Each day, more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 people are injured in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver. Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving; these activities can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual—taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual—taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive—taking your mind off what you are doing.
Distracted driving activities include things like using a cell phone, texting, and eating. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.
How big is the problem?
- In 2009, more than 5,400 people died in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver and about 448,000 people were injured.
- Among those killed or injured in these crashes, nearly 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries included cell phone use as the major distraction.
- The proportion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of a fatal crash has increased from 7 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2009.
- When asked whether driving feels safer, less safe, or about the same as it did five years ago, more than 1 in 3 drivers say driving feels less safe today. Distracted driving—cited by 3 out of 10 of these drivers—was the single most common reason given for feeling less safe today.
- A recent CDC analysis examined the frequency of two major distractions—cell phone use and texting—among drivers in the United States.
Results of the analysis included the following findings:
- Cell phone use while driving:
- 25% of drivers in the United States reported that they “regularly or fairly often” talk on their cell phones while driving.
- 75% of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 29 reported that they talked on their cell phone while driving at least once in the past 30 days, and nearly 40% reported that they talk on their cell phone “regularly” or “fairly often” while driving.
- Texting or e-mailing while driving:
- 9% of drivers in the United States reported texting or e-mailing “regularly or fairly often” while driving.
- 52% of U.S. drivers ages 18-29 reported texting or e-mailing while driving at least once in the last 30 days, and more than a quarter report texting or e-mailing “regularly” or “fairly often” while driving.
What are the risk factors?
Some activities—such as texting—take the driver’s attention away from driving more frequently and for longer periods than other distractions.
Younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20 may be at highest risk because they have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
How can distracted driving be prevented?
- Many states are enacting laws—such as banning texting while driving—or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to keep it from occurring.
- On September 30, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or with government equipment.
- On October 27, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.
For more information about distracted driving, visit http://www.distraction.gov/ or http://www.iihs.org/research/topics/cell_phones.html.
Everyone has their bad habits. Many drivers might have a host of bad habits but not even know it. Unfortunately, bad driving habits are not only detrimental to a vehicle, but they could be costing drivers money as well. The following are some of the more common poor habits that, if corrected, can add years to a vehicle’s life and dollars in your pocket.
Running on Empty
Fuel costs are still considerable, and many drivers try to squeeze every last drop out of their tanks before returning to the filling station. While it might feel good to get an extra day’s worth of driving out of a tank of gas, the toll that running on empty takes on the rest of the vehicle is a hefty one indeed. The sediment from gasoline settles at the bottom of the gas tank, and when gas levels run low, the car must use the dirtiest gas it has as fuel. As that happens, the sediment that would otherwise remain at the bottom of the tank instead gets into the car’s fuel line and even its engine. The fuel filter likely won’t catch all of this dirt, and the engine will therefore be taxed unnecessarily just so drivers can go an extra day before filling up. In addition, the fuel filter’s life span will shorten, forcing drivers to replace it sooner than they would need to if they simply kept more than the bare minimum intheir gas tank at all times.
Stopping and Starting
For some drivers, such as those who live in cities, constant stopping and starting is unavoidable. For others, however, this stopping and starting needs to be avoided at all costs. Drivers who enjoy accelerating and then quickly stopping between stoplights might like the adrenaline rush such driving provides, but their engines certainly don’t appreciate it. Frequently flooring the gas pedal is wasting expensive gas and putting a heavy strain on the engine. And all those quick stops is taxing the car’s brakes, greatly reducing their life expectancy. Instead of stopping and starting, smoothly accelerate and anticipate stops. The engine will appreciate it and so will your wallet.
Revving the Engine
Revving the engine is a pointless habit and potentially very harmful to a vehicle. This is especially true when a vehicle has just been started and the engine hasn’t had the chance to warm up. Revving the engine while it’s still cold means the vehicle’s oil is still down in the oil pan and none of the engine’s parts have yet been lubricated. This is certain to damage the engine significantly, and eventually, if revving is part of a driver’s routine, it is going to force an engine replacement, a costly repair if there ever was one. Let the engine wake up and put an end to pointless revving
The sweltering summer weather we’ve been experiencing can take a toll on your vehicle. Here are some tips to follow to help keep your car running smoothly during the heat.
Protect your battery. High temps can negatively impact your car’s battery even more than the bitter cold. Heat and vibration are a battery’s worst enemies leading to internal breakdown and failure. A potential problem is faster evaporation of the battery fluid, leading to corrosion on terminals and connections. Properly clean any corrosive build up from the battery terminals and cables clamps, and ensure the clamps are tight enough that they will not move. Drivers should also be sure their battery is securely mounted in place to minimize vibration.
Keep your vehicle hydrated. Engine fluids are essential to keeping a vehicle running smoothly. Fluids lubricate and serve as additional coolant by helping carry heat away from critical components. When fluid levels are low, the cooling effects are reduced and the possibility of overheating increases. Drivers should check all vehicle fluids including motor oil, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid to ensure they are filled to the appropriate levels. If any fluids need to be topped off, make sure to use the type of fluid specified in the owner’s manual.
Keep your engine cool. Improper cooling system maintenance can lead to boil over and long-term damage. Your engine works extra hard in the summer and it’s the cooling system’s job to protect it from overheating. Over time engine coolant becomes contaminated and its protective additives are depleted. Make sure the coolant is filled to the proper level by checking the overflow reservoir. If necessary, top off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and the coolant type specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Remember – never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot – boiling coolant under pressure can cause serious burns.
Check your air conditioning. Maintaining a comfortable driving environment reduces fatigue and plays an important role in driver attention and vehicle safety. During extreme summer heat, a properly operating air conditioning system can mean more than just a pleasant ride. If your vehicle’s air conditioning is not maintaining the interior temperature as well as it did in the past, it may mean the refrigerant level is low. Many automotive climate control systems today are equipped with a cabin filter that prevents outside debris from entering. If present, this filter should be inspected and replaced as needed to ensure maximum airflow and cooling during the summer months.
Avoid under-inflated tires. Driving on under-inflated tires not only affects the handling and braking of a vehicle, it also can cause overheating; increasing the likelihood of a blowout. This problem becomes even more of a concern when road temperatures are extremely high. Tires should be checked when the car has not been driven recently, and they should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—not the number molded into the tire sidewall. Recommended tire pressures can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker normally located inside the driver’s door.
Like cars? Looking for a family friendly, fun event? This Saturday, July 16 marks the 3rd annual Car Show and Block Party in Downtown Farmington. Bring the entire family and hang out – there will be plenty to do including a car show, art expo, inflatables for the kids, music, food and drink, shopping, fire dancing, and more! All events, including the car show are free to attend. Events start at 4 p.m. at Oak & Third Street.
The car show is free to enter. All cars, makes and models, are welcome, no preregistration is necessary. Awards will be given in a variety of categories. The first 125 cars will also receive a free dash plaque.
For more information, visit www.farmingtoncarshow.com. See you at the party!
Summer is in full force! With the wonderful, warm sunshine comes sun glare. Drivers usually encounter sun glare while driving in the morning or evening as the sun rises and sets.
Here are some tips to for preventing sun glare from becoming a hazard while you’re driving:
- Delay driving times to occur before or after sunrise or sunset.
- Use polarized sunglasses that can help prevent glare.
- Do not use high-gloss products on the dashboard, which can contribute to extra glare.
- Keep the inside and outside of the windshield clean.
- Make use of sun visors.
- If glare is a problem, leave extra space between your car and others in the event of sudden stopping or other road hazards.
- Drive slowly and be mindful of obstructions.
- Try taking another route that goes in a different direction than the one from which the sun is shining.
- Leave extra time so that you don’t feel rushed getting to your destination.
- Eye exams or surgery can make eyes more sensitive to the sunlight. Avoid driving after these appointments.
Learn all about soybeans at the MN Soybean Festival this Saturday, May 21 in Downtown Farmington. Events start at Noon.
This weekend marks the 2nd annual Minnesota Soybean Festival held in Downtown Farmington. This event, to be held on Saturday, May 21, celebrates the soybean, and features hayrides, live music, parade, vendors, fair food, beer garden, historical exhibits and more!
In the spirit of the Minnesota Soybean Festival, we’d like to educate you on one specific use of soybeans – biodiesel.
Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resourcesÂ such as plant oils, animal fats, used cooking oil.Â Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel blends can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.
Benefits of Biodiesel:
- Biodiesel reduces U.S. dependence on petroleum imports and increases domestic jobs.
- Biodiesel can be used in most existing diesel engines in blends up to 20 percent.
- Biodiesel made from soybeans only uses the oil portion (19%), leaving the protein to nourish livestock and humans.
- Soy-based biodiesel complements and enhances production of renewable fuels from other oils.
- Fuel that is 20 percent biodiesel reduces total hydrocarbons by up to 30 percent, carbon monoxide by up to 20 percent and total particulate matter up to 15 percent.
For further information about this weekend’s festival, visit www.mnsoybeanfestival.org.Â For more information on biodiesel in the great state of Minnesota, visit www.mnbiodiesel.com.
Put those snow brushes and scrapers away – Spring is finally here!Â Just like your house may need a spring cleaning, your car may need a spring tune-up. Cars take a lot of abuse in our Minnesota winters.
Schedule a Spring tune-up today and let Rambling River Repair identify opportunities for you to improve your vehicle’s gas mileage, enhance performance, increase safety and reduce emissions.
- Keep the battery clean: changes in temperature can put a stress on many parts of your car, including your battery. If you want your car to be ready for spring, then make sure your battery is clean.
- Check tire pressure regularly: The change of temperature can cause your tires to be improperly inflated. If you want to keep your car in good condition and not have to replace all of your tires due to uneven wear, make sure you check your tire pressure regularly.
- Keep fluids full. Heat can do bad things to cars, so making sure your radiator is full, and your other fluid tanks are all topped off and with clean fluids, can be very beneficial to your car.
- Regularly check belts and hoses: Changes in temperature can cause belts and hoses to bulge, crack, and have other problems.
- Check your windshield wipers: Wiper blades play an extremely important role in increasing visibility. Replace every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering.
- Give your vehicle a good wash: Use a product specifically made for automobiles. Always clean the tires and wheels before washing the body, and don’t use the same mitt for both. Make sure to give the underbody of the vehicle a good washing as well to remove salt, sand and dirt that causes corrosion.
Many truck or large vehicle owners are feeling the burn at the pump with high fuel prices. To cope, there are several things you can do to save gas money now while driving your gas guzzler:
- You can increase your gas mileage up to 10 percent by ensuring your oil, air and fuel filters are clean.
- Fill up with the lowest octane gasoline possible for your vehicle. That pricey premium fuel won’t boost your truck’s fuel economy or performance.
- Check your tires to make sure they’re properly inflated and aligned.
- A truck bed cover, also known as a tonneau cover, will reduce drag, making your vehicle more aerodynamic at high speeds.
At the Garage: Maintain Your Car
â€¢ Keep your engine tuned. Tuning your engine according to your ownerâ€™s manual can increase gas mileage by an average of four percent. Increases vary depending on a carâ€™s condition. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage as much as 40%.
â€¢ Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned. It can increase gas mileage up to three percent. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
â€¢ Change your oil. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you can improve your gas mileage by using the manufacturerâ€™s recommended grade of motor oil. Motor oil that says â€œEnergy Conservingâ€ on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.
Gas prices are rising, and if what the experts say is true, we will be paying over $4 per gallon this summer.Â With the hike in gas prices, we at Rambling River Repair thought it would be helpful to share some tips to help get the most gas mileage out of your automobile (thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy).
Driving More Efficiently
â€¢Â Stay within posted speed limits. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour.
â€¢ Stop aggressive driving. You can improve your gas mileage up to five percent around town if you avoid â€œjackrabbitâ€ starts and stops by anticipating traffic conditions and driving gently.
â€¢ Avoid unnecessary idling. It wastes fuel, costs you money, and pollutes the air. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a wait.
â€¢ Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
â€¢ Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate. They improve the fuel economy of your car when youâ€™re driving on a highway.
â€¢ Remove excess weight from the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce a typical carâ€™s fuel economy by up to two percent.
â€¢ Avoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by five percent.