4 Tips to Get Your Car Winter and Road Trip Ready


It’s that time of year again: winter weather and road trips are upon us. The holiday season is one of the busiest times on the road and all the snow, ice, and wind don’t make matters any easier. While you may plan on doing plenty of driving, it’s easy to overlook your car’s maintenance needs. Our heads are filled with thoughts of family, friends, gifts, and parties so getting the oil checked takes a backseat. But it’s crucial for your car’s health and your safety to ensure your car is ready for harsh weather and long miles.  It only takes a little preparation to get to all your holiday festivities safely.

Here are 4 tips to get your car winter and road trip ready:

  1. Winter Car Kit

If you know you’ll be driving through icy or snowy conditions, you’ll want to pack up a few extra items in case of emergency. In fact, it’s a good idea to put together a winter car kit and just leave it in your trunk all season. A few essentials include:

  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Extra clothing/blankets
  • Water/snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Spare tire
  • Small shovel

   2. Check Tires

Before you hit the road, make sure your tires have sufficient tread. Patches of snow and the ever-sneaky black ice can turn the road into a skating rink if your tires are smooth. It’s also important to pay attention to your tire pressure as it too helps your car grip the road . For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, your tires lose roughly 1 PSI.

  3. Monitor Coolant Level

Coolant ensures your car starts properly and protects your engine’s fluids from freezing over. It also prevents the formation of rust and guards against corrosion. Check your coolant levels early in the season so you know your safe all winter.

 4. Grab Winter-Grade Windshield Cleaner

There are types of windshield wiper fluid specially formulated to remain liquid in freezing temperatures. During the winter roads are treated with salt and/or sand to prevent hydroplaning in inclement weather. While the mix provides great traction, it can crust over your windshield and decrease your visibility considerably. You don’t want your windshield fluid freezing up on you in a time like that.

Could Talking Cars Eliminate Traffic Lights?

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication is one of the major technologies set to reshape mobility as we know it—and that includes traffic lights. According to AAA, the average American spends nearly 59 hours per year sitting at red lights. Imagine how much quicker (and more pleasant) your daily commute would be if that number was brought down to zero. This could one day be reality.

As part of the UK Autodrive Project, Ford Motor Company plans to demonstrate its Intersection Priority Management (IPM) technology on the roads of a small town about 60 miles north of London. Ford has equipped test vehicles with V2V communications so they can track each other’s locations, travel speed, and direction. This information helps vehicles suggest speed alterations to drivers so they can pass one another safely at an intersection without ever having to stop. If this technology was applied to driverless vehicles in the future—which is likely given Ford’s ventures in autonomous vehicle testing—cars would be able to slow themselves automatically.

The thinking behind IPM is based on how human beings make their way through crowded areas. While walking, we typically don’t come to complete stops to avoid people in our path. We continuously adjust our walking speed or direction to prevent collisions. If the same process could be transferred to our vehicles it would spell the end of traffic lights and stops, creating a more efficient flow of traffic.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of this incredible technology:

Stuck in a Rut

Image result for deer season

When love puts stars in your eyes, a besotted creature doesn’t pay attention to traffic. That’s how deer ‘rut’ season goes. Mating season and the quest for more secure habitats have deer on the move during this time of the year, and that means, Drivers, Beware!

While rut lasts from October to January, romantic deer encounters in many states peak in November. Here’s why this is the season for drivers to shift into high alert:

Deer rarely travel alone. Even if you spot only one deer, there’s a good chance many more are nearby.

Deer are more mobile around sunrise and sunset. The hours when humans are battling morning and evening rush hour traffic are the same times chances of hitting a deer are highest.

Here’s what to do:

Drive alertly through deer crossing areas.

If a deer is in your path, brake firmly and stay in your lane. Many crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid an animal and hit another vehicle.

Skip deer whistles and reflectors which have not been proven to reduce collisions, although they allow that one long honk from a car horn could be effective.

Reduce speed near wooded or green areas such as parks and golf courses and near streams and ponds.

Use bright lights when conveniet and safe, to scan the road ahead.

Opt for common-sense caution, like wearing a seat belt.

If you do hit a deer, Transportation and Natural Resources officials advise that motorists leave the animal in the road and call law enforcement, who will remove it. They caution to especially not approach a wounded animal. Drivers are urged to turn on their hazard lights and stay buckled in their vehicles, as they are more protected inside a car should a secondary crash occur.

#roadsafety #deerseason #huntingseason #deeronthemove #safedriving #deerinlove

Safe Teens

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So, what’s the magic formula to insure teenagers and their friends don’t get into a crash? The state of Oregon has one – a driver education program. Oregon statistics shows that teens age 15 – 20 without driver education are responsible for 91 percent of teen driver crashes.

Apart from enrolling in a drivers ed class, the factors teens can (ahem) steer away from to avoid being involved in an accident are the same as those for all drivers:

  • Alcohol and drug-impaired driving.
  • Inconsistent or no seat belt use.
  • Distracted and drowsy driving.
  • Speeding.
  • Having too many passengers in the car.

#teenagers #drivingsafety #saferoads #drivereducation #don’tdrinkanddrive

Mid-day Halloween fun at TrafficCast!

Halloween is for Operators – and one Developer, too.

Adults who not-so-secretly like to dress up for Halloween – that’s us! We are, left to right, Little Mac from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out video game (Cody), Wilma Flinstone (Pam), Minion (Kelly), Ironic Costume (Josh), Squirrel Girl (Maddie) and White Suburban College-Educated Female Voter (Susan). We took a break from Halloween traffic chatter, which mostly consists of police departments warning drivers to look out for little witches and dragons, to enjoy pizza and costume awards for those who dressed up. Everyone won an award, and received some well-deserved candy. Susan tied with Josh for Laziest Costume!

#Halloween#CrazyCostumes#Whenyouremployerbuysthepizza#traffic    #besafeforhalloween#WilmaFlinstone#Minion#SquirrelGirl#LittleMac#Irony  #WhiteSuburbanCollege-EducatedFemaleVoter


Spaces on Wheels: A Glimpse of the Driverless Future

When you no longer have to drive, what will you do during your commute? Space10, Ikea’s research and development divison, and creative agency foam have teamed up to design answers to that question as part of their Spaces on Wheels project.

Once fully autonomous, cars will be more than just modes of transportation–they’ll be whatever we want. As Space10 creative strategist Bas van de Poel puts it, “Autonomous vehicles have the potential to profoundly change urban life for the better, but we also need a more holistic view on how we want to live”.

So the question is: what do we, as a society, feel would enrich our lives? The answers are bound to be varied and many, but Spaces on Wheels is an inspired start. The project offers a glimpse of what transportation could look like in the future. The ideas span from leisure to life-saving. There’s the traveling cafe which allows friends to catch up over coffee while still getting where they need to go; and the mobile health clinic, occupied by medical professionals, is designed to bring basic and life-saving services to remote communities.

There are seven concepts in total, designed either to enhance the commuting experience of individuals or improve communities’ access to essential goods and services.  

Check out the renderings of the Space10 designs below:

TrafficCast hurricane coverage 2018: Florence and Michael presented different challenges

Natural disasters like hurricanes that make roads impassable pose a particular challenge for Trafficcast traffic operators tasked with reporting road closures. This autumn we have been challenged by two particularly different, and very difficult, hurricane events.

Slow-moving Hurricane Florence was September’s challenge, which dropped 36 inches of rain on the Carolinas early in the month. On September 10 and 11, evacuation orders were issued for residents in parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, clogging major highways with those obeying orders to flee. TrafficCast went into high gear, partnering with transportation officials in these states, adding extra staffing and coverage to provide the most accurate information about the implementation of contraflow – all lanes going in a single direction, that is – on I-26 away from Charleston, South Carolina, US-378, and US-501 away from Myrtle Beach.

TrafficCast offices in Wilmington, Delaware; Madison, Wisconsin and Shanghai pitched in to cover the thousands of local closures and eventual re-openings of Interstates 40 and 95 and other major roadways in the affected states.

In addition, we had access to live data through TrafficCast’s BlueTOAD units mounted throughout cities in North Carolina, which alerted us to the tremendous impacts of flooding and evacuation in real-time. We also had access to drone data during the extensive period of flooding following Florence, which was tremendously helpful in determining closure extents.   

month after Florence wreaked flooding havoc on the Carolinas, a different and much more powerful storm affected the Gulf Coast as fast-moving Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on October 10. Michael left Panama City and Tallahassee crippled and other cities like Mexico Beach virtually obliterated, before quickly moving into Georgia and the Carolinas.

TrafficCast teamed up with Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina Department of Transportation officials before the Category 4 storm made landfall, gaining up-to-the-minute information and confirmation of road closures from these official sources. When I-10 was closed in both directions between Mobile and Tallahassee, along with US-98 closed along the coast, TrafficCast was closely monitoring the situation, as well as confirming the hundreds of local roads that closed in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas due to the debris and deluge, so residents would know if and when they could access their neighborhoods.

Here’s what it was like from TrafficCast NOC operator Stephen Keller:

Covering hurricane Michael was an exhausting ordeal. The damage was extensive – Michael passed directly over a long stretch of I-10, leaving behind so much debris that the highway was impassable. Many state bridges that connect the (Florida) panhandle were ravaged by winds and rising water. And hundreds of local roads were blocked due to fallen trees and power lines. With so much to cover, we split our duties between several traffic operators: those most familiar with Florida markets took control of the major closures, while others focused on smaller roads. Hundreds of new records came in every hour, and many of them needed hands-on adjustments due to geo-coding issues or premature end times.

During natural disasters, state DOTs and highway patrol might be understandably overwhelmed and miss some coverage. In these situations, social media can be the quickest source of news. By constantly sifting through our media sources, we were able to manually add many closures that would have otherwise not gone into the system. Sometimes, all we had to go on was a photo of a blocked/flooded road, and we had to do some detective work on [Google Maps] street view to figure out exactly where it was taken. Other times, local news was able to report on dozens of closures that our main sources missed. These too, we manually added into our system.