There are plenty of driving and safety tips out there to help prevent accidents, but as long as human judgment is behind the wheel, there will always be accidents on the road. This is where tech comes in.
New technology is helping to make up for human error via sensors, automatic braking, smartphone connectivity, and more. Here is some of the latest tech we’re hoping to see more of in the next few years. Many of these are not only safer but also more convenient for you, the driver.
Adaptive cruise control
Instead of keeping your car at the same speed, adaptive cruise control can adjust speed based on the car in front of you. The radar system maintains a certain distance between you and the car in front of you. No more setting and re-setting your speed whenever traffic slows. ACC has been around a while but has previously only been available in luxury vehicles, like the Lexus LS430, which was first to use it. Now, ACC is becoming increasingly available in new vehicles.
Anti-collision warning systems
These monitors can detect when a collision is about to happen, allowing the driver to correct the car and avoid an accident. Some even brake for you.
This display keeps the info you need within your line of sight while driving. Many are customizable so you can put the information that’s most important to you on the display, and take off the things that aren’t important. This isn’t new tech – head-up displays have been long used in fighter jets. But they are now an affordable safety addition to your vehicle.
Steering avoidance systems
Like anti-collision monitors, this system will detect debris on the road and steer to avoid it. This can also keep your car centered in the lane. Braking anti-collision systems are incredibly valuable, but braking won’t always prevent an accident. This takes that protection to the next step.
This is currently only available in newer Mercedes models, but could save your life. The cabin produces a sound at a frequency that prepares your ears for the loud sound of a collision. This doesn’t help with the initial crash, but once the crash is over, you may still be in harm’s way. The noise of the crash can hurt your inner ear and be disorienting, but with PreSafe sound, you’ll have more control and be able to react to get yourself (and your family) safely out of the way.
App vehicle control
Available on some brands, smart-phone integration allows you to control different aspects of your vehicle. Some allow for remote start, parking and monitoring of the vehicle. Perhaps most useful is the ability to check if you locked your car, and locate it, from afar. Tesla’s version even monitors the charge of your battery.
Uptis airless tires
GM and Michelin have created a tire that can’t go flat. The tires have a series of rubber internal spokes that give the tires their shape instead of air. The companies expect these tires to have a longer life expectancy, to absorb shock better, and eliminate the danger of a flat or blowout on the road.
V2V communication will allow vehicles to detect the behavior of other cars on the road. It will be able to detect when cars have slowed down ahead, when there’s a car you cannot visibly see, and detect an oncoming vehicle if you’re trying to pass on a two-lane highway. The benefits of V2V are numerous, and add another layer of safety to blind spot detection and anti-collision monitoring. The problem is that V2V is complicated. It will have to be government regulated, and there is some dispute over whether the communications should be via cellular-based 5G or dedicated short-range radio communication (DSRC). While this might make us wait longer than we hoped, V2V will be a major game changer when it gets off the ground.
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As a driver, you know there are a ton of distractions that can take your eyes and mind away from the road. Your teen may be aware of these distractions, but may not know how serious they can affect their driving.
Drivers under 20 are at the highest risk of distracted driving accidents, largely thanks to phones. Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident. In 2017, 100,687 crashes happened on Texas roads due to distracted driving.
One of the most important conversations you can have with your teen is about safe driving. Here are a few ways to positively encourage them to do so.
1. Lead by example
Kids learn behavior from their role models. They aren’t likely to stay off their phone behind the wheel if they see you on your phone behind the wheel. The earlier you can set an example, the better. If your teen has often seen you on your phone while driving already, tell them that you want to practice safer driving with them.
You can have them encourage you to stay off your phone or engage in other distracting behaviors while you drive, as you’ll do the same for them.
2. Give them the tools to succeed
There are several apps that can help reduce your teen’s distractions. If your teen uses their phone for music or Bluetooth calling, they probably won’t want to put it away completely. Instead, help them set up an app to lock certain features or allow hands-free control.
Keeping your teen’s phone on a mount also helps them keep their eyes close to the road and minimizes the time their hands are off the wheel should they use it.
This isn’t the perfect solution, but especially as we are increasingly depending on constant-communication, your teen may be less inclined to turn off and stow their phone. But this way, you can allow them to use it in a much safer manner.
3. Peer influence
Peer influence also plays a part in distracted driving. Others in the car can be a positive or negative influence on the driver. A 2015 AT&T study showed that 85% of participants would download an app to block their phone notifications if one of their “top 5” closest communicators asked them to. Many drivers are receptive to those they care about – if only those people asked them to change their behavior.
Talk to your teen and their friends about how they engage with one another. Encourage them to support one another to make safe driving habits. It’s also important to talk to them about being aware of their behavior in the car to support safe driving.
4. Positive reinforcement
New drivers hear a lot of negative comments concerning what they’re doing wrong. While this is often vital, they also need to hear positive reinforcement of their safe driving skills.
Both on and off the road, don’t be afraid to compliment your teen on something they did well. It could be the way they maintained the speed limit. Or how they told their friend to text them when they get home safely.
Even if they don’t seem receptive, small encouragements can help them see safe driving as an asset instead of an annoyance.
Some safe driving apps, like San Antonio-based Safe 2 Save, also reward you for staying off your phone, which also positively reinforces attentive driving. You can encourage them to earn rewards at local businesses, to give your teen incentive to stay off their phone.
You can even do it as a family and compete to see who can get the most safe-driving rewards. Again, your teen will have their good habits positively reinforced.
5. Practice practice practice
This is obvious, but for your teen to get better at driving, they need to spend more time on the road. Offer to let them drive if it’s just the two of you, and take them out to practice in heavier traffic. Often, teens don’t encounter difficult driving situations until they’re on their own. Having them encounter difficult driving situations with you there can help them in the long run.
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You love your car. You’ve been taking good care of it for years, but after the last accident, you’re not sure how much more repair you’re willing to pour into it. But buying a new is also a huge financial commitment. Here are a few considerations as to whether or not you want to commit to a new vehicle.
Obviously, newer cars are safer. They have the latest technology to keep you and your vehicle out of harm’s way. If your car is more than 5 years old, compare the safety features of your car to newer vehicles. Some things can be added on to your current vehicle, but others cannot. Features like automatic emergency braking, backup cameras, and blind-spot monitoring are almost standard safety now. If there’s a serious gap in the safety of your car and newer vehicles, it’s probably time to buy a new one.
Also, if you are looking for your teen driver, safer cars are the way to go. Anything that helps an inexperienced driver navigate the road will benefit them.
If you find yourself at the repair shop often, you may feel like your car is costing you more than it’s worth. However, the cost of a new car is much more burdensome. Not only would you probably be paying more in monthly payments, but you’ll also pay more in insurance and registration fees.
A new car loses about 20 percent of its value in a year. This can leave you “upside down” in payments before long: You’ll owe more than what it’s worth. While this is a normal part of getting a new car, you’ll likely be stuck with it when this happens – for better or worse.
However, if your current vehicle is a gas guzzler you’ll likely save money on fuel by switching to something more efficient. This would be a great reason to trade in your vehicle.
Peace of mind
Sometimes the worry of an old car breaking down is not worth holding out to buy a new one. Repairing an old problem doesn’t guarantee another major problem won’t happen sooner than later.
You may just be fed up with an ongoing problem in your vehicle: An annoying engine noise, a broken radio, worn upholstery…there is a multitude of everyday annoyances and worries getting a new car can fix. Constant trips to the repair shop are stressful and can leave you several days without your vehicle.
Buying new comes with the peace of mind that you’ll probably not be in the shop for a repair. And if you do, you’ll probably have a warranty to cover it for several years to come.
If you’ve had a car a long time, you may have a sentimental attachment to it. Saying goodbye can feel like abandoning an old friend. While this isn’t necessarily a big reason to keep the vehicle, it may influence a decision to keep your old car. Think about it this way: Sentimental value makes the car more valuable to you than it would to anyone else.
Making a decision
While multiple factors have to be considered in your decision, there are a few instances we’d recommend buying new:
- Your car problems frequently make you late for work or cause you to break down in a potentially dangerous location.
- You have a major repair that will cost more than half the value of your car.
- You already want to get a new car and your repair shop informs you of costly work needing to be done (but be transparent about what needs to be done when you go to sell).
- You have a teen driver and the car in question has needed frequent repairs – it’s best to get them a car with a warranty and current safety features.
Texas has miles and miles of highways. With all those roads, thankfully the Lone Star State does not rank at the top for the most dangerous highways in the country. California ranks number one in that category. But maybe you’re curious, what are the most dangerous roads in Texas?
If you travel near any of the major cities, take note of some of the most dangerous highways.
Topping the List in the San Antonio Area
A recent study showed that a 14-mile stretch of I-410 claimed most of the 176 fatalities that occurred from 2013 to 2015. The study also showed that I-35 is on the list and in the San Antonio area, there were nine accidents near mile marker 101 that resulted in 13 fatalities. Eleven more crashes occurred near mile 128 that resulted in 11 total fatalities.
Two areas of Interstate 10 also ranked in the top 25 on the list. U.S. Highway 90, FM 2252, SL 13, and SL 1604 were also on the list. As many San Antonio residents may know, some of these are in high traffic areas which increases the risk for major collisions.
What drivers can do on dangerous roads
Knowing which areas are at a greater risk for accidents can help drivers be more aware and possibly avoid the need for auto body repair and reduce the risk for injury or death. They should always be aware of their surroundings and other vehicles.
In high traffic areas, it’s especially important to watch your speed, watch for road signs, as well as erratic or careless drivers. High speed can lead to serious accidents (and we know how SA drivers love to speed). Slowing down can give you more reaction time if you need to drive defensively.
At ProCare Automotive and Collision we not only work in San Antonio, but we also live here. We care about our neighbors and our community.
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Maintaining good quality tires on a vehicle is something car owners must do. Insufficient tread or air pressure leads to more than just a flat tire. In 2017, tire-related crashes resulted in 738 fatalities nationwide. While the number of tire-related crashes has dropped in the past decade, they can still happen and cause serious damage.
Proper tire maintenance is one of many steps car owners can take to prevent an accident.
Proper tire tread
The tread on tires can vary depending on the type of tire and the type of vehicle. You want enough tire tread to allow water on the road to go through the tread. This gives your car traction.
There is a quick test you can do to check your tread. Insert the penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head pointed down into the tread. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the worn tires on your vehicle.
If you don’t have change, look for the tread wear indicator bars which are located on several areas of the tire.
Check the tire pressure
The tire pressure for every vehicle can vary but is typically between 30 and 35 psi. Make a habit of checking your tire pressure routinely and it is especially important to do this before you drive on slick roads.
While most newer vehicles are equipped with tire sensors, you do not want to always rely on that in case the sensors malfunction. Under-inflated and damaged tires are leading contributors to a blowout, which can result in a serious collision.
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When a hailstorm hits, it can leave its mark on your vehicle. The damage left behind can be significant. In San Antonio, the April 12, 2016 hailstorm cost $1.4 billion in damage to homes and cars. If you’re looking to repair hail damage, there are a couple of options body shops can provide.
Types of hail damage repair
There are two options when it comes to fixing those dents. The first is regular body work. This is for more extensive damage that often requires filling the dent, fixing the paint, and may take days in the shop. This can also affect your resale value if you make a claim to get the repair done.
The other option is paintless dent removal (PDR). PDR requires getting to the back of the dent and massage the body back to its original position. This option is fairly quick and easy, and also is less likely to affect your car value. It is also cheaper, but isn’t always an option with some dents and damage.
Get an estimate
Before getting an estimate, know what your insurance policy covers for auto body repair and if it covers PDR. Find a collision center that offers free estimates.
A technician can tell you what it will take to remove your damage, and what type of repair they recommend.
What to choose
If the damage to your vehicle has not chipped or cracked the paint, then it may be possible to have PDR to remove the damage. Typically, PDR is the go-to fix for hail damage. This is beneficial because it maintains the original factory paint, saves time, and saves money. Additionally, this is a good way to avoid any negative CARFAX reports if you plan on selling the car soon.
With more serious damage, you may need to go with regular body repair. Any paint damage will require collision repair to not only remove the dents but perform paint work on the vehicle.
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Manufacturers continuously modify what they use to make cars, and more vehicles are now being made with aluminum. More than a million cars on the road are now aluminum, and they require a different kind of training to repair body damage.
Using aluminum weighs less, making the vehicle more fuel efficient and attractive to car buyers. Adding aluminum reduces the weight of the vehicle by hundreds of pounds. This is good news for car owners who will pay less in fuel.
But repairing aluminum vehicles presents a challenge. Because it is not widely used, few shops are certified to work on aluminum. When looking for a collision repair shop for your vehicle, ask if that body shop has aluminum certified technicians.
Why aluminum collision repair is different
The debut of the aluminum Ford F-150 presents a new challenge for some auto body repair shops. Repairing vehicles that are not made primarily of steel takes training and the right tools. This can be costly for some smaller collision repair shops.
Shops need a certification from Ford to make manufacturer-standard repairs.
More aluminum on the roads
It is not just Ford producing aluminum-made cars anymore. In addition, GM is launching a “mixed materials strategy” with its 2019 Chevrolet Silverado. The company says training from the manufacturer will be necessary for any body shops. Consequently, collision repair shops will have to invest thousands of dollars in tools and training to make the repairs.
ProCare Automotive and Collision, a body shop in San Antonio, has aluminum certified technicians. Our technicians train with manufacturers for long-lasting professional repairs.
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When searching for a vehicle for your teen driver, you want to find the safest option possible. Not only are teen drivers inexperienced with many dangerous driving situations, but driving on busy San Antonio roads means a greater chance of an accident.
Each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announces the cars for its Top Safety Picks. IIHS looks at two main aspects of safety: crashworthiness and crash prevention. “Crashworthiness” is how well the vehicle protects the occupants of the car. Prevention looks at technology that could mitigate or lessen the severity of a crash.
If you plan to buy a new vehicle, look at the list of Top Safety Picks.
Safest vehicles for 2017
If you want a pre-owned vehicle from 2017, the IIHS considers these cars as the safest models: Chevrolet Volt, Volvo S60, Toyota Prius Prime, Subaru Impreza, Genesis G80, Genesis G90, Volvo V60, Nissan Maxima, Lexus RC, and the Subaru Legacy.
Safest vehicles for 2018
For 2018 models, the IIHS ranked these vehicles as the safest: Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Subaru Impreza, Subaru WRX, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Toyota Camry, BMW 5 series, Genesis G80, Genesis G90, Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E Class sedan, Hyundai Santa Fe, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Most teens feel more comfortable driving a tiny car, but if they get in an accident, they’ll be better protected by a heavier vehicle. Horsepower also temps young drivers, though more power is best for drivers with more experience. Young drivers are less experienced, and more power means a greater chance of losing control of a vehicle. This is why electronic stability control, or ESC, is essential to help the driver have greater control. This is standard on passenger vehicles made after 2012.
A safe car can only do its job if your teen follows the rules of the road. Your teen should know that just because they have an excellent safety-rated car doesn’t mean that they need to be any less alert while driving. Obeying traffic rules, putting away their cell phone, and using their seatbelt are still of greater importance to their safety.