What’s Going on Back There?

Taking in the Big Picture

A big part of defensive driving is scanning the road. Not just looking for hazards ahead of you, but also being aware of what is going on to the sides and behind you as well. When scanning, your eyes are continuously moving from side to side, ahead and in your rear-view mirrors. Take short quick glances to take in the big picture and be aware of and regulate potentially hazardous situations before you find yourself in a predicament.

First off, you should make sure to properly adjust your seat and mirrors before you start driving. You want to make sure you have as wide a field of vision as possible to the back of your vehicle when looking into the rear-view and side-mirrors.

Second, remember these three instances where checking traffic behind you is of great importance.

  1. Backing: When backing it is best to back up as little as necessary as you are more likely to hit something because your visibility is limited. Before you back up check your mirrors and look over your shoulder as you reverse. Keep your speed as slow and safe as possible.
  2. Changing lanes: Before you begin your lane change, always look over your shoulder after checking your mirrors to confirm that there are no vehicles hiding in your blind spot. This is also good to remember as part of moving over to curbside park or preparing to make a right turn.
  3. Slowing down quickly: Stopping suddenly can put you at high risk of being rear ended by another motorist. Make sure to check your rear-view mirror when forced to brake harder than usual. This is a good reason to have a safe space cushion between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Get in the habit of utilizing your rear and side view mirrors more consistently. The greater your ability to comprehend what is going on around your car, the safer it will be for you to drive.

Safety for Two Wheels

Motorcycle & Bicycle Awareness

May kicks off both Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month & Bicycle Safety Month. With only two wheels, motorcycles and bicycles are less stable and require the rider to have great handling ability. They are much smaller and harder to see than other vehicles on the road. Consequently, motorcycles and bicycles are more easily hidden or missed by other drivers. Also, they don’t have the same protection as an automobile driver, making any type of collision or wipeout serious or fatal.

What you may not know is bicyclists and motorcyclists have the same right to ride on the road as other vehicles. Furthermore, they are subject to the majority of laws that all other drivers are required to follow. As a driver, don’t forget to always check your blind spots every time you change lanes or prepare to make turn. Remember to consider a bicycle lane the same as other traffic lanes. Also, do not try to pass a bicyclist until it is safe to do so allowing ample room between your vehicle and the rider.

As a motorist sharing the road with others, it’s crucial your defensive driving strategies include being aware of other types of vehicles in your driving environment.

Drivers Ed App 101

Cool New App for Your Mobile Device

Got a new driver in the house? Or maybe you’d like to test your driving knowledge? PhDMV is a cool new App for iPhone and iPad that helps new drivers prepare for the written permit test. The PhDMV app is not your average drivers ed app. Besides offering practice tests that mimic the CA DMV permit test, it also provides a fun new twist on the old classic hangman game. Hangdummy helps teens learn the rules of the road while trying to keep the Crash Test Dummy in one piece. Learn more about how you can get the free app for you or your teen at DriversEdApp.com.

Where the Rubber Hits the Road

New Year, New You

It’s a brand new year and that means New Year’s Resolutions. Here are five driving decisions you can take to heart in the year ahead.

  1. Pay Attention: Texting and driving is getting a lot of attention, which is good because it is bad. But it is also good to note that anything that takes your attention away from driving is dangerous, whether it is talking to a passenger to grabbing a snack.
  2. Take Your Time: We all have places to be and a time to be there. However, the important part is to actually get where you are going. Give yourself plenty of time.  Speeding is not an answer. And, if you are running late, be late.
  3. Strap In: Seat belts save lives and take very little effort or time to fasten. Buckle up every time you are in a vehicle. Your life could depend on it.
  4. Heed the Signs: Traffic signs and signals are on the road for a reason. They tell us when, where and how fast to go. They also more importantly tell us when we need to stop. So be attentive and obey the signs.
  5. Be Courteous: Remember we all need to share the road. Showing courtesy and respect to everyone on the road helps ensure that we can all arrive at our destinations safely. Use your turn signals, don’t tailgate, and don’t weave in and out of traffic.

Have a happy and safe 2015!

Silver Screen Autos

Name That Movie

America loves cars. America loves movies. So what could be better than combining the two?  Take a trip down memory lane and see if you can name the movies that featured these memorable cars.  If you get stumped, there’s also a quote from each movie as an added clue.

1963 Volkswagen Beetle



“You don’t understand what happens, do you? They make ten thousand cars, they make them exactly the same way, and one or two of ’em turn out to be something special. Nobody knows why.”

Mutt Cutts Van



“Pullover!”  “No, it’s a cardigan but thanks for noticing.”

1981 DeLorean DMC-12



“The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”

1959 Cadillac Ecto-1


“Everybody can relax, I found the car. Needs some suspension work and shocks. Brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear-end.”

1978 VW Van



“Oh my God, I’m getting pulled over. Everyone, just pretend to be normal.”




1986 Chrysler Town & Country



“I know it’s not pretty to look at….but it’ll get you where you want to go.”


6) The Love Bug (1968) 5) Dumb & Dumber (1994) 4) Back to the Future (1985) 
3) Ghostbusters (1984) 2) Little Miss Sunshine (2006) 
1) Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Whoa Nelly!

Vehicle Control and Recovery

Driving too fast for road and weather conditions can result in loss of car control. In today’s blog we will discuss what to do should you hydroplane or have a fishtail skid.

Hydroplaning occurs when you travel too fast on a wet road causing water to build up between your tires and the road. When you lose contact with the road you no longer have control of the car.

When you begin to hydroplane, do not slam on the brakes. Take your foot off the accelerator to gradually slow down, allowing your tires to regain contact with the road and restore vehicle control. Abrupt actions, like braking or yanking the steering wheel, can make the skid worse by putting your car into a spin.

A fishtailing skid is when the rear end of your car begins to slide back and forth because your back wheels lose traction with the ground. If you encounter a fishtailing skid you should:

  1. Take your foot of the gas pedal.
  2. Remain calm and keep a firm, steady grip on the steering wheel.
  3. Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want your vehicle to go.
  4. Try steering only enough to stop the skid, but you may need to counter-steer until you have regained control of the car.

Also, in both situations, if you are driving a car with manual transmission, the clutch should be disengaged when you take your foot off the accelerator.

Get Your Kicks

route-66-110606_640On Route 66

We’ve all heard it, the iconic song about the iconic cross-country highway. For those you who have never traveled the now lonely road, let’s make a few virtual stops on this historic route spanning over 2000 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California.

Big Blue Whale Catoosa OK
The Blue Whale can be found in Catoosa, OK. This huge structure is 80 feet in length and 20 feet tall. Built by Hugh S. Davis in 1972 as an anniversary gift for his wife, Zelta, it was a great place to cool off after a hot day on the road. The attraction closed in 1988 but was restored and reopened in 1997.

If you find yourself in Holbrook, AZ, make a stop at the Wigwam Motel. You can even spend a night in a “teepee.” Owner and operator Chester E. Lewis, who ran the business until he sold it in 1974, completed construction of Wigwam Village Motel #6 in 1950. In 1988 Lewis’ wife and children bought and re-opened the motel.

You’ll come to the end of the road at Yacht Harbor Pier in Santa Monica, CA. The Santa Monica Pier had a rich history of its own before it was officially assigned the West Coast’s conclusion of Route 66 in November 2009. The first pier was constructed in 1909 and has been altered, enhanced and renovated a few times since.

Way of the Future

Solar Roadways


The Brusaws with their Solar Parking Lot Prototype

Julie and Scott Brusaw, a couple based in Idaho, have been developing a Solar Roadway system that could have a wide range effect on our way of life.  The proposed intelligent roadway besides harvesting energy would potentially offer addition advantages such as LED lights with numerous configurations and colors that would eliminate the need for painted road markings; heated panels in colder climates that would keep the driving surface clear of snow and ice removing the need of snow plows and sanding crews; modular panels that could be removed and replaced by a technician easily reducing the traffic congestion due to road repairs.  There are also projections of increased use of Electric Vehicles with the ability to charge while driving.  The suggested benefits would also change the way in which we power our homes and businesses and the solar roadway technology could be used in parking lots, sidewalks, ideally any surface that is currently paved for walking or driving.  The possibilities are abundant and exciting.

Source: www.solarroadways.com

Bridge the Gap

Can You Name These Memorable Bridges? Part II

Bridges are wonders of engineering and architecture. They are together beautiful and functional. Can you name any of these bridges from around the world, both near and far?

FOUR: Construction on this bridge was completed in 1852 making it the oldest iron bridge maintained in Spain. The design was similar to the Paris Carrousel Bridge featured in a painting by Van Gogh in 1886. Commonly referred to as Puente de Triana, it is actually named after the reigning queen at the time of its creation.

THREE: This bridge is found in West Bengal, India and has become a symbol of Kolkata (Calcutta). Constructed from 26,500 tons of steel the entire structure is erected using rivets. The cantilever and suspended span bridge was renamed Rabindra Setu in 1965, but is still widely known as…

TWO: This suspension bridge turned 50 years old in 2011 and was built to alleviate some of the traffic on the Whitestone Bridge. Located in New York City, its total length is 2,910 feet with the longest span at 1,800 feet.






ONE: Located in South Carolina, this cable-stayed bridge replaced two outdated cantilever truss bridges. Mindful of the locale’s history, the bridge was engineered to endure hurricane force winds and earthquakes as well as potential shipping accidents.

Check out: London Bridge Is Falling Down… Can You Name These Memorable Bridges? Part I

4) Puente de Isabel II 3) The Howrah Bridge 2) Throgs Neck Bridge 
1) The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge 

Spring Break with a Plan

Fun, Sun and Safety

For many families it is Spring Break which means it’s time for a family vacation. Here are a few tips to make your travel plans a little safer and less stressful.


  • Get a Tune Up. Make sure your car is in good working order before hitting the road.
  • Pack Thoughtfully. Keep safety and economic benefits in mind when you are loading up the family van. Also, prepare for the unexpected by packing an auto safety travel kit with useful items in the event you run into a problem.
  • Research Your Route. Find out before you leave what the road and weather conditions will be like.
  • Don’t Be In a Rush. Allow enough time to get to your destination safely. Planning ahead will help avoid aggressive driving and road rage.
  • Stay Connected. Let a friend or other family member know your travel plans.

All that is left to do now is sit back and enjoy the ride!