Winter Driving Safety

December 22, 2009

Driving in Snow Winter Safety TipsThe snowy season is a thrilling time for winter sports, building snowmen, admiring nature’s beauty and curling up by a (closely-tended) fire with loved ones.  Winter driving, however is not a winter sport and it poses daunting threats to even the most cautious drivers.  The surest way to remain safe is, of course, to avoid driving in snowy and icy conditions, but we understand that the snow days of yore may be a distant memory.

While you may not have the luxury of staying home and building snowmen, you can minimize the special risks of traveling in snow and ice by heeding certain precautions while driving and by employing defensive driving to anticipate the mistakes of others.

Travelers, one of Asset Security’s trusted insurance carriers, has created a Winter Driving Safety Quiz where you can test your automobile acumen and learn valuable safety tips. Topics include defensive driving, speed, safety concerns, weather conditions, driving habits, and accident reduction techniques.  I scored a cool 10/10! What will you score?

Travelers Winter Driving Safety, Asset Security, Inc Insurance

Take the Travelers Winter Driving Safety Quiz now and then continue on below for more safe driving tips!

Consider the following:

  • Get an engine tune-up in the fall.  Switch to winter-weight oil if you aren’t already using all-season oil. Be sure all lights are in good working order. Have the brakes adjusted.
  • Battery and voltage regulator should be checked. Make sure battery connections are good.
  • If the battery terminal posts seem to be building up a layer of corrosion, clean them with a paste of baking soda and water. Let it foam, and then rinse with water. Apply a thin film of petroleum jelly to the terminal posts to prevent corrosion, and reconnect.
  • Be sure all fluids are at proper levels. Antifreeze should not only be strong enough to prevent freezing, but fresh enough to prevent rust.
  • Make sure wiper blades are cleaning properly. Consider changing to winter wiper blades, which are made for driving in snow. They are covered with a rubber boot to keep moisture away from working parts of the blade.
  • Don’t idle a cold vehicle’s engine for along time to warm it up – it could harm the engine. The right way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it.

Try to be equipped with the following, especially for emergencies:

  • Snow shovel.
  • Scraper with a brush on one end.
  • Tow chain or strap.
  • Tire chains.
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries).
  • Abrasive material (cat litter, sand, salt, or traction mats).
  • Jumper cables.
  • Warning device (flares or reflective triangles).
  • Brightly colored cloth to signal for help.
  • Sleeping bags or blankets, ski caps, and mittens.
  • First-aid supplies.
  • Compass.

Getting Unstuck:

  •   Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way. Keep a light touch on the gas, and ease forward. Don’t spin your wheels–you’ll just dig in deeper.
  • Rocking the vehicle is another way to get unstuck. (Check your owner’s manual first–it can damage the transmission on some vehicles). Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.
  • Front-wheel drive vehicles, snow tires should be on the front – the driving axle – for better traction in mud or snow.
  • Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), keep your foot on the pedal. If not, pump the pedal gently, pumping more rapidly as your car slows down. Braking hard with non-anti-lock brakes will make the skid worse.
  • Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but  don’t try to steer immediately.
  • As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently. 

Source: The National Safety Council’s “Winter, Your Car and You.”

If your rear wheels start to skid:

  • Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), keep your foot on the pedal. If not, pump the pedal gently, pumping more rapidly as your car slows down. Braking hard with non-anti-lock brakes will make the skid worse.

If your front wheels start to skid:

  • To avoid skids, brake carefully and gently on snow or ice. “Squeeze” your brakes in slow, steady strokes. Allow the wheels to keep rolling. If they start to lock up, ease off the brake pedal. As you slow down, you may also want to shift into a lower gear.
  • When sleet, freezing rain or snow start to fall, remember that bridges, ramps, and overpasses are likely to freeze first. Also be aware that slippery spots may still remain after road crews have cleared the highways.

Source: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Driver’s Manual

Remember: Ice and Snow? Take it slow!


Thanksgiving Insurance plus Pumpkin Spice Bars Recipe

November 18, 2009

Okay, there is no such thing as Thanksgiving insurance, but you can manage risks by cautiously cooking up that Thanksgiving storm (Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking fires and home insurance claims according to the National Fire Protection Association) and by ensuring that your home is protected with adequate insurance coverage.  Although financial times are tough, now is not the time to retreat and skimp on insurance; you may even consider increasing your limits.  During the holiday season, your home sees more guests bustling in and out, which may increase liability risks, and more cooking, which may expose safety hazards.

Below are a few things to be mindful of when entertaining your family and friends for the holiday:

  • “You can’t tell if a food is safe to eat by how it looks or tastes. Proper storage, cooking and handling are the only ways to ensure safe food.” Read this food safety information to prevent food poisoning.
  • If you are deep-frying your turkey, consider doing it in the garage or out on the deck. If you must do it inside, do not leave it unattended!
  • Stay in the kitchen while anything is being cooked. You want to make sure nothing spills, catches fire or boils over.
  • LEARN HOW TO PUT OUT A GREASE FIRE.
  • Be the Top Chef in your kitchen and make sure anyone helping you is being cautious.  Beware of letting children help in the kitchen–they can be injured and if it is a friend or relative’s child, a liability risk can arise.  
  • Invest in a fire extinguisher. It could stop a fire from becoming overwhelming and it can grant you a discount on your homeowner’s policy!
  • Push your sleeves up and wear fitted clothing so that loose articles don’t get set ablaze.
  • Keep your kitchen tidy and make sure paper towels, pot holders and packages are away from the stove.
  • Clean up spills or anything on the floor immediately to prevent slips and falls.  
  • Learn how to do the Heimlich Maneuver in case anyone is choking.
  • If anyone has had a bit too much to drink, do not let them drive away from your house. If they are involved in an accident, the subsequent liquor liability lawsuit could absolutely devastate your financial stability.
  • One guarantee for a great Thanksgiving is this recipe for pumpkin spice bars! It is yum in the tum and will give you a little insurance that everyone’s stomach is happy! 

    Make Pumpkin Spice Bars

    Pumpkin Spice Bars
    4 large eggs
    1 3/4 cup sugar
    1 cup vegetable oil
    2 cups fresh pumpkin puree*
    2 cups all purpose flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (avail in gourmet dept)
    2 cups golden raisins 
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • In mixer, beat eggs until frothy.
    • Add sugar and beat for 2 minutes.
    • Beat in vegetable oil and pumpkin.
    • Sift dry ingredients over the raisins and fold dry mixture into the egg mixture. Do not over mix.
    • Pour into a greased and floured 13″x9″ pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until firm to touch in center.
    • Cool on rack and cut into 24 squares.
    • DEVOUR.

    *To prepare fresh pumpkin for baking, follow these steps:

    • The best and sweetest pumpkin to use is the sugar pumpkin. Baking it concentrates the sugars and flavors.
    • Wash the pumpkin, discard the stem and quarter the pumpkin.
    • Remove seeds and save.
    • Place skin side down in a roasting pan filled with one inch of water
    • Bake at 325 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until knofe pierces flesh easily.
    • Remove from pan and cool
    • Spoon out flesh infor food processor and process until smooth.

    NJ Motorists Must Comply w/ New Law or Get Caught on Thin Ice

    October 21, 2009

    NJ Legislators have passed a law requiring drivers to clear snow and ice from cars or be subject to a fine.

    Let me set the scene: It’s the day after a snow storm and you need to head to the market, so you’re shoveling your driveway and digging your car out of the snow.  You clean off the snow and ice that have accumulated atop your vehicle and then you finally hit the road (if you haven’t stopped to take another shower and a nap because all that work got you perspiring and tired!).

    You’re on the road now and even though the snow has stopped, you see snow and ice flying at your car from all directions because the cars in front of you failed to clear their cars of the wintery mix. Besides being a nuisance, snow and ice on cars presents a serious safety hazard. In the event that a sheet of ice becomes dislodged from a car, it could find its way to another car’s windshield, causing property damage, an accident or injury.

    In an effort to protect drivers from this hazard, a recent New Jersey law requires motorists to make all reasonable efforts to remove ice or snow from vehicle or face a fine.  The lawstates that a police officer may stop a motorist whose vehicle has accumulated ice or snow which may pose a threat to persons or property.  The driver will be subject to a fine of not less than $25 or more than $75 for each offense, regardless of whether any snow or ice actually dislodged from the motor vehicle.  The law assures “no motor vehicle points or automobile insurance eligibility points shall be assessed for this offense.”

    Though you may not live in New Jersey, take it upon yourself to clear your car of snow and ice before driving. The consequences of failing to do so could be much greater than a $75 fine.  If a piece of ice takes flight from your car, you could be held liable for damaging one’s property or causing bodily injury to another.


    OH, DEER…

    October 6, 2009

    The Insurance Information Institute (III) reported that deer-to-vehicle collisions are on the rise, spiking 18.3% over the last five years. The average property damage cost of these incidents was $3,050 and if your policy does not cover deer collision, guess who’s paying. Unless you can harangue that deer to write you a check for a cool $3,000, the money will be coming out of your pocket.

    Here’s How it Works:

    • All states require motorists to have liability insurance. This means that if you are responsible for causing an accident, your insurance company will pay for any bodily injury or property damage to others…
    • …But there is no mandate that you must insure against damage to your car.  Even the most cautious and conscientious driver can be involved in an accident, though, so you may consider securing collision and comprehensive coverage.  
    • Collision coverage pays for loss due to collision with another vehicle or object (like a tree that came out of nowhere!). It also covers loss due to upset (if your car does a triple lutz or a back flip).
    • Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for any direct damage to your vehicle other than collision. This includes: fire, theft, explosion, earthquake, windstorm, missiles (whoa), falling objects, hail or water, flood, vandalism, riot and civil commotion, glass breakage, contact with birds or animals (oh deer!)

    Contact us for a complimentary policy review to ensure that your coverage protects your car adequately: 914-598-3004 or jaime@assetsecurityrm.com

    Take Preventative Measures:

    The III offers these defensive driving tips to avoid hitting a deer:

    • Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions.
    • Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland. Deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer, others may be nearby.
    • When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
    • Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
    • Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
    • Always wear your seat belt. Most people injured in car/deer crashes were not wearing their seat belt.
    • Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.

    If your vehicle strikes a deer, get your car off the road, if possible, and call the police.

    Happy and safe driving!