Archive for the ‘safe driving’ Tag

Six Ways You Could be Killing Your Car

Owning a car can be a dream or a nightmare depending on how well you take care of your vehicle, says the non-profit Car Care Council. The following are six things that many motorists do that can harm their car and their wallet.

1. Ignoring the check engine light. Ignoring an illuminated check engine light can result in serious engine trouble and costly repairs. At the very least, this warning light could alert you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy.

2. Failing to change fluids and filters. Many fluids are required for the operation and protection of vehicle systems and components. Checking fluid levels regularly, along with the filters, helps ensure that your vehicle runs dependably and extends vehicle life.

3. Neglecting your tires. Your vehicle’s tires should be checked frequently for inflation and tread depth. Underinflated tires can wear out more quickly, needing to be replaced sooner, and can negatively impact safety, gas mileage and performance.

4. Not following a service schedule. Because many car parts and components wear out or become damaged over time, vehicles need to be routinely serviced in order to perform optimally. Routine inspections and timely repairs will help keep your car running efficiently and will help you avoid more expensive repairs down the road.

5. Keeping a dirty car. Allowing your car to go too long without a wash leads to buildup of damaging chemicals and dirt, increases the potential for rust from road salt and interferes with proper visibility needed for safe driving.

6. Being a severe driver. Whether it’s stop-and-go traffic, extreme weather, rough roads or heavy loads, it can sometimes be difficult to limit severe driving conditions. However, you can drive smart and improve fuel economy by observing the speed limit; avoiding aggressive driving, including quick starts and stops; not hauling unnecessary items; and keeping your vehicle properly tuned.

“Because auto care isn’t always a top priority for car owners, they might not realize they are doing things that adversely affect the performance, safety and value of their car,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Routine maintenance can go a long way toward saving money, avoiding headaches and protecting your vehicle investment.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at http://media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at http://www.carcare.org.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/six-ways-killing-car/

Advertisements

Lights Out? Check Vehicle Lighting

Fall is here and its arrival means fewer hours of daylight and upcoming holiday travel. Before hitting the road, it is a wise idea to make sure your vehicle’s lights are in proper working order, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Lights play a critical role in safe driving, as the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “From the driver’s seat you may not notice a light that isn’t working, so inspect all of your car’s lights and replace those that are out.”

Lights are normal wear items that require periodic inspection and replacement. The vehicle lighting system provides nighttime visibility; signals and alerts other drivers; and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior. In addition to replacing dimming, rapidly blinking and non-functioning lights, the following tips can help keep you safe:

Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights from being seen by others.

Make sure that your headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.

If there is any doubt on whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on. Lights not only help you see better in early twilight, they also make it easier for other drivers to see you.

Don’t overdrive your headlights; you should be able to stop inside the illuminated area, otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.

“Some states have laws that require the headlights to be on with the wipers,” said White. “Keeping your vehicle’s lights properly cared for and replacing wiper blades periodically will help ensure a safer ride, keeping the road ahead well-lit and giving you a clear view.”

For more information on vehicle lighting, service interval schedules, questions to ask a technician and tips to drive smart and save money, view the Car Care Council’s free digital Car Care Guide online at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

The non-profit Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2015/10/lights-check-vehicle-lighting/

Are You a Severe Driver?

Things change, including the way we use our cars, how we drive them and the condition of our roads. Although normal driving is defined as steady driving in non-extreme weather or environments, for most motorists today, being a severe driver is more the rule than the exception, says the Car Care Council.

According to the council’s Car Care Guide, severe driving refers to:

Stop-and-go traffic
Short commutes
Heavier loads: cargo, passenger or towing a trailer
Rough or mountainous roads
Dusty or salty environments
Driving in extremely hot or cold weather

“According to definition, most driving is going to be considered ‘severe.’ However, there are easy steps you can take to limit the amount of wear and tear on your vehicle and improve fuel economy,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “By properly maintaining and repairing your vehicle, it will perform safely, dependably and efficiently for years to come, no matter the driving conditions.”

The Car Care Council recommends that motorists be car care aware and take actions to reduce the effects of severe driving, such as:

Follow the “severe” service schedule in your owner’s manual.
Check fluids, including oil, and filters more frequently.
Have certain components such as brakes and shocks inspected more regularly.
Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph.
Avoid quick starts and stops. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage.
Don’t haul unneeded items in the trunk as extra weight will reduce fuel economy.
Keep your car properly tuned to improve gas mileage.
Order a free copy of the 80-page Car Care Guide at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-resource/car-care-guide/.

The non-profit Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

As read on: http://www.carcare.org/2015/09/severe-driver/

Labor Day Driving Tips

Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends on the road, so planning ahead and being well prepared are essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. To make the most of Labor Day, it pays to know a few things in advance to avoid being stuck on the road on your way back home from a great holiday weekend.

The last thing you want on Labor Day is a car that breaks on the road. A routine check of the engine, radiator and fluids will go a long way. Tires should be well inflated and wiper fluid should be replenished. Also, check that the steering wheel and brakes work properly. A car emergency kit should include, at a minimum, jumper wires, a tire gauge, a flashlight, a tool kit with wrenches and screwdrivers, duct tape, rags and an emergency stop sign. Add a first-aid kit, a bottle of water, a blanket and some energy bars in case something happens and you’re stranded for some time.

Staying Safe

There are two major reasons for accidents on highways: losing concentration while driving and ignoring the risk of big trucks. If you are tired, had a drink or feel sick, either give the wheel to somebody else or postpone the driving. This is especially important coming back home on Labor Day, as many spend the day drinking and having fun, and chances are people are tired and moody. Monitor yourself and learn your limits, so you can head to a rest stop if you start feeling dizzy, confused or sleepy. Big trucks are especially dangerous if you cut in front of them quickly and unexpectedly, as trucks cannot brake fast enough to avoid a collision if things get tight. Also, trucks drivers have lots of blind spots, where they are unable to see you and thus avoid you. As a general rule, if you can’t see the truck’s mirror, the driver can’t see you either.

Avoiding the Madness

The most important thing you can do is leave early. Take on the highways early Saturday morning or before rush hour on Friday. If you’re driving on Labor Day, follow the same rules. Most people will brave their return home in the early evening or late afternoon. Try getting to the highways before 4 p.m. or after 10 p.m. and you should be in much better shape. Another important thing you can do to prepare for Labor Day driving is to plan your route well. Look for alternate routes, program your GPS or use a map to get you where you need to go as fast and efficiently as possible. You also can check online to see if the road you’re planning to take is undergoing repairs or has scheduled lane changes, so you can search for alternatives or plan for additional driving time.

Read more at: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/labor-day-driving-tips-21014.html

School Zones are supposed to keep kids safe as they arrive at and leave school,
but the zones sometimes pose a risk for pedestrians and motorists alike.
Each school year, nearly 54 million school-age children walk or bike to
school or otherwise pass through the school zone after exiting a
caregiver’s car or the school bus. In those busy zones, they can be at
risk of injury or death. Meanwhile, motorists (even those who are
parents or caregivers hauling their precious cargo) may need a refresher
class on the rules of the road in school zones, experts say.
“There’s a lot of activity that happens between arrival time and
dismissal time that can be distracting, and that’s the piece that can
make it risky for young pedestrians,” says Nancy Pullen-Seufert,
associate director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

Just How Dangerous Are School Zones?

Take Chicago as an example: From 2007 to 2011 nearly 1,700 children and
youths ages 5-18 were struck by vehicles within about a block of a
school, according to a recent analysis by the Chicago Tribune
of school zone safety in the city. That’s an average of about 10
percent of all pedestrians hit by vehicles in Chicago over that time
period. Many drivers didn’t stop or slow down in or near these school
zones, even when a crossing guard was present.

Big cities like Chicago aren’t the only places where school zones are
unsafe for pedestrians. A national survey found that two-thirds of
drivers exceed the posted speed limit during the 30-minute period before
and after school. And automated photo enforcement measures found that
78 percent of drivers sped in school zones, and 82 percent of drivers
passed a school bus illegally.

Motorists often violate stop sign rules at intersections in school
zones and residential neighborhoods, according to a report by Safe Kids
Worldwide, “Facts About Injuries to Child Pedestrians.” Forty-five percent don’t come to a complete stop, 37 percent roll through the stop sign and 7 percent don’t slow down.

The most dangerous time for the school zone and beyond is the
after-school period from 3-4 p.m. That’s when more school-age
pedestrians are killed by motorists than at any other time of day,
according to AAA.

The problem of speeding in school zones has forced some municipalities, including Chicago, to install speed cameras to catch and ticket those violating the school zone speed limit.

“In places where that’s happened, there’s been a decrease in injuries
and fatalities associated with kids who are walking in school zones,”
says Kate Carr, CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide.

Good News, Bad News and Why Teens Are at Increased Risk

Fortunately, the number of traffic fatalities among pedestrians age 14
and younger went down from 391 fatalities in 2002 to 230 in 2011, the
most recent year for which data is available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The bad news is that nationwide in 2011, an estimated 11,000
pedestrians age 14 and younger were injured in traffic accidents
overall.

For young children, learning to cross the street safely takes awhile.
Children don’t always cross when or where they should. In 2011, 79
percent of pedestrian fatalities among those ages 14 and younger
occurred at non-intersection locations, such as between parked cars or
crossing the road in the middle.

When drivers approach a school zone, the odds are that most of the
people walking there “do not know the laws and do not know anything
about an automobile,” says James Solomon, program development and
training director of defensive driving courses for the National Safety Council.

“Kids don’t know how long it takes to stop a car,” he says. “None of that is in their thinking.”

It’s not just unpredictable elementary kids who walk into harm’s way:
Teens between the ages of 15 and 19 account for half of all pedestrian
deaths among children.

Drivers should increasingly keep an eye out for tweens and teens, who
are often plugged into their mp3 players or smartphones and tuned out
of the real world and its hazards. Over the last five years, there’s
been a 25 percent increase in pedestrian injuries for teens between the
ages of 16 and 19, found a 2012 report by Safe Kids Worldwide.

Because of this alarming trend, Safe Kids recently conducted an
observational study of 34,000 middle school and high school students
walking in school zones. It found that one in five high school students
and one in eight middle school kids were distracted by a mobile device.

“We know that distraction is a big issue for drivers, but there’s
been less focus on the issue of distraction for pedestrians,” says Carr
of Safe Kids Worldwide. “We need to teach our kids that a mobile device
shouldn’t be used when crossing the street.” Safe Kids Worldwide
recently launched a Web video campaign
to get kids to turn off their mobile devices before crossing the
street. They’re asked to switch off in memory of Christina Morris-Ward, a
15-year-old who was distracted by a mobile device and killed while
crossing the street.

Follow the Rules To Save a Life

Crosswalks, flashing lights, stop signs and crossing guards can only do
so much when it comes to protecting school children. When it comes to
school zone safety, motorists need to study up on these safe-driving
tips from experts in school zone safety:

  • Expect the unexpected: “Children run and play. They can come from anywhere,” says James Solomon of the National Safety Council.
  • Stop properly at stop signs and crosswalks: It’s illegal to pass through either a stationary stop sign or one held by a crossing guard or other safety representative.In all 50 states, when a stop sign is displayed, motorists must stop for
    it, Solomon says. Drivers should stop completely at the stop sign,
    before the crosswalk area. Blocking a crosswalk could force kids to go
    around your vehicle, putting them in danger. And wait a bit before
    driving through after the crossing guard clears the intersection, warns
    Solomon. “There are always one or two children lagging behind that are
    now going to run through the crosswalk to catch up with the rest of the
    group.”
  • Obey the speed limit: “The faster you are going,
    the more likely you are to injure a pedestrian and to injure them more
    seriously,” says Nancy Pullen-Seufert of the National Center for Safe Routes to School.Most school zones have speed limits of 20 mph or less. Studies have
    found that 5 percent of pedestrians hit by a vehicle at 20 mph suffer a
    fatality. The fatality number increases to 45 percent when hit by a
    vehicle going 30 mph, and to 80 percent for a pedestrian hit by a
    vehicle traveling at 40 mph. And because of their smaller size, children
    fare even worse. Faster driving means longer stopping distances. At 20
    mph, it takes an average vehicle 69 feet to come to a total stop, and
    nearly double that distance, to 123 feet, at just 30 mph, according to
    NHTSA.
  • Put away electronic devices: A few states, including Illinois, have made it illegal to use a cell phone while driving in a school zone, and for good reason.Talking on your cell phone has been shown to reduce reaction time.
    Looking away for just 2 seconds doubles your chance of crashing. Texting
    while driving has been shown to be as dangerous as driving drunk.

    “The ability to multitask is a myth. If you are going to drive your
    child to school, drive your child to school. Leave the cell phone in a
    place where you aren’t going to be distracted,” says Kate Carr of Safe
    Kids Worldwide.

    Solomon agrees. “You want to navigate the school zone 100 percent prepared to handle a situation,” he says.

  • Make eye contact with pedestrians: “If you haven’t
    made eye contact with them, assume that they haven’t seen you and that
    they are just going to keep on going,” says Carr.
  • Wait your turn near school buses: It’s illegal in all 50 states to pass a bus
    on undivided roadways if the vehicle is stopped to load and unload
    children. State laws vary regarding passing a school bus on a divided
    roadway when the bus is traveling in the opposite direction, but all
    vehicles behind a bus must stop. Make sure you know the rules in your
    state, and regardless of whatever they are, never pass a school bus on
    the right. It’s a sure recipe for disaster.According to the National Safety Council, most children who die in
    bus-related crashes are pedestrians ages 4-7 who are hit by the bus or
    by motorists illegally passing the school bus.
  • Pay attention to bus warning lights: A yellow
    flashing light means the bus is preparing to stop to let kids on or off.
    A red light means kids are getting on or off the bus.
  • Give buses ample space to load and unload: Children
    are in the most danger of being hit by a vehicle within the 10 feet
    around a school bus. And just in case you’re tempted to violate any of
    the bus-related rules, many school buses are now equipped with rear
    cameras to catch motorists who illegally pass them.
  • Follow the school’s drop-off rules: “Oftentimes
    parents get very tempted to drop their child off across the street from
    the school and tell their child to just run across the street. And we
    really, really don’t want drivers to do that,” says Pullen-Seufert. “Any
    time any pedestrian of any age is crossing the road, they are at a
    greater risk.”
  • Choose a different route: If you are a daily commuter and not a parent picking up or dropping off their child, avoid a school zone if you can.
  • Be more careful in the fall: More children are
    injured by cars in September than any other month. “Kids are going back
    to school and drivers have to adjust again after a summer season,” says
    Carr.
  • What to do if there’s a near miss: Never reprimand
    or approach the child directly. The child is likely to be nervous or
    frightened when confronted by a stranger, Solomon says. Do let an adult
    know what happened, though. You might be alerting authorities to a
    potentially dangerous area within the school zone.You need to find whoever is in charge, if it’s a crossing guard, a law
    enforcement agent or school staff,” Solomon says. “You need to safely
    park the vehicle and explain what happened. Sooner or later, enough
    near-misses mean someone gets hit.”
  • Treat every kid as your own: It’s not always some
    unwary motorist who is responsible for school zone traffic accidents.
    Whether they’re dropping off or picking up their children, parents also
    often break school zone road rules, say safety experts.

If you’re a parent, keep in mind that even if your children are
safely in school or in your vehicle, you still have to watch out for
their classmates. You’d want other parents to do the same for your kids.

As read on: http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/driving-safely-in-school-zones.html

Driving in the “Cone Zone” Can be Tough on Vehicles

It’s bound to happen – that moment when you enter into the “cone zone,” road construction where you will likely hit a bump or two, or come across loose stones and other hazards. These rough road conditions can be tough on a vehicle’s steering and suspension system and can throw out the alignment, while loose stones have the potential to damage the vehicle’s exterior or windshield, according to the Car Care Council.

“Even the most careful driver, who is traveling slowly and carefully through road construction, can hit an unexpected bump or other road hazards,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The key is to pay attention to your car and if you think there’s a problem, have it taken care of as soon as possible.”

The symptoms of steering and suspension or wheel alignment problems are uneven tire wear, pulling to one side, noise and vibration while cornering or loss of control. The main parts of the systems are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals or hub units and tie rod ends.

The council recommends that motorists have their vehicles checked out immediately if any of these symptoms exist, as steering and suspension systems are key safety-related components and largely determine the car’s ride and handling. Regardless of road conditions, these systems should be checked annually and a wheel alignment should be performed at the same time.

Motorists also should do frequent visual checks of their vehicle’s exterior and windshield to identify any chips, dings or cracks. These are small problems that can become costly repairs and safety hazards if they aren’t taken care of immediately.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2011/05/driving-in-the-cone-zone-can-be-tough-on-vehicles/

Avoid a Breakdown with a Belt Check

BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — You may not see them, or know much about them, but engine belts are always working to keep your vehicle moving. Losing a belt can mean immediate trouble for the engine and a breakdown for you. The Car Car Council recommends motorists “be car care aware” and review the owner’s manual to ensure that belts are inspected and replaced at the proper intervals.

A vehicle’s belts are essential to the cooling, air conditioning and charging systems of the engine. Serpentine belts are used to turn the water pump, alternator, power steering and air-conditioning compressor. Older cars use V-belts for various accessories and failure of this belt could strand a driver.

“You don’t want to be stranded because of a bad belt that could have been diagnosed with simple preventative maintenance,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “If the serpentine belt fails or breaks, the engine will fail to run and you may be stuck. The Car Care Council recommends replacing belts at specified intervals to save you from the hassle of a breakdown.”

Results of vehicle inspection events conducted around the country during National Car Care Month in April and Fall Car Care Month in October revealed that 12 percent of vehicles had belts in need of replacement.

Always check serpentine and V-belts for looseness and their overall condition. Replace V-belts when cracked, frayed, glazed or showing signs of excessive wear. Noise in the belt system is a sign of wear and the smell of burnt rubber can indicate a slipping belt. When changing a serpentine belt, it is important to check all the components in the serpentine system as tensioners and pulleys wear at the same rate as the belt and should be inspected.

Typical serpentine belt replacement is 60,000 to 90,000 miles. Typical V-belt replacement is 40,000 to 50,000 miles. Replace the timing belt per interval specified in the owner’s manual.

The non-profit Car Care Council has a free 80-page Car Care Guide for motorists that features several pages of information on the functionality of belts and when to replace them. Available in English and Spanish, the popular guide uses easy-to-understand everyday language rather than technical automotive jargon, fits easily in a glove box and can be ordered by visiting http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

SOURCE Car Care Council

Read more at: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/avoid-a-breakdown-with-a-belt-check-300030056.html

Winter Driving Tips

Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. AAA reminds motorists to be cautious while driving in adverse weather. For more information on winter driving, the association offers the How to Go on Ice and Snow brochure, available through most AAA offices. Contact your local AAA club for more information.

AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:

– Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.

– Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.

– Make certain your tires are properly inflated.

– Never mix radial tires with other tire types.

– Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.

– If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.

– Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).

– Always look and steer where you want to go.

– Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

Tips for long-distance winter trips:

– Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.

– Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.

– Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.

– Pack a cellular telephone with your local AAA’s telephone number, plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.

– If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.

– Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.

– Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.

– Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.

– Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.

– If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

Tips for driving in the snow:

– Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

– Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.

– The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

– Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

– Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.

– Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.

– Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

– Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

Read more at: http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/winter-driving-tips/

Secure a Safe Ride Home this Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us and with the time of season comes a chance to reconnect with old friends and celebrate the preceding year while anticipating the next.

For those going out, safety should be top of mind. If you’re going out to celebrate and will be drinking, it’s always smart to secure a designated driver before heading to the bar.

Aside from the inherent safety risks of drinking and driving, penalties for drivers who get caught driving after drinking too much can be staggering, particularly with new enhanced fines for drivers registering higher blood-alcohol levels.

According to Michigan State Police, a motorist convicted of drunk driving can expect to face serious consequences including:

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to a $500 fine
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • 180 days driving suspension
  • Six points on a driver’s license

In addition, they will be subject to a $1,000 fee for two consecutive years, for a total of $2,000 in additional costs. Anyone who refuses a breath test the first time is given an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension. Additional fees will be assessed to drivers qualifying under Michigan’s “super-drunk” laws, which apply to drivers registering a BAC of .17 percent or higher.

The easiest option for securing a sober driver is to recruit a friend who won’t be drinking and can take the keys for the night. If that can’t be arranged, there are several cab and designated-driver services in your area that can ensure you and your vehicle arrive home safely.

The National Directory of Designated Driver Services lists businesses and non-profit organizations who provide designated-driver services. These companies often take a “team-lift” approach, with two drivers meet you at a specified location in one vehicle. One driver drives you home in your own vehicle while the second follows and transports that driver back home after you arrive safely.

Especially given the higher demand during the holidays, early reservations are encouraged.

Dan Mehlh, owner of Waterford-based Designated Driver Services, says his company will handle any rides to or from an Oakland County community. His company uses the two-driver approach and has been in business for about 10 years.

Mehlh says securing a safe ride is a “no-brainer” to avoid stiff fines and legal woes.

“I had one of my lawyer customers tell me if you robbed a liquor store without a gun you’d have a better record than DUI,” Mehlh said. Unlike the robbers, the driver could lose his or her license and face stricter fines and checkups.

For businesses such as Mehlh’s, there generally is a flat fee plus a per-mile fee for a ride, well below the fines drivers incur after a drunk-driving arrest.

One business owner, Mark E. Messing, suggests booking a safe ride now in advance of a busy holiday for his drivers.

Messing owns two Roseville-based designated-driver companies, Safe Way Home LLC and 4 My Ride LLC, serving Oakland, Wayne, St. Clair, Livingston, Washtenaw and Macomb counties.

“Start calling and booking now,” he said of arranging a safe ride. Of his 110 drivers, nearly half are booked for New Year’s Eve and his business also is handling a large slate of holiday parties ahead of Christmas Day.

Here is a list of Designated Driver providers in Oakland County, according to the directory:

When in doubt, ask a bartender

If you find yourself at a bar and having consumed more drinks than you had expected and don’t have a way to arrange a ride home, ask a bartender for local taxi or designated-driver services. It is in a bar’s best interest to ensure its patrons arrive home safely and not wind up in an accident or in jail.

As read on: http://westbloomfield.patch.com/groups/holidays/p/going-out-to-celebrate-this-holiday-secure-a-safe-ride-home_9e448b49