9 Tips to Protect Kids from Car Accidents

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Ever wonder why hospitals like to inspect an infant car seat before newborn babies leave for home? The facts below are compelling. (Sunglasses optional.)

We love cars. But surprisingly, motor vehicles are also far and away the top cause of unnatural death for those under 19-years old. Whether behind the wheel or riding as a passenger, following these nine guidelines (and noting the abundance of supporting evidence to confirm why you should) will go a long way toward ensuring your precious cargo’s safety.

  1. Buckle Up!
    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),
    more than a third of kids killed in car accidents died as a result of not using seatbelts. This is a sobering reminder that far too many adults are failing to enforce a strict “buckle up” policy with their children. Unrestrained passengers are more likely to be ejected from the vehicle in the event of an accident, and that increases likelihood of serious injury. So while it may seem obvious, buckle your seatbelt, and don’t move the car unless all passengers do the same. Seatbelts matter. Every single trip.

    Drivers, like it or not, you’re a role model, says the NHTSA. Kids in cars whose drivers buckle up wear their seatbelts 95% of the time. When drivers are unrestrained, one third of kids follow suit and are left vulnerable.  

  2. Sit ‘Em in the Correct Spot
    The NHTSA recommends kids sit in the back seat until they reach age 13. Yes, this is a nuisance. But we bet you didn’t know that kids in the backseat are 38% less likely to be injured in a crash. That’s enough to scare us into keeping our kiddos in back.

    Guess who’s got the best seat in the house? The kid sitting in the middle of the back seat, who’ll be 25% safer than those with window seats, as long as it has a three-point seatbelt.

  3. Make Sure Kids Are Using the Correct Seat
    We appreciate the occasional desire, especially with very little ones, to pull a Britney Spears and pop the kids in your lap for quick trips. But car seats make a difference. Don’t believe us?

    - According to SafeKids.org, correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.

    - The CDC notes that 4-8-year olds who use booster seats decrease their risk of serious injury by 45% when compared with seat belt use alone.

  4. Never, Ever Leave a Child Alone in the Car
    Here’s a chilling fact about hot cars from SaferCar.gov: on a 60-degree day, your car’s interior can heat up to 110 degrees. A child dies when his temp hits 107. 

    Think you can just pop into the store for a minute? A car’s temp increases by 20 degrees in just ten minutes. If you see a child left alone in a car, don’t wait before intervening – your prompt help could save a life.

  5. Novice Drivers Must Beware of the Multiplier Effect
    Novice drivers carrying passengers are at a much greater risk, warns AOL Autos. Drivers aged 15-17 are eight times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash when they’re carrying passengers than drivers aged 18-24. Novice drivers’ liability could be blamed on everything from texting to an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. But the fact remains, so be mindful of who, and how many, are in your teen’s car.

  6. Walking? Face the Traffic.
    As a rule, parents should teach their children to always use the sidewalk when outdoors playing or walking to their friends’ homes. Unfortunately, not every neighborhood in the country is lined with sidewalks, putting children at risk of being struck by passing cars. In those situations, the safest course of action is to walk at the edge of the road while facing traffic. This enables your child to spot hazards ahead of time, and move to safety. This advice goes for adults just as it does for kids - but considering your younglings may not be as schooled in all areas of avoiding physical risk, it’s an imperative lesson to teach them. For more safe walking tips to share with your children, read this.

  7. Impart good bicycling skills.
    With hundreds of reported deaths per year among children, bicycling is one of the most dangerous “fun” activities. You don’t have to take your child’s bike away from them in order to assure their safety. Enforcing key rules that will serve to save their hides and teach them a few lessons about self-responsibility. Chief among these: always wear protective gear. Helmets with chin straps can greatly reduce the risk of head injury up 85%. Whenever possible, children should ride on bike paths or sidewalks. And it’s never OK to wear headphones or use a cell phone while riding.

  8. Look both ways before you cross.
    One of the greatest dangers children face while out and about comes from pedestrian accidents involving moving vehicles. And this isn’t just for young kids who are new to negotiating traffic – 40% of teens say they’ve been hit or nearly hit while walking. Kids should be taught never to cross through active traffic, to use crosswalks, and to walk, rather than run, across streets. This gives them the ability to better see vehicles headed their way and also makes them more visible to drivers.

  9. Ensure your own car is in good condition.
    Broken mirrors, airbag-warning lights, worn tires with bubbles, and faulty brakes are just a few signs that your vehicle may be unsafe for you, your passengers, and pedestrians. Be sure to follow your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and use an app like Openbay that will remove the burden of comparison shopping for and booking vehicle repairs local.

Do you have any additional suggestions for keeping kids safe from traffic-related accidents? Have any stories to share or wisdom to impart? We’d love to hear it. Leave your comments in the box below, and we wish you and your younger passengers the safest journey!

Image credit: Bradley Gordon, Flickr

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Yoo-Hoo, Friends — Here’s a Deal for You!

Openbay has partnered up with Dash to give you (what we’d call in Boston) a wicked-good deal.

Sign up for Openbay with this special Dash code and get $15 toward car repairs. Need your car serviced? We’ll get you covered anywhere in the good old U.S. of A.

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Top Ten Apps for Connected Drivers, via Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Good news: Openbay has received another press hit! This one’s from WallStCheatSheet.com, which notes that we provide the “obvious advantage” of helping customers to compare actual prices (not estimates) for local auto repairs.

We’re in good company, featured alongside apps including Uber and Dash. Check them out, as well as the remaining top apps in the full article here.

Thanks, as always, for your support!

4 Tips for Surviving a Skid

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Fall is officially here. Leaf-peeping drivers, with eyes on the landscape, may not notice wet leaves on the road that could lead to a potential loss of vehicle traction.

Knowing how to handle your vehicle in the event of an unexpected skid, which can happen in any weather, is imperative. Check out our tips below to help decrease your chances of spending a beautiful autumn day in the emergency room, the auto body shop, or both!

  • Don’t panic. Easier said than done, right? Even though you feel totally powerless when mid-skid, the actions you take when your car’s skidding can greatly reduce your risk of injury.
  • Turn your steering wheel into the skid. Aim for the direction you want your car to go. If the front end of your car starts drifting to the left, turn your steering wheel in the opposite direction - to the right. Unfortunately, a lot of drivers will instinctively turn their steering wheel in the wrong direction, which only makes matters worse.
  • Don’t jerk the steering wheel when you turn into the skid. Overcorrection puts your car in danger of fishtailing. You’ll want to gently point the car in the right direction.
  • Don’t hit your brakes. Don’t hit the gas, either. When your car’s in the middle of a slide the best course of action is to let gravity do its thing by taking your foot off the accelerator. Punching the go-stick is the last thing you want to do, and hitting the brakes may increase the likelihood your tires won’t regain natural traction.

Practice makes perfect, and sometimes you simply have to experience something first-hand in order to understand how the movement of your steering wheel can help you recover from a skid. Consider taking the opportunity to practice steering out of a skid in an empty, wet parking lot. Start with baby steps, driving slowly, and always be sure your seatbelt is buckled, practice skidding or nor.

It may not always be possible to prevent a skid. Depending on road conditions and the time of year, even the most cautious drivers occasionally encounter the unintended and sometimes terrifying skid. Still, that’s no reason not to slow down when driving in wet conditions or across slick roadways. When you exercise extreme caution, you dramatically reduce the possibility that you’ll have to fall back on your training for steering into a skid.

Have you ever had to recover from a skid? Did it work? Have any tips to share with other drivers? Let us know what you think by leaving your comments in the box below.

Practiced skidding one time too many? You may need a new set of tires. For that and all your auto-maintenance and repair needs, be sure to check out Openbay!

Image credit: Guy Donges, Flickr.com

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Happy Friday! This morning, we gave some of our commute the Hyperlapse treatment to see how it looked. Looks pretty cool, especially through the tunnel (where you’ll notice we followed the three-second rule) with the lights. Wouldn’t it be nice if all commutes were this fast?

Have you taken any cool videos from the road? Send ‘em our way.

Our favorite app around this office is (of course) Openbay. What’s yours?

Sometimes, cars unexpectedly break. And sometimes vehicle owners are reduced to tears at the inconvenience and frequency of needing pricey repairs.

Have you ever been there? Openbay to the rescue!  Openbay is a great way to comparison shop for an book car repairs (and maintenance) via our web and/or mobile app. Here’s a promo code to give us a try. 

No go dry those tears and get back on the road!

"Is Bringing Your Own Auto Parts to a Mechanic Worthwhile?" asks CheapCarInsurance…

CheapCarInsurance writer, Aaron Crowe, interviewed Openbay’s founder & CEO, Rob Infantino, to find out whether it’s worthwhile to bring parts to a mechanic.  

Check out Rob’s thoughts here

Feeling more DIFM than DIY? Booking with Openbay gives you choice, trust, convenience and price.

Have you done this before, or would you consider doing this hybrid of DIY/DIFM (do-it-for-me) auto repair?  Let us know what you think.

8 Tips on What to Do if You Run Out of Gas

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Stranded without gas on a desolate road, like this one in Iceland? Check out our advice on how to handle it.

Running out of gas in the middle of nowhere is among drivers’ biggest fears, and it’s also one of the easiest things to prevent.

In case you’re stranded, these tips could mean the difference between having to cancel your plans and arriving safely to your destination - albeit a little late.

Get to Safety

Not everyone has the presence of mind to pull off the road when their car begins to sputter and die from a lethal lack of go-juice. If your car runs out of gas in the middle of the road, immediately turn your hazard lights on. This is especially important after dark, but doing so in the light of day will also alert other drivers to the fact that you’re immobilized.

Put your car in neutral and, once you ensure it’s safe to exit your vehicle, step out, alongside the driver’s seat and push your car to the side of the road. Be sure to keep the steering wheel in your grip as you do, in order to guide the direction of your car. Once you’re safely out of harm’s way, set your emergency brake and leave your hazard lights on; that’s what they’re there for!

Conserve Your Phone’s Battery

You may be surprised how many internet searches and phone calls you’ll need to make after you run out of gas. You may need to use maps, search for gas stations nearby, call multiple stations to inquire about sending help, call a tow truck if you’re in a remote location, receive calls to confirm your location… the list is endless.

If you’re stranded and waiting for help, don’t kill time by surfing the internet or watching videos on your phone – you’d be foolish to let a few cat videos or battery-draining apps (like Facebook or Skype) get in the way of your rescue. You may wind up with a dead car and a useless phone. Also, be sure your alerts are set to ringer, rather than vibrate, to reduce battery use. 

Determine Your Whereabouts

If you’re in the middle of nowhere and aren’t sure exactly how far you are from the nearest gas station, you’re going to have to determine where you are. Look immediately for road signs or, if it’s dark out, for nearby lights that could indicate an off-ramp leading to a nearby gas station. If you’re in the middle of the city, it should be easy enough to ask someone for directions to the closest station.

Call for Help

These days, almost everyone has a cell phone. Here’s an out-of-gas phone list:

  • Call friends or family who might be available to deliver you a gallon or two
  • Call your insurance company’s roadside assistance. Check your insurance card, which should contain a 24/7 800-number for emergency assistance.
  • Operator / 411 should be able to advise you of nearby gas stations. You’ll have to pay out of pocket, but that’s far more preferable to staying stranded.
  • 911 – call the cops as a last resort in case your phone doesn’t have other service. Thanks to FCC rules, even a phone with no signal can reach 911.

Get Going

If you’re unable to get a friendly lift to a nearby gas station, your next option may be to walk. Before you do, be sure your shoes are comfortable and have a rough idea of where you are so you don’t head off in the wrong direction.

If the weather is particularly wicked, consider staying in your car, with hazard lights on, until the beating rain passes. Walking to a nearby gas station might otherwise put you in more dangerous than waiting it out.

As a last option, consider enlisting the help of a Good Samaritan who’ll either offer to bring you back a can of gas or give you a lift to the nearest phone or gas station. As always, exercise extreme caution if taking a ride from a stranger. Go with your gut; if the first person who stops looks remotely unstable, explain that help is already on its way, then ask the next car.

A Gallon of Prevention

Everyone knows the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In this case, it’s a gallon of prevention. Taking long road trips puts you at risk of running out of gas if you wait too long before filling up your tank again. If you’re driving through an area with few fueling stations, consider bringing along a container of gas as an insurance policy against getting stranded roadside.

Put Your Tank to the Test

Ever wonder how empty is “empty”? ABC’s John Stossel put that question to the test at a time when drivers were increasingly running out of fuel. He packed a spare can of gas and set off to determine how far beyond the “E” his car would go. The results were interesting, leading to the conclusion that many cars can go quite a long way on “E” before actually breaking down. To find out how far your car can go after the gas light comes on, check out this handy-dandy website that provides some good information.

Don’t Trust Your Range

If you’re cutting it close, don’t trust your fuel gauge.  Even if it indicates your tank has 20-30 miles left to go, those numbers don’t always drop sequentially.  Hilly terrain, running the A/C, and stop-and-go traffic may all affect your range. This is not the time to comparison shop for fuel. Stop at the nearest gas station and fill ‘er up. The money you spend to keep your tank full might take a bite out of your wallet, but that bite is far preferable to getting stranded.

Have you ever run out of gas? What did you do? Where did you go? Share your experiences with us in the box below.

If you’ve ever been stranded due to a broken-down car, your best bet is to search for car repairs with Openbay. It will gather multiple local offers for repair service. As Reuters wrote, “Openbay helps you fix your car without getting stressed or swindled.”

Image credit: Suvodeb Banerjee, Flickr

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