Safe Driving Tips for Road Trips

long roadSummer is here and with it come road trips, everything you need to be safe lies here within this article.  We have taken toll of all the most important things to look for and what tips we can give you to ensure that you are safe.

  1. Be practical, when you know that you will spend some time in the car keep some useful items in there such as plastic forks and knives, napkins and wipes for when you eat in the car along the way.
  2. Stock up on snacks, when you stop at rest stops you might be charged more and your options will be more limited, not to mention not the healthiest choice.  This way you can get what you want when you want it.
  3. Stop often, when you see rest stops you should really try to stop and use the restroom the reason for this is because it is very dangerous to drive with a full bladder, if you get into an accident and you have a full bladder and get into an accident it can explode.
  4. GET AAA. With just a phone call you can get roadside assistance 24 hours a day.
  5. Do not let your gas tank get to empty, when your car is running low on gas your engine inhales all of the toxins and waste, pollution that is found along the bottom of the gas tank.
  6. Save on gas mileage by driving smoothly, stop sudden starts and stops.
  7. Get your car checked out before you head out.  Take it to your mechanic, get the oils topped off, windshield fluid filled etc.
  8. Keep your valuables out of sight, keep them in the trunk of glove box and do not go into the trunk before walking into a store, if someone is looking to steal from you, this is the perfect opportunity for them to see where you are keeping your valuables.
  9. If you are travelling across state lines, well you might want to be familiar with their local laws, cell use for example is illegal in some states but not in others.
  10. Rental cars have always stood the test of road trips, why put unnecessary miles on your car? Become familiar with this rental car and remember that by the gas gauge there should be an arrow pointing to where the gas tank is for when you go to the gas station.
  11. Map out the route, do not rely only on GPS, they have issues more than not.
  12. Do not drink the night before you go on the road, doing so can lower your defenses and reaction time.  You need to be clear headed when you are out on the road.
  13. When it comes to pulling over only do so when you can safely.  Try to get to the rest stop, stopping on the shoulder is very dangerous so avoid it when possible.
  14. Take occasional rests, get out and stretch your legs, walk around you want to be safe and ensure that you are not tired when you are driving.
  15. Check that your tire pressure is accurate to help your MPG last longer.

When it comes to road trips you want to plan as much as possible.  Plan the route, plan alternate routes, this can be done through GPS and the use of a map. You want to be aware of your surroundings, making sure that you and your loved ones are safe.

Race Car Driving Techniques

Leather Clad RacerWhat differentiates a real driver from the rest is not what super car he or she drives, or what aftermarket parts they have to spruce it up a notch.

It seems to us that there are many race car enthusiast and well, there might be a local track day that could be of particular interest to you.  You may want to pay the $399 and do 8 laps on the MRS Speedway with a BMW M3. If you fall into this category and would be interested in learning tricks from the pros, well, it is a good thing you came across this article.

There are tricks of the trade when it comes to driving on a race track or like a race car driver. There are also rules and regulations and like anything else, when you have too much new information you may get overwhelmed and then when on the track you may go blank and remember only that the right pedal is the gas and the left the brake. What is recommended is to focus each time you go out on the track or on the road one or two of the new techniques shared, this way you can dominate them and really get good at them before embarking on something new.

The truth is that most of us men and women alike think that we are good drivers, but no matter how many dirt roads you have traveled, there is a difference when on a hot asphalt track or road. Good drivers are born with it, they have an ability, although it is true some drivers can be made, by years and years of training which also helps but there is a je nai se quoi that needs to be accounted for a God given gift. However, no matter how good you are you will never be the best unless you practice, practice, practice.

Ask any professional at any sport, they will all say the same thing.  In order to be the best you have to eat, breath and sleep what you love most.  In these articles we will be sharing driving techniques that help you be a better street driver and a better circuit driver.  The key to perfection when it comes to driving is repetition, if you do enough push ups enough days, consistently, you will see how much easier it gets and how great your form is and how effortless it becomes.  Your driving can be like that, effortless, almost like your vehicle is an extension of you.

Lets talk about seating positions:

You may have noticed that some drivers push their seat WAY UP to the steering wheel while others sit WAAAAAY BACK and even lower the backrest to make it even less practical.  If the steering wheel is too close, one of three things might happen.  You will not have enough space for the seat belt to help stop you from smashing into it, also, if you are so close to the steering wheel the airbag might deploy and burn you.

When it comes to race car driving you will notice that it appears that the drivers are almost laying down – this would be formula 1 or Open Wheel CART cars.  Also, NASCAR type of cars the driver is crammed near the steering wheel, which as we stated previously is dangerous as well.  Neither one of these are ideal for street cars. For everyday street driving like most of us do here in Houston, it is recommended to be at 90 degree angles.

Some cars have better steering than others, especially race cars have amazing steering, they have to because there is very little room for arm movement. Also, the gas and brake pedals are extremely close together.

The ideal sitting position for street cars is having your back flat against the back of the seat, you want your buttocks squarely up against the backrest. Your hamstrings should be touching the seat bottom, the importance of this position is to give you as much surface area. Safety first. The arm position is also important, the steering should be 10 and 2 and both arms when outstretched should have your wrists reach the steering wheel. It gives you the optimum control of the vehicle.

Lastly the foot position, your chair should be far away enough that you can reach the pedals comfortably, your knees should be comfortably bent. You do not want to be too close to the pedals because being so close to the steering wheel is dangerous.  You also don’t want to be far away enough that you cannot reach them.

Driving On Wet Roads

Rain Tire

There are many articles that give drivers the tools they need to drive in extreme conditions, such a ice and snow, but what is much more common is rainy conditions. When the roads are wet, there are certain pattens that emerge. When the roads are wet your brakes can respond slower, your tires and grip less and you can hydroplane, skid and your car can lose control.  So lets take a look at what we can do to minimize the risk of accidents when the roads are wet.
Have you ever noticed that when you are driving down a high traffic road such as a highway, that there are grooves in the road where other cars have passed through? These grooves are cause by the continuous weight of vehicles that drive along the side path down the road, which created grooves.  These grooves can be a great way for you to gain additional traction when the weather conditions are less than optimal.  We suggest that when you are following another vehicle in bad driving conditions that you stay within these grooves. Driving on the non-grooved part of the road can cause the car to slide or even to hydroplane due to the difference in height.  Therefore allow the car in front of you to lead and you merely follow. Now, having said that, lets clarify that sometimes when it is pouring the car in front of you may cause the rain water to douse your windshield leaving you without the optimal visibility.  Leave a safe distance between you and the car ahead and if you are behind a large or heavy truck then even more so.
When driving conditions are questionable at best like we tend to get here in Houston from time to time you want to proceed with caution.  The best way to do so is to lower the speed of your vehicle.  Do not drive fast, do not speed because your car and its important components, like the tires, brakes and steering will be affected when the road is wet.  When you drive faster than you should, then accidents are bound to happen. When the weather is against you or if it is late, take extra precaution.  Most importantly, avoid passing other vehicles if you can avoid it.
If you want a direct correlation between the tire pressure in your cars tire and your gas mileage then go no further.  The proof is here and it also affects other aspect of the driving experience.  Each and every tire on the market are made with very specific requirements for their most efficient and safest use.  Around the face of the tire you can see what the PSI should be for your specific tire.  If you are not sure go to a tire store and ask.  You want and more importantly need your car to behave at its peak performance.  Having under inflated tires can cause a lag in your MPH rate.

If you have ever found yourself in the middle of a torrential downpour or monsoon you will know how important your windshield wipers are to your very survival.  If your blades are
old or do not work well, get rid of them.  This is not something to be taken lightly, because if you cannot see, you cannot drive.  It is as simple as that. Your windshield blades can be
changed every two winter seasons or two years of good and constant use.  It is also possible to get a product that helps defog your windshield and mirrors it is a product that also helps
the water bead off the glass. Take pride in doing what needs to done to your vehicle to ensure safety for you and everyone around you.

When braking is necessary try at all cost to slam on the breaks or to continually press on them if they do not seem to be responding . If you know the road you are traveling on and there is a light or a stop up ahead prepare for it, ensure that you give your vehicle plenty of time to respond to any conditions you may ask of it.  If you slam on the breaks when the weather is bad then you can cause your car to hydroplane and slip or skid or all three.  Most vehicles in the last 10 years have come with ABS as a standard feature.  ABS stands for anti lock brakes, which is  a technology which allows a computer in your car to assist in the breaking process under duress.

Drive Well In Bad Weather

Mountain Road and hazardous driving

You may think that the harsh winter might not affect you because you live in Houston Texas.  Well, for most of you that is true, you will have little to no snow driving and winter weather driving tips from most writers, but what about that small percentage that do indeed drive in extreme weather conditions?

This may or may not be you, but if you ever find yourself in this situation you will be glad you came across this article and learned a thing or two.  Knowledge is power and being aware of what weather conditions might arise or what extreme weather challenges you might find in the future, you will be glad you read on.

If you ever find yourself on an icy or snowy road, beside experience, which will always be your ally you can count on several tips to get through this tough driving experience in one piece.

If you find that your vehicle has begun o spin out of control or your car is skidding, slipping and sliding, not gripping as it usually does and your steering wheel and tires seem to have lost communication, fret not.

When you find yourself in this situation, what you have to do is remain calm.  With driving in icy/snowy conditions you may think that erratic moves and slamming on the brakes would be a good call – think again.  You need to remain level headed.  Even if you grew up in a snowy area, in Texas not everyone knows how to handle a snow storm or drive successfully in one.

Vehicles that are AWD (all wheel drive) can help you regain control much faster as can having a good and decent set of tires with hefty all weather treads on them, thus allowing the rubber to better grip through the chunky snow on the ground.

It is not recommended to get 2 snow tires on the back of your car if it is a rear wheel drive or 2 snow or all weather tires in the front if you have a front wheel vehicle.  It will make it more likely that you lose control to be honest.  The reasons most car tires are sold in sets of 4 or 5 (including the spare) is because it takes for most vehicles a minimum of 4 tires that are equal nights, weights and widths.

Depending on the features of the car you drive you may have ESC (electronic stability control). This is at its most useful because when you start to spin out, it helps your vehicle regain control by shifting power to the tires that seem to have lost their grip.  It is almost a hail marry solution and if your car is newer than 2006, then most cars come with it as a standard feature.

When you drive in snowy conditions, wet conditions of foggy conditions, what is most important is that the other drivers can easily see you coming in the opposite direction.  Turn your lights on for safety, I for example have my headlights on each and every time I drive, it matters not if it is 10 am.

Make sure your windshield wipers are working, and that you can defog your windshield, because when the temperature drops, you inevitably put on the heater. The difference in temperature makes from some foggy windows from the inside, as condensation forms on the outside.

The average distance is a car length and a half in most instances.  When the weather is bad, it takes longer for your car to respond, it takes longer to brake, longer to stop and you have a lot less control of your vehicle on the whole.

If your car is skidding out, you want to let your foot off the gas and do not hit the brake, just try to correct the skid, but do so gently and not abruptly because being to forceful could send you into a tail spin. The most important advice we can give is go slow, it is better to get there slowly and safely then speed around and never arrive at your destination.

Don’t Get Pulled Over in Houston

Police officer

Has it ever happened to you that as you see the lights flash in your rear view mirror and the siren going off behind you, what you did to cause this?
Maybe you were going 90 in a 25 and maybe not. Here we offer some helpful tips to avoid being pulled over, we have broken it down to 5 main infractions committed.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we drive as though we were on autopilot – has that ever happened to you? You get in your car, and on the drive home from work it is almost automated.  You can almost zone out while you drive – a dangerous habit and one that could lead to a ticket, allow us to explain why.

sometimes it is necessary to see things from anthers point of view to really understand what you are doing wrong. In this case traffic cops have the upper hand because they enforce the laws that we are unaware we are infringing upon.

If you are curious as to the reason not getting pulled over is important lets see.  First of all the chance that you will be let off with a warning and not with some sum of money ranging from $75-$400 in fines is a great place to start. Not to mention that each time you get pulled over it goes on your record and can eventually count against you where your license and privilege to drive are suspended. Your insurance is bound to increase if you are a reckless driver – if you have many accidents and if you have a lead foot and are constantly pulled over for speeding.

This is the first way to ensure you will see the alternating red and blue lights in your mirror. Well, you may be a non-conformist and think to yourself, why are speeds what they are in certain areas, why is there no room for gray area. The reason is simple, at higher velocities it takes longer to react and takes longer to stop.

There are mathematical formulas to determine safe breaking distances depending on the speed you are traveling, the rule of thumb is it takes twice as many feet for the car to stop as the miles you are going.  Example: if you are traveling 50 mph, it will take you 100 feet distance to stop.

The reason people speed is unclear, but it does seem to be an epidemic at the moment.  Perhaps Hollywood plays its part in the glorification of driving fast like movies that sensationalize it, like Driving like a Cullen a few years ago – where number stickers were plentiful, referring to the speed and accuracy the drivers show. Movies like the Fast and the Furious franchise also made street racing sexy and movies like Gone in 60 seconds.

In 2015, especially in the U.S. we are used to getting what we want when we want it, we are becoming less and less patient and always seem in a rush to multitask and get done what we need sooner.

Most of the speeding tickets happen on freeways, where cars attempt to keep up with the “traffic”, the issue is when you are the “traffic.” On the freeway there are multiple dangers: people speeding like yourself, unexpected lane changes, erratic behaviors, tire blowouts or accidents up ahead.

Most vehicle law enforcement is in agreement that there are prudent speed increases that you can enjoy from time to time, such as driving between 5-7 miles over the limit, it is doubtful you will get pulled over.  This is also subject to common sense however.  If you are on the freeway going 60mph in a 55mph zone, the difference is negligible.  Now if you are going 27mph in a school zone where the max speed is 20 mph, then a ticket might be warranted.

Most states disapprove of cell phone use while driving. Texting while driving is not only ridiculous but not necessary. So, illegal cell use is a huge issues around the world because it causes additional distractions for the driver. If you own a cell you know that people call and message and you receive those calls or messages instantly.  There is no law anywhere, no rule that says that you need to respond immediately as well.  If you are getting behind the wheel of a 1-2 ton heap of metal and gasoline, take that with some responsibility and be aware of your surroundings and your attention span.

On a daily basis there are accidents due to cell phone use in cars, the really bad ones make the evening news. On a statewide level there have been public service announcements regarding the danger of texting.  “Don’t let LOL (laugh at loud) turn into DOA (dead on arrival).”

A good way to get pulled over is to have issues with your cars features, a headlamp that is burnt, tail light or turn signal that doesn’t work. Also, if you live in a sunny place such as we do, having tinted windows might be a necessity. There are rules and regulations regarding these too which can result in tickets and fines if not obeyed.

The rule of thumb when it comes to safe driving is a car length and a half distance between you are the car in front of you. This allows enough safe distance for you to be able to stop safely and avoid a collision.  If you tail gate as it is called when you follow a car too closely you can be subject to getting pulled over.  If you are an erratic driver and your swerve in and out of traffic and if you run stop signs you will get pulled over.  A traffic cop is responsible for making sure that the laws are enforced.

If your goal is to know what the worst offenses to a traffic cop are:

1. drag racing
2. driving distances in the passing lane (fast lane – far left lane)
3. Peeling out or smoking tires
4. Driving way over the speed limit
5. Driving way UNDER the speed limit
6. Not paying parking fines/tickets

The most important thing to remember is that when you get pulled over the person doing so is charged with maintaining a safe place for us to be. The roads are supposed to be filled with drivers who are courteous and responsible. A place where everyone is focused 100% on the task at drive – driving safely. So when a cop pulls you over, remember to take the attitude and store it away.  They are just doing their jobs and running your mouth will probably ensure you get a ticket where as niceness could let you off with just a warning.