Thursday, March 22, 2012

Was Driver's Ed Wrong?

If you have attended official driving classes, the information you learned may have been wrong.

According to MSNBC, and other sources, the advent of safer cars may mean your driving style is dangerously out of date.  Have you ever heard of the 10 o'clock & 2 o'clock positions?  That usually refers to the position of your hands on a steering wheel, if that steering wheel resembled the face of a clock. This was taught in almost all Driver's Ed classes until recently.  
Now, due to the advent and mass-production of much safer vehicles equipped with airbags, those hand positions may cost you an arm... quite literally.  
According to  AAA, in addition to severe hand and arm injuries, airbag detonations have also been known to slam arms and hands into a person's face, causing concussions, broken noses, and other related injuries.

The best position for your hands now is said to be the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock position.  Some sources even go one 'hour' lower and say the 8 o'clock and 4 o'clock position is ideal, although in studies the 8 and 4 position may decrease the control over your vehicle. In any case, should you get into an accident, these new positions should leave enough room for your airbag to deploy properly without causing you major injury.

An example of the "9 and 3" hand position.

According to the American Driver & Traffic Safety Education Administration, a proper handhold should be firm, yet relaxed; both hands positioned on the outside of the wheel; where your fingers maintain control the wheel instead of your palms, and thumbs should be in an upward position along the steering wheel's "face"; and lastly, make sure you never utilize the inside of your steering wheel to make a turn.  Keeping these tips in mind should decrease an airbag injury significantly in the case of an accident.

Were you taught the "hand-over-hand" turning style?  That can also cause you similar injuries.

Remember, if you have an air-bag equipped steering wheel, this turning style can cause you the same problems as the "10 and 2" driving position, and cause you serious injury.  The proper way to turn is now said to be the push-pull method, pushing up with one hand and pulling down with another.  
This will keep your airbag deploying properly, and make sure your airbag doesn't do you more harm than good.

References:  Article by M. Alex Johnson
Photo courtesy of

Friday, March 16, 2012

This St. Patrick's Day, Don't Let Driving Drunk Cost You a Pot O' Gold:

How to stay safe during St. Patrick's Day weekend:

Here are some wonderful tips courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

If you are attending a party:
  • Make sure you get a designated driver before the party starts.  If you don't have a designated driver, at least have alternatives to your transportation.  For instance, have a taxi number stored in your phone and cab fare, call a friend or family member and have them pick you up, or worst come to worst find a safe place within walking distance to sleep it off until morning.
  • Avoid drinking too much too fast.  Make sure you space out your drinks in the evening.  Eat something, take breaks, and/or alternate with non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Use a sober ride program.  If you are a college student, an excellent resource over the weekend is Safe Rides for Students through CMU.  Their operating hours are from 8pm to 2am Fridays and Saturdays, and their phone number is 970-257-9797.
  • Watch out for your friends.  If you think they might have had too much to drink, let them know and keep them from driving themselves home.
  • Buckle up - even if you aren't intoxicated you will be sharing the road with other St. Patrick's Day party-goers, and they may not be fit to drive.
If you are hosting a party:
  • Keep in mind that you may be held responsible in a court of law if you are hosting a party and someone you served alcohol to ends up in a car accident.
  • Make sure your guests have arranged alternate transportation before the party begins, or help them to set up alternate transportation.  For example, have a couple of taxi numbers on hand, or get a friend who isn't planning on drinking help drive your guests home.  You can notify your guests at the start of your party, and pass around a tip-jar to help fill up your friends' gas tank!
  • Serve food along with alcohol, and make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drink options available.
  • Stop serving alcohol near the end of the party and instead start serving coffee, dessert, or another tasty non-alcoholic beverage.
  • Check guests' car keys at the door during the beginning of your party, and as they are leaving you can help determine as to whether or not they are fit to drive.  If they look like they've had too much to drink, don't be afraid to keep their keys and help them find an alternate ride home!

The Ad Council via Flickr

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The CMU Student Resource Guide

Photo courtesy of:  stock.xchng

Monday, March 12, 2012

Scared vs. Prepared: What to do before handing your teen the car keys

Do you have a teenager who is driving, or about ready to start?  As parents we often feel anxious, excited, and a bit scared to have our teen jump behind the wheel.  Here's a great website to help out parents with questions and give us some great tips before we hand our teens the keys.  Now AAA is offering workshops called "Dare To Prepare" to give us that extra confidence before our teens start driving.  Check out their video page to find some great tips, or get inspired and sign a parent-teen agreement to help hold your teen accountable and let them know that driving is both a privilege and a responsibility.

Dare to Prepare
Photo courtesy of : AndYaDontStop via Flickr

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's Behind High Gas Prices?

Have you ever wondered why we pay so much for gas?  Come to find out, there are several reasons.  According to this article, the price is largely influenced by politics, speculation, and natural disasters.  You may be asking yourself, what does politics have to do with how much we pay for gas?  Why do they have to be involved at all?  In order to keep the US's air clean and breathable, regulations have been put in place on how many pollutants we can put into the air.  Have you ever been to an emissions test?  Has your car ever failed emissions?  These tests are enforced to safeguard our environment and make sure we don't have natural disasters here in the US, like smog and acid rain.  There are both federal and state regulations in place to use a blended mixture of gasoline in our fuel that keeps emissions lower.  Unfortunately, these processes that refine our fuel also drive the gas prices higher.  That is also a part of what helps to keep our air clean, but it's also another regulation put into place by politicians.  Our job here at Simpson Brothers is to help keep your car running as efficiently as possible.  If you regularly keep up with your scheduled maintenance for your car, it will end up saving you time & money in the long run.

Ever wonder what those yellow numbers on the gas pump mean?  These are called the 'octane rating'.  The octane rating tells you how much the fuel can be compressed inside an engine before it ignites on its own.  The higher the rating, the more the fuel can be compressed before igniting.  That's why many high-performance engines require the higher level (and unfortunately the higher priced) octane gas at the pump.  If you've ever heard your engine make a knocking sound, you know it's bad - but did you know that your gas is igniting without the help of the engine's spark plugs?  You may want to think about switching to a higher-octane fuel, and bring your car in!  We'll give you a free inspection!

Visit our website to kick off your maintenance schedule with our "Name Your Own Special" coupon, and keep your car in tiptop shape!


Source: Energy Information Administration
Credit: Adam Cole, Julia Ro / NPR

Brain, Marshall.  "What does octane mean?"  01 April 2000. <>  09 March 2012.
How Stuff Works
Photo courtesy of Morguefile

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Your Eyes and Driving

Did you know, that as you get older your eyes need more light to see clearly?  According to this article, your eyes at age 60 need about three times as much light to see as when you're 20.  As you get older, your pupils become smaller and need much more light in order to make things out.  You may also have additional vision problems making another obstacle when you're behind the wheel.  If you are experiencing any difficulty seeing clearly, please go to your eye doctor and get a prescription/treatment that is right for you.  You never know, it just may save your life the next time you drive.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our Spring 2012 Flyer

Spring is just around the corner!  With the warmer weather comes all sorts of outdoor adventures.  Please don't forget to bring your car in to us and we'll give you our 'Name Your Own' Special!  Simply print out our coupon from our coupon link (in the right-hand column) bring it in with your car, and we'll fix you right up!