Posts

Spring and Summer Safety Tips for Teen Drivers

When there’s great weather in Wisconsin, everyone wants to go for a drive — especially newly licensed teens. If you’re a teen or the parent of a teen, it’s important to know the rules of the road along with some additional safety tips that can help inexperienced drivers prevent accidents.

Westway Auto Body wishes you a fun and safe summer of driving with these important safe driving ideas for teens.

Buckle up

Wearing a seatbelt is usually the first safety rule that comes to mind while driving, but many teens will skip it instead of clicking it. There is a myth that seatbelts might cause more harm in an accident, especially for back seat passengers — but the fact is that seatbelts save lives.

Important statistic: 60 percent of fatal accidents for 16- to 20-year-olds involve the victims not wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision.

Put the phone away

Both talking and texting on a cell phone while driving are highly distracting, especially for inexperienced drivers. Keep in mind that if someone calls or texts you while you’re driving, it’s not important enough to get injured or die for. You can wait to answer until you’ve stopped.

Important statistic: Distraction kills 11 percent of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal accidents.

It’s a speed “limit” for a reason

Many young adults feel the impulsive need to speed, or simply don’t pay attention to how fast they’re going. But following the speed limit is vital — even if your speeding doesn’t cause an accident, another driver may make a mistake and you won’t be able to slow down to avoid a collision.

Important statistic: 37 percent of male drivers between the ages of 10 and 20 involved in fatal accidents were speeding.

Never drink and drive

Alcohol impairs your ability to react, even if you “just” have one drink. And alcohol even in small amounts affects teens more quickly and stronger than it does adults. In addition, the legal blood alcohol limit for teen drivers is zero percent — so if you manage to avoid an accident, but get pulled over, you’ll be facing stiff fines and jail time.

Important statistic: One out of every three fatal accidents involves a driver who is alcohol impaired.

Limit your passengers

In the summer especially, the temptation is strong to pile all of your friends in the car and head for fun. The problem is that a car full of teens is a huge distraction for the inexperienced driver — not to mention the urge to “show off” and take risks. Limit the number of teen passengers in your car. The risk of a fatal crash is directly related to that number, and you’ll want both yourself and your friends to arrive alive.

Important statistic: With three or more teen passengers, the fatal crash risk for teen or beginning drivers is 4 times higher than the risk for a solo teen driver.

Restrict your night driving

Driving when you’re tired is dangerous for anyone and especially for an inexperienced driver. Exhaustion can impair your reactions as much as alcohol, and that’s a risk you don’t want to take. Avoid driving long distances at night, or driving home from a very late activity if possible. The later it gets, the more dangerous the drive.

Important statistic: 17 percent of fatal teen crashes in 2010 occurred between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight and 24 percent of them occurred between midnight and 6 a.m.

Spring Driving Hazards to Watch For in Wisconsin

Now that the weather is warmer, Wisconsin drivers have a whole new crop of driving hazards to watch out for. Safe driving practices should be followed year round — not just in the winter! Here at Westway Auto Body, we’d like to share these tips for safe spring driving in Wisconsin that will help protect you and your vehicle.

Rain

You may feel safer with the slippery snow and slush of winter behind you, but it’s important to remember that rain can be just as dangerous. In fact, rain is the cause of nearly half of all weather-related accidents. Spring rains in particular can make for slippery roads, thanks to oil and other fluids that leak from winter-damaged vehicles. There’s also usually more rain for a longer time in the spring, which can lead to puddles and standing water that cause hydroplaning, especially if your tires aren’t in great shape.

Potholes

After several months of extreme temperatures, the spring thaw can leave potholes behind. Hitting potholes at high speeds can do a number on your tires and hubcaps, undercarriage, axles, mufflers and shocks, not to mention your nerves. The best strategy is to stay alert and avoid hitting potholes all together. If that’s not possible, you should safely slow down when approaching, and roll through the pothole rather than braking rapidly.

Animals

During the spring, animals become more active and you’re apt to see a lot more of them crossing the road. Hitting an animal is not only distressing, it can be very damaging to your car, especially in Wisconsin where you might hit a deer or even a bear crossing the road. Be alert for animals while driving, particularly at dawn and dusk when they are most active. If you see one, make sure to brake safely by checking rearview mirrors and coming to a complete stop if needed. Avoid swerving, which causes the most animal-related accidents.

Bikes and motorcycles

Nice weather is also a time when more people in Wisconsin are out riding bikes and motorcycles. Be aware and alert to riders and remember that your vehicle can’t stop as fast as a lighter motorcycle or bike so don’t tailgate these riders.

Keep your vehicle safe this spring

Two of the most important components you should check on after the winter are your wipers and your tires. Windshield wipers wear down through the winter and are not likely to be able to keep your windshield clear when it’s raining, so get them replaced as soon as possible. You should also check your tires for good tread and proper inflation, which decreases the risk of hydroplaning in wet weather, makes it easier to stop suddenly, and can even improve your gas mileage.

Happy spring and safe driving from Westway Auto Body!

Storm to Hit WI Thursday: Tips for Safe Driving in Harsh Weather

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for a big chunk of Wisconsin for Thursday. According to the warning, the storm is expected to start as rain and turn to snow along the lakeshore. It is expected to hit all counties in the WISN 12 viewing area except for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties sometime between midnight Wednesday and midnight Thursday.

With such a severe storm on the horizon, it is important to pay close attention to the roads and to take extra caution when driving. Along with major snow storms come treacherous road conditions and an increased risk for car accidents.

If you will be driving between midnight Wednesday and midnight Thursday, here are some safe driving tips to help you get to and from your destination safely:

  • Check your tires: You should check your tire pressure and upgrade your tires before the snow storm hits to ensure you are protected. Once the snow starts falling, put on your chains.
  • Increase your visibility: Before driving, make sure to completely remove the snow from your vehicle’s windows and from the roof to make sure you can see as clearly as possible.
  • Keep your lights on: Turn your lights on so other drivers can see you coming.
  • Drive slowly: Be extra careful while driving in a severe storm. Rain and ice increase the risk for skidding and harsh weather makes it difficult to see cars ahead. This can be a deadly combination if you are driving too fast.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle ahead: A good rule of thumb when driving in snowy conditions is to leave at least three times more space between you and the car in front of you; this will allow you to stop safely.
  • Avoid distractions: Driving in harsh weather conditions is difficult and takes full attention. Avoid distractions such as talking on a hand held cell phone, sending or receiving text messages or looking at a road map or electronic navigation device.
  • Keep your eyes on the road: The most important thing you can do while driving in severe weather is to pay attention. Keep your eyes on the road and pay attention to debris in the road and other vehicles.
  • If your rear wheels skid while you are driving, take your foot off the accelerator and steer the vehicle in the direction that it is sliding. If, for example, your back wheels are sliding left, steer left. As you recover, if the wheels start to slide the other way, slowly steer the wheel into that direction.
  • If your vehicle gets stuck, do not spin your wheels; that will only make matters worse. Turn your wheels to the right and then to the left a couple of times to push some of the snow out of the way. Lightly press the gas to ease your vehicle out of the snow. You can also try pouring sand, salt or kitty litter in the path to gain traction.

With the first storm of the year expected to hit Wisconsin this week, it is important to pay attention to the roads and to make sure your vehicle is safe.

Sources: