Everyone is guilty of distracted driving at least once while others are repeat offenders, but what people don’t realize is that preoccupied driving is very dangerous. Teenagers are usually at fault for texting and driving, however experienced drivers can be seen distracted driving as well. Most people are able to operate a vehicle fine while having a phone conversation, a quick lunch, or adjusting the radio, but it only takes a second for an accident to occur. Imagine that you are driving on the highway at 60 MPH, within just a few moments you have covered the distance of a football arena; now imagine that same scenario without looking at the road. This is a good illustration to show the seriousness of driving while distracted. We should all be conscious of our actions and take this into consideration next time you get into a vehicle.
Reasons People Drive Distracted
The Official US Government Website for Distracted Driving states that there are a many repetitive actions that people can avoid to help them drive safer. They also provide many tools and stories of lives that are impacted from distracted driving, below are some of the preventative measures you can take to keep everyone safe.
Do not text or message on your phone or any other device while driving, this ensures that your focus is on the road at all times. Most phones now have a “silent mode” that will quiet the phones messages and calls so take advantage of this setting while you are driving. If it is an emergency and you need to use your phone, pull off to a safe spot to stop the vehicle before messaging.
Put your phone somewhere it won’t distract you. Drivers will see a notification on their phone and naturally go to look at it, removing their eyes from the road. Since this is a normal reaction, it is best to put your phone away in your bag or out of sight so you will not be unfocused.
Eat or Drink before or after you travel in your vehicle. Accidents can happen from simple actions like trying to eat lunch on the go, which is why it is best to eat outside a moving vehicle. Drivers can easily spill a drink or drop their food resulting in the vehicle swerving, changing lanes, or causing an accident.
Passengers Can Be a Distraction
Remember to always focus on the road when having conversations with passengers. It is common for people to ride along with you to work or out with friends, but having others in the car with you can often lead to disturbances while driving.
Always finish getting ready before you get into the car. People don’t realize that looking in the mirror while driving is very dangerous. Sometimes you can see people applying makeup or changing into different clothes while operating a vehicle, but this is very hazardous and taking a moment to do these actions before you leave is easy and helps to keep the road safe.
Have your driving route planned before you begin to travel. Trying to read a map or your phone while operating a vehicle puts others at risk. If you know your destination, it is easier to look at map before you leave or program the address into your GPS. If you decide you must look at a map, pull over and stop the car before doing so.
All media devices should be view-able to the passengers only. Sometimes parents let their kids watch movies or play games in the car and this can be a distraction to the driver. Stay mindful of the road while operating the vehicle and keep all media devices behind the driver.
Adjust the radio while at a complete stop. It can be hard to tune into your favorite station while driving down the road, so make sure to either pre-program your stations or wait until you come to a stoplight to adjust them.
Although some of these suggestions may seem like common sense, many of us do at least one of the distractions listed. Being prepared and aware while driving decreases the chance of an mishap and keeps your family and others safe.
Drivers know that when their gas light comes on it’s time to refuel and stop at the next gas station, but when there is not a gas station in sight and your light comes on, it can be very worrisome. Driving with your gas light on is stressful because no one wants to be stuck on the highway without gas. It is important to recognize your gas tanks limits to relieve stress and keep you on the road.
There are other dangers to letting your gas tank run out besides just being stuck so it is essential to know how far your vehicle can drive on empty.
Driving With the Gas Light On
Having to pull over on the road because you are out of gas is very stressful and could also place you in a treacherous position. Vehicles on the highway travel at fast speeds and sometimes are not able to make proper adjustments in time for broken down drivers, resulting in an accident. Running out of gas in a desolate area can be very dangerous as well. People have had to spend the night in their vehicle due to snow storms or waiting on help to arrive. If you are traveling long distances it’s not a bad idea to have a spare gas tank with you.
There can also be unseen damage done to your vehicle from consistently running out of gas. The catalytic converter can be harmed or ruined resulting in more time and money put into your vehicle, or perhaps it can deteriorate the fuel pump because of debris that is commonly found in gasoline. Either way, these warnings should not happen in the beginning, but if you let your fuel get low constantly it may end up costing you more money.
Miles to Empty Gauge
Many of the new car models have a gauge that will let the driver know how many miles they have left to empty. This is a nifty tool that many individuals are now using instead of their gas light. This can also be problematic because that gauge is based on a rough calculation of your average mileage and not an exact estimation of how much gas is left in your tank. The “miles to empty” gauge should be used to evaluate your best gas mileage and not the distance remaining until you run out of gas.
Driving On Empty
In order to determine how far your vehicle can drive on empty, you must take into consideration your vehicle model, the driving conditions, and your personal routine. Some car manufacturers allow for the vehicle to travel up to 90 miles with the gas light illuminated while others are only 20 miles. YourMechanic car and driver website has a chart available to help you determine how far you can drive with the gas light on based on your vehicle make and model. For cars that list “N/A” in the descriptions, the calculation is based on how many miles left to empty. Take a look and see how far your vehicle can go.
Drivers today get excited about purchasing a new vehicle, especially if that car gets great gas mileage, and there are many vehicles on the market now that offer eco-friendly or electric options. It is fortunate that the auto industry is moving in a green direction to reduce travel emissions and help mother earth. Everyone wants to save money and not all drivers are familiar with eco-friendly vehicles. Many of us have never driven an electric car and don’t know the first steps in determining which vehicle is right, so below are a few things to think about when buying a green car.
Green Vehicle History
There are different types of green vehicles available on the market so it might be intimidating trying to pick the right one for you. Here is a brief history of eco-friendly vehicles to provide a little more knowledge as to how they evolved and what the differences are. Electric vehicles can be dated back to the 1830s and were very common up until the 20th century. Electric motors were invented before internal combustion engines but were more costly to manufacture. When Henry Ford invented the assembly line, internal combustion motors became cheaper than their electric predecessors, thus making it impossible for them to compete in the auto industry. Nowadays car companies are trying to bring back the eco-friendly vehicles since there is a plethora of highways and rest stops across the US.
The biggest factor plaguing the electric auto industry is the distance an eco-friendly car can travel. Many electric models can only travel up to 100 miles on one charge, which is not enough for the typical consumer. Tesla has come out with the Model S 85D which is able to travel 270 miles before needing to recharge, but it is also much more expensive than the typical electric vehicle. One solution to the low mileage problem is the hybrid vehicle. A hybrid car uses both an electric motor and gas motor so the owner is able to travel a long distance without having to stop as frequently.
Hybrid vehicles will use the electric engine when traveling on city roads or at steady paces and then switches to the gasoline motor if more speed is needed. This type of hybrid is called an HEV or Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Since the HEV battery is recharged from harnessing the extra energy used when hitting the brakes, the electric motor rarely needs to be charged. This is a big bonus for first time HEV users. The PHEV or Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles is another type of eco-friendly car. This vehicle is similar to the HEV in that it has both an electric and gasoline motor. The electric motor is utilized primarily when traveling and is only switched to gas when the battery is low. The gasoline engine does assist in recharging the electric motor but PHEVs are required to be plugged in to fully refill the battery. It is up to the consumer to decide which type of hybrid vehicle is best for them but if you decide on a hybrid as opposed to a traditional vehicle, it will save you money on gas and trips to the gas station.
Charging Electric Vehicles
When needing to recharge your electric vehicle, it can be cumbersome trying to find a proper charging station and much more challenging then locating the typical fuel station. Drivers that own an electric vehicle are able to purchase an at home vehicle charger to set up either outdoors or in a garage. Buyers can pick between and AC Level 1 charger or the AC Lever 2 charger. An AC Level 1 charger will return 5 miles of distance per one hour charging, the AC Level 2 will do twice that. Recharging an electric vehicle can get expensive, especially if it is your primary vehicle. The U.S. Department of Energy states that the cost of completely recharging and electric vehicle will be equal to the expense or running a home A/C unit for about 6 hours. This is an expense most people prefer rather than the rising gas prices. Charging you hybrid or electric vehicle is becoming easier than ever with modern technology. PlugShare is a business that allows members to view nearby charging stations while on the go. These stations can be public or private and are viewable from PlugShares website.
Government Benefits for Green Vehicles
Buying a new car can be very expensive and those of us in the market for a hybrid vehicle expect the price to lower that a traditional car, but that is not always the case. Electric vehicles can be just as expensive to purchase as regular vehicle, so the government has issued tax benefits to help offset the cost. The IRS has issued a tax credit for electric vehicles that are required to be plugged in to recharge the battery. Depending on your battery size, the credit could range anywhere between $2500 and $7500. This credit is then applied to your income taxs, reducing the amount you owe, or paying them off. If the IRS credit exceeds your income taxes due, it will be paid but there will not be a return of the balance difference. This government benefit is only available if you bought your electric vehicle new. Leased electric or hybrid vehicles and used vehicles will not apply for any IRS benefits, but some states around the country are offering benefits for installing vehicle charging stations. Check with your local government or dealership to see if you qualify for any incentives.
Other Green Options
If you’re not ready to purchase your first electric vehicle, there are still some other options and changes you can make to help your vehicle become greener and environmentally friendly.
Although diesel engines have been around for a long time, many people believe they are toxic to the environment, but that is not true. Diesel engines have the ability to travel further with less emissions polluting the atmosphere. Diesel fuel is about the same expense as gasoline and is available at almost all gas stations.
The concept of hypermiling is described as the ability to control your driving habits in order to conserve fuel. Drivers can practice this by actions such as, coasting to a stop light and keeping a steady MPH while driving on the highway. Use these movements in the future and you might notice less money spent in gas.
Care for Your Car
When was the last time you took your vehicle into an auto mechanic? Drivers normally do not do consistent maintenance on their vehicle unless they are changing the oil or something is broken. Taking your car into a professional every few months can help keep your engine is top working order, which is essential for saving money on fuel. Making sure little things like your tire pressure and inspections are up to date will help keep your car on the road for longer.
Although many of us take a commute to work, it might be beneficial on your wallet and car to consider other forms of transportation. Taking the bus a few times a week or scheduling a carpool with other co-workers are great ways to preserve your car and gas money. Also, instead of running to the store for dinner every night, try and plan to go once during the weekend so you will not be driving as much.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Drivers are able to conserve fuel either by purchasing a new car or tuning up their old one. Hopefully some of these tips will keep you and your car in healthy working condition.