Could your car handle these roads?
Winter across the country brings unpredictable weather and potentially hazardous road conditions. To prepare your car for any road condition in Omaha, NE, this winter, call our team of ASE-Certified auto technicians at 402-896-5800.
While we prepare for the roads in our own town, we’re also taking a moment to consider these extreme road conditions. Could your car handle these roads?
Though rain seems harmless enough, heavy storms can create frightening road conditions. Rain and fog reduce visibility, and wet roads affect traction – in fact, 30% of ran-off-the-road accidents are caused by wet roads. The risk of hydroplaning combined with reckless drivers can make rain one of the most dangerous conditions for driving.
Prepare: Check your headlights so other drivers can see you through rain, mist, or fog. Test your air conditioning, defroster, windshield wipers and washer fluid to improve your own visibility during rain storms.
Ice, especially black ice, increases your chances of an accident. Be especially careful driving over areas where ice accumulates, including bridges, overpasses, and tunnels.
Prepare: Check your brakes and tires – make sure you have enough traction to handle slick roads, and that your brakes will stop your vehicle safely.
One negative side effect of weather is dirty, muddy roads. Thick mud on slick roads impairs your vehicle’s ability to stop and even makes it difficult to steer. Non-paved country roads can be especially treacherous for vehicles after a heavy rain or melted snow.
Prepare: Check your steering and brakes. If you often drive on dirt roads, have your alignment checked periodically to avoid damage to your wheels and tires. Take it slow, and avoid especially muddy back roads when possible.
Unpredictable winter road conditions can compound traffic on already busy roads. The combination of stressful weather with road rage and impatient drivers means that winter traffic contributes to many car wrecks during this season.
Prepare: Regular inspections will keep your vehicle safely on the road, avoiding large and costly repairs and hassle after an accident on a busy road.
In our fast paced lives, it’s easy to find distractions behind the wheel of your car. This month, in honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we want to take a moment to consider common distractions and their risks. We encourage you to be aware of these threats and make an effort to drive safely and distraction free in Omaha !
The most common distractions include using a cell phone, texting, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, reading (including maps), grooming, and watching a video. Even features of your car can be distracting, like using a navigation system, adjusting the radio, or adjusting the heater or air conditioning. Though all these distractions can pose a threat, the most dangerous by far is cell phone use and texting, so that’s going to be our focus today.
Cell phones have become a ubiquitous part of everyday life. At any one time, 9% of drivers are talking on cell phones – making them 4 times as likely to crash. Technological advances like Bluetooth capabilities and hands free devices have made it possible to place and answer phone calls without looking at your phone; however, the idea that hands free devices are safe to use while driving is a myth – multitasking can be dangerous.
Conversation requires brain capacity necessary to stay alert and pay attention to all of the factors (on the road and in the car) that affect your driving. Phone calls, even if you don’t actually hold or operate your phone, divert brain capacity to focus on the conversation. Your brain is 37% less capable to gather and process critical driving data while engaged in a conversation. Having a conversation with a passenger in the vehicle (while still a distraction) is much safer because both you and your passenger can watch the road and react to traffic, weather, and changing conditions.
Texting is by far the most dangerous activity you can do while driving. Texting requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention – all of which are necessary for driving. If you text while driving, you are 8 to 23 times more likely to crash or cause an accident. Texting makes it harder to stay in the lane, identify high and low relevant objects, pick up visual cues, and react to exits, red light, and stop signs.
Drivers who text and drive contribute to at least 100,000 crashes every year, causing thousands of preventable deaths. Don’t think you can get off on a technicality – sending or reading emails, checking Facebook, writing tweets… all of these activities are just as dangerous as texting.
This month, remember the risks before you engage in a distraction while driving. Practice some self-control and avoid looking at your cell phone. If the temptation is too high, try keeping your phone out of reach or in a bag or glove box you can’t access while driving. Turn off your Bluetooth devices and remember that even hands free calls can be a detriment. Take the pledge to drive phone-free and help end distracted driving!
Whether you were just cut off on the highway or reacting to an abrupt animal crossing, there comes a time where you may need to slam on your brakes in order to avoid an accident. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) were designed to be your best friend in these situations. ABS prevents skidding to enable you to keep control of your vehicle until you can stop safely. ABS also prevents tire damage since it doesn’t lock the wheels during a stop thus shortening the stopping distance of your car.
Types of ABS Systems
There are two types of ABS. Vans and some light trucks have a two-wheel anti-lock braking system on the back tires. During a stop, the vehicle will continue to move in a straight line even though the two front wheels may lock up.
A four-wheel anti-lock braking system can be found on other light trucks and most cars. It is easier to maintain your steering with ABS because it will prevent all four wheels from locking up. This way you can have control over your vehicle during an emergency stop and stay out of harm’s way.
How ABS Works
If a vehicle is equipped with ABS, it will have a microprocessor called an anti-lock brake computer located inside the vehicle. This microprocessor will monitor the speed of each wheel using its speed sensor. When braking, the system will trigger electronic solenoids to release hydraulic pressure to each wheel much faster than manually pumping a set of ordinary brakes. You can feel the pulsating of this process when completing a high-speed stop. It is important to NEVER pump an anti-lock braking system in this situation and keep firm pressure on the brake pedal.
Unfortunately, ABS cannot prevent all skids and, in certain situations, it does not shorten the stopping distance of your vehicle. High speeds, sharp turns and slamming on the brakes can still send a vehicle with ABS into a skid. Since anti-lock braking systems will always prevent the wheels from locking, cars with ordinary braking systems will find it easier to stop on roads with loose gravel or snow as it forms a wedge in front of a locked wheel.
If you see an amber “anti-lock” light on your dashboard, this means your ABS is not working properly. You will still have an ordinary braking system, but it is advised that you bring your car to our certified mechanicsso they can get your ABS working properly again. The technicians at our Omaha location can help you with all your auto repair needs. Call us today to make your next appointment!
Make no mistake, becoming distracted behind the wheel is much easier than it seems.
Studies show that 75% of all car crashes occur within 25 miles of home—that could be a trip to the store, to school to pick up your kids, or on your commute to work. Point being, crashes sneak up on us while we’re in our daily routine—so don’t get too comfortable behind the wheel!
The ways to become distracted behind the wheel are many, but ways to counteract them are few. Your local Omaha NE Auto Repair has broken it down to three steps: prepare, focus, and manage. Here are some tips from your local Omaha NE Auto Repair on how to keep centered on the road:
Are you hungry? Have you finished applying your make-up? Do you have directions to where you’re going? Any of these activities on the fly severely compromises your ability to be fully attentive on the road. Solution? Take the extra few minutes to have a snack or to finish applying make-up. Preset your CD player or radio so you won’t have to on the road.
Now that you’ve prepared for your drive, do your best to stay focused. Think basic driving skills here: Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, foot on the pedal. If necessary, ask your passengers to aid in the focusing so they won’t be as much of a distraction.
This is the last tip. The whole premise of “managing” yourself is to just be smart when you’re on the road. If you need to stop, do. This means if you’re tired, hungry, or maybe just a little bit stressed from the traffic, pull over and take the time to settle down.
As an Omaha NE Auto Repair shop, we often preach preventive maintenance as a way to save money and keep your vehicle running smoothly. However, defensive driving is just as important, if not more, to your safety. For more tips, get a hold of your local Omaha NE Auto Repair like Auto Station and talk to an ASE-Certified technician about how you can stay safe behind the wheel.