Why Mom was Right About Spring Cleaning: Part 2, Valeting

Part 2: Valeting your vehicle

Used daily and often multiple times a day in most households, your vehicle is one of the most frequently utilized items but often falls low on the list of cleaning priorities. Although car art using dirty vehicles has seen some recent popularity via social media postings, I don’t know of any driver who wouldn’t want to be able to see clearly through the windshield when they drive. The vast majority would also want to keep their vehicle’s paintwork protected from dirt and grime. If your vehicle’s interior is starting to show the wear and tear of being used as a dining room, a sports locker, and general storage unit, a bit of a deep clean treatment may be in order. An article in a British newspaperstated that a car steering wheel has 9 times more germs on it than a public toilet seat. I don’t know about you, but just that snippet of information made me desperate to get cleaning my car.

 

car-art

When frigid temperatures are starting to thaw, Spring makes the perfect time to give your car a deep clean, inside and out. Having your car detailed by a professional can be expensive, but there are many things that you can do yourself to give your vehicle a thorough refresh.

Outside

When tackling your vehicle’s exterior, clean wheels and tires first, using appropriate cleaning products.

Salt is helpful for improving driving conditions on winter roads, but wreaks havoc with paintwork so should be washed off as soon as possible. Grab a sponge, a bucket of soapy water (preferably using a car wash solution that doesn’t strip out protective coatings), and wash your vehicle by hand. When you’ve rinsed everything down, and before the car dries, use a squeegee to remove excess water to avoid unsightly spotting on the paintwork. If possible wash your car weekly but if exposed to bird droppings or sap, try to rinse this off before it dries as it can affect your paintwork.

When dry, follow up with two coats of wax to protect the paintwork from stains and minor scratches.  Wax wears off, so it is best to reapply every season

Check headlights for any rock chips, scratches or a hazy finish to the plastic.

kids-washing-car

It may be a struggle to get kids interested in doing some household chores, but many love to wash a car.  Get them involved so you can bond during the fun of the car wash.

Inside

During colder months, your vehicle’s interior can sometimes get dirtier than other times of the year with mud, rain, and snow being tracked in on people’s shoes and boots and pet’s paws.    Cleaning the interior can be a difficult and time-consuming process, but the following tips may help make it a little easier to tackle. First, clear out garbage that may have accumulated and then remove car mats and trunk liners. Get out the vacuum cleaner to tackle dust, dirt, pet hair, and debris, using a brush vacuum tool around vents. Spot clean stains on the carpet with an appropriate carpet cleaner.

Cleaning the inside of the glass in windows is really important, so use an anti-glare glass cleaner where possible and avoid ammonia-based products.

The dash, seats, handles, doors and headliner of the car all deserve your attention too.  Products are available that can kill bacteria and neutralize odors within the vehicle.  It can be worthwhile investing in these, to get a super fresh feel to your interior. An old toothbrush can be a handy cleaning tool to get into the nooks and crannies of vinyl and the seams on seats.

cleaning-the-inside-of-car

If you hate taking a long time to clean your vehicle’s interior, there are a few things that can be done to make it speedier.

  • If you regularly transport a lot of passengers including pets and kids you may want to consider installing vehicle-specific rubber car mats and trunk mat liners, which make cleaning a snap. Travall offers a good range with a pleasant vanilla fragrance. The unique lipped design helps prevent spills from reaching the carpet, saving your carpet and reducing your car cleaning time.
  • Just as you might keep a box of baking soda in your refrigerator to eliminate odors, you can take a similar approach with keeping car odors at bay.  Just make sure the baking soda is in a non-breakable container that is securely anchored in a safe position.
  • Adding a plastic garbage can to the car is helpful to keep future rides neater and tidier.plastic-trash-can-in-car

Cleaning the car can be fun and a great activity to get kids involved in. Why not take the time to give your vehicle a bit of extra attention?  Mom was right about spring cleaning – you’re sure to notice an improvement in your ride experience.

 

dog-washing-car

Do you have any tips that help keep your vehicle looking and smelling good?  We’d love to hear about them!

Reference

  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1379830/How-clean-car-Steering-wheels-times-germs-public-toilet-seat.html  May 2011

 

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Why Distracted Driving is Driving me to Distraction

“You can never have too many…” have been the words to start many quotes over the decades, from a variety of people ranging from authors to actors.  Most of these quotes are completed with words such as “friends,” “shoes,” or “books.” At Pet Barrier, I say, “You can never have too many reminders about distracted driving.”  Regular blog followers may remember a couple of posts on distracted driving in 2016 and you may be asking why, with all the subjects that I could be writing about, I am covering the topic of distracted driving yet again.  The answer is simple and sobering. Distracted driving is now considered to be at epidemic levels in the US.1

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), US traffic accident fatalities rose by 7.2% in 2015, which is the largest increase in the last 50 years. Early estimates by the NHTSA for the first 9 months of 2016 indicate that fatalities have increased by a further 8%.  After having experienced many years of decline in fatality rates during the early 2000s, this trend toward an increase in fatalities is worrying.

 

distracted-driver

What exactly is distracted driving?

Many people consider themselves to be cautious, considerate, safe drivers and sometimes don’t realize that things that they do in addition to driving can be fatal. Causes of distractions on the road are numerous, ranging from events occurring outside the vehicle, restless pets or children or adult passengers within the vehicle, eating, drinking, shaving, applying makeup, smoking, adjusting controls on the stereo, downloading music, dealing with hand-held devices, and last but by no means least, using cell phones for phone calls and texting.

According to EndDD,there are three types of distraction:

  1. Manual distractions – your hands are taken away from the steering wheel to perform a task. An example is reaching for a soda
  2. Visual distractions – your eyes are taken off the road. They give the example of when you spill the soda and look down at your clothes to see the outcome
  3. Cognitive distractions – your mind wanders away from the task at hand. They finish the example with you thinking about how to get your clothes cleaned.

In Washington State alone, 30% of fatal road accidents in 2016 were caused by distracted driving. Taking your eye off the road for even 2 seconds can result in an accident. If you talk on a cell phone while driving, your risk of an accident quadruples.  If you text while driving, your risk of an accident is increased by eight times.  According to Alexis Myers of the Associated Press,14 states currently ban hand-held cell phone use while driving in a car. 46 states prohibit texting messaging for all drivers.  Research by AAAsuggests that even when drivers put down the phone or the navigation device, the driver is still not fully engaged with the task of driving as the driver’s mind still remains distracted. An article by Bart Jansen in USA Today indicated that millennials are the age group most likely to engage in risky practices behind the wheel.Although the millennial statistics were the highest, other age groups did not fare well either. This suggests that greater education and awareness across the entire population of driving age would be advantageous.  

How can you avoid driving distractions?

There will always be incidents that arise when we are driving that are totally unexpected and cannot be planned for ahead of the journey.  But for many of the distracted driving scenarios, a little bit of planning ahead by trying to manage these distractions before setting out on the road can help to avoid some of these distractions entirely.

Turn cell phones off or switch to silent, before starting your journey

No phone call, social media update, or text message is more important than a person’s life. Don’t talk, or (even worse) text, on the phone while driving.  If you absolutely need to make a call or send a text message during your journey, pull over and make the call or send the text when your vehicle is stationary. As for selfies, nobody wants to see a selfie of you driving, they’d far rather see you in person and more importantly alive.

Take care of personal hygiene before getting in the car

This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but we’ve all seen drivers shaving on their commute, or applying mascara.  It is far better to take care of your personal hygiene before setting out on a journey.  If you can’t do that then wait until you get to your destination to apply your makeup or remove your stubble.

woman-putting-on-make-up-while-driving

Secure pets correctly

Ensure that pets are securely placed to the rear of your vehicle.  Using a vehicle-specific pet barrier is an excellent choice and if you have multiple pets, having a trunk divider added to this mix can prevent them from becoming rambunctious during a journey.  Other options are to harness your pet in one of the rear seats, in a similar way to using a seat belt. There are a wide variety of products on the market to ensure your pet is positioned in the most appropriate area of the vehicle so that the driver is not suddenly surprised by a furry friend wanting a hug.  Check out what can work best for your vehicle and for your pet.

 travall-dg-04

Set your GPS system before starting the journey

This also applies if your GPS system is on your cell phone. Ensure that the device is located in an area where you can see both the device and the road easily and clearly and ensure it can be operated hands free.

Eat and drink before or after your journey, not during it

Your car will remain cleaner, your clothes will be cleaner,  and more importantly you will not be distracted from the road.

eating-while-driving

 

Take care of your kid’s needs before starting the journey

Ensure that children are comfortable and securely buckled in a car seat that is appropriate for their current age, height, and weight.  Make sure that they have their toys, pacifiers, sippy cup or whatever else they need within their easy reach, so they are able to get to items, leaving the driver free to deal with the important task of driving.  If a toy or any other item gets dropped on the floor, leave it there until you can get to a safe place to pull over. Don’t try to reach behind your seat to return it to the child while you are driving.

child-ready-for-a-journey

 

 

The following You Tube video was put together by The Try Guysas they considered the effects of distracted driving.  They were certainly surprised by the results.

The Try Guys Try Distracted Driving

 

Don’t become complacent about driving.  Every trip, take the time to plan ahead and when you are driving ensure that your mind is on the road and not on the other things going on in your life.  Multitasking behind the wheel is simply asking for trouble. Retweet, share on Facebook, reblog, or do whatever you can to get the message out to friends, family, and strangers, so that everyone, no matter what age, is educated about and fully understands the risks of distracted driving.  Let’s all work to make American roads safer for 2017 and beyond.

Do you have any tips that have helped avoid distractions when you’ve been traveling with pets, kids or other passengers?  We’d love to hear about them.

Please drive mindfully every trip – every life is worth it!

References

  1. Darrow B. http://fortune.com/2016/09/14/distracted-driving-epidemic/ September 14, 2016
  2. http://www.enddd.org/the-facts-about-distracted-driving/
  3. Myers A. Distracted driving penalties could increase statewide in Wash. Associated          Press. Feb 12, 2017 – 10:12 AM
  4. https://www.aaafoundation.org/distracted-driving
  5. Jansen B. Millennial drivers are highway hazards, survey shows. USA Today. Feb 15, 2017.
  6. The Try Guys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2atx1Jh6YP0

 

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Staying Safe on the Road

 

With the extreme weather conditions currently affecting many parts of the United States, and millions of Americans preparing to drive home for the Holidays, what can be done to keep your loved ones safer in snow and ice?

ice-and-snow

Prepare your vehicle for winter

  • Install snow tires on your vehicle, not all-season radials.  Snow tires give extra traction in ice and snow.
  • Make sure your spare tire is also a snow tire.
  • Ensure your tires are correctly inflated.
  • Chains add another level of safety.
  • Upgrade your coolant levels.
  • Use windshield cleaner rated for winter conditions.
  • Check your battery and replace it if unreliable.
  • Carry a bag of sand, both for weight and traction, and a snow shovel.
  • It’s not always easy to change your vehicle, but if you will be travelling in winter conditions as a matter of habit, choose a vehicle with front wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or 4-wheel drive.  Rear wheel drive vehicles are more difficult to handle in icy conditions.
  • Install a Travall vehicle-specific pet barrier
  • Keep locks from freezing up by using WD-40

man-putting-chains-on-tires

Know the road conditions 

First and foremost, if the conditions are not safe, do not go! If you absolutely must, then plan your route well in advance.  Check road safety conditions before you leave and try to check conditions as the journey progresses.

Check the weather forecast before you leave

Try to check out the weather forecast for your current location, your final destination and for points along the route.  If you are aware of weather warnings, there will be fewer surprises on the way. Carry chains if snow is expected and if you’ll be travelling in hills or mountains. Ensure that everyone travelling has the appropriate clothing for the anticipated weather conditions. Having coats, hats, gloves and sturdy boots in the car is essential if you will be travelling in snowy conditions.

Fuel up

Start off with a full tank of gas and where possible don’t allow your tank to drop below half way. You may have to stop off at the gas station more frequently, but you don’t want to run out of gas in snowy conditions.

Prepare for driving in wintry conditions

Know how to drive in icy or snowy conditions.  Use an empty parking lot to practice steering out of a skid.  Drive more slowly than usual and slower than the posted speed limits.  Allow more distance between you and other vehicles. Pump brakes gently and use gears to slow down.

Carry an emergency survival kit 

  • First aid kit
  • Flares
  • Blankets
  • Garbage sacks that could double as a tarp or rain poncho
  • High energy food like granola bars or dried fruit.
  • A portable stove
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Candles (use for light and to keep the vehicle warm)
  • Tin can for melting snow for water.
  • Coats, wool socks, gloves, scarves and other winter clothing

first-aid-kit

Where possible use main roads

This may not always be an option, but try to stick to major routes, so if you do become stranded you can be found more quickly and easily.

Additional driving tips

  • Drive according to the conditions.
  • Reduce speed in poor visibility, where there is snow, or if ice may have formed.
  • Stay in a higher gear to help keep control of the vehicle and avoid harsh braking and acceleration.
  • Maintain larger safer stopping distances, you may have to double or even triple your stopping distance.
  • Use dimmed headlights in poor visibility and snow, so others can see you.
  • Use rear fog lights.

If you get stranded stay with your vehicle

If you need to keep the engine running to keep warm, ensure that the exhaust is not clogged with snow.

Try to keep mobile devices charged so you can call for assistance if necessary

 america-in-snow

Wherever you are driving during the Holidays, we wish you a good and safe journey. Happy Holidays!

dogs-driving-truck-home-for-christmas

 

 

Distractionless driving with children and dogs

This week continues the posts about driving safer by avoiding distractions. Last time, I encouraged you to keep your attention on the road by ignoring your cell phone and not fiddling with the entertainment system or GPS. As promised, today I’ll be touching on tips for driving safer with children and dogs in the car.

Both children and dogs can be a pretty big distraction when you’re driving, but in different ways. Dogs generally form a distraction when they are free to run around in the car, unrestrained. When this is the case, they can startle the driver by nudging them or suddenly licking them. Even a dog who suddenly starts breathing right next to your ear because he wants to see out the windshield, can take you by surprise.

Suddenly seeing this in your mirror will startle you
Suddenly seeing this in your mirror will startle you

But maybe your pooch does none of this and sits politely on the backseat. Even then, you might get distracted as you are likely to be tempted to look back and see how your dog is doing. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second is potentially dangerous. Luckily, there is a simple solution: keep your dog restrained in a safe manner when he is in the car. This way, he cannot reach you and you will know without having to look that he is safe. There are several ways to achieve this, some like a kennel or a pet barrier are better than for instance a special seat belt or harness for reasons I have explained before.

Sleeping child: a rare sight
Sleeping child: a rare sight

Keeping your young children from distracting you can be a harder task. They too will seek your attention but instead of nudging you, they are more prone to shouting and screaming. Whether it’s demanding sweets or fighting with a sibling, it’s hard to ignore and the urge to look back and intervene will be strong. However, this would endanger you all. Instead, when going on a trip make sure you are prepared and have different ways of keeping

Trouble ahead
Trouble ahead

the kids occupied. This can take many forms, from having plenty of (preferably healthy) snacks to bringing toys, books, films and such. Of course, the good old fashioned ways of playing games such as I spy and singing songs works too, as long as you can still pay enough attention to the road while participating.

Next time when going somewhere with your dog or child, try to keep these simple tips in mind and try to focus on what’s going on outside the car and not what’s happening inside. Take measures to avoid distraction or just leave it to your co-pilot to handle it, if you are lucky enough to have one. Safe driving!

 

Car Safety: Distracted Driving

Last week concluded the series about special activities to keep yourself and your dog busy and happy. Several of these activities meant going a distance by car. This led me to think once more about safety in the car. However, unlike my first series, these next few posts will not focus on accessories that can make driving safer. Instead I’ll be looking at how you can accomplish that by changing your own behavior. A lot of road accidents happen because people are distracted and miss something or don’t have sufficient time to respond to danger because of it. So in this series I will be talking about ways of avoiding distraction.

Trouble ahead if you don't pay attention
Trouble ahead if you don’t pay attention

First, let’s start with the obvious one: use of cell phones and smartphones. Some of you might be rolling your eyes and thinking that you are tired of hearing about this. However, statistics show that a significant number of accidents are still caused by cell phone use behind the wheel. And yet, most people are aware of how dangerous this behavior is, but for some reason they feel invincible and think that they will never be in an accident because of it. They are wrong, so put that phone away and keep your eyes on the road!

Related to cell phone use is fiddling with the GPS or the in car entertainment system. When you really want to change the route or destination the GPS should take, try finding a safe place to pull over and do so. Or better yet, ask your shotgun passenger to do it. This way, you can keep your eyes on the road and keep your attention focused on the current situation and what other road users are doing.

Cell phones, the number one distraction
Cell phones, the number one distraction

Fiddling with the entertainment system can be a no-go too. It’s all right to change the radio, if you can do it quickly and preferably without looking for the correct button. But connecting your phone or any other device via USB, inserting or removing a CD or tape are all things that should be done at a standstill.

These are just a few tips on how you can avoid being distracted behind the wheel, next week we’ll be looking at some more ways, including some tips for parents, with children of human and canine variety. Until then, drive safely!