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Drive Safely during the Holidays..


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On the ride to work this morning on route 78 (three lanes both ways) traffic backed up which is rare. I then noticed there were no cars coming the other way. Then I noticed some activity on in the opposite lanes. When I got closer I saw that a medivac helicopter was parked in the middle of the highway. I then got that sick feeling in my stomach knowing that somebody isn't making it home for Thanksgiving. I turned on the traffic station on the radio and they confirmed it was a fatal accident.

So everybody, please use caution and drive extra carefully. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye...a cell phone distraction, looking at the radio dial, etc....and then the accident.

Everybody have a safe & healthy Holiday season, no matter what you celebrate or where you are.

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Also remember to carry out winter checks on your cars - improper care of your car is a big cause of accidents.

To help to avoid breaking down the following simple checks be carried out:

- Check you have enough fuel for your journey.

- Vehicles use more fuel when driving in heavy traffic and the stop/start conditions often found in the winter time traffic.

- Check oil and water levels and ensure you use the correct concentration of antifreeze.

- Antifreeze contains additives that prevent corrosion of the engine's cooling system. (If corrosion takes place this can 'sludge' up the passageways and cause expensive engine damage).

- Check the condition of your battery.

- Connections should be tight and free from corrosion. Once checked and cleaned smear the terminals with petroleum jelly to protect them.

- Check your tyre pressure and tread depth - and don't forget the spare. The current minimum legal tread depth for cars and light commercial vehicles is 1.6mm. (The greater the tread depth the more efficient the tyre is of clearing water in its path and providing grip in snow, making driving in poor conditions safer).

- Check your windscreen. Lengthen your screen's life by having chips or cracks repaired..

- Check headlights and indicators. Make sure lenses are free from damage and are kept clean to ensure you can see and be seen.

- Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting. Use screen wash additive to help maintain a clear screen but don't use washing up liquid as this contains additives that will attack the paintwork and can cause corrosion.

- Check the condition of your car key as a worn key may cause the lock to jam. Replace the battery in your key fob to maintain operating performance.

- Check you have adequate breakdown cover, as not all breakdowns are avoidable.

- To stop the vehicle door from freezing shut overnight, spray a silicone spray such as furniture polish around the seal of the door before closing it and remember, a vehicle left out in the rain and cold is more susceptible to damp related breakdowns so if you have a garage, use it.

Also when you get in to your vehicle, remember to make sure your engine is running to ensure your vehicle battery is charging before switching on any lights, heaters or any other electrical systems. Switching these on before starting your engine could drain the battery and leave you stranded.

What to carry in your car:

- Make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone.

- Take a can of good quality de-icer and a windscreen scraper and remember to keep a lock de-icer in the house to ensure you can gain access to your vehicle if the locks freeze shut.

- Take some high-energy food such as chocolate or boiled sweets. Carrying a thermos flask of hot soup is recommended on longer journeys.

- Wrap up warm and take a blanket, waterproof clothing and sensible footwear.

- Take a torch and spare batteries.

- Keep a couple of rubber mats in the boot to help your tyres to grip if you find yourself stuck in snow.

- Keep a set of jump leads in your boot in case the battery goes flat - but ensure you follow the instructions in the vehicle manufacturer's handbook before jump starting your vehicle as incorrect use could cause damage.

- Make sure you have your breakdown membership card/details with you.

Tips to make your winter journey as safe as possible include:

- In severe weather conditions, only make trips that are absolutely necessary.

- Check the windscreen wipers are not frozen to the screen before you get into your vehicle as failure to do so could cause the wiper motor to fuse leaving you unable to clear your screen.

- Use a windscreen scraper or a de-icer to remove ice from every window on your vehicle. Do not use warm water as this may cause the windscreen to crack. Carry a key de-icer with you to clear your lock.

- Use the vehicle's air conditioning to help speed up the de-misting of your windscreen.

- Allow at least 10 minutes for your vehicle to defrost thoroughly before setting off.

- Plan your journey and, in severe weather conditions use major routes which are more likely to have been salted or gritted.

- Don't drive if tired. Make sure you take regular comfort breaks.

- Remember to allow more time to brake and accelerate. Leave more room between you and the car in front.

- If you do breakdown, make sure you know where you are and, to help to locate you, on motorways where possible use the orange coloured SOS phones to call for assistance.

- In the event of a breakdown on the motorway, follow the safety advice given.

Courtesy of the RAC.

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Alcohol consumption It takes around an hour for the body to cleanse itself of the effects of one drink. Contrary to popular belief, black coffee and cold showers or jumping up and down do not help.

The more you drink, the more chance of an accident At .05, the risk of you having an accident is about double of you in a sober state. At .08 the risk is over three times higher. At .1, it's seven times. At .15, it's 26 times.

Sleep at home, not at the wheel Around 30% of serious crashes are the direct result of motorists who insist on driving on, even when they know they're too tired to continue.

Drowsy drivers die Opening a window or having the radio on loudly will not prevent you from falling asleep. What you need is real sleep. Pull over and have a short sleep. Even 15 minutes can be the difference between getting there and not.

Blind spots The 'blind spot' can be a real killer. Before changing lanes, take a quick glance over your shoulder to see if a car is in your 'blind spot', then move off carefully.

Braking distances Here’s why you should keep a safe distance. If you need to brake and you're travelling at 60 km/h, your car travels approx. 10 metres before your brain gets the message, and you apply the brakes. At 100 km/h it's approx. 18 metres. Avoid the rear end crash To avoid a rear-end collision, allow one car length for every 15km/h of speed. A car travelling at 60km/h covers 16.7 metres a second.

Don’t get too close At 100 km/h the minimum distance needed to stop is 80 metres. If you’re too close, there's only a 55 metre space in which to stop.

Overtaking distance It can take one and a half kilometres to overtake a commercial truck travelling at 100km/h. Make sure you have plenty of clear road ahead.

The three-second gap For safety, allow a three-second gap between you and the car in front. To work out the three-second gap, choose a fixed item such as a tree or lamp post and make sure you pass it about three seconds after the car in front does.

Car first aid kit Make one up of Sterile adhesive bandages. Sterile gauze pads. Small bar of soap. Antibiotic ointment. Plastic bottle of water (washing). Small scissors. Splinter forceps. Triangular bandage. Roll of stretchable gauze. Flashlight. Money for phone. Single-edge razor blade. Two boards (lightweight) for splints. Large safety pins.

Child Safety fact Crash at 60 km per hour and the impact upon an unrestrained child is equivalent to that child falling from a fourth floor window.

40km/h = 2 storeys A collision with another vehicle, even at the relatively low speed of 40km/h., is the same as falling from a two-storey building onto hard, unforgiving concrete.

Driving in fog Don’t drive through fog with your high beams on. They cause a 'white-out' effect, which reduces vision dramatically.

Driving in the wet It takes twice as long to stop in wet weather as it would otherwise, so be extra careful.

Less grip on wet roads At 80km/h, a car's tyre has a thousandth of a second to clear away the water and provide road adhesion. At higher speeds, a tyre (no matter how advanced its traction might be said to be) will 'ride' rather than penetrate the film of water on the road. It can be like skating on ice.

There’s no safe seat Statistics show that if you are not wearing a seat belt, you’ll suffer worse injuries in the event of an impact, no matter where you sit.

Belt up Even if you’re just going around the corner. Most accidents occur within 10 km of the victim's home. No trip's too short.

The law and belts It is illegal for a driver and their passengers not to wear seat belts. It's up to drivers to insist their passengers put on their seat belts. Both the driver and their passengers, can be fined, and, in some States, lose demerit points.

Which type of windscreen? If you do a lot of high-speed country driving, consider laminated windscreens. A stone will just 'craze' around the impact area rather than shatter the whole windscreen which is far more dangerous. Ask your Repco Auto Repairer for advice.

Emergency fire-extinguisher A can of beer or soft drink, well shaken, can act as an emergency fire extinguisher.

House bricks aren’t made for cars Don’t use house bricks to support a car. They can crumble under the car's weight. Always use axle stands or drive-up ramps.

Safe tyre tread The minimum amount of tread, which provides a secure grip, is around 3.5mm - about the depth of a match-head. Less than 1.6mm is an offence by law. And they don’t stop you, then maybe neither will the car.

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On the ride to work this morning on route 78 (three lanes both ways) traffic backed up which is rare. I then noticed there were no cars coming the other way. Then I noticed some activity on in the opposite lanes. When I got closer I saw that a medivac helicopter was parked in the middle of the highway. I then got that sick feeling in my stomach knowing that somebody isn't making it home for Thanksgiving. I turned on the traffic station on the radio and they confirmed it was a fatal accident.

So everybody, please use caution and drive extra carefully. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye...a cell phone distraction, looking at the radio dial, etc....and then the accident.

Everybody have a safe & healthy Holiday season, no matter what you celebrate or where you are.

Thanks Ron...and everyone. It's a shame when a happy occasion turns ugly. That day is never the same for the families that have suffered tragedy. But it's true for all times and days. Have fun, but carefully.

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