Be Prepared for Winter!

Winter has arrived. Keep the following tips in mind to make sure you and your vehicle are prepared for winter emergencies.

  • Preventive maintenance prior to the winter season is the best way to ensure safe travel. Regularly check fluid levels such as power steering, brake, windshield washer and oil.
  • Make sure the antifreeze is strong enough to prevent freezing of the engine and fresh enough to prevent rust.
  • In cold weather, you may also want to change the windshield washer fluid to one containing an antifreeze agent.

While proper maintenance is key, knowing how to drive in adverse conditions can also keep you safe. The Parent’s Supervised Driving Guide offers the following tips for driving in different weather conditions.

Wet & slippery roads:

  • Turn on the wipers as soon as the windshield becomes wet.
  • Turn on the low-beam headlights; this helps others see you.
  • Drive 5 to 10 mph slower than normal and increase your following distance to 5 or 6 seconds.
  • Be more cautious, and slow down on curves and when approaching intersections.
  • Turn the defroster on to keep windows from fogging over.
  • If you must make adjustments while driving, make sure the road ahead is clear before looking down at the dashboard – and look away for only a second or two.

Snow

  • Make sure your vehicle is clear of snow and ice before driving. Driving can cause snow/ice to slide and block your view, or fly off and strike other vehicles.
  • When starting to drive in snow, keep the wheels straight ahead and accelerate gently to avoid spinning the tires.
  • Decrease your speed to make up for a loss of traction. Accelerate and decelerate gently, and be extra careful when braking.
  • Stopping distances can be 10 times greater in ice and snow. Begin the slowing-down process long before a stop. Brake only when traveling in a straight line.
  • Look ahead for dangerous spots, such as shaded areas and bridge surfaces that may be icy when the rest of the road is clear.

Lastly, check out the Auto Emergency Prepardness Kit Checklist from the Michigan State Police and see what you should have in your vehicle in case you are stranded.

Special thank you to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson for her content.

Hidden Risks Lurk in Rental Cars for Travelers this Holiday Season

During the holiday season, many travelers rely on rental cars to reach their destinations. Many of today’s cars are designed to make hands-free calls, stream music, and even access the internet — but one has to connect to an infotainment system first.

But in order to do this, the infotainment system may store personal information kept on a driver’s phone, says AAA.

“The stored information in mobile devices is vulnerable to theft. If you sync your mobile phone to a rental car, you open yourself up to having your personal information stolen,” Lori Weaver Hawkins, Blue Grass AAA, said in a statement. “It is possible for an unauthorized person to gain access to things like home address and the code for your garage door opener.”

Know Your Risks:

There are currently no industry or government standards for vehicle infotainment systems, but the first step to safeguarding your personal data is to know the type of information an infotainment system may store.

Potentially stored information:

  • Home address, work address, and other saved or frequently used GPS locations.
  • Home phone number.
  • Call and message logs.
  • Personal contacts.
  • Garage opener programming.

Reducing Your Risks:

To avoid a data breach of any kind, there are a number of steps drivers can take.

  1. Purchase a phone charger for your phone that plugs into the cigarette lighter adapter port rather than the USB port. The lighter adapter port does not access your information.
  2. Use your phone’s GPS without syncing up with the rental car.
  3. Check your phone’s permissions to learn what information your car can access. When syncing your phone, if your infotainment systems allows you to choose which types of information you share, restrict it to only what’s necessary. For instance, if you’re only syncing your phone to play music, the car only needs access to your music library, not your personal contacts or other data.
  4. Before handing your keys over to a valet, check to see if your car’s infotainment system has a valet mode you can set that will protect your sensitive data.
  5. Before trading in your car or returning a rental car, go to the settings menu on the car’s infotainment system to find a list of synced devices. When you find your devices, follow the prompts to delete them. If you can’t figure out how to do this, check the owner’s manual or an online tutorial.

Special Thanks to Denny Jacob for his content.