Prepare Now for Winter Roads Ahead
COLUMBUS – Ohio’s roadside assistance calls skyrocket during winter, as cold and snow lead to spin outs and breakdowns. In recognition of October as Car Care Month, motorists are urged to prepare their vehicles now for the wintry months ahead.
AAA rescued nearly 1.1 million Ohio motorists during 2016, despite two back-to-back mild winters. Calls more than double during bitter cold and snow, leaving many stranded as they wait for assistance. But, a simple fall car check-up can help prevent breakdowns and save Ohioans time and money this winter.
Fall Car Check-Up:
Battery –Starting an engine in cold weather requires a fully charged battery in good condition, yet two-thirds of drivers never check their battery before it dies, according to AAA research. Batteries last an average of 3-5 years, so it’s important to get it tested if it’s 3-years old or older. AAA responded to nearly 223,000 battery-related calls in 2016.
Tires – The cold can decrease tire pressure and make tires susceptible to going flat. Proper tire pressure levels can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb. Tire treads helps grip winter roads. Check for low tread depth and uneven wear. Motorists should check tire pressure and tread depth at least once a month.
Fluids – Issues with fluid levels or condition is the top finding when AAA inspects vehicles. Make sure the oil, power steering, brake and coolant fluids are at recommended levels. Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a cleaning solution that has antifreeze components for cold weather use.
Lights & Wiper Blades – These are both essential to visibility when driving during the winter, with shorter daylight hours and winter precipitation. Check all lights, and replace burnt out bulbs. Ensure wipers complete clear the glass without streaks.
Emergency Kit – Just in case, keep the car stocked with jumper cables, blankets, a flashlight with extra batteries, an ice scraper, reflectors, a shovel, a bag of abrasive material (kitty litter, salt or sand), a first-aid kit, water and non-perishable food, and a mobile phone charger.
Empowering Women to Take on Car Care:
AAA Ohio is celebrating this Car Care Month by empowering local women to take their car care knowledge to the next level by attending one of 10 Girls’ Night at the Garage events. These events will take place during October at central Ohio AAA Car Care Plus locations.
During each event, local women will learn tips for everything from checking the oil to changing a tire. They’ll get hands-on experience practicing maintenance on a vehicle and will end the evening with a team competition to showcase the skills they learned.
Additional information and registration is available at AAA.com/LocalEvents.
New Vehicle Infotainment Systems Create Increased Distractions for Drivers
COLUMBUS, Ohio (October 5, 2017) – New vehicle infotainment systems take drivers’ eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and attention off driving for potentially dangerous periods of time, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. With one in three U.S. drivers using these systems while driving, AAA cautions drivers that just because a technology is available while driving, doesn’t mean it’s safe to use.
AAA conducted this new research to help automakers and system designers improve the functionality of new infotainment systems and the demand they place on drivers.
The latest report is the fifth phase of distraction research from AAA’s Center for Driving Safety and Technology, created in 2013 to study the safety implications for how drivers interact with new vehicle technologies when behind the wheel.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Utah to examine the visual (eyes off the road) and cognitive (mental) demand, as well as the time it took drivers to complete a task using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles.
Study participants were required to use voice command, touch screen and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio or program navigation, all while driving down the road.
Programming navigation was the most distracting task, taking an average of 40 seconds to complete. This is equivalent to driving the length of four football fields when traveling at just 25 mph. This feature was available while driving in 12 of the 30 vehicles tested.
“Some in-vehicle technologies create unsafe situations for drivers on the road by increasing the time they spend with their eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Researchers also developed a rating scale to measure the visual and cognitive demands of vehicle infotainment systems, and the time it takes drivers to complete tasks on these systems. The scale ranges from low to very high levels of demand.
•Low demand = listening to the radio or an audiobook
•Very high demand = balancing a checkbook while driving.
AAA believes a safe in-vehicle technology system should not exceed a low demand level, but none of the 30 vehicle infotainment systems produced low demand:
•12 systems generated very high demand
•11 systems generated high demand
•7 systems generated moderate demand
“Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, but many of the features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s president and CEO. “AAA has met with interested auto manufacturers and suppliers to discuss our findings.”
(Additional information on vehicles studied, along with a summary of each vehicle’s demand level can be found on the AAA Exchange).
Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults say they want the new technology in their vehicle, but only 24 percent feel the technology already works perfectly, according to a new AAA public opinion survey.
Frustration resulting from unsatisfactory use of these systems increases cognitive demand and distracted driving.
Call to Action:
“Some of the latest systems on the market now include functions unrelated to the core task of driving, like sending text messages, checking social media or surfing the Web – tasks we have no business doing behind the wheel,” said Doney. “AAA urges automakers to reduce distractions by designing systems that are no more visually or mentally demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook. And drivers should avoid the temptation to engage with these technologies, especially for non-driving tasks.”
Researchers found that most infotainment systems could easily be made safer by simply following clearly stated federal recommendations, such as locking out text messaging, social media and programming navigation while the car is in motion.
In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a set of voluntary safety guidelines, advising automakers to block access to tasks when vehicles are not parked.
“By following NHTSA’s voluntary guidelines to lock out certain features that generate high demand while driving, automakers can significantly reduce distraction,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research.
Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit AAAFoundation.org.
US winter forecast: La Niña to fuel abundant snow in Rockies; Bitterly cold air to blast Midwest
AccuWeather Global Headquarters – October 04, 2017 – AccuWeather reports some chilly winter weather is in store for the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, with January threatening to bring the coldest air of the season. Although however cold, low temperatures will pale in comparison to those in the northern Plains where the mercury is set to dip to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit at times.
Meanwhile, the southern Plains, Southwest and California can expect a milder and drier winter than last season.
Cold and snow to strike Northeast, mid-Atlantic
A chilly winter is in store for the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, particularly when compared to last year. For most of both regions, this will translate to an above-normal snow season.
“Areas in the I-95 corridor will average close to normal, within a few inches,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said. “Areas away from the I-95 corridor have a better chance at a big snowfall.”
New York City and Boston, Massachusetts, may be the exceptions to this, with early predictions calling for 6 inches of snowfall or more above normal in both cities.
Areas prone to lake-effect snow will also see high totals, including Cleveland, Ohio; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Buffalo, New York.
“I think this year is going to bring a good ski season in the Northeast,” Pastelok said. “And around the holidays we should have some snow for the interior Northeast.”
Severe weather may threaten Southeast, Tennessee Valley
Farther south, air temperatures will face an east-west divide.
“The Southeast is going to run above normal, especially in Florida and Georgia,” Pastelok said. Both states will be at a lesser risk for a damaging freeze this year.
Additionally, Florida will remain mostly dry – good news for those recovering from Irma’s impact in the fall. Meanwhile, western areas are more likely to receive bouts of colder weather.
“We are expecting a few ice storms to develop based on the pattern we’re seeing right now,” Pastelok said.
Two to three are predicted to hit from the Tennessee Valley to northeast Texas.
Tornadoes are not out the question for either region.
The area from Texas to Georgia was hit with 137 tornadoes last January. This year, frequent tornadic activity may spin up in February.
Frigid air to take hold in northern Plains
Arctic blasts are set to freeze the northern Plains this winter with temperatures sinking to subzero levels on a regular basis.
Temperatures could plummet to minus 30 F at times in the Dakotas, Pastelok said.
However, the frigid conditions are a trade-off for less snowfall.
The winter of 2016/2017 spawned colossal storms, dropping 140 percent of normal snowfall over the northern Plains and northern Rockies, according to Pastelok. This year will feature much less snow and drier conditions overall.
Temperatures to bounce back and forth across southern Plains
The southern Plains will experience back-and-forth temperatures this season, with the middle of the winter being most likely to bring chilly conditions.
“Colder air masses will bleed down and lead to freezes in later January,” Pastelok said.
Though the wintry air will be memorable, a cold winter isn’t predicted overall. Some areas, such as southwest Texas, will average above normal for the season.
Dry periods will dominate over stormy weather overall.
“We do feel there are going to be some storms in northwest Texas at times,” he said. “Southwest Texas could see some but not as frequent as in past winters.”
Dry periods will be welcomed by many following the havoc wreaked by Harvey near Houston.
Abundant snowfall to bury Northwest, Rockies
With a weak La Niña predicted to develop this winter, the Northwest and the Rockies are set to receive an abundance of precipitation.
“I think the Bitterroot chain all the way down to the Wasatch region in the central and northern Rockies has a good shot to be above normal on snowfall this season,” Pastelok said.
The Cascades are also predicted to benefit from abundant snowfall.
“It’s a good area to head out to if you’re a big skier,” Pastelok said.
Drier, less snowy season in the offing for California
After a big season for snowfall in central and Northern California last year, both regions are predicted to be less wet and snowy in the upcoming months.
However, it won’t spell bad news for ski season.
Ski resorts will receive enough snowfall to create good conditions, but not so much that people struggle to get to them, he said.
In the Southwest, drier and warmer weather will dominate.
According to Pastelok, warmth will bookend the winter with temperatures capable of reaching into the 90s by early 2018.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial-, and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.