Driving Etiquette: The Left Lane

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Driving EtiquetteYour driving etiquette reveals a lot about you. It demonstrates your level of patience, or lack thereof. How you drive tells the world whether you are extremely vigilant, somewhat careful or completely reckless. And it shows whether you’re a habitual rule follower, rule breaker or somewhere in between.

How you carry yourself on the road also demonstrates how considerate you are. But you don’t have to break the legal rules of the road to show a lack consideration for your fellow motorists.

There’s one place on the public roadways where we see the most breaches of driving etiquette: the left lane of the highway. For example:

Allowing other drivers to merge onto the highway. Proper driving etiquette dictates that if you are in the far right lane and one or more cars are attempting to merge onto a highway, you should move over if the next lane is clear. Many drivers fail to do this. Some don’t pay attention to cars trying to merge. Others have the attitude that it’s not their job to let others on the road. Be considerate and give drivers extra room to merge onto the highway.

Stopping to allow others to merge. I understand why people think this is good driving etiquette and a nice thing to do. But unless you are in heavy stop-and-go traffic, it’s dangerous. It slows the flow of traffic and the driver behind you isn’t expecting you to stop. If you can’t move over to the left, try to create room between cars by either accelerating or easing off the accelerator.

Hogging the passing lane.  Other than moving out of the way of mergers, the only reason to be in the far left lane is to pass slower traffic. Unfortunately, too many drivers block this lane and force faster cars to pass on the right. Some people camp out in the left lane because they’re afraid of deer running across the road and think it’s safer on the left side. Proper driving etiquette says you should move over for mergers or pass quickly, then return to the right lane.

Passing in cruise control. You have the cruise control set at 65 and you come up behind a car doing 62. As you get closer, you start to pass but leave the car in cruise. So instead of quickly getting past the slower car, you end up blocking the left lane for several minutes. Next think you know, a car driving at 67 is stuck behind both of you.

Using good driving etiquette not only shows consideration for other drivers, but also reduces accidents. So be respectful of others on the road, and stay safe!

photo credit: Rupert Ganzer via Flickr cc by-nd 2.0

Protect Your Car: Don’t Let Zombies Eat It!

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Halloween Car

The zombies will be out this weekend! Protect your car!

Most will beg for candy. Others will try to scare us. Some will play tricks.

Of course, some of these “tricks” can be damaging to your car’s paint job. Like pelting a car with eggs, pumpkins or silly string. These substances have chemicals that feast on a car’s paint if not removed quickly.

Halloween seems to bring out the maliciousness in a lot of people. And unfortunately, automobiles parked in the driveway or on the street are an easy target.

But Halloween tricks aren’t your car’s only enemy. Caked on dirt, bird droppings, tree sap, dead bugs, road tar and salt get baked into your car’s finish by the sun and slowly eat away at its flesh. Kind of like a zombie….

Here’s how to repel the “zombies” that attack your automobile’s appearance!

Fight the Zombies

As soon as a zombie attaches itself to your car, drown it off. The longer these chemically laced droppings and other foreign substances stick to your vehicle, the more they eat your paint job. Washing your vehicle once a week will minimize the damage and protect your car. I suggest hand-washing as drive-through car washes typically only spray off the surface dirt and don’t fully remove the tough stuff—like “zombies.” Also, you should wash your car out of direct sunlight, and get in the habit of drying it off to protect the car’s paint from minerals left behind from the water.

Car Detailing BarIf you have really tough zombies you can’t wash off, your next weapon of choice is an auto-detailing clay bar that removes contaminants without scratching the surface.

Most people don’t want to spend so much time on their car, but you have to remember the investment you’ve made. Appearance will impact resale value. So protect your car because the more it shines, the more it will fetch when you’re ready to part with it. A dull finish and rust spots, on the other hand, will decrease its value.

Defend Your Car From Zombies

Today’s cars come equipped with clear-coat finishes that many people mistakenly believe forever protects them against zombies. Not quite.

Most experts agree that if you want to maintain a car’s healthy appearance, you need to regularly give it a coat of wax. A traditional carnauba wax can last 8 to 12 weeks, while paint sealants protect your car for about six months. A third more expensive but more effective option is nano coating. This spray-on coating creates a shell over your paint job and protects the finish for as long as three years.

Hide From the Zombies

Car in GarageThe best way to protect your car from the zombies is to hide it by keeping it in a garage or carport as much as possible. I know some people who drive into work before sunrise, park their car in a parking ramp, then drive it home and into garage. Their car only sees the sky for short periods of time. Of course, this isn’t possible for everyone, but it’s definitely a good way to keep that paint job pristine!

One of a zombie’s goals is to turn living beings into other zombies. Neglect your car’s exterior and those zombies will transform it into a lifeless, scary-looking zombie on wheels.

photo credit: Valerie Everett via Flickr cc by-sa 2.0
photo credit: Chris via Flickr cc by-nc 2.0
photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr cc by 2.0

The Latest and Greatest in Vehicle Safety Features

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seat belt plugVehicle safety features are always evolving to take advantage of emerging technology. First it was seatbelts, then airbags and emergency services like OnStar.

But lately car manufacturers have taken safety to an entirely new level. Remember the 1980s TV show “Knight Rider” starring David Hasselhoff and his talking Trans Am, KITT? While we’ve not quite reached the level of artificial intelligence of KITT, cars are now more interactive and safety oriented than ever!

Packed with all kinds of cameras and sensors, newer vehicles have multiple standard and non-standard features to choose from:

  • Automatic braking – Automatic braking is initiated when the car senses an obstacle on the road ahead that the driver is not reacting to quickly enough.
  • Steering assistance – This feature takes over if the driver begins to drift into another lane.
  • Blind spot warnings – Some cars warn drivers if there are adjacent vehicles outside the normal field of view. These systems are now standard in many of the latest family vehicles.
  • Wake-up calls – Manufacturers have started installing alerts that warn drivers if they start to doze off or are not paying enough attention to the road.
  • Pedestrian and cyclist detection – Select automobiles can not only spot other cars on the road, but also warn you or help you stop if pedestrians or bicyclists wander into your path.

Additional safety enhancements include:

Backup warnings – Cameras mounted on the rear of a vehicle with dashboard monitors have been commonplace for several years, but manufacturers have continued to upgrade this function based on new technology. The latest trends include moving object detection that warns if something is about to cross within the area the car is backing up. Also, many automobiles not only provide warning, but activate the brakes if another car or a pedestrian is in the way.

Front center-mounted airbags – Several GM SUVs include a center-mounted airbag that deploys between the front seats in the event of an accident. This feature is designed to prevent drivers from being catapulted to the passenger side during rollovers and to protect better against side-impact collisions.

Hydrophobic windows – Driving in pouring rain can be treacherous, and this fairly new feature alleviates some of the danger. A special treatment is applied to the side windows so that they shed water to preserve visibility.

While no amount of technology will completely eliminate the risk of car accidents, we have far more protection than ever before. Avoiding those costly fender benders and destructive collisions gets easier every year!

photo credit: Benjamin Goodger via Flickr CC BY 2.0
photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Drive the Wrong Car

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Teen with first car

For some parents, it’s the worst day ever. Your teenager somehow figured out a way to obtain a legal driver’s license, and your state is actually permitting them to operate a motor vehicle on the road with other drivers.

You can fight this by never letting your teenager drive, but, unfortunately, this will mean chauffeuring your son or daughter to school, athletic practices, dates, etc…. forever! And unless you want the inconvenience and anxiety of sharing your vehicle, you’ll probably have to give in and either buy or help your teen buy a car.

Teen DriverFinding the Perfect Car Balance
Finding the perfect car for a teenager is like trying to get a group of people to agree on pizza toppings. Your teen wants style and a great sound system. You’re more interested in cost and safety. Before buying that first car, do your research.

 

Some guidelines to choosing the best option include:

  • Check out the crash-test data. Safercar.gov, operated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has an easy-to-use database showing how different cars fared in crash tests.
  • Go with a midsize. Compacts may be better on gas mileage, but they also provide less protection in the event of an accident. At the same time, trucks and SUVs may be too difficult to handle for new drivers, and they are more prone to rollovers.
  • Four Cylinders rather than Six or Eight. Smaller engines will save on fuel and limit the speed your teen can drive. Pro Tip: Insurance rates are typically lower on four-cylinder engines!

Dad and teen with car

Used Car Danger
Parents may be tempted to purchase a 20-year-old beat up jalopy for their teenager to save on both the cost of the car and insurance. Plus, if you assume your inexperienced driver will likely run into a tree or scrape the side of the garage, it’s better to do it in something that’s seen better days.

I caution against this for a few reasons:

  • Reliability. The more miles on a car, the more it will cost to maintain. Any used car can break down, but an older model is more likely to leave your teen stranded somewhere.
  • Safety. Older models won’t include safety features that are now standard on all vehicles–including dual-side airbags and electric stability control. This latter feature is one I highly recommend making sure is available on your child’s first car. Stability control automatically engages the brake and throttle to help prevent a vehicle from spinning out of control in sudden and/or extreme maneuvers. These mistakes can be common with novice drivers more prone to panic in certain situations.

Enhanced Safety Features
MyKey DisplayIn the last several years, Ford has introduced its MyKey system. This is a special key used by a teen driver that parents program to limit the top speed the vehicle can travel when your child drives and sound alerts when seatbelts are unfastened.

Hyundai’s Blue Link system, available in most 2014 models, provides speed alerts and can track the vehicle’s location. It also sends text messages if the car is used outside of predetermined times.

If you can’t find or afford a vehicle with these features, don’t worry. If you have a smartphone or tablet, there are dozens of apps available that can block text messages while driving, alert you of speed and track movements. You can also monitor your child’s driving through a subscription to an Internet-based GPS tracking service. Features may vary, but these surveillance systems keep you updated on speed and location.

It’s scary letting your teen drive. And expensive. But making a prudent choice for your child’s first vehicle can take some of the worry and cost out of the transition into adulthood.

Click here to check out Enterprise’s current inventory of cars for sale

If you or anyone you know is looking to buy a used rental vehicle, email me at brianschneider9@yahoo.com or give me a call at (614) 418-7574!

Brian Schneider

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photo credit: State Farm via Flickr cc
photo credit: State Farm via Flickr cc
photo credit: State Farm via Flickr cc
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