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Top Apps to Help You Avoid Drunk Driving
Drunk driving incidents claim the lives of up to 25,000 Americans per year, according to statistics from the National Transportation Safety Administration. That should be reason enough to do all you can to prevent yourself and your friends and loved ones from getting behind the wheel, while intoxicated.
Even if no one is hurt, getting convicted of even one DUI offense can cost you your license, your insurance, and as much as $10,000 in legal fees, fines and other expenses. In some industries, a single DUI offense can cost you your career, as well.
Fortunately, thanks to mobile phone and computer technology, we now have a number of useful and innovative tools to help you have a good time, while responsibly managing your alcohol intake. Here are some effective apps and other tools you can install on your smartphone or tablet, to help you avoid hurting yourself or anyone else by driving while under the influence.
Alcohol Intake Mobile Apps IntelliDrink - Available for iOS devices, Intellidrink lets you track your alcohol intake and helps you estimate your blood alcohol content based on your height, weight and sex. The app can tell you, based on your alcohol intake and when you stop drinking, roughly when your BAC can be expected to drop below 0.08, the legal limit in most jurisdictions.
Intellidrink has a dual input function, so you can track alcohol consumption for yourself and your drinking buddy.
Alcudroid Alcohol Tracker - This program has a similar function to Intellidrink, but is designed to work on the Android platform. Named a Top Alcoholism App of 2015 by HealthLine.com, the Alcudroid lets you chart your drinking habits by the day, week or month. It also supports U.S., imperial and metric units and of course calculates an estimate of your blood alcohol content.
Additionally, the Alcudroid helps you track what you spend on alcohol over time as well.
BACtrack makes a combination breathalyzer and smartphone app system that will give you a reasonably accurate BAC level you can read right off your cell phone. The BACtrack breathalyzer device connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and uses an Xtend® fuel cell sensor that has a proven track record of accuracy and consistency.
The BACtrack app can also help you project when your BAC can be expected to reach zero (if you stop drinking now).
SaferRide - Too drunk to drive also means too drunk to operate complicated apps. That's why National Transportation Safety Administration developed the SaferRide. This easy, to use, intuitive app features a simple, three button interface that's so simple, you can operate it even after a very big night. Click on the "Get Taxi" button and the app will provide a list of local cab companies that you can call with one click. Click on "Call friend" and it will automatically call the friend you designated when you set up the app. You don't even have to stab at the numbers to dial someone.
It even has a "where am I?" button.
The SaferRide app is available for Windows, Android and iOS devices, and is free.
Ride Programs and Transportation Services
Contact the Sober Ride Program. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a nationwide database of such programs. In some markets, towing services companies will also tow your car home for you for free, on specific holidays.
Hail a cab. Or you can use a mobile-phone app such as Cabzilla, TaxiHail or Curb.
Consider a ride-sharing service. Availability varies, depending on the market, but popular options include:
We want you to have a good time. But more than that, we want you to get home safe to your family, along with everyone else on the road with you. We encourage you to download one or more of these apps to your phones, and to share this information with your friends and family.
12 Fire Prevention & Safety Tips for the Holiday Season
The two most common days for home fires in the United States are Christmas and Christmas Eve. Fire officials encourage all Americans to make safety a top priority during the holidays. One of the most important steps is to ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are installed in the home. The main cause of home fires during the winter holiday season is cooking, and heating comes in at second place. During this time of year, many people use candles more often. Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's Eve are the most common holidays for fires due to candles. Keep these 12 helpful tips in mind to stay safer this holiday season.
Turn all lights off. When using any decorative lights in or around the house or tree, be sure they are turned off when unsupervised. People who are using older strings of lights should consider switching to newer LED lights, which are more energy efficient and stay cooler.
Have several working smoke alarms. Every level of the home should have a working smoke detector. While it is ideal to have one in every common room and bedroom, it is important to at least have them placed strategically so home occupants can hear them regardless of where they are in the house. If alarms are older than 10 years, they should be replaced.
Water fresh trees every day. Any fresh trees should be watered daily to ensure they do not dry out and become bigger fire hazards. All synthetic and fresh trees should be kept away from candles, heaters and fireplaces.
Use carbon monoxide detectors. This substance is invisible and does not have an odor, so it is considered a silent killer. If any existing alarms are over seven years of age, they should be replaced.
Make a fire escape plan. The fire escape plan should have two separate exit options, and there should be a designated area outside of the home where occupants can meet. If a fire happens, remember to stay out of the home and call 911 immediately from a neighbor's phone or a cell phone. Do not go back into the house for anything.
Do not leave candles unattended. Before leaving a room or going to sleep, make sure all candles have been blown out. There should always be a one-foot safety area encircling when they are burning, and make sure they stay on flat and steady surfaces.
Use extension cords with care. Do not overload extension cords or power strips. Also, avoid putting cords under rugs to lower the risk of fires.
Use space heaters cautiously. Never leave a space heater running when the room is not occupied. Heaters should be at least three feet from any item or wall. Do not use old space heaters that are not UL approved.
Do not leave burners unattended. Watch all cooking food closely. When baking, set a timer and keep it within reach. If pan does catch on fire, put a lid on it to smother the fire. Turn the heat off immediately.
Be responsible when drinking. Alcohol plays a part in many fatal fires, so watch guests or hosts carefully.
Smoke outdoors. Make sure all guests know to smoke outdoors, and provide ash trays so they do not toss cigarette butts in areas where they could cause fires.
Keep lighters and matches safe. If there will be children present, make sure lighters and matches are kept out of their reach.
Fuel Economy in Cold Weather
Cold weather and winter driving conditions can reduce your fuel economy significantly.
Fuel economy tests show that, in short-trip city driving, a conventional gasoline car's gas mileage is about 12% lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F. It can drop as much as 22% for very short trips (3 to 4 miles).
The effect on hybrids is worse. Their fuel economy can drop about 31% to 34% under these conditions.
Why is winter fuel economy lower?
Cold weather affects your vehicle in more ways than you might expect:
Engine and transmission friction increases in cold temperatures due to cold engine oil and other drive-line fluids.
It takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature. This affects shorter trips more, since your car spends more of your trip at less-than-optimal temperatures.
Heated seats, window defrosters, and heater fans use additional power.
Warming up your vehicle before you start your trip lowers your fuel economy—idling gets 0 miles per gallon.
Colder air is denser, increasing aerodynamic drag on your vehicle, especially at highway speeds.
Tire pressure decreases in colder temperatures, increasing rolling resistance.
Winter grades of gasoline can have slightly less energy per gallon than summer blends.
Battery performance decreases in cold weather, making it harder for your alternator to keep your battery charged. This also affects the performance of the regenerative braking system on hybrids.
In severe winter weather, your mpg can drop even further.
Icy or snow-covered roads decrease your tires' grip on the road, wasting energy.
Safe driving speeds on slick roads can be much lower than normal, further reducing fuel economy, especially at speeds below 30 to 40 mph.
Using four-wheel drive uses more fuel.
What can I do to improve my fuel economy in cold weather?
You may not be able to completely mitigate cold weather's effect on your fuel economy, but you can do some simple things to help your gas mileage:
Park your car in a warmer place, such as your garage, to increase the initial temperature of your engine and cabin.
Combine trips when possible so that you drive less often with a cold engine.
Minimize idling your car to warm it up. Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven, which will allow the heat to turn on sooner, decrease your fuel costs, and reduce emissions.
Don't use seat warmers or defrosters more than necessary.
Check your tire pressure regularly.
Use the type of oil recommended by your manufacturer for cold weather driving.
Remove accessories that increase wind resistance, like roof racks, when not in use.
If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, preheating the cabin while plugged into the charger can extend your vehicle's range.
If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, using the seat warmers instead of the cabin heater can save energy and extend range.
Tips for Driving Defensively During Deer Season
Drivers across the country must take extra precautions on the road during deer mating season. Deer are more common in some parts of the country than others. They are often sighted near creeks, rivers, lakes and areas with trees. The likelihood of a collision with a deer during mating season is higher because all deer are more active then and wander onto roadways more often.
In 2016, the average national cost per claim following a collision with a deer was $3,995. This was a slight decrease from $4,135 the previous year. American drivers should contact their insurers to learn about comprehensive accident coverage, which typically includes collisions with deer and other wildlife. When an accident occurs, it is important to follow these tips:
Contact the insurance agent immediately to start the claims process.
When unsure if the deer is dead, keep a safe distance at all times to avoid injuries from its sharp hooves.
If an injured or dead deer is blocking the road, call 911 or a local law enforcement office immediately.
Keep in mind that comprehensive insurance is purchased separately from liability coverage. Regular collision coverage that is part of liability insurance will not cover damages from colliding with a deer. When driving during deer mating season, always wear a safety belt. Remain alert, and watch for deer especially in wooded areas and near bodies of water. Use high beams whenever possible on remote highways at night. Since deer have reflective parts in their eyes, the high beams illuminate them clearly.
Deer accidents are common at dusk when visibility is poor and deer are typically more active. Although deer whistles and deer fences help minimize risks, they will not prevent accidents completely. The best defense is careful driving practices. Always brake firmly when there is a deer in the road ahead.
Do not swerve into another lane. Many accidents are caused when people swerve into oncoming or same-direction traffic. Keep in mind that seeing one deer usually indicates that there are more nearby. When braking and stopping, wait for the deer to cross the road. Do not try to go around the deer or honk. These fast animals run erratically and can still pose a major collision hazard until they are out of sight.
Always keep an agent's number as a saved cell phone contact. It is best to report an accident immediately after it happens.
To learn more about adding coverage for deer collisions or to review existing coverage, discuss your concerns with a HALO insurance agent. 314-351-HALO (4256).