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Tips & More > Safe Driving

Heads-up and hands at 9 and 3 o'clock!

This is where you will find my thoughts

and thoughts of trusted others on safe driving.

Stay educated, drive safe.

 

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Miscellaneous:

 

 

 

MIRRORSI was in the car business for over 20 years before I knew this. When you set your mirror adjustments you should not be able to see the side of your car. Setting your mirrors correctly can really help to minimize blind spots.

 

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PROPER SEATING POSITION: This is something that many people take for granted but test driving with thousands of you I've seen that most of us have picked up a few bad habits in this area. Proper seating position is important for visibility, helping the airbags do their job should they ever be needed, and for avoiding unnecessary injury.

 

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DEER SEASON IN PENNSYLVANIA: Fall is mating season for deer and other animals. And just like humans, animals can get kinda stupid when love is in the air. This article from Consumer Reports has tips on how to stay safe while driving, as well as what to do if you get into a collision with a large animal.

 

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DANGEROUS DRIVING BEHAVIOUR: Car and Driver shares with us the most dangerous driving behaviours so that you can do the opposite. The second most dangerous thing on the list, driving tired, claimed the life of my cousin several years ago. Please heed these warnings.

 

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FIVE BAD DRIVING HABITS AND WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: AutoGuide identifies 5 bad driving habits and what to do instead. One of the best ones is a reminder to glance left and right before pulling out from a stop through an intersection. This article is especially helpful for new drivers but is a reminder for us all.

 

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RECALLSCurious if your car, or a car you are considering buying, has a recall? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now has a website for that.

 

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DROWSY DRIVING: I lost a cousin because he fell asleep at the wheel. PLEASE give this article a read about drowsy driving. It explains contributing factors that may surprise you, how to spot if you or someone you are riding with may be driving drowsy, and what you can do to help prevent it.

 

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DROWSY DRIVING STUDY: Here US News ad World Report reports on a study conducted by AAA with some alarming results. Drowsy driving can be as unsafe as drunk driving and is estimated to be a factor in 20% of fatal collisions. This is an important read. And a new AAA study says drowsy driving may be involved in as much as 10% of all crashes.

 

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STALLINGIn light of GM's ignition switch recall, would you know what to do if your vehicle shut off?

 

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HEADRESTSHave you ever thought of your headrest as a safety feature instead of just a thing to, um, rest your head against? It is important how you set it to reduce neck injuries in a collision.

 

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SHARING THE HIGHWAY WITH 18-WHEELERS: Some good tips on this one. Fortunately I have a dad who was a diesel mechanic who shared all of these tips with me. I may not have known about avoiding getting caught along the side of a truck without his teaching me.

 

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SHARING THE ROAD WITH BICYCLISTS: Here is an article that provides tips both to drivers and to bicyclists to help make the road safer for both.

 

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YOUR CARGO AS A MISSLE: As if we didn't have enough to worry about, now we get this video from Switzerland that shows us what happens to our cargo in the event of a head-on collision, especially if we have an SUV or wagon/hatchback. Moral of the story: secure your cargo.

 

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YOUR CAR IS NOT A SUBMARINE: DON'T EVER DO THIS!!! I am not sure if this driver did any damage to their car or not as a Lamborghini is a mid-engined vehicle so I am unsure where the air intake is. But almost all of you reading this are driving a front-engined vehicle with an air intake at the front of the car. And usually that air intake isn't several feet off the ground. In reality your engine runs on air. The fuel is just there to ignite that air. But if you pull water in through the air intake, you have an excellent chance of damaging your engine.

 

While on the topic, it is also dangerous to try to drive through a flooded area. Your car may partially float meaning you can get carried somewhere you don't want to go, especially if there is moving water. Not to mention water can enter your car, which is obviously dangerous if that water level gets too high.

 

Bottom line: do not drive through a flooded area.

 

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WHAT TO KEEP IN A CAR EMERGENCY KIT: Cars.com compiled a handy list from the National Safety Council and the Department of Homeland Security. This will take up some space in your car if you keep it all, and add some weight which might slightly affect your fuel economy, but it is a good list to look over to help you decide what you want to have at the ready in your car.

 

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HANDLING DANGER: Here is a good article that explains how to handle your car in a few different dangerous situations like a panic stop and fish-tailing. A word of caution and a quick story. His driving instructions assume a properly maintained car so the suggestions of what to try or what to do with ABS systems assumes a properly functioning ABS system with good brakes and tires. Use caution and common sense. And keep up with the maintenance on your car.

 

Now for the quick story. I was driving in the PA mountains with three friends of mine about 15 years ago so my car did not have electronic stability control. An SUV was driving well ahead of me and seemed to travel into a right turn without really slowing down. So as I approached the turn, with the view to the right obstructed by a high mountain wall, I proceeded the same as I thought the SUV did. Turns out the turn was a fair amount sharper than I expected. My rear wheels began to slip out to the left as I turned right, mountain wall to my right and the opposing traffic lane followed by a guard rail and maybe a ride down a steep decline to my left. Time actually slowed down for me, or at least it seemed to. I heard the ladies in the back scream but I didn't hear it. I was actually calm and focused. I realized that with my rear wheels sliding left as I was turning right I needed to turn my steering wheel into the slide (toward the left) if I was going to regain control, even if it meant sliding into the lane of potentially oncoming traffic. I kept my eyes ahead to see if there was oncoming danger as I turned the steering wheel to the left, regained control, and re-entered my own lane (I saw both lanes ahead were clear as we rounded the corner). How did I stay calm and focused? Because I had some experience with fish-tailing cars in the snow and once or twice on a dry road surface. So the author's point in this article about practice makes sense. My suggestion, though, would be to take a course to learn and experience how to handle these situations so it is in the safest and most controlled environment possible.

 

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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDSWhile we may not have to worry too much about tornadoes (or sharknadoes for that matter), dust storms, or earthquakes around here, flash floods are things we experience from time to time. Edmunds has some great tips for what to do, and what not to do, if we are driving and encounter any of these dangerous weather/nature threats.

 

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RAINY DRIVING: It's winter as I write this and the temperature outside is a chilly 21 degrees and there is a ligtht snow falling. We all know that weather can play a role in car accidents, so here's a quiz: Which one has a higher rate of weather-related vehicle crashes, rain or snow? Hint, one is 46% and the other is only 17%. If you read my car safety page and car care page, you'll see a lot of articles on winter driving tips. What's your answer? If you said more weather-related accidents happen in the snow, you would be wrong; that one was the 17%. Rain accounts for 46% of weather related accidents. So please take the time to read this article on how to be safer when driving in the rain.

 

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Tires:

 

 

TIRE PRESSURE WARNING LIGHTIf your car is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, do you know what your low tire pressure warning light looks like? Apparently half of you don't. Even if you do, you should still read this, and read it especially if you don't know what it looks like.

 

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CAUTIONS ABOUT SPARE TIRE USE: Many new cars now do not even have a spare tire. Instead they use a can of tire sealant and a pump. But cars that do provide a spare tire are almost always a temporary space saving spare tire (or "donut" spare tire). They are considered temporary for good reason. Only use them for up to 50 miles and do not exceed 50 MPH when using them. This article explains why.

 

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TIRE SAFETY TIPSI didn't even know one of these: hitting a pothole can reduce your tire pressure. Check all 6 of these tire safety tips out here.

 

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RECOMMENDED WET WEATHER TIRES: In this article, AutoGuide recommends 3 highly rated wet weather all-season tires. Two are pricy but they also have a budget-minded recommendation.

 

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Safety tech features/accessories:

 

 

ADVANCED DRIVER SAFETY TECHNOLOGIES DO HELP: A Consumer Reports survey showed that almost 60 percent of drivers with advanced safety technologies like automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection, and lane departure warning have helped them avoid an accident. I know for me, personally, the automatic emergency braking on my 2018 Sonata helped me avoid 2 collisions.

 

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KEEP YOUR SENSORS CLEAN: Did you know that dirt, snow, and ice can affect the operation of your car's advanced safety features. Back-up camera, back-up sensors, surround-view cameras, blind-spot detection, etc all rely on those associated cameras and sensors. Be sure to keep them clean for proper operation.

 

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APPLE CAR PLAY AND ANDROID AUTO: Turns out Apple Car Play and Andriod Auto are safer than in-car infotainment according to a AAA study. Those features now come standard on almost all Hyundai vehicles while a few still offer it as an option. All Genesis models now have that feature standard.

 

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SAFETY ACCESSORIESThere has been a big push for back-up cameras as safety equipment, and rightly so. While it has been mainly a convenience for me, there have been times when I am backing out of a parking space and see someone in the corner of the back-up camera that I didn't see when checking my surroundings. If your car doesn't have one, you can add one. If you aren't a do-it-yourselfer (and neither am I; there is a reason I sell cars and don't fix cars), then you can have one installed. And there are more safety-focused accessories becoming more and more available now.

 

 

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NEW SAFETY TECH YOU CAN ADD TO YOUR OLDER CAR: These are 5 safety features that can be added to your older car. Included in them are Bluetooth, Blind Spot Detection, and Forward Collision Warning.

 

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NEW SAFETY TECH: There is a dizzying array of new technologies in today's cars to help keep us safe. Even as a 27-year car business veteran, it can be difficult for me to keep up with all of them and how they work. So I can imagine what it might be like for someone who doesn't work with cars all day to try to understand. Fortunately there is a website to help you understand the new technologies. This can really be helpful whether you want to understand the features on that new car you just got, or if you want to understand what features to look for when you are searching for a new car. I recommend that you visit this site either way.

 

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FEATURES FOR SENIOR DRIVERS: Until fully automated vehicles become a reality, or until Uber rules the world, we'll still have to drive ourselves around. Unfortunately as we advance into our senior years, some aspects of driving become more difficult. The great news is that there are more and more safety technologies being developed to help make up for some of the driving skills that may no longer be at their peak for senior drivers. And let's face it, these features are helpful for everyone. In this article by Edmunds.com, they mention several features including back-up camera and blind-spot detection, which I enjoy having in my 2015 Sonata. If you are a senior looking for helpful aids to keep driving, or just someone that wants to maximize the available safety technologies, give this a read. And, just so you know, most of these features are available on many of our Hyundais, too!

 

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Teens:

 

 

 

 

PRINCIPLES FOR PICKING A CAR FOR A TEENAnd Consumer Reports adds their own take on what cars make for safe used cars for your teen, and throw in a couple of tips for safe driving in the associated video. The article is a couple of years old but the principles are still valid. And here is their April 2019 list of recommended used cars for teens.

 

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DISTRACTED TEEN DRIVINGWe tend to think of teen distracted driving in terms of cell phone usage. But the truth is that there are many types of distractions for teens (and for us adults, too). AAA now believes that 58% of teen crashes can be attributed to distracted driving. It is important that we teach teens the dangers and encourage safe driving practices.
 

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DRIVING SCHOOLS FOR TEENS: Considering that teens are new to driving and don't have the skill set that us more experienced drivers do from our driving experience, how about giving your teen a fighting chance by signing him or her up for hands-on driving instruction that teaches how to handle hazardous situations they may come across on their commute?

 

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Winter driving / winter tires:

 

 

ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE VS WINTER TIRES: Which one do you really need for the type of driving we do here in the eastern PA and NJ region for winter driving? Did you answer all-wheel-drive? Then repeat after me, "It is more important to get my car rolling than to stop or steer it once I do." "Okay. It is more important to... wait, what? That's not true." Right. I might be over-simplifying it a bit, but generally speaking, all-wheel-drive helps you get your car moving in the snow but does little to stop or steer it once it is in motion. Winter tires are what does that... and helps to provide better grip to get your car moving in bad weather, too. All-wheel-drive can obviously provide some benefit for winter driving, but it is more of a luxury whereas winter tires are more necessary. This article helps to explain why.

 

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ANSWERS TO WINTER TIRE QUESTIONS: I really like this article since it defines, clearly and simply, who does and who does not need winter tires. I, too, have usually thought of winter tires as tires for bad winter weather but here they explain how lower temperatures negatively afffect all-season dry road capability. Give this article a read.

 

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TOP RATED WINTER TIRES: According to Car and Driver November 28, 2018. There are a good mix of options here depending on what you prioritize.

 

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NEVER USE JUST 2 WINTER TIRES. NEVER. EVER.: This video introduced by Road and Track shows why, if you will use winter tires, ALWAYS put them at all 4 corners. Using only two can be more dangeros than using no winter tires at all.

 

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ALL-WEATHER TIRES (NOT ALL-SEASON) MAY PROVIDE A BETTER ALTERNATIVE IN THIS AREA: There is a new classification of tire, "all weather", which is different than "all season". All season tires are stil very limited in winter use. But if you want a tire that can be used all year and even provide better winter capability than your typical all season tire, then all weather tires might be right for you.

 

In this article Consumer Reports reviews a few all-weather tires. They are better than all-season tires for winter driving but can be used all year so you don't have to switch them twice a year.

 

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WINTER TIRES: Here are some tips about winter tires. One of the interesting things in this article is that they discuss tire accessories like studded snow tires, tire chains, and a few new-to-the-market alternatives to tire chains. For the most part we don't need those in this area but if you need to drive in severe winter weather those accessories may be interesting. The rest of the article is a good read for explaining the benefit of winter tires, even with all-wheel-drive.

 

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WINTER DRIVING TIPSWinter driving tips from Edmunds: There are some great tips in here that I do not often see. They cover winter tire traction, and how turning the ac button on in the winter can help keep the windshield clearer (sic). Give this one a read.

 

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WINTER DRIVING TIPS: These tips from US News and World Report include some that not many articles on winter driving think of. For example, try to keep rolling as opposed to coming to a complete stop on snowy and icy roads as it is harder to get started again from a dead stop. Also, they say to keep your headlight lenses cleared of snow and salt and such to maintain better illumination.

 

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WINTER DRIVING TIPSWinter driving tips from Consumer Reports: They cover a couple of things that Edmunds did not like EITHER accelerating, braking, or turning - don't try to do two of those at once on snow,

 

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WINTER DRIVING TIPSCars.com reported on some winter driving tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While simple suggestions, I don't remember some of these tips elsewhere. Such as keep a reflective material in your car to make yourself easier to find if you are stranded in the snow, remove the cover on your dome light if possible to make yourself easier to find, and carry extra medication you take in the car if making a long rural winter trip.

 

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INFO ABOUT WINTER TIRESAfter the brutal winter last year I have gotten a lot of requests for all-wheel-drive vehicles. But, depending on the circumstances, Edmunds.com seems to think that a good set of snow tires could be more important than all-wheel-drive in harsh winter driving conditions. And it seems to make sense to me.

 

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AWD VS WINTER TIRES IN THE SNOW: I know you're sick of hearing about winter tires. But this is one of the best  of the simple explanations of the benefits of all-wheel-drive and winter tires. The article helps you determine whether all-wheel-drive, winter tires, or both, is best for you. They went on to say that for the budget-conscious, front-wheel-drive with snow tires is best. For our Eastern PA / NJ area, I agree.

 
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Pregnancy / Infants / Children:
 

 

 

GOVERNMENT WEBSTE TO HELP PARENTS KEEP THEIR KIDS SAFE WHILE TRAVELLINGThis site is aimed at tips for parents to help keep their kids safe while traveling by car. It has a variety of tips to help infants, toddlers, and children. One great resource is the car seat inspection locations. Since most car seats are improperly installed, it is a good idea to have the installation checked.

 

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GUIDE TO THE BEST CAR SEAT FOR YOU: This article from Car and Driver is short and succinct but offers great advice for picking the best car seat for your needs and has some great safety tips on using them.

 

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TIPS TO HELP PREVENT HOT CAR TRAGEDIES: Never having had a child to care for I had a hard time understanding how a parent could forget that they left their baby in a hot car. Or how they could lose track of time when they only intended to leave the child in a car for a moment whle they made a quick stop into the store on a hot day. But then I had a glimpse into the hectic lives of some of my friends when they had children: the lack of sleep they get when their lives are thrown into chaos with a new little one to care for while they try to keep up with the other responsibilities in their lives. This article is common sense steps to help avoid forgetting your child in the car. I especially like the tips of leaving something in the back seat you need like a cell phone or purse, and leaving a reminder in the front with you so you won't forget (like a stuffed animal on the from passenger seat while your kid is in the car). Some car seats even help to remind you to help you not forget your little one in the back seat.

 

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SIMPLE CAR SEAT TIPSConsumer Reports not only offers reviews for car seats, but here is a link to car seat safety advice for parents. Did you know that for infants, blankets and coats should be laid on the child after harnessing?

 

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REGISTER YOUR CAR SEAT: I saw a tweet from Consumer Reports that wasn't related to an article. They simply pointed out that registering your car seat is how manufacturers know how to reach you in the event of safety recalls and such.

 

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TOP RATED ALL-IN-ONE CAR SEATS: Consumer Reports released this report in November 2018 and lists three top-rated seats in their revised testing. They do recommend all-in-ones as sort-of a back-up or fill-in plan. They explain in the article.

 

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CAR SEAT TIPS FOR IN AND OUT OF CAR: Consumer Reports provides a few very interesting tips for proper use of the car seat OUT of the car. I have no children but I doubt some of these would have occurred to me if I did. They explain, for example, where to place the child seat when shopping. Give this article a read. There are also good tips for in-car use as well.

 

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LOAD LEG: Another new advancement in car seats is out there in something called a "load leg". This is a "leg" that extends from the car seat to the floor of the vehicle and provides additional stabilization and therefore better protection in the event of a collision. This is a Consumer Reports article and may require a subscription to read.

 

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THREE ACROSS / CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY TECHNICIANS: This article from Consumer Reports deals with putting 3 car seats across one back seat, but there is also a link to how to find a child passenger safety technician. These can provide help if you hae uncertainty in how to properly secure your child(ren) for safe travel.

 

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AVOID THESE CAR SEAT MISTAKES: One study shows that 73 percent of car seats aren't installed and/or used properly. Cars.com gives us a list of 10 common mistakes to avoid.

 

 

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CAR SEAT EXPIRATION: Yeah, I know. Car seats expire?! Turns out they do. The plastics they are made of can degrade over time, and then there is the normal wear and tear they go through from the type of use and abuse they endure. Not to mention with all the improvements made to car seats over time, it makes sense to upgrade after a period of time.

 

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REPLACE YOUR CAR SEATS AFTER A MODERATE-TO-SEVERE ACCIDENT: If you are in an accident that is more than a minor fender bender, then you should replace your car seats. This is a recommendation of both NHTSA and Consumer Reports. Damage can occur to car seats in a collision even if you can't visibly see the damage. The good news: the car seats may be covered by your insurance.

 

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WHEN TO CHANGE TO A CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT: As I write this on December 9th, 2015, Consumer Reports just released a study of car seat protection in crashes and they recommend moving your young children into rear-facing convertible car seats before the age of one. They provide superior head protection in the event of a collision. Click the link in this paragraph header to see the video about why this is important, and be sure to read the article below the video. In the article you can also click a link to see their top recommended convertible car seats.

 

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INSTALLING A CAR SEAT WITH A SEATBELTIf you aren't using, or can't use, a LATCH system for installing your child's car seat, make sure that you are installing the car seat properly with the seat belt.

 

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EXPECTANT MOTHERSAnd moms-to-be, let's make sure that you and the precious cargo you carry in your belly are protected by making sure you are wearing your seatbelt correctly.

 

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CAR SEAT INSTALLATION MISTAKES VIDEO: Common car seat installation mistakes, and what to do instead.

 

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Pets:

 

 

KEEPING YOUR DOG SAFE IN THE HEATDon't ever leave your dog in the car in warm/hot temperatures. period. Other pet safety tips as it relates to your vehicle.

 

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TIPS TO SAFELY TRAVEL WITH YOUR PETDoes your pet have a travel kit? If you travel with it, you should have one. Tips for travelling with pets.

 

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TIPS TO SAFELY TRAVEL WITH YOUR PET: Consumer Reports offers a pretty extensive list of tips and ideas to make traveling with your pet safer and more enjoyable, as well as suggesting what supplies to travel with.

 

 

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MORE TIPS FOR SAFE PET TRAVEL: Remember that just like you your pet also needs to stay hydrated and needs a break every now and again. And, PLEASE, DO NOT leave your pet in the car!

 

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Copyright 2015 Tim Bergey
The views expressed on this website are not necessarily those of my employer.
Images copyright John Barclay, Hyundai.
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