 12 and under but activate it when an adult occupies the passenger seat. The survey found:

  • 86% of the drivers with children in rear-facing child safety seats achieved the highest rate of correct use of the airbag switch.
  • On average, 48% of airbag switches were incorrectly left on for child passengers, aged 12 and under.
  • Airbag switches were incorrectly turned off 17% percent of the time with teenage and adult passengers.

To download and review the full technical report go to

Car Safety

Preparing for Snow

Heavy snow and icy conditions can leave you stranded. It’s a good idea to have a  “Car Kit” to deal with routine and emergency driving situations.

Supplies in the kit should include:

  • Metal can or cup to melt snow
  • Candles (use these to melt snow in your cup)
  • Waterproof matches
  • Extra antifreeze, motor oil and windshield wiper fluid
  • Extra clothing
  • First aid kit
  • Heavy blanket or sleeping bag
  • Jumper cables and drive belts
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Large flashlight (don't forget new batteries)
  • Nonperishable foods and bottled water
  • Signal flares
  • Road salt (for melting snow or ice)
  • Small bag of sand or cat litter
  • Snow shovel
  • Spare tire
  • Car phone, cell phone or citizen's band radio

Keep your gas tank full. You don't want to run out of fuel during weather related snags in traffic, or if you must pull off the road. Keeping a full tank of gas can also help prevent water from condensing inside the tank.

Cell Phone Safety

Do You Have a Cell Phone?

You’re probably wondering how you ever survived without one. There are over 80 million cell phone users in the United States. Although cell phones are a convenience, it has been proven that they are a cause for an increasing number of automobile accidents. This fact has many states revising their laws on the use of cell phones while operating a vehicle. Here are a few tips:

  • Purchase a hands-free attachment for your phone.
  • Place calls only when your vehicle is stopped. That way you can give full attention to your surroundings if conditions become hazardous.
  • Memorize the keypad and features on your phone. If there is an emergency and you cannot pull over, you may be able to use the phone without taking your eyes off the road.

Your state laws may prohibit the use of hand held phones while driving. Check with your local authorities for cell phone laws that may affect you.

Child Air Bag Safety

Inflated airbags have saved thousands of lives and prevented many serious injuries, but in some instances they may cause injury or death. Often this occurs when someone is on top of, or very close to, an airbag as it begins to inflate. Infants in rear-facing restraints and unbelted or unrestrained children in the front seats of vehicles with passenger airbags are at great risk. Review the following “Do’s and Don'ts.”

  • DO put children in the back seat and use the appropriate restraints for their size as required by state law.
  • DO make sure the restraint is tightly secured with a safety belt and the child is buckled snugly in the restraint according to its instructions.
  • DO place specially made head support pads around an infant's head to keep it from moving from side to side.
  • DO use a booster seat for toddlers who have outgrown child restraints and can use the adult lap/shoulder belts in your vehicle.
  • DO make sure older children ride restrained in a back seat.
  • DON’T put the safety belt shoulder portion behind a child or under the arm.
  • DON’T put an infant in a rear-facing restraint in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger air bag.
For more information on child safety go to and search child safety.

Deer Safety

A collision with a deer may result in more than damage to your car, it could cause you serious injury or even death. With over 500,000 auto accidents involving deer each year, this is a serious driving hazard. And since deer live in both rural and urban environments, you may encounter them when you least expect it.

Take steps to reduce your chances of a deer collision:

  • Drive with caution during the low-light conditions of morning and evening when deer are most likely to cross roadways.
  • Heed deer crossing signs by reducing your speed and keeping alert.
  • Remember that deer often travel in groups. If a deer bolts across the road ahead of you, other deer may follow it.
  • Use your high beams when possible to aid you in spotting deer on either side of the road way.
  • If a collision is unavoidable apply your brakes, but resist the urge to swerve. Your effort to miss the deer in front of you could put you at an even greater risk of injury or death if you strike another vehicle or a tree.

Flash Floods

It is raining heavily as you drive toward home. Up ahead you can see that the small stream you pass each day has overflowed its banks and is running over the roadway. It's a flash flood. It doesn't look like the water is very deep—should you drive through?

No! You should not attempt to drive your vehicle through running water. It is difficult to judge the depth of running water, especially when it is muddy. What if the pavement has been washed away underneath? According to the National Weather Service, cars and light trucks will float in as little as one to two feet of water. Even if the water is not deep enough or fast enough to cause problems, attempting to drive through could stall your engine and leave you trapped.

Don't let a minor inconvenience become a life threatening situation. If you encounter a flash flood, play it safe by seeking an alternate route to your destination.

Winter Driving Tips

Driving Winter Roads – Winter driving takes patience, care and planning. By accepting that winter driving is not like driving during other times of the year, you’ll minimize your frustration for the worst that winter has to offer and increase your chances for safe travel. Remember the following:

  • Slow down
  • Leave plenty of distance between your car and others. Safe braking distances are much longer on slick roads.
  • Conditions may be icier on bridges and overpasses, so approach with caution.
  • Keep your headlights on to make your car more visible to others.
  • Use caution when approaching intersections, as other drivers may be unable to stop.
  • Brush snow from the top of your car so that it doesn’t obscure the view of other drivers.
  • Avoid sudden braking, turning, accelerating and lane changes.
  • Clear ice and snow from all of your vehicle’s windows and lights before driving.
  • Do not use cruise control; cruise control settings are for roads in normal conditions.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.

What to Do When Skidding – Try not to panic. Abrupt steering or braking will make things more dangerous. Skids occur when the car's speed overcomes tire traction. If you do not have anti-lock brakes, gently pump your brakes until the car slows down and the ability to steer is regained. If you do have anti-lock brakes, apply steady pressure until control is regained. If you are able, try to steer your car in the same direction in which you’re skidding.

Winter Car Care Tips

In various parts of the country, the winter season can cause problems when you’re driving. Preparing for hazards such as sleet, snowstorms and freezing temperatures can keep you safe while enjoying, or enduring, the winter months.

Preparing your car – When driving in severe winter weather areas, your car needs extra care. You and your qualified mechanic should inspect the following:

  • Oil - Your car may need different oil for winter conditions. Check with your mechanic for a recommendation.
  • Battery - Be sure the terminals are clean and in good condition.
  • Tires - Check tread wear, alignment and traction. Winter tread tires provide greater traction.
  • Brakes - Inspect for wear and proper fluid level.
  • Radiator and coolant system - Your defroster is crucial in maximizing visibility. Make sure both systems are working properly.
  • All fluid levels - Keep all fluids at recommended levels and check them frequently.
  • Hoses, clamps and belts - Check for wear and looseness.
  • Wipers - Be sure they are working properly for maximum visibility.

Conduct periodic checks on all of these items to ensure the safety and comfort of you and your passengers during the winter season.