Rules for the Road: Be Prepared With a Roadside Emergency Kit for Your Car

roadside_emergency_kitOne of the most important things to remember about safe driving is that you should always be prepared for emergencies. It can happen to anyone; you could be involved in a fender bender, end up with a flat tire, run out of gas, breakdown due to engine trouble, or become stuck due to adverse weather conditions. For situations like this, an emergency kit can be a lifesaver.

Even if you have roadside-assistance coverage through your insurance provider or an auto club, you will need access to a phone in order to contact them, and you may have to wait on the side of the road before help arrives. A roadside emergency kit is intended to aid you in getting help. It can be used to signal your presence to other drivers who might not see you or your car’s lights on the side of the road. This is especially helpful in rainy or nighttime driving situations. A basic car kit should contain the following:

  • A cell phone. Just remember, do NOT use your phone while you are driving. A phone should always remain out of reach until your car is turned off or in park.
  • Food and water. Choose food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars. If you need to wait for help to arrive, make sure to have a snack on hand.
  • A blanket.
  • First aid kit. This will be especially helpful for any minor cuts or scrapes sustained in an accident.
  • In a cold environment, tools for snow removal. Keeping a small shovel, scraper and snow brush is key. Additionally, try keeping a box of kitty litter in your trunk to pour over snow if you become stuck. Kitty litter will help you to get the traction necessary to get free.
  • Tools to attract attention. A flashlight, whistle or roadside reflective hazard triangle can be used to call attention to your location if you are stuck on the side of the road. It is very important to warn other drivers of your presence on the shoulder, especially at night.
  • Tools for basic car maintenance and minor emergencies. It’s good practice to always have extra windshield washer fluid, a tire pressure gauge, spare tire, a set of jumper cables, and a fire extinguisher in your trunk. Better safe than sorry!

If you do need to use your emergency kit, remember to stay calm and remain safe. What other tools do you keep in your emergency car kit?


Safety First – Top Used Cars for Teen Drivers

Used Car Teen DriverGetting a driver’s license is only the first step that teens will take toward driving independence. One of the most exciting events for a new driver is the first time they get to take their very own car out for a spin. Parents have an important decision on their hands if they are planning to buy a new or used car for their child… what’s the best, safest, and most cost effective choice for their teen?

Safety is at the top of the list for parents when thinking about car choices for their teens. The New York Times recently tackled this concept in their article, “How Much Car Do You Buy to Keep Your Teenager Safe?” As parents are left to consider just what safety features are the most likely to keep their teens focused and safe on the road, and as newer accident avoidance technologies such as lane departure sensors, backup cameras, and more become more common, parents have a lot to think about. Refer to the New York Times article for a list of used cars with accident avoidance technologies to consider.

Additionally, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers reviews and ratings for the best used cars for teens, with a focus on safety criteria, and priced under $20,000. These resources are intended to help parents make informed choices they can feel good about!

We here at GDL Institute believe a safe, reliable and affordable vehicle is the gold standard for a new driver, and will offer peace of mind for their parents. Additionally, new drivers should be taught defensive driving skills and have knowledge of all of the laws and road rules that will apply to them BEFORE they hit the road. Parents in Florida should make sure teens complete their mandatory Drug and Alcohol course and Learners Permit test with an approved online course provider. Choosing the best possible Drug & Alcohol course from GDL Institute puts new drivers in the best position for a safe driving.

What was YOUR first car as a teen driver?


How Much Car Do You Buy to Keep Your Teenager Safe? – New York Times

Choosing the Best Vehicle for Your Teen – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Get Better Gas Mileage – 5 Tips to Improve Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency

gas pricesGet ready to pay more at the pump! Gas prices in Florida are expected to rise as spring approaches, peaking at around $3.75 a gallon this year, according to AAA. Not everyone is in a position to buy a more fuel efficient car, but there are a few things you can do to improve the fuel efficiency in your current vehicle.

  1. Keeping your tires properly inflated is one of the easiest, and most rewarding, ways to improve your fuel efficiency. Check your tire pressure at least once a month, or in cases of significant temperature fluctuation. Under-inflated tires burn more fuel. Under-inflated tires can lower the gas mileage on your vehicle, even tires under-inflated by just 1 or 2 psi.
  2. Lighten the load! Weight can make a difference in fuel economy, so remove any unnecessary heavy items from your vehicle. If you’re storing sporting equipment or a trunk full of items you don’t need to haul around, clean out your car and reap the rewards of better gas mileage… and less clutter in general. For more tips on how to get your car organized, check out our blog post, “Everything in its Place – How to Organize Your Car for A Safe Trip.”
  3. Regular maintenance is key. Regular checkups and tasks such replacing dirty air filters as outlined in your owner’s manual, or more if you drive in dusty conditions, are important for better fuel efficiency.
  4. When filling up at the pump, make sure your gas cap is screwed in tight. Loose or missing caps can allow gas to vaporize.
  5. Ease up on the gas, and watch your speed. Quick starts and acceleration can increase your fuel consumption. A smooth, light acceleration from a stop will use less fuel (and is safer in general!) than a rapid acceleration. Further, speed plays a big part in how much you can expect to pay at the pump – in addition to the added cost of any speeding tickets! According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. For each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph, it is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.

You can save cash with some simple changes to your driving habits. What other tips would you give to drivers on how to save at the gas pump?


Everything in its Place – How to Organize Your Car for A Safe Trip

car_clutterWhether used to drive to school, transport friends, or commute to soccer practice or work, we all use our cars for more than just driving. With such busy lives, it’s easy to let the mess start to pile up. Does your car look like a disaster zone? Give yourself and your car a fresh start by clearing out the clutter. Next time you have fifteen minutes to spare, try these helpful tips to keeping everything in its place and ensure a safer drive.

  • Clean up the clutter. Toss any trash, scraps of paper, empty soda bottles, etc. Make sure to remove any trash or clutter from under the seats of the car – these items could roll forward and get trapped under the accelerator or brake while you are driving and become a serious hazard. After clearing out the rubbish, give your car a thorough vacuuming for a clean finish. The less mess you have around you, the less chance you will be distracted while driving.
  • Get organized. Make sure to keep your car owner’s manual and any other important documents stored in your glove compartment or other safe place. Designate a place for everything in your car by utilizing tools like a visor organizer and the storage compartments in your center console.
  • Address all of that junk in the trunk. Like the old adage, “out of sight out of mind” it’s easy to toss your stuff in the trunk and forget about it. Go through your trunk and take out anything that you don’t need for daily use or as a part of an emergency kit. As an added bonus, you could save at the gas pump by dropping the extra weight in your trunk. An extra 100 pounds can reduce a typical car’s fuel economy by up to 2% (FTC).

Now that you’ve cleaned out your car, keep it up! Make sure to stay on top of clutter by cleaning up once a day or once a week. And remember, it’s not just the inside of your car that must be kept clean, regular car washes are equally important. Always ensure your exterior lights and mirrors are free from mud, snow, and other things that can block your view or make it harder to be seen at night.


© 2013 GDL