Category Archives: Safety

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What Tires are Good in the Winter?

You want to make sure you’re getting the most out of everything on your car especially with the winter season only a few months away. It can be an especially hard time on cars and if everything on your vehicle isn’t up to it that can make things rough. Slick roads and lots of salt can slowly add up to do a lot of harm to your car, so it’s important to have everything ready before that first flake hits. 

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Holiday Road Travel & Driving Tips | Be Safe and Merry!

Holiday Road Trip Travel Tips - Be Safe and Merry

If you aren’t fighting for airline tickets this holiday season, you’ll be fighting for a spot on the road.

According to AAA, around 50 million American will journey 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving (defined as Nov. 23 to Nov. 27). And nearly 90% of these Thanksgiving travelers will be driving (around 44 million)!

AAA also predicts that they will be rescuing more than 370,000 motorists due mostly to dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts.

To avoid being one of the stranded families this holiday season, check your tires, go over essential car maintenance, and always carry these items in your car.

In addition to the increased risk of motor accidents and breakdowns, stress and travel anxiety will also be on the rise. Whether by air, water, or highway, it can be extremely stressful and anxiety-reducing to travel during the holidays, especially during such high-travel periods as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Whether you are going on a long road trip or making a more local drive to Grandma’s, these tips and tricks will help ensure your trip is safe, fun, and stress-free.

10 Holiday Road Travel Tips

  1. Prep Your Car

Most holiday travel is made by personal vehicle. In addition to winter weather conditions, the drives tend to me a lot longer. In order to reduce your risk of incident, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained.

Whether your trip is a long or short one, you don’t want a breakdown to ruin the holidays. Schedule a pre-trip tune-up to check your fluids, tires, battery, wipers, and everything else. Even if your maintenance is up-to-date, do a quick tire and fluids check at least a day in advance of the trip.

Here are some things you’ll want to check before hitting the road:

If you are driving during winter weather, learn vehicle winterization tips. Don’t forget to fill your gas tank before you leave.

  1. Learn How to Jumpstart a Vehicle and Change a Tire

If your battery dies, it’s easy to jump-start it. All you need are some jumper cables and another vehicle, or you can do it yourself with a portable jump starter.

Portable jump starters are also great for recharging phones and other electronics. Some even have emergency radios, lights, 12-volt outlets, and air compressors. Don’t forget to charge your portable jump starter before the trip!

Additionally, it’s a good idea to double-check your spare tire before any road trip. To save time and impress your traveling companions, learn how to change a tire beforehand. 

  1. Enjoy the Moment

We’re not going to try to mislead you about holiday travel—it can be extremely stressful. However, you do have a lot of control and choice in the matter.

Instead of being all up in your head, worried about traffic, being late, anxieties, judgements, what-ifs, predictions, and the unremitting stress of work, family, and society, transform that anxiety into laughter and joy. You probably have family around you. Be sensitive to the present moment and enjoy it.

Nobody knows you better than yourself. Bring the things that will help make your time more enjoyable and less stressful. Whether that means noise-cancelling headphones, a good book/podcast, or comfy clothes, focus on the things that bring you and your companions happiness.

  1. Make a List and Check It Twice

One of the best ways to reduce travel stress and enjoy the moment is by making a list and checking it twice.

Make a list of everything you need for the trip:

  • Passport/Driver’s License
  • Insurance Documents
  • Phone/Phone Charger
  • Music/Audio
  • Wallet/Money/Keys
  • Laptop/Laptop Charger
  • Clothing (Layers)
  • Toiletries
  • Medication/First Air Kit
  • Car Supplies
  • Food (learn how to cook on-the-go with our Thanksgiving Car-B-Q post)
  • Gifts and Presents

Pack whatever you can at least a day in advance of the trip. The last things you should pack are items like your toothbrush, phone, and wallet. This should be a separate “final” list of items. Place this list on top of your packed suitcase so you don’t forget anything.

In addition to your packing list, there should also be a household chores list—things like washing the dishes, taking the trash out, and making sure the iron isn’t plugged in. There’s nothing worse than coming home to a filthy, smelly home.

Don’t forget to look up the weather and bring plenty of cold-weather items. And if you promised, don’t forget your famous casserole or pie to do for.

Wake up early and get some coffee and a good bite to eat. Then, make sure the car is packed with everything for holiday trip, including these essential vehicle items. Double check your “final” list of items and household chores list. At last, leave in complete confidence and enjoy the trip.

  1. Leave Early (or Late)

This is true no matter how you are traveling, but it’s especially true for drivers. Although most drivers try to leave early to “beat traffic,” many fail to achieve their goals. If you wake up early enough and already have everything packed the night before, you can beat the masses. Another option is to leave in the evening or night, however, if nighttime driving tends to be less safe.

The worst traffic usually occurs between 12pm and 5pm. Try to avoid the afternoon if possible.

You may also want to avoid the busiest travel days, which is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. Consider traveling on Thanksgiving morning and heading home on Friday or Saturday to beat the travel rush.

  1. Bring Entertainment

There are so many amazing Podcasts and audiobooks available at the press of a button that there should be no excuse of boredom during a long car trip.

If you don’t want to fight over every single song that gets chosen (that’s a lot of potential arguing and discomfort), choose long-form audio in the form of audiobooks or podcasts. Try to agree on what you will be listening to before the trip begins. Nothing’s worse than a road trip starting off on a bad note (pun intended) because you’re arguing about what to listen to.

Choose one of the following podcasts and you’ll be able to spark interesting conversations for the entire duration of the trip. Hopefully everyone will agree and nobody will be bored!

Here are some of the best podcasts suitable for kids and families:

  • Tumble Science Podcast for Kids – Kids’ science podcast for the whole family.
  • The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian – A very entertaining serialized science fiction story.
  • Dream Big Podcast – The entrepreneur podcast for kids on pursuing dreams and making them a reality.
  • Story Time – Best for younger audiences, around ages 2-12. Great for those who love bedtime stories.
  • But Why – Kids ask why, and adults find the answers. Topics are wide and varied.
  • Brains On! – In-depth discussions of interesting questions with scientific answers.

If you have an older crowd in the car (teens and older), you may want to listen to some of these podcasts:

  • Lore – Creepy, real-life stories hosted by (now a TV show on Amazon Prime).
  • Welcome to Night Vale – A brilliant mixture of comedy, mystery, and horror (a la Twilight Zone).
  • Lux Radio Theater – Radio shows of old movies. Great for classic movie fans.
  • This American Life – If you are a fan of NPR and PBS storytelling, you’ll enjoy this one (also a TV show).
  • Radiolab – Stimulating discussions on a wide range of philosophical and scientific topics.
  • The Moth – Award-winning show about real-life stories from real-life people.
  • Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! – NPR game show with plenty of laughs.
  • Hardcore History – For the history buffs.
  • You Must Remember This – Intriguing stories from Hollywood (start with the Charles Manson episodes).

If you are looking for a serialized podcast that leaves you hanging at the end of each episode, consider Serial, S-Town, and Criminal.

For a break from music and podcasts, learn the best games to play in the car.

  1. Use a GPS App

If you are looking for the fastest way to get to your destination, a GPS app is a must. Even if you know where you are going, today’s GPS apps can give you real-time traffic updates, road conditions, custom navigations, and other major benefits. The most popular ones are Google Maps and Waze. For more usability, go with Google Maps, but Waze will probably get you there faster.

And don’t worry about data. You can download maps to your phone via WiFi before heading on the road.

Use Waze, GasBuddy, and other apps to find the cheapest gas on your route.

  1. Pack Snacks

If you’re going to make it to your destination with minimal stops, you will need to pack some drinks and snacks.

While you don’t want to ruin your appetite, you also don’t want to arrive “hangry.”

Consider these nutritional snacks to avoid highway stops and arrive happier and healthier:

  • Nuts/Trail Mix
  • Jerky
  • Nutrition Bars
  • Granola
  • Fruit and Vegetables
  • Popcorn
  • Cheese and Crackers
  • Chocolate/Candy
  • Water/Juice
  1. Stop If You Need To

Sometimes a break is needed. If someone wants to stop, stop. Don’t cause yourself back pain or unwanted aggression by fighting the urge to make a pit stop.

Also, stops can serve as a nice refresh button when things are getting tense. Stretch, walk around, use the rest room. It’s a great way to feel better on long trips.

When traveling with children, teach them to avoid strangers and consider giving them a whistle if you should get separated.

You may even see a roadside attraction you want to squeeze in. If you left early, you should have no problem arriving on time.

  1. Be Safe!

Above all else, be safe!

You can reduce your chances of an accident with the following vehicle and road safety tips:

  • Get a good night’s sleep. Never drive while drowsy!
  • Buckle up, follow all rules of the road, and do NOT drive impaired!
  • Do not use the phone while driving. Either pull over first or have a passenger relay a message for you. Otherwise, it can wait.
  • Make stops to stretch, snack, and rotate drivers if you need to.
  • Clean your headlights, taillights, and signal lights if you need to. Learn more headlight safety tips.
  • Don’t tailgate—use the minimum 2-second rule during good driving conditions and the 4-second rule for rainy and unsafe driving conditions.
  • Download GPS maps and choose your music/audio before you leave. This will prevent the urge to fiddle with your phone while driving.
  • Wear comfortable, close-toed shoes. Bare feet and sandals won’t provide any protection in the event of an accident.
  • Make sure you have your insurance and roadside assistance information on hand.
  • Keep a phone and charger with you. (Portable jump starters can serve as backup battery chargers).
  • Learn common driving mistakes and how to avoid them.
  • Learn winter driving tips and how to handle black ice and skids.
  • Learn about your vehicle dashboard warning lights and what they mean.

Use this infographic from AAA for more travel tips this holiday season:

Road Trip Holiday Travel Safety Tips

More Driving and Road Safety:

Need a safe vehicle for your holiday travels? We carry a large inventory of Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, each of which go through a comprehensive 180-Point Quality Inspection by our expert mechanics.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Wishing you a fun and safe holiday season!

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5 Haunted Roads & Places in Tennessee

5 Scariest Haunted Roads and Places in Tennessee (TN)

It’s Halloween weekend and for those of us who are too old to trick-or-treat, we’re probably going to binge-watch horror movies, go on haunted pub crawls, or if we’re daring enough, take a trip to the spookiest roads and places in our state.

If you want to visit some of the most haunted roads and places in Tennessee, look no further. Whether it’s ghosts and grave robbers or cult ceremonies and cryptic messages, your primal terrors are sure to be awakened. Just remember to have gas in the engine, check your tires, and have these essential car items when you go… if you dare.

5 Haunted Roads and Places in Tennessee

Take a scary tour of Tennessee’s most haunted roads and places. Thanks to Civil War burial sites and rich folklore from Irish and Scottish immigrants, there are plenty of scary stories and settings to experience this Halloween. Ironically, many of the following haunted places can be both creepy and serene at the same time. You may get goosebumps from the fright or the beautiful sight.

Filled with Civil War battlefields, historic graveyards, and old-fashioned Southern lore, Tennessee is home to some of the scariest roads in the world.

  1. Roaring Fork Motor Trail (Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

Roaring Fork Motor Trail - TN Haunted Roads and Places

Source: TripAdvisor (by cbfinn_99)

Considered by many to be Tennessee’s most haunted road, Roaring Fork Motor Trail won’t disappoint. To get there, head into the Smoky Mountains National Park via the Cherokee Orchard Entrance (off the main street in Gatlinburg at traffic light #8) and you will see the cars-only Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail after you pass the Rainbow Falls trailhead.

Drive on this 5.5-mile trail located in the Smoky Mountains for a spooky but scenic drive filled with old cabins and mills, beautiful waterfalls and wildlife, and maybe young Lucy — an alluring ghost who wanders around the park looking for help.

According to legend, Lucy and the rest of her family died in a tragic cabin fire at the beginning of the 20th century. There are lots of places to pull off, but don’t wander for too long. The mountain mist might just swallow you up.

Even if you don’t run into a ghostly emissary, you can still hear whispers and murmurs from the popular roaring waterfalls. As Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes stories, once said, “Where there is no imagination there is no horror.”

  1. Drummond’s Bridge/Trestle (Briceville, TN)

Drummond's Bridge - TN Haunted Roads and Places

Source: realhauntedplaces.blogspot

In Briceville, there is a scary bridge that is made even scarier by local lore. There are many different accounts of the Drummond legend, however, it seems the real story is that a 25-year-old miner was hanged in retaliation for the murder of William Laugherty during the Coal Creek War (Karin Shapiro, A New South Rebellion).

Richard (Dick) Drummond - Coal Creek War, Briceville, TN

Source: coalcreekaml.com

The Coal Creek War was an armed labor uprising that started after the Coal Creek Mining and Manufacturing Co. started sending prisoners from the Tennessee state prison system to work in the mines (the Tennessee State Prison is a haunted spot in its own right — watch this drone film for a virtual tour). This saved the company money but left many Briceville men unemployed. On October 31, 1891, coal miners took up arms and revolted. The war resulted in many deaths, and although the revolt was squashed, the convict labor system was eventually abolished.

Dick Drummond was one of the many laborers who were killed by militiamen sent by the Governor John P. Buchanan. Legend has it that the ghost of Dick Drummond still wanders the area looking for revenge against the soldiers who dragged him to the railroad trestle and hanged him. If you are one to connect with the spirits, you may be able to see a shadowy figure hanging from the bridge’s trestlework or walking the tracks.

As part of a spooky game, kids dare each other to walk across the bridge at midnight. Apparently, at this witching hour Drummond walks across the bridge and then vanishes into thin air. Whether it’s a local trickster or the ghost of Drummond himself, the trip will surely scare the wits out of you. Bring your camera, you may just be able to capture it.

If you don’t think that’s scary enough, try driving through Circle Cemetery Road, up the hill on Circle Road, which causes the chills even during daylight. Also be sure to check out Red Ash Cemetery (official name is Turley Cemetery), around 10 minutes away from the bridge, located off Old Tennessee 63 in Caryville, TN (GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 36.365900, Longitude: -84.271475).

The entire Red Ash area is suspected of being haunted, including reports of giant goat-men and hell-hounds. From Satanic rituals to murder, stories and hauntings abound. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

  1. Sensabaugh Hollow Road/ Sensabaugh Tunnel (Kingsport, TN)

 Sensabaugh Tunnel and Sensabaugh Hollow Road - TN Haunted Roads and Places

Source: Flickr (posted by DM)

Located in a beautiful hamlet in Kingsport, Tennessee, Sensabaugh Tunnel and Sensabaugh Hollow Road are surrounded by primitive forests and valleys.

Since Sensabaugh Tunnel was first built in the early 1900s, people have been reporting screams, baby cries, and other phantom sounds coming from the tunnel. According to legend, a homeless man broke into the Sensabaugh family home and kidnapped their child. Ed Sensabaugh chased the man into the tunnel, but he was too late. The kidnapper drowned the baby in the tunnel before Ed had the chance to stop the thief.

Another version of the story claims that Ed was the murderer. Ask some Tennessee locals about the tale and you might hear a story of Ed the Madman, who went crazy and murdered is wife and child. He took their lifeless bodies and hid them in the tunnel.

Other folklore says there was a woman who was driving through the tunnel when her car stalled and she went searching for help. As you might expect, she was never found again. Another story tells of a young pregnant woman who was chased into the tunnel. She gave birth to her child before dying soon afterward. The baby’s cries can still be heard today.

If you are too afraid to go walking around, don’t assume you are safe inside your car. Tennessee folklore also warns of a ghostly woman who will appear in your backseat if you try driving through. Others claim that if you drive into the tunnel and turn your car off when in the middle, you won’t be able to turn it back on again until you have manually pushed the vehicle out of the tunnel first.

Even though the Sensabaughs and the women in the tunnel are long gone, their spirits are said to be lurking, scaring off anyone who dares to enter. Needless to say, Sensabaugh Hollow Road and Sensabaugh Tunnel are terrifying places to visit, especially on a dark autumn night.

  1. Franklin on Foot (Downtown Franklin, TN)

Franklin, TN 3rd Avenue - TN Haunted Roads and Places

Source: TripAdvisor (submitted by RangerNate)

If you want to step out of your car and experience history and folklore told by master storytellers, consider Franklin on Foot, an in-depth ghost tour founded by Margie Thessin. According to her interview with Williamson Source, the most haunted street in Franklin is 3rd Avenue.

Located just south of Nashville, downtown Franklin is home to some great cemeteries and Civil War sites. You can choose among the many tours available, including the Classic Franklin, Civil War in Franklin, Grave Matters in the Cemetery, and Ghosts of the Battlefield at the Lotz House. Just remember to make reservations in advance on the website (available Monday through Saturday).

Watch this video from Williamson Source to learn more: 

  1. Meeman-Shelby Forest (Germantown, TN) and Pigman Bridge (Millington, TN)

Pigman Bridge - TN Haunted Roads and Places

Source: Facebook Group “Pigman Bridge Memories”

Meeman-Shelby Forest is a beautiful state park sitting on over 13,000 acres and bordering the Mississippi River just north of Memphis. Full of camping spots, hiking trails, reflective lakes, and surrounded by the Chickasaw Bluffs, the park is home to many magnificent plants and animals. In addition to bald eagles, songbirds, foxes, bobcats, and other endangered species, there’s a different sort of creature that is said to stalk the grounds.

According to legend, a man was horribly disfigured after an accident at an underground powder and explosives production plant during WWII (Millington Ordnance Works/Plant). Shunned by his coworker and the local residents and known simply as Pigman, the popular Tennessee tale says that a man with the face of a pig haunts the Shelby forests looking for his next victim.

He is most spotted at night near the “Pigman Bridge” in the nearby town of Millington, but has also been spotted at the state park. Just look for the smoke stacks near the Chicakasaw Ordnance Works. For the best chance at seeing the Pigman, wait for the full moon and park your car in the middle of the bridge at midnight. Turn your lights and engine off and roll down your windows. Then, flash your lights three times while calling “Pigman, Pigman, Pigman” at each flash and wait. Don’t worry, he’ll come to you. Oink!

For more information on Meeman-Shelby Forest, click here. Don’t forget your flashlight!

Haunted Cemeteries in Tennessee:

  • Arney Hill Cemetery – Elizebethton, TN
  • Bethel Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery – Atoka, TN
  • Elmwood Cemetery – Memphis, TN
  • Pegram Family Cemetery – Pegram, TN
  • Salem Presbyterian Church Cemetary – Atoka, TN

Haunted Bridges in Tennessee:

  • Burnt Mill Bridge – Scott County, TN
  • Crazy George’s Bridge – Dry Hollow, TN
  • Drummond’s Bridge – Briceville, TN
  • Hanniwal Bridge – Elkton, TN
  • Scarce Creek Road Bridge – Lexington, TN
  • Watauga River Bridge – Elizabethton, TN

Haunted Houses in Tennessee:

  • Bell Witch Cave – Adams, TN
  • Bell Witch Cave and Tavern – Adams, TN
  • Bellwood Mansion – Dover, TN
  • Bijou Theatre – Knoxville, TN
  • Blackwell House – Bartlett, TN
  • Brister Library – Memphis, TN
  • Carnton Plantation – Franklin, TN
  • Earnestine and Hazel’s – Memphis, TN
  • Hales Bar Marina & Dam – Guild, TN
  • Ornamental Metal Museum – Memphis, TN
  • Orpheum Theatre – Memphis, TN
  • Resthaven Memorial Gardens – Clarksville, TN
  • Rotherwood Mansion – Kingsport, TN
  • St. Paul’s Spiritual Temple – Memphis, TN
  • Tennessee State Prison – Nashville, TN
  • The Delta Queen – Chattanooga, TN
  • The Old Stone House – Alcoa, TN
  • The Read House Hotel – Chattanooga, TN
  • The Thomas House Hotel – Red Boiling Springs, TN
  • Wheatlands Plantation – Sevierville, TN
  • Woodruff-Fontaine Mansion – Memphis, TN

More Tennessee haunted places can be found here.

Warning: Many of the areas require permission to visit. Check with the local authorities to make sure you are allowed to go. Trespassers will be prosecuted.

Avoid the Real Horror This Halloween! Learn Car Safety

The worst horrors are the real-life ones. While you are extremely unlikely to experience any kind of physical injury or death from the paranormal, the odds aren’t so good when it comes to getting behind the wheel.

According to NHTSA data, Halloween is the 3rd deadliest day of the year for pedestrians, and the 2nd most dangerous day for motorists.

Car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths. In the United States alone, there are around 38,000 deaths on the roads every year, an average of approximately 102 deaths per day.

Learn essential driving safety tips to stay safe on the roads:

  • Pay extra attention to pedestrians and kids darting into the road.
  • Don’t drink and drive! Designate a sober driver.
  • Stay off your cell phone! The text/call can wait.
  • Use your lights and mirrors properly.

Related Posts


Looking for a safe vehicle for your ghost huntings? We carry a large inventory of Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, each of which go through a comprehensive 180-Point Quality Inspection before they are listed.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

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Teenager Driving Tips for National Teen Driver Safety Week

 Teenager Driving Tips - National Teen Driver Safety Week

Teenagers can’t wait to get their driver’s license. For teens, driving is new, fun, and liberating—a near-obligatory rite of passage. And parents will enjoy the extra time away from personal chauffeur duties, even if they dislike the higher insurance premiums.

Unfortunately, teens and cars are a dangerous combination. Car crashes are still the leading cause of teen deaths.

In honor of National Teen Driver Safety Week, established by Congress in 2007, we are sharing some important information on the teen driving problem and what you can do about it.

The Teen Driver Problem

  1. Car crashes are the #1 cause of death among teens. In 2015, 2,715 teenagers died in the U.S. from crash injuries. An additional 221,313 teenagers were treated in emergency departments in 2014.
  2. The crash rate for teen drivers is 3-4x the crash rate for adults. This discrepancy increases at night and when other teens are in the vehicle.
  3. The crash rate is worst during the first few months of licensure. The risk is highest at age 16.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Furthermore, research shows that the presence of passengers increases the crash risk among teenage drivers but decreases the risk among drivers 30 years and older. One study showed that the presence of peers increased risk taking among adolescents (but not adults) in a simulated driving game. Adolescent decision making is directly influenced by the mere presence of peers as shown in numerous studies of reckless driving, substance abuse, crime, and more.

In addition to being more susceptible to peer pressure than adults, young drivers also have the tendency to overestimate their own driving abilities. Peer pressure combined with poor risk assessment and inexperience makes it difficult for teenagers to drive safely.

Unfortunately, telling teenagers about the risks of the road (“scaring them straight”) may not have an impact. Research has shown that feedback about bad news makes little to no impact on teenagers’ estimates of risk assessment. While adults will alter their estimates of some event occurring based on new information, adolescents have been shown to update their estimates if there is good news, but bad news doesn’t make much of an impact.

As summarized by Robert Sapolsky in his new book, Behave (p. 161):

Researcher: “How likely are you to have a car accident if you’re driving while drunk?” Adolescent: “One chance in a gazillion.”

Researcher: “Actually, the risk is about 50 percent; what do you think your own chances are now?”

Adolescent: “Hey, we’re talking about me; one chance in a gazillion.”

Compared to adults, teenagers are at higher risk of violence, substance abuse, crime, unsafe sex, poor health habits, and automobile crashes and fatalities. These risky behaviors are the greatest threat to teenagers in industrialized societies.

For reasons that have a lot to do with neurobiology and environment, teenagers take a lot more risks and are bad at risk assessment.

What is being done about risky teenage driving?

Teenagers—the odds are against them. Luckily, some changes have been made to help reduce the risk of automobile accidents, such as graduated licensing programs.

These programs have greatly reduced the number of teenage driver crash involvements. While graduated licensing programs vary in strength from state to state, most jurisdictions have some combination of the following restrictions on young drivers:

  • Supervised learner’s period
  • Learner’s permits and intermediate licenses
  • Limitations on high-risk driving (nighttime driving or with teen passengers)
  • Higher age limits

In most states, the minimum age for getting a driver’s age is 16, although it can be as low as 14 years or as high as 17 years. In Tennessee and Georgia, the minimum age is 16, with restrictions on nighttime driving and passengers. View the graduated licensing requirements and restrictions for every state.

Graduated driving programs have been proven to quite effective, especially strong nighttime driving and teenage passenger restrictions. In addition to better graduated licensing programs, what can be done to reduce the number of teenage automobile accidents and fatalities?

Ways to Increase Teen Driver Safety

Regardless of state law, it’s a good idea to follow these best practices:

  • Wait until your teen is 17 years old to get a license (risk is highest at age 16).
  • Enforce all graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws and set stricter standards, such as at least 70 hours of supervised practice driving with an experienced adult driver.
  • During first 12 months of driving, enforce nighttime driving restrictions starting at 8 p.m. and a ban on all non-adult passengers.
  • Consider in-vehicle monitoring devices which can give feedback parents on speeding, seatbelt use, and more.
  • Be a good role model (no phone use, no speeding, etc.) and ride with them frequently.
  • Teach your teen driver to stay at least 2 seconds (3-4 seconds in unsafe conditions) behind the vehicle in front. Mark a fixed point on the road, and after the car ahead passes it, it should take you at least 2 seconds to reach that same point.
  • Obey traffic signs, wear your seatbelt, eyes on the road, and hands on the wheel. All the time.
  • Use safer cars (electronic stability control, key safety features, and bigger, heavier, and newer vehicles).
  • Even though every state has a minimum alcohol purchasing age of 21, teach your teenage drivers the importance of never getting into a car with a driver who has had even one drink. It is illegal to drink under the age of 21, so the BAC level should always be .00.
  • Texting, calling, and other phone-related distractions present the greatest increase in crash risk for teen drivers.
  • Ensure your teen driver(s) get the proper sleep they need to drive safely.
  • Set written guidelines for your teenage driver and make them sign it. No alcohol, no passengers, no nighttime driving, no speeding, no phone use, and always buckle up. There should be clear penalties for each violation of the terms. There should also be clear rewards, such as a 6-month incident-free period. For every 6-months of safe driving, you may want to increase some driving privileges. Make sure you discuss and enforce the consequences of noncompliance.

Be a good example!

Teens learn how to drive from their parents. They will quickly learn to ignore the rules if you ignore them yourself. In today’s world, the most important rule you should always follow, especially in front of your kids is to never use your phone while in transit.

Never use your phone while driving! Pull over if you need to text, call, use social media, or interact with your phone in any way, such as typing in new directions, make sure you pull over or come to a complete stop first.

Ironically, studies have shown that driver education programs may not be effective, at least in the short term. Studies have shown that advanced driver training may actually increase the risk of automobile accidents, especially among young males. Driver education programs may lead to overconfidence and the taking of unnecessary risks.

What are the safest vehicles for teenagers?

Understandably, teenagers tend to drive older-model vehicles that are already in the family. A study by the Institute of Highway Safety found that 43% of teenagers surveyed were driving vehicles that were purchased when they began driving and that 83% of the vehicles that were purchased were used.

While it makes sense not to spend a small fortune on your first car, it also makes sense to choose the safest vehicle in your budget. A separate Institute study showed that the risk of collisions and fatalities increases when teenagers are driving sports cars or small vehicles.

In order to choose the safest vehicle for your teenager(s), keep in mind the following purchasing guidelines:

  • Stay away from sports cars and high-horsepower vehicles, which encourages teens to speed and show off in the presence of peers.
  • Choose bigger, heavier vehicles with more safety features. No small cars or minicars are recommended for teenage drivers.
  • Look for seatbelt reminder systems for every seat in the car.
  • Electronic stability control (ESC), also known as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC) is an absolute must for detecting and reducing skidding and the loss of traction.
  • Look up crash test, rollover assistance, and other car safety ratings on Consumer Reports and other resources to choose the best safety ratings that you can.
  • Make sure the vehicle has working airbags. Look for head-protecting side airbags.
  • Search NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings to make sure your vehicle has a minimum 4-star rating.
  • If you can afford a newer model car, look for forward-collision warning (FCW), automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot warning (BSW), and rearview cameras.

Visit CDC.gov for more information on teen driving statistics, risk factors, and prevention.

Take the time during National Teen Driver Safety Week to decrease the chances of your teen turning into a statistic. In addition to being a good example behind the wheel, write up a contract with rewards and punishments. You have a lot more influence than you think.

Related Driving Safety Posts:


Looking for a safe car for your teen? We carry a large inventory of Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, each of which go through a comprehensive 180-Point Quality Inspection before they are listed.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

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How to Tie Things to a Car Roof | Tips for Securing Cargo

Securing Cargo on Top of Car - How to Tie Strap Things to Car Roof

Before you think about renting a U-Haul truck (which by the way is going to cost you a lot more than $19.99), figure out if you can secure the load to the roof of your car. Whether you’re taking a trip to the country or dropping your kid off at college, that extra cargo needs to go somewhere.

As a driver, you have the responsibility to properly secure your cargo to prevent injuries on the road.

In fact, according to a AAA study, more than 200,000 crashes happened between 2011 and 2014 as a result of debris on U.S. roadways. These crashes led to over 500 deaths and 39,000 injuries. Around two-thirds of these accidents were the result of improper maintenance and unsecured loads. You can help decrease road-debris crashes by learning how to properly secure cargo on your cars and truck beds.

And whatever you do, don’t strap your dog or any other pet to the roof of your vehicle, especially if you’re thinking about running for public office.

Whatever you need to tie to the top of your car roof, follow these steps so everything stays firmly in place without flying off and causing an accident.

Materials:

Ratchet Straps or Cam Straps

You can use rope, but it’s too hard to explain how to tie knots for people who aren’t familiar with basic knotting techniques. Plus, good ratchet or cam straps are rock solid, with no risk of slipping or loosening with vibrations. You can buy multiple ratchet or cam straps for around $10. Make sure the straps are rated with a holding strength at least twice the weight of the load.

Warning: Don’t crank the straps so much that they end up damaging your cargo (or your roof)! Consider cam straps instead, which are much less likely to damage anything from overtightening.

Rope

We recommend ratchet straps, but rope can add some nice versatility to the mix. If you’ve been tying knots since childhood, this will be instinctual. If not, you’ll want to learn some trucker’s knots; or instead, use ratchet straps, cam straps, and maybe some bungee cords.

Bungee Cords

Speaking of bungee cords, they should not be relied on as primary tie-downs. They tend to be unsafe and hard to maneuver. They can be useful, however, when preventing bicycle wheels from spinning, strapping down a tarp, or securing items together. But never solely rely on them to hold down a load!

Cargo (Spider) Netting and/or Tarp

When you are finished strapping your load down, we recommend covering everything with a sturdy net or water-proof tarp to prevent airborne debris.

Roof Rack

If you are constantly hauling things like bikes or kayaks on top of your vehicle, consider purchasing a specific rack for these items (for example, Thule or Yakima) to save a lot of time and add some additional safety to the mix.

Helper(s)

Large items are heavy and awkward to move on your own. If you are dealing with cumbersome cargo, ask a friend or family member for help. Don’t let your pride cause expensive damage or unsafe road conditions. Remember, pride comes before a fall—in this case, literally.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Tying Items to a Car Roof

  1. Follow the directions that come with your products

When you are tying things down to the roof of your vehicle, each product (ratchet straps, cam straps, rope, netting, etc.) will have different instructions for use. Make sure you read all instructions before use. As a general rule, buy straps that have a holding strength twice that of your cargo weight.

  1. Consider a roof rack

If you have a roof rack, the straps/ropes can be looped around the side and cross rails.

  • Stack items evenly across the roof and in the center of the doors.
  • Lighter goes lower—place heavier items on top of lighter items.
  • Cover the entire load with a tarp or netting to prevent things from falling out.

Here’s a tip to consider when using racks to tie down large items, such as canoes and kayaks. Since these items can catch a lot of wind, we recommend strapping the item down to the car as well as the roof rack. Roof racks have been known to fail at high speeds with lots of updraft, so take the extra precaution of tying the roof rack down to the roof of the vehicle as well. Use ratchet or cam straps to tie the roof rack through the doors, not the windows.

Tip: Remove your rack when not in use to avoid the added weight, drag, and noise. Leaving your rack on all year will increase the price you at the pump.

Roof Rack Types:

Do your research and consider your requirements before purchasing a car rack. There are many different types available to you, including:

  • Roof baskets – ideal for luggage and everyday items.
  • Cargo boxes – protects items from the elements, ideal for outdoor enthusiasts who want to keep their equipment protected.
  • Ski/snowboard racks – used for ski/snowboards only, convenient if your frequently hit the slopes.
  • Bike carrier – quick and easy way to secure and remove bikes.
  • Kayak carrier – the best way to transport your kayaks and canoes.

Whenever installing a roof system, be sure to follow all instructions and make sure that your vehicle can support the system.

  1. Naked Roof

If you don’t have a roof rack (rise rails and cross rails are ideal), you’ll want to take extra precautions:

  • Read your owner’s manual and all manufacturer instructions for proper use and maximum allowable weights (this is normally around 165 lbs.).
  • If you don’t have a roof rack, run the tie-down straps through the doors, not the windows.
  • To protect your roof from damage, it’s best to lay down a blanket or towel first.
  • When securing straps through the doors, give it a twist first to help keep the noise down and prevent the amount of force on the straps.
  • If there are hooks to your straps, attach them together inside the car.
  1. Placement

Where you place items on your roof matters, especially when tying items to a naked roof.

  • Center your items in the middle between the doors.
  • Remember, lighter goes lower—place lower items at the bottom.
  • Line up your items at the beginning of the roof, or as far back as you can. This prevents items from hanging over the windshield, creating an updraft that can catch air and cause it to pull upwards away from the vehicle.
  1. Overhanging Items

Sometimes overhang is inevitable, as in the case of Christmas trees, canoes, and other large items. If you have items extending past the windshield and/or rear window, it’s extremely important that you tie the item down to the bow (front) and stern (back) of the vehicle.

Follow these steps if you have an item that hangs over the windshield:

  • Tie down items to the sides, but also to the front and back of the vehicle. Make sure you secure your canoe/tree to the sides before attaching your bow and stern tie-downs. Since significant updraft can occur, we recommend securing the rack to the car as well (remember, through the doors, not the windows). Bow and stern tie-downs should not be used as a stand-alone system.
  • Never hook or tie your item to the plastic bumper or any plastic parts of your vehicle!
  • Look for a metal structure in the front and rear of the vehicle.
  • In the front of the vehicle, look for metal tow hooks underneath the bumper. If they are not there, you can use hood loop straps/anchors that attach to existing bolts underneath your hood.
  • It’s easier to find a metal structure in the rear of your vehicle. Look for the metal chain loops on the hitch. If you don’t have a metal hitch in the back, you can use quick loop straps to create a strong anchor point.
  • When you secure your cam or ratchet straps, remove any loose slack, but don’t tighten it too much.
  1. Proper Use of Tie-Downs

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that each tie-down must be attached and secured properly to prevent it from becoming loose, unfastening, opening or releasing while the vehicle is in transit.

  • Cargo should be secured beside each other, either in direct contact, or in such a way as to prevent them from shifting towards each other during transit.
  • Use cam straps or ratchet straps but be careful about overtightening to avoid damage to your cargo or vehicle.
  • Consider investing in a roof rack. If you don’t have one, lay down a blanket/towel first and make sure you fasten ropes and straps through the vehicle’s doors, not the windows.
  • Cover the load with a sturdy tarp or cargo netting.
  • Be careful not to overload the vehicle. Read your owner’s manual for maximum load weights.
  • Always follow manufacturer instructions.
  • Push and pull items individually to make sure they are snug.
  • Double-check the load after about 5-10 minutes of real-world driving.
  • Don’t drive faster than the speed limits and stay to the right on highways and freeways.
  1. Test Load and Drive Safely

When you are finished securing your load to the top of the vehicle, be sure to check the load by pushing and pulling on the items. Make sure to check each item individually. If the items are not securely in place, make the necessary adjustments.

If you are making a long trip, stop the car and double-check the load after around 5-10 minutes of driving. This will give you the chance to test the load in real-world driving conditions. If everything is still snug, you can continue on your way.

Regardless of how well you have secured the load, we recommend driving on the right lane of the highway at the speed limit. High speeds increase the risk of items loosening or becoming detached. If you have items that are overhanging, consider the effects of updrafts and slow down to prevent items from coming loose or becoming detached.

If you hear whipping or rattling noises while driving, pull over and double-check the cargo. This normally means that the straps have loosened and your load is not properly secured.

Cargo Securement Safety Recap

  • Use ratchet straps or cam straps. Only use bungee cords and rope as supplementary tie-down systems. Learn how to safely load a pickup truck.

  • Cover the load with a sturdy tarp or cargo netting.

  • Push and pull on the objects to make sure they are secure and snug. Check each piece individually.

  • Maintain your vehicle and check tires and tire pressure to prevent blowouts.

Drivers can easily prevent crashes and accidents due to road debris by learning how to properly secure cargo on their roofs and pickups.

Auto Simple wants you to stay safe on the roads. For additional driving safety tips, read our other posts on the topic:

Tired of renting U-Hauls? Shop our online inventory of Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

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How to Load a Pickup Truck | Truck Bed Safety & Packing Tips

How to Pack a Pickup for Safe Travel - Truck Bed Loading Tips

Moving is stressful—it takes a lot of mental and physical energy. Don’t make it worse by haphazardly loading the back of your pickup. You can make transporting cargo a lot quicker, easier, and safer by learning the proper procedures for how to load a pickup truck bed.

How to Load a Pickup Truck

  1. Consider Pickup Truck Accessories & Add-Ons

Depending on the job, you may want to add some rails or added anchoring systems for extra support and protection.

Bed Rails & Rail Caps – You may want to install bed rails or rail caps on the rails of the truck to protect it from dings and dents. They can help you prevent damage, preserve resale value, and improve functionality.

Tie-Down Anchors – Truck rails and racks can be uses to tie down and secure items, but you may also need tie-down anchors that get secured to the bed floor. If you need to drill into the original metal of your truck, however, it may devalue the vehicle and encourage rust.

Bed Slides – Truck bed slides make hauling cargo more convenient. Instead of climbing inside your truck bed every time you want to retrieve something, a bed slide allows you to slide the cargo out easily.

Bed Racks – Bed rails and extenders can help with some loads, but a truck bed rack allows safe transport of long cargo such as ladders, piping, and lumber. If you are transporting a lot of lengthy objects, bed racks significantly increase your truck’s hauling capacity.

Bed Mats & Liner – Mats and liners are great ways to maintain your truck’s factory finish and prevent scratches, scrapes, and dings to the paint and metal of your truck bed. Not only will this prevent unsightly scratches, it can also prevent rusting and other problems associated with exposed metal.

Bed Extenders – If you want to increase the hauling capacity of your pickup truck, you don’t have to buy a new truck for more bed room. Instead, consider bed extenders, so you can leave the tailgate down while having the support necessary to keep the load from falling out.

Cargo Nets & Covers – Instead of using ratchet straps and bungee cords every time you are transporting a load, consider a truck bed cargo net, which can keep all of your luggage securely in place. Besides effective performance, truck nets and covers are also easier to install and uninstall, saving you time and frustration when moving things. Cargo covers can offer durable and weather-resistant protection.

Tool Boxes & Bed Organizers – For those who frequently haul groceries or need to store tools for the long-term, tools boxes and bed organizers that lock are the way to go. While cargo nets and covers are good for protecting and tying down items, if you are looking for more protection and permanent storage, upgrade your truck with permanent boxes and storage space.

Other Things You’ll Probably Need:

  • Tarp and plastic wrap
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Packing tape
  • Moving blankets
  • Ratchet straps and bungee cords
  1. Weight Restrictions

The first thing you want to do is check the weight (“payload”) limits of your truck. If you are only hauling small amount of weight, you can ignore this step, but when moving any significant amount of weight, you should always check to make sure your truck can handle all the weight.

How to check payload limits:

The maximum payload (GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) will be printed on the factory label, normally on the inside door sill on the driver’s side. The sticker label may also be found inside your glovebox. If you cannot find the label in either of these two places, check your owner’s manual.

Make sure that the amount of weight you are transporting is under the payload limit. Making multiple trips a lot better than damaging your shocks, suspension system, and risking a blowout or accident.

You can tell if you’ve overloaded the truck if the steering wheel becomes heavier as you try to turn and maintain handling.

  1. Move Heavier Items Near the Cab

When moving lots of heavy items, such as boxes of books and masonry, move them to the back of the truck bed, near the cab. If there is too much weight on the back axle, the front axle may not have enough weight to make solid contact with the road.

By moving heavier items near the center of the truck, weight will be more evenly distributed. This take weight off of the rear axle, which can cause poor handling and potential damage to the drivetrain and suspension systems. Secure the weight near the cab with ratchet straps.

  1. Place Large Items on Their Side, on the Sides

If you are moving large pieces of furniture, such as tables and mirrors, make sure you turn them on their sides and securely wrap any fragile materials securely. The key is to make everything as stable and secure as possible. Load your largest items near the bed rails, away from the center.

How to pack glass and fragile items:

In order to make sure glass items are protected, wrap them in packing paper and secure them with tape before wrapping the glass with bubble wrap. If you have a telescopic box (wide and thin), use it. If not, you can create a makeshift box using the cardboard from smaller boxes. Simply bend the cardboard around your glass (you may need multiple cardboard pieces) and tape it together. Label the box “Fragile” on all sides and be extra careful during handling.

Make sure any glass items are securely wrapped and placed in such a way that they cannot move. You want your glass, pictures, and other fragile items to be as snug as possible.

  1. Load Boxes and Smaller Items in Between the Large Items

Once you have loaded your largest items and placed them securely on the sides of the truck bed, the next step is to load boxes and smaller items in the middle. If you are stacking boxes, place the larger, heavier boxes at the bottom—smaller, lighter items should go on top.

What you are trying to do by placing larger items on both sides of the truck bed (with boxes in the middle) is maintain weight balance and protect all of your cargo.

  1. Tie Your Items Down

Even if you have a cargo net or cover, you should always use quality ratchet straps to tie down your large items. Make sure that your cargo is tied down from at least two sides. You can also tie items down in an X-shape.

Make sure you safely store your ratchet straps away from the elements (sunlight, rain, dirt, etc.).

Shop around for a high-quality cargo cover for added protection, such as protection from rain and weather, improved aerodynamics, and added security. They are an investment, but a worthy one. Most of these covers will attach to the underside of your truck bed or come with attachment anchors for your rails and sides.

After securing the large items with ratchet straps, use tarp, cargo nets, or covers to cover the entire load. You don’t want things flying out on the freeway. Always use cargo nets and covers for light materials, such as landscaping trash and materials.

For a cheaper solution, you can use an appropriately sized tarp with integral snaps, or use bungee cords to tie it down.

  1. Plan a Safe Route from A to B

When transporting cargo in your pickup truck, you want to choose the smoothest route, avoiding high winds, rough roads, and sharp turns. If you are driving on the freeway, drive on the right side of the road and

  1. Prevent Theft

Items left out in the open are vulnerable to theft. Do everything necessary to limit this risk.

How to prevent theft while moving cargo:

  • Keep valuable tools and items in locked truck bed boxes or in the cab to keep them out of sight and away from the weather. Lock the box and truck doors to keep these items as safe as possible.
  • Try to keep your items covered, either with tarps/covers or in some container.
  • Park in a safe, public, and well-lit area if possible.
  • Minimize your stops. Try to travel directly from point A to point B without stopping to prevent weather and theft-related risks.

Give yourself a pat on the back and admire a job well done! By properly loading and transporting your cargo, you’ve prevented accidents, hassles, and wasted time and money.

Read Transporting Cargo Safely [pdf] from the Tennessee Commercial Driver’s license Manual for more information on inspecting cargo, cargo weight/balance, securing cargo, and cargo needing special attention.

More Driving Safety Tips:


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Safety Tips You Can Learn from Self-Driving Cars

Safety Tips You Can Learn from Self-Driving Cars - Auto Simple

Car technology is moving at a pace we’ve never seen before. Self-driving cars will inevitably take over the roads, but not for a while. In the interim, we can learn important safety tips from self-driving cars to make our world a lot safer.

There are many reasons why self-driving cars are safer than humans behind the wheel. We text, talk on the phone, get distracted, let emotions take over, nod off, fail to signal, drink alcohol, take prescriptions, and much more.

Since cars were first invented, we have added safety features that help reduce the chance of accidents, injuries, and fatalities—seat belts, anti-lock brakes, air bags, etc.

But no matter how safe we make cars, the least safe variable is always the driver.

Over the last two decades or so, engineers, scientists, and car manufacturers have focused on removing the human element completely.

In doing so, we can learn many tips for improved driver safety.

The Problem

1.3 million people die on the world’s roads every single day. That’s equivalent to over 8 commercial jet airliners (Boeing 747s) crashing every single day and killing everyone on board. In the United States alone, 37,000 people die in road crashes every year (ASIRT).

Traffic is also a huge problem. It’s substantially worse than it was just 10 years ago. According to 2014 Census data (The Washington Post), American workers spend 29.6 billion hours commuting every year. That’s a collective 3.4 million years driving to and from work. Wow!

Google’s self-driving car project, now called Waymo, has published reports based on its tests of over 3 million miles of self-driving vehicles on real roads in cities like Mountain View (CA), Austin (TX), Kickland (WA), and Phoenix (AZ). This is in addition to the billions of miles driven in simulation.

Waymo - Google Self-Driving Car Program

Source: Waymo/Google

The millions of miles driven on real city streets have taught Google a lot about driverless vehicles and have taught us a lot about how drivers can improve their driving habits for increased safety on the roads.

This technology will come to market soon. Watch this video to learn what a driverless world could look like:

Self-driving cars will make the world a safer place, but it will be a long time before prices drop low enough for the majority of people to be able to afford one.

Luckily, there has been a lot of information gathered from driverless cars that can make our own driving behaviors a lot safer.

How does a self-driving car see the world?

Self-driving vehicles create a rich, logic-filled map of their surrounding area using 360-degree sensor systems, including lidar (laser and radar), GPS, odometry, and cameras. They not only see what’s around them, they also anticipate what’s going to happen.

How a self-driving car sees the world (Google Waymo)

“The two red rectangles are cyclists; the red trails behind them indicate the path they’ve just traveled. The cyclist on the left had entered the left turn lane, but veered back into our path to continue straight across the intersection. At the same time, the cyclist on the right entered the intersection, traveling against the flow of traffic. That cyclist then took a sudden left turn, coming directly at us in our lane. Our car was able to predict that cyclist’s path of travel (turquoise line with circles) so we stopped and yielded. This happened at night, when it would have been very difficult for a human driver to see what was unfolding.”

Source: Waymo Team/Medium

This map not only knows where things are at the moment, it also works with other complicated parts of the car to predict what might happen in the near future.

It’s extremely complicated how these pieces of machinery can detect different types of objects—cars, bikes, cones, debris on the road—and anticipate and react to what’s going to happen 1 second, 3 second, 10 seconds from now.

Not only does the self-driving car need to know about the lane change up ahead and what the truck in front is going to do (quickly merge), it also needs to know about the goings on of everything else.

After taking everything around it into account, the car then needs to know how to act—which trajectory to take, how slow or how fast it should move. Then, the car must make the executive decision to steer left or right, press on the brake or hit the gas.

Driving Safety Tips Learned from Self-Driving Cars

  1. Anticipate the behavior of other drivers

While you don’t have the amazing ability to detect objects in a 360-degree radius, you still have an amazing amount of computing power in your head. Use it to keep track of the objects around you and what they are going to do.

For instance, a vehicle inching out of a driveway may not be able to see you. A vehicle at high speeds is approaching a red light—you can guess that it will barrel through the light.

Despite what’s supposed to happen, you can tell what actually is happening and prevent an accident by anticipating future actions.

Forget about what’s supposed to happen, anticipate what actually is happening.

  • Pay attention to everything around you. Predict future movements based on the unique circumstances around you, such as construction zones, pot holes, objects in the road, distracted motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, school zones, etc.
  • Drive conservatively around cyclists. If there is a cyclist up ahead, keep in mind that they may need to swerve into your lane to avoid doors (aka dooring), glass or other obstacles in the road. Leave plenty of room for these sudden movements. Learn more driving safety tips when sharing the road with cyclists.
  • Look at the driver as well as the vehicle. If the driver is paying more attention to their phone than the road ahead, you can exercise extra caution. Pay attention to distracted drivers—they are more common than ever.
  • Before you make a lane change, use your mirrors and look over your shoulder to see what the cars around you are doing. Someone else may be trying to merge at the same time. Look at the driver for clues as to what they may do.
  • Don’t trust turn signals. Some people learn this the hard way when they start driving in a different area of the country. You may live in a town that has great drivers who reliably use their turn signals, but move to a different town or city and you’ll be in for a rude awakening. Not everybody does. A driverless car doesn’t trust turn signals for reliable predictions of future movement and neither should you. If you are at a stop sign and see a car coming towards you with their right turn signal on, do NOT assume they are making that right turn. Wait until they commit to their turn before you commit to your next move. Use turn signals whenever turning/merging and watch for them, but NEVER trust them.
  • Don’t tailgate. You The DMV handbook says to use the “three-second rule”—look at the vehicle ahead pass a specific point in the road and then count a full three seconds. If you reach that point before the three seconds are up, you are too close. Use the four-second rule during adverse conditions, such as rain, snow, darkness, gravel roads, and metal surfaces. Extra room should also be given if you are being tailgated from behind, a driver wants to pass you, towing a large load (extra weight makes it harder to stop), following large vehicles that block your view, a driver wants to pass you, or when merging onto a freeway.
  1. Admit that other drivers are fallible and so are you—prioritize safety

This isn’t a judgement of how good or bad you drive—we all make mistakes. Driverless cars assume this as fact and so should you.

For at least the next decade, most drivers will still be human and like you, they want to arrive at their destination as fast as possible. Mistakes will be made.

  • Don’t let your emotions cloud your better judgment. This relates to the former point about tailgating. Just because you don’t want anyone cutting in front of you doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leave a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. This not only slows down traffic, but can also cause an accident. And it’s usually because of emotion and your belief in fairness and the ethics of line-cutting. Driverless cars don’t have this problem and you should do your best to avoid it. Let the driver pass you and leave enough room to do it safely.
  • Yield to the right of way, but be aware that others might not. Knowing when to yield can save you from countless accidents. Chances of a collision increase dramatically at intersections. If another vehicle fails to yield, however, let them. Better safe than trying to prove something and cause an accident. Learn right of way rules on the DMV website, but don’t assume others have this knowledge. Like a self-driving car, look for behaviors and intent; don’t assume knowledge and execution of the rules.
  • Make up for the fact that your vision is inferior. While you have the very helpful ability of object permanence, you cannot see in all directions at once like a self-driving car. This is why you should constantly be checking your mirrors, at least every five seconds (including rearview and side mirrors). This gives you a much better understanding of everything going on around you. It’s also a good idea to scan the road and periodically check the left and right of your vehicle. This can help you identify a person running a red light, stop sign, or a kid running into the street. Using your mirrors properly and scanning the road will help you spot a potential accident before it happens. You can be like the future-seeing precogs from Minority Report.
  • Always prioritize safety. Self-driving cars don’t have egos, emotions, or amygdalas like us fallible humans. Yes, they will have Emotional AI to make the automotive experience more pleasant for humans, but this won’t affect their driving habits. While humans may make a risky move to cut down on travel time, self-driving cars will always prioritize safety. You can learn from this. Many drivers hate slow drivers who drive the speed limit, slow down when kids are around, and make other “grandma” moves. This is the kind of attitude that causes accidents. Self-driving cars are like “grandma” drivers—they drive the speed limit, don’t accelerate quickly, and are overly cautious when it comes to merging and intersections. 

You are a human, not a robot. Emotions are deeply imbedded into your decision-making process. But, prioritize your emotions of fear over aggression, and love over anger. Learn from self-driving cars and always rank safety over timeliness in your algorithm. Cutting a few minutes off your commute or trying to beat the GPS’s estimated arrival time is never worth the potential ramifications of a deadly or injurious accident.

  1. Collect data from the roads

  • Know your route before you start driving. Self-driving cars plot their trajectories well in advance. Get in the habit of looking at directions before heading out on the road. This allows you to have more confidence on the road and stay on the side of the freeway where your exit is.
  • Glance at GPS for traffic updates. Google, Waze, and other GPS apps tell you about upcoming traffic, construction zones, and other useful information. Even if you know your rout by heart, you can increase your road knowledge by mounting a GPS in an easy-to-view area near your dashboard. Glance at it like you would your odometer, and take note of any upcoming road warnings. Of course you’ll never have access to the rich, data-filled maps of self-driving cars, at least you’ll know the basics. And you may even save time by finding a better alternative route home.
  • Take different routes. Have you ever forgotten what happened on your commute? When you take the same route every day, you start to go into autopilot mode and tune out your surroundings. The more familiar your world, the less you remember and the quicker time seems to pass. That’s why time seems to fly by as we get older and why taking the same route every day can lead to accidents. Switch things up, change your route, and increase your powers of observation. Try leaving 10 minutes early and taking the scenic route instead. You’ll discover new things, increase your happiness, and reduce the risk of an accident.

More Driving Safety Tips:


When self-driving cars hit the market, we’ll have some available for you. Until then, shop our huge inventory of Certified Pre-Owned cars, SUVs, trucks, vans, and more.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

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Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

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How to Escape from a Sinking Car | Emergency Vehicle Rescue

How to Escape from a Sinking Car - Emergency Car Escape
Nobody wants to find themselves in a submerged vehicle. Unfortunately, many drivers will find themselves in this terrifying position. It can happen to anyone.

According to research from the University of Manitoba, vehicles submersions are responsible for around 400 deaths a year in North America, one of the highest fatality rates of motor-vehicle accidents. Some studies report over 10,000 water immersion auto accidents every year.

From collapsing bridges and skids to crashes and Google Maps accidents, there are many ways your vehicle can enter a body of water. Even heavy rains and flooding can submerge a vehicle in a matter of minutes.

Don’t even think about calling for help. No one will be able to come and rescue in time. If you find yourself submerged in water, you will need to rescue yourself. This is a matter of life or death.

In order to get yourself safely out of a sinking car, you will probably need a car escape tool, which combines a seat belt cutter with a window breaker. Here is a list of the best car escape tools of 2017. We highly recommend keeping this tool in the glove compartment, especially if you live in a flood-prone area.

How to Escape from a Sinking Car

Avoid becoming fish food by learning how to escape from a sinking vehicle before it happens.

  1. Brace for impact

The water can cause a huge impact. Brace for it by firmly gripping the steering wheel at the “9 and 3” position rather than the “10 and 2” position. If the air bags go off (which they probably will), hands placed at the “10 and 2” position will cause your hands to hit your face. If you are wearing a watch, you could get knocked out as a result.

  1. Remain calm, but move quickly

When your car enters a body of water, you have around 30 seconds to 2 minutes before the car sinks and becomes completely submerged. This gives you plenty of time to react and get yourself out, but you will still need to act fast.

Minivans and larger vehicles submerge slower than small car, but it’s safe to assume that you have around 60 seconds to get yourself out.

As soon as you notice you’re entering a body of water, stay focused and start repeating the steps you will need to take to escape. Don’t panic!

  1. Don’t open the door

Although it may be possible to open the door, as soon as you do, water will rush in and cause the car to immediately sink. It can also be extremely difficult to open the door. Opening the door can cut your escape time from 1-2 minutes to just a couple of seconds.

  1. Unbuckle your seat belt

The first thing you should do is unbuckle your seat belt. If the buckle is stuck, you will need to cut it.

Since buckles can become stuck, it’s highly recommended that you have a seat belt cutter within reach of the driver’s seat.

  1. Unbuckle passengers’ seat belts

If you have children or other passengers in the car, the second thing you should do is unbuckle their seat belts. Make sure you get your passengers out of their seat belts before doing anything else.

If you have passengers in the back seat, instruct them to exit through their window or pull them into the front of the car so they can exit through your window.

  1. Open the window (break it if necessary)

After everyone in the vehicle is unbuckled, try rolling down the window. Most car windows will still work after making impact with water. If you cannot get the window to roll down, however, you will need to break the window.

This can be extremely difficult without a car window breaker (safety hammer). This device almost always comes with a seat belt cutter. Make sure you have a seat belt cutter/window breaker within reach of the driver’s seat at all times.

If the window won’t roll down and you don’t have a car escape tool, you will need to kick out the side or rear window, but this won’t be easy.

  1. Climb out

Once the window has been rolled down (or broken), push the children out of the window, oldest ones first. Then, climb out of the window yourself.

  1. Open the door (if the window won’t open)

Sometimes, you can’t get the window to open. In this case, if water is entering the vehicle, wait until pressure is equalized on both sides of the door before attempting to open it. This usually means waiting until the water level is the same on both the inside and outside of the car.

Take a deep breath, open the door, and swim out headfirst. If you don’t know which direction is up, follow the bubbles, which will always rise to the surface.

  1. Swim for dry land

Once you have successfully escaped from your sinking vehicle, determine whether or not you can swim to dry land. If it makes sense to stay put and call for help, do that instead.

When swimming to safety, swim in the direction of the current (if you are in deep water).

Final Notes:

Be extra careful when driving in high flood areas and around areas adjacent to bodies of water. If there is a flash flood warning, avoid driving if possible. People can drown in less than 1 foot of water.

Just because the car ahead of you was able to drive through the flood waters doesn’t mean that yours will. Follow The National Weather Service’s advice: “Turn around, don’t drown.

If your car has been partially or completely submerged for any reason, do not try to start the car without first having a mechanic conduct a full inspection.

The costs to restore a submerged vehicle are extremely high, usually exceeding its value. Most insurance companies will consider a submerged car as “totaled.”

Luckily, Auto Simple has an extensive inventory of used vehicles to get you back on the road again, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

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The Proper Way to Jump-Start a Vehicle

Jumper Cables - How to Jump-Start a Vehicle

“Click-click-click… click-click-click.” Then, dead silence. The engine won’t start. Needless to say, it can be a nerve-wracking experience to be stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.

Even though jump-starting a dead battery is an easy thing to do, many people rely on a road service provider or an altruistic motorist.

Rather than waiting around for a tow truck or somebody with the right tools, learn the safe and proper way to jump-start a dead battery. And with today’s portable jump starters— sometimes as small as a cell phone—it’s easy to bail yourself and others out without having to flag someone down.

What to Do Before Jump-Starting a Vehicle

Check the owner’s manual for specific instructions related to your vehicle. For instance, if your battery is in an odd location, such as the trunk or wheel well, you may have to connect the cables to a different area, such as a junction block. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to follow the instructions in your owner’s manual.

Your “dead battery” may just be a “dirty battery.” Sometimes, the battery won’t work because of dirty terminals and loose connections. Try cleaning the battery terminals with a stiff brush dipped in a baking soda and water mixture.

Never touch the terminals with your hand as sulfuric acid may burn you. It’s always a good idea to wear protective gloves and glasses when you are working on vehicle batteries. If any powdery stuff gets on you, clean it off with soap and water immediately.

Rinse the terminals with a spray bottle of water, wipe dry with a rag, and tighten the connections with a wrench. Turn the ignition to see if that did the trick before attempting the jump-start process.

Important Safety Tips:

  • Make sure there are no open flames or cigarettes in use while working on a battery. Batteries emit very flammable hydrogen gas.
  • Always inspect the battery for damage before proceeding. If you notice leaks, cracks, or any other damage, don’t take the risk trying to jump start the car. Instead, call roadside assistance or a tow truck.
  • Make sure the red and black ends of the jumper cables never touch each other once they are connected to a battery. This can result in a very dangerous electrical arcing situation that can cause damage to people and vehicles.
  • Don’t let your jumper cables hang loose around the engine. They can potentially interfere with moving parts.
  • Make sure both cars are off with the keys removed before connecting the cables.
  • Red = Positive (+); Black = Negative (-)
  • Purchase only heavy-duty, high-quality jumper cables. Avoid “cigarette lighter jump starters.” They take a lot of time to generate any useful charge, and only if you are lucky will they work.
  • Make sure the clamps are firmly in place to avoid them being shaken loose and possibly causing an electrical arcing or shorting situation.
  • Keep your face away from the batteries at all times.
  • Never cross cables when they are attached to a battery. If the clamps contact each other while connected to a battery or jump starter, a spark can cause a battery explosion.

Battery explosions are rare, but possible

Hydrogen gas is produced as a natural byproduct of the chemical process used to create electricity. Although there is no real danger of electrocution since the voltage is fairly low (about 12), small sparks can cause explosions from the hydrogen gas that is produced by the battery.

According to The Straight Dope, there may be 6,000-10,000 injuries caused by exploding car batteries every year. While these numbers were never confirmed, it’s still a real danger that affects a significant number of people every year.

Although the chances are slim, you can avoid battery accidents by following the above safety tips and the proper procedures below.

How to Jump Start a Vehicle (with Jumper Cables)

You will need jumper cables (plus another vehicle). We also recommend gloves and glasses for protection, and baking soda, water, a wire brush and rag to clean off battery terminals (if necessary).

  1. In addition to jumper cables, you will need another vehicle to provide the jolt of power from their working battery.
  2. Have the person with the good battery pull up to the disabled car with both engines facing each other. Make sure the vehicles are close but not touching. If the cars are touching, a dangerous arc can be produced.
  3. Turn off both cars, remove the keys from the ignition, and pop the hoods.
  4. Locate the positive terminals (marked by a “+” or POS sign) and negative terminals (marked by a “–“ or NEG sign). If you can’t find your battery, check the owner’s manual.
  5. You may need to remove terminal coverings, known as cell caps. These may be individual caps for each terminal or a yellow strip that can be peeled off. Keep in mind that your battery may not have cell caps.
  6. Make sure both cars are completely off and both batteries are in good shape (no cracks or leaks, for example).
  7. You may have to clean battery corrosion off of terminals and cables to establish a clean electrical connection. Dip a wire brush (or old toothbrush) into a baking soda and water solution to clean up corrosion. Rinse clean with a spray bottle of water and wipe dry with a rag. Try not to get any water or baking soda into the vents of the battery.
  8. Connect the jumper cables in the following order:
    1. Connect the red jumper cable to the positive terminal (+) on the dead car’s battery.
    2. Connect the other end (also red) to the positive terminal on the working battery.
    3. Connect the black jumper cable to the negative terminal (-) on the working car’s battery.
    4. Connect the other end (also black) to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the disabled car’s hood (the engine block is a good place).
  9. Do NOT connect the black end to the negative terminal on the dead car’s battery! This can risk causing a spark that can ignite the hydrogen gas surrounding the battery.
  10. Start the working car’s engine and let it run for about 2-3 minutes. This charges the battery.
  11. Then, start up the disabled car. If the engine does not start, turn off both vehicles and wiggle the clamps to try to establish a good, clean electrical connection. If you cannot get the car to start after a couple of tries, you may need to have your battery replaced or the car towed.
  12. Once the dead car’s engine is running, remove the jumper cables in the opposite order that you put them on:
    1. Disconnect the black clamp from the grounded metal section of the dead car.
    2. Disconnect the black clamp from the good battery.
    3. Disconnect the red clamp from the good battery.
    4. Disconnect the red clamp from the dead battery.
  13. After a successful jump, run the vehicle for at least 15 minutes so that the alternator has time to charge the battery.

If the battery dies soon after jump-starting the vehicle, it’s probably due to a dead alternator not being able to charge the system.

How Long Does a Car Battery Last?

Car batteries last around 3-5 years. If your battery is older than three years, it’s a good idea to get it professionally tested every year.

Many auto shops, battery centers, and tire stores will do this for free and it only takes a few minutes. They’ll be able to tell you if a new battery is necessary and roughly how long your battery will last.


Click here for more car maintenance essentials.

Auto Simple carries a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

How to Get Your Car Unstuck from Any Situation

How to Get Your Car Unstuck from Mud, Sand, and Snow

Off-roader or not, all of us will eventually find ourselves in the situation of getting our vehicle unstuck from mud, sand, snow, or a ditch.

Have you ever seen a flooded road and thought, “Maybe I can drive through or around it?” The car up ahead thought the same thing and got through with no problem. That means you should be fine too, right?

Wrong! This is how many people get stuck. Don’t underestimate the power of water and flooding situations. Most flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. This is usually because many people try to drive through or around flooded roads and barriers that warn of flooding ahead.

The best way to prevent a sticky and potentially dangerous situation is to avoid these types of scenarios all together.

While you may have to add some time to your trip, it’s a lot better than getting stuck, or worse, swept downstream.

How to Avoid Getting Stuck

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.

Turn Around Don’t Drown PSA (National Weather Service)

Many deaths are caused when vehicles are swept downstream.

  • Pay attention to flash flood warnings and Turn Around Don’t Drown® Warning Signs.
  • A mere 12 inches of rushing water can carry away a small car; 18-24 inches for larger vehicles.
  • Never walk or drive into flood waters!
  • If you see a flooded road, don’t try to drive around it. You are likely to get stuck in deep mud.

While it may feel instinctual to follow someone else’s path, you don’t know what kind of car or tires enabled them to make a safe passage. Additionally, mud ruts tend to be a lot softer, increasing your likelihood of getting stuck.

Don’t be a follower. If come upon mud or flood water, turn around and find a different route.

Sometimes, however, there is no other option. If you absolutely must drive through the mud, we recommend stopping the vehicle and assessing the situation first. You want to plan your attack before mindlessly driving into the muck.

How to Drive Through Mud

  • Check the depth of the mud with a stick.
  • Avoid the mud if you see tire tracks going in but not coming out.
  • Speeding through mud can cause you to lose control. Too slow and you might get stuck. Try to find the right balance and move your steering wheel slightly from right to left to gain more traction.
  • Avoid driving in the same tracks left by someone else. This mud is softer and a lot easier to get stuck in. Be different—blaze a new path.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated and in good shape.
  • Consider carrying a shovel, winch, car jack, gravel, sand, kitty litter, and/or planks in your vehicle in case you do get stuck in the snow, sand, or mud.
  • Learn how to winterize your vehicle and which items you should always have in your vehicle.

Recommended Items to Get Your Car Unstuck

Here are the most useful tools and materials to have on-hand in case you ever get stuck in mud, sand, or snow:

  1. Shovel
  2. Wood Planks, Carpet, and Cardboard
  3. Wheel Tracks (for example, Trac-Grabber — a plastic self-rescue device that gets strapped to the drive wheels)
  4. Car Jack
  5. Tow Strap (can be used by another vehicle to help free your vehicle)
  6. Winch (if attaching to another vehicle, always hook it to the frame)
  7. Snow Chains (put them on your tires before you drive around in the snow)

While every situation is different—mud, snow, sand, a ditch—the principles behind getting your car unstuck remain relatively the same. Learn them now before you spend hours of toiling in vain.

How to Get Your Car Unstuck from Any Situation

If you do find yourself in a sticky situation, don’t keep spinning your wheels. You’ll only dig yourself a deeper hole.

Before calling a tow truck, follow these steps for getting your vehicle unstuck:

  1. Plan

Before you start spinning your wheels and digging yourself a deeper hole, get out of the car and assess the situation. Find the trouble spot and make a plan.

If you are in snow, make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t blocked. This can cause dangerous carbon monoxide to build up inside the vehicle.

Determine which wheels are spinning/stuck.

  1. Build Up Traction

Traction is essential for getting your vehicle unstuck. Look for any obstacles that may be causing the problem and remove them. If you have sand, gravel, or kitty litter (make sure it’s not the clay-based type!), add them to the front and back of the tires to aid traction. If you don’t have these items, find some rocks, logs, and other items that may work (for instance, your carpet mats).

If you do use a floor mat, keep in mind that it will probably be destroyed by the end of it. If you ever replace your floor mats, consider saving one or two for just this kind of situation.

In a truly desperate situation, you may be able to use the removable panel that covers the spare tire (found in most trunks). It is usually a large flexible panel with carpeting on one side. Insert it in front (or behind) the worst stuck tire and drive onto a dry area. Bear in mind that the panel will probably be destroyed and need to be replaced.

You may also want to try digging a path for each tire.

  1. Jack Up the Car (if you have planks or plenty of gravel)

You can try to jack up the car, but only if the ground is firm and you have some planks and gravel that you can use to fill the depression in. Otherwise, skip this step.

  1. Release Air from Tires

You may get better luck freeing your vehicle if you release some air from the tires. By releasing the air (not too much!), you can increase the surface area of the tire on the ground. Try not to release more than 15 PSI. At that point, you are doing more harm than good.

  1. Push the Car

If there is anyone around to help you, have them push the car from behind while you very gently press on the gas.

  1. Use a Winch (if available)

If you have a winch, now is the time to use it. Find a tree or another steady object that you can attach the winch to.

  1. Call a Tow Truck

When all else fails, you will need to be towed out.

The Easy Method

This process can get most vehicles unstuck:

  • Stop the car as soon as you feel stuck. Do NOT spin your wheels!
  • Get out of the car and scoop some salt or sand in front the drive tires.
  • Have your assistants push the car forward while you slightly wiggle the wheel to gain traction.

If no one is around to help you:

  • Dig around your drive wheels (the wheels that do the turning when you accelerate).
  • Try to wedge a carpet, blanket, plank, or mat under the wheel.
  • Get back in the car and gently press on the gas to inch yourself out. You want to feel the tires grip the item.
  • If there’s a lot of spinning, but no gripping, stop and reassess.

Once you are successfully out of the mud, wash your car thoroughly and take it to a mechanic to check for damage.

You may also enjoy:

·      Best Tips for First-Time Car Buyers and New Drivers

·      10 Ways to Winterize Your Car | Get Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

·      Winter Driving Tips | How to Handle Skids


Auto Simple wants to help you find the perfect vehicle.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to drive away in your dream car.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.