Prep for winter safety: How to test and maintain your tires


winter tire safety

Your car’s tires are one of the keys to safe driving, particularly when roads are slick, icy or snowy. Before any wintry weather descends, it’s a good idea to check your tires. We love this infographic from Fix.com – it offers tips for checking your tires for proper inflation and signs of deterioration.

We also point you to a few prior posts on our blog that talk about different aspects of tire safety:


Source: Fix.com Blog

Your New England Fall Foliage Toolkit


fall foliage at Saco River Covered Bridge in Conway, New Hampshire.With the fall season upon us, our brilliant foliage is the envy of the nation. People from all over the world travel here, but we can just hop in our cars and travel an hour or two in any direction to see the full glory of the season. We have a Live New England foliage map  for you, as well as links to great ideas for drives, destinations and things to do. And if you decide to venture north, we’re also including tips for avoiding collisions with wildlife since it’s peak season for those type of accidents. You don’t want your car to be in a battle with a deer or worse, a moose. It’s always a god idea to have your independent agent’s phone number or app handy on your mobile phone just in case.

Get free guides to the Best of New England Fall Travel, which includes best places to see foliage, best fall drives, things to do, places to stay, and more.

The foliage network offers local foliage reports with maps showing peak color locations, scenic drives and places to stay – and if you can’t find the time to drive to peak foliage locations or want to check out current conditions, check out the webcams.

Here are some great articles and guides for places to go and things to do:

deer-in-highwayAs you’re out on the roads leaf-peeping, visiting apple orchards or commuting to-and-from work this autumn, keep a sharp eye out: The likelihood of striking a deer more than doubles in the fall. Your normal odds of a ruminant-related collision claim is about 1 in 169, but the likelihood more than doubles during October, November and December. See our post: Watch the roads: Autumn is peak deer-vehicle collision season

What you need to know about the Zika virus


The Zika virus has been much in the news as public health concern, but unless you were traveling internationally, there is a good chance you didn’t pay too much attention. But now that some “homegrown” cases were identified in Miami recently, many folks are wondering if they should be concerned.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracks the number of Zika cases in the U.S. As of August 3, they report 6 cases that were locally transmitted and another 1800+ travel associated cases in the U.S. Some reports put the Miami cases as high as 14, but all cases appear to be confined to a very narrow geographic area. The cases prompted the CDC to issue an advisory for pregnant women about travel to Florida:

Because the virus can have devastating consequences for a fetus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged pregnant women to avoid traveling to the area, and for pregnant women who live and work there to make every effort to avoid mosquito bites and to get tested for possible exposure during each prenatal visit. It also advised women to use protection during sex, because the virus can be transmitted sexually.

Furthermore, the CDC is advising that all pregnant women should be asked about travel to Zika-infested areas during routine prenatal visits. Any pregnant women who have traveled to Zika areas — including this area of Florida on or after June 15 — are advised to talk with their healthcare providers and get tested for Zika.

This CDC page offers information about everything you need to know about the Zika virus – including the helpful infographic below. . Here are a few other useful links.

cdc-zika-page-001

 

 

What to do if you have a car breakdown while on the road


car-breakdownIf you’re driving along and suddenly have a flat tire or some other car malfunction, it can be pretty unnerving, even downright scary if you’re on a highway or a remote location. The main thing to do in a car breakdown is to keep calm and get your vehicle safely off the road.  You can reduce the stress and uncertainty by planning for an emergency in advance so you’ll know just what to do.

Here are some tips we’ve amassed from experts.

Be prepared before you hit the road:

  • Be sure to have your phone fully charged when taking road trips
  • Have flares or reflective triangles in your trunk so you can have a way to indicate your car is in distress
  • Consider buying a cheap reflective vest to keep tucked under a seat so you would be visible if you do need to leave the car
  • Keep an emergency kit with seasonal supplies in your trunk
  • Have a plan in advance of what you’d do and who you’d call if you were to break down. Do you have an emergency road service plan or an auto-installed service? Does your insurer offer service? Or do you have an app to access emergency service? Plan in advance and keep phone numbers and any procedures or coverage rules in your glove compartment.
  • Learn about any state emergency road services. For example, Mass DOT has a Highway Assistance Patrol sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance. Here’s a list of state-by-state cellphone highway emergency assistance numbers.

If your car breaks down:

  • Put on your emergency/hazard lights at the first sign of trouble
  • Stay calm, slow down and get your car off the road. If possible, pull off at an exit, a street, or pull over to a breakdown lane
  • Pull as far off the road as is safe – keep emergency/hazard lights on. If it’s night time, turn on your interior light or flashlights
  • If you can safely do so, pop the hood or deploy flares or triangles to alert other drivers. Exit the door that is away from traffic – most likely on the passenger side
  • Do not stand in the road by your car; do not flag down other vehicles
  • In most circumstances, waiting in the vehicle with locked doors is safer than standing in the road, but you may need to use your best judgement depending on the specific location and situation, If you must wait outside, remove yourself from traffic and wait on the other side of the guardrail.
  • Call for help. If you aren’t sure of the exact location, your smart phone GPS may help. If you don’t have a roadside assistance plan, call state police.
  • If someone stops, crack your window enough to ask them to call the police for you
  • Wait for help. Avoid walking for help unless there is no other choice, and do so with extreme caution.

AAA has an in-depth guide covering trip planing, emergency supplies you should have on hand, and in-depth advice about what to do if you break down. Of course, their advice also focuses on how to reach them and what to expect – but even if you don’t have AAA, the guide has great information: What to do when your vehicle breaks down (PDF)

A summary of the main steps are:

  • Note your vehicle’s location
  • Assess your vehicle’s operating problem
  • Pull off the road
  • -What to do if you can’t pull off the road
  • Alert other motorists
  • Communicate your situation
  • Remain with your vehicle

The remaining tips have to do with AAA’s road service – what to expect, etc.

Consumer Reports has a recent article on Roadside Assistance: Who You Gonna Call? It covers apps, roadside services and insurers and where to get help when you break down. Another handy recent article is Hidden helpers in your phone, which covers some road travel apps.

Fall foliage extravaganza: ideas for your weekend


winding road in foliageThe upcoming weekend forecast is for warm and glorious weather here in New England, a perfect time for getting out to enjoy the foliage. There’s leaf peeping, apple picking, corn mazes, pumpkin festivals, country fairs and more – we’ve gathered some resources to help you make the most of the nice weather.

Yankee Foliage offers an excellent live foliage map and an extensive selection of suggested foliage drives. They also suggest the 5 Best Pumpkin Festivals in New England.

New England Destinations is a good local guide, offering many ideas for the fall season, including a list of activities for September and October. They also offer their own selection for foliage drives, as well as foliage maps and hotlines.

For more ideas, here are the official state tourism bureaus

If you want current tracking of the weather in this or any other season, Twitter can be a very fun way to do that. Meteorologists have a strong and active presence — many issue updated foliage reports and photos along with the weather. We have a list of New England Weather Resources on Twitter that you can follow.

If you’re heading out for drives, we issue our seasonal caution to be alert for deer and moose. The Insurance Information Institute reminds us that fall is peak season for deer and auto collisions. “Deer migration and mating season generally runs from October through December, and causes a dramatic spike in the movement of deer population. As a result, more deer-vehicle collisions occur in this period than at any other time of year.” Plus, in northern New England, you need to be on the lookout for moose.