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Category Archives: Safety Issues

Eradicate the Germs: Car Cleaning Tips

How often do you clean the interior of your car? Once a month, when you take your car to the car wash? Once a week on Sunday, so it’s nice and clean for your commute the next morning? Or simply as needed–like when your son spills his milkshake on the back seat or when your dog shakes sand all over the passenger seat after you’ve taken a long walk on the beach? And how do you clean it –a quick vacuum over the floors and seats, and maybe a careful swipe with a disinfectant wipe over the dashboard and door handles?

Unfortunately, according to experts, even if your car looks nice and clean and, since you’ve popped an air freshener in there as well, smells like a pine forest, a light cleaning might not be enough. Take a look at these statistics as they may make you want to scrub your car’s interior more thoroughly and more often:

Infographic Courtesy of The Allstate Blog.

Cleaning your car more often might take some time and effort, but in the end, being able to drive along in a more sanitary vehicle may be worth it.

This guest post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.

Flooded Cars on the Road in 2013 – An Infographic

There are over 212,000 cars on the road today in the US that have reported flood damage. Two thirds of flooded cars (133,173) can be found in just 10 states.

  • Texas currently has over 30,000 flood vehicles–more than any other state.
  • Next up is New Jersey with more than 28,600
  • Pennsylvania has more than 13,000 flooded cars
  • Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Illinois have more than 9,000 each
  • Florida has 8,800
  • Mississippi and Virginia round out the top 10 with more than 7,000 of flooded cars in operation

Tips for spotting a flooded car:

  • Check hardware for silt, mud or rust in the trunk, glove compartment, dashboard, or below the seats.
  • Look for loosely-fitting and discolored upholstery and carpeting. Check to see if anything doesn’t match or is loose, which may indicate that carpeting or cloth has been replaced.
  • Water can short out electrical connections. Test the windshield wipers, turn signal lights, break lights, radio, internal lights, heater and air-conditioner to be sure they work.
  • Check for warning lights to make sure ABS and airbag lights turn on.
  • Smell for a musty odor in the interior or the trunk.
  • Flex the wires beneath dashboard to see if they’re brittle or cracked from drying out.
  • Get an inspection from a trusted mechanic BEFORE you hand over money. A car is a big investment, so it’s worth this modest expense.
  • Check for flood damaged cars for FREE at

Hurricane Sandy in 2012 left more than a quarter million flooded cars on the East Coast. Still, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma resulted in an incredible 600,000 flooded cars in their wake.

infographic on flood damaged cars for 2012


A CARFAX customer wrote us to say:

“My parents got burned last year by purchasing a used car they did not know was flooded. The car looked immaculalte and had no signs of flood until the electrical system and transmission failed. This was a horrible experience and cost my parents a lot of money.” Rich C., Virginia

Summer Road Trips: Prepare for the Unexpected

Nothing says “summer vacation” quite like taking a road trip with the family, and this summer Americans are definitely hitting the highways.

When the freedom of the open road beckons, it’s always a good idea to take a few safety precautions–just in case. Here are a few tips so you can be prepared for the unexpected.

Tips for Drivers

Get rest. According to the Journal of Sleep Research, a tired driver can be just as impaired as a drunk driver. No matter how many miles you plan on driving this summer, be sure to get plenty of sleep every night of your trip. The NHTSA estimates that 100,000 reported accidents each year are directly related to vehicle operator sleepiness and fatigue. So if you feel yourself getting tired, pull off at a rest stop to take a break–that’s what they’re there for!

Eliminate distractions. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says distracted driving is a major cause of accidents on America’s highways. In fact, a driver who texts while driving is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than one who isn’t distracted, the Administration says. Remember, when you’re driving, that’s all you should be doing.

Stay calm. One of the most important driving safety tips to keep in mind is to stay calm in situations when other drivers get aggressive or act impulsively.

Tips for Passengers

Help with non-driving tasks. Road trip preparations are as much the responsibility of passengers as they are of the driver. When you’re sitting in the passenger’s seat, offer to have change ready for tolls; serve as a navigator when needed; and keep an eye out for signs of dehydration and restlessness in any children or pets riding with you.

Take turns staying awake. Never allow your driver to be the only one awake in the car while driving. Take as many breaks as you need, and be sure to always have at least one passenger stay awake to keep the driver company.

Tips for Your Vehicle

Engine tune-up. Summer heat can be brutal on y our car. As part of your road trip preparations, get a full engine tune-up from a licensed mechanic before you take off on a long trip. Be sure to replace any drive belts that show signs of slipping or cracking.

Tires and brakes. If you’ve been driving through road salt and other corrosive winter conditions, have your tires and brakes inspected. Make sure brake pads, fluids, and tires are all in top shape. For example, if you suddenly have to slam on the brakes or swerve because the tractor-trailer in front of you blows a tire, you’ll want the best traction and stopping response your car offers.

Cooling system. Checking your radiator and all hoses for weak spots, swelling and leaks. Other than yourself, the last thing you want overheating on your road trip is your vehicle.

Battery. Don’t assume that batteries only fail in cold weather. Consumer Reports recommends that any automobile battery that’s more than 2 years old (if you live in a warm climate) or 4 years old (if you live in a colder climate) should be checked to make sure it’s putting out a full charge.

With these driving safety tips and a well-stocked emergency kit, you’re on your way to a happy, safe summer road trip. Enjoy the drive and share America’s roads with care.

This post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.

Tips for Preventing Distracted Driving

Crashes involving distracted drivers took the lives of more than 3,300 people and injured another 387,000 people in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says. Because the government, the media and various organizations have been raising awareness about texting as a dangerous driving distraction, some form of cellphone-related activity is what many people call to mind when they hear the term “distracted driving.” But, did you know that there are many other distractions that also can pose a threat?

NHTSA defines distracted driving as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. The organization names the following as driving distractions:

  • Text messaging
  • Using a smartphone or cellphone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to other people in the car
  • Grooming (doing your makeup, flossing your teeth)
  • Reading — including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting gadgets, like your radio or CD player

If you commute to work on a busy road, you may see drivers doing everything from shaving or putting on makeup to eating and reading the paper behind the wheel. In our busy, over-scheduled and fast-paced world, the automobile has become another place where people try to multitask — but holding those activities until you are safely parked may help save a life.

Consider this: Reaching for your phone while behind the wheel increases your likelihood of getting into an accident by nine times, according to a study by NHTSA and the Virginia Tech Transportation institute.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drivers under age 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. Parents, educators and organizations in the community are working to teach young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, focusing especially on text messaging. Teens even have the option of signing a pledge not to text and drive by clicking here.

But, no matter what your age, it’s important to concentrate on your driving. The Department of Motor Vehicles in Washington D.C., a place known for its busy roadways and heavy traffic, has compiled the following safety tips for drivers to avoid distractions.

  • Avoid eating in the car. If you’re focusing on your breakfast, you aren’t giving your full attention to the road.
  • Wait to adjust the radio, heat, air conditioner and mirrors until you’re pulled over in a safe place.
  • Glare from the sun can be a major driving distraction. If you’re driving in bright sunlight, be sure to wear sunglasses.
  • Don’t talk on your cellphone, send a text, check your email or read while driving.
  • Don’t play the radio at an excessive volume. Loud music might prevent you from hearing sirens or emergency vehicles.

What if you have a hands-free device? It’s still a danger, according to NHTSA officials, because if you’re focusing on a conversation, even if your hands are free, you could still miss seeing or hearing something important.

Remember, any split-second distraction could result in an accident. The car is not the place to multitask. Your safety and the safety of others is more important than making a phone call, sending a text or trying to eat dinner behind the wheel.

This guest post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.

What To Do if Involved in a Car Accident

Remain calm and think clearly as you handle the situation.

  • First, you should call the police, and let them know you have been involved in a car accident. One thing that helps when disputing an accident is having a police accident report of the incident. If a police officer cannot come to the location of the accident, you can still file a state vehicle car accident report at a police station. This will help your insurance company quickly handle the claims process.
  • Second, take out your emergency kit made for this very purpose. If you don’t currently have one, you can easily put one together. Some basic things to include are: a pen, paper, disposable camera, insurance card, first aid materials, and card with medical allergies or any other health conditions you have that may be important for medical teams to know in case you have been seriously injured. Another option is to buy a roadside emergency kit through Amazon, or other online sources.
  • Third, if the accident is minor with no serious injuries you should move your car to the side of the road away from oncoming traffic, and put your hazard lights on.
  • Fourth, if another vehicle is involved in the accident exchange information with them, including: your name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number, and license plate number for both the driver and owner of the vehicle. Try to be polite, and don’t feel you have to take responsibility for the accident at the scene. It may have been your fault, but it is best to refrain from taking the blame at the scene of the accident.
  • Fifth, take pictures of your car, as well as any other damage that has occurred due to the accident to have documentation.

Once those steps have been taken care of, the next step is to file a claim with your insurance company. Allstate breaks down the easy 4 step process for their customers: 1) File your accident claim; 2) gather the facts; 3) resolve the issue by repairing your car; 4) move forward with a happy life. But how do you file a claim? Simply call, go online, or meet with your insurance representative in person so they can guide you through the process. Going through the claims process is an essential part of taking care of the accident and putting it behind you. It’s also necessary to schedule a vehicle inspection, speak with an adjuster, get your car repaired, and follow up to view the status of your claim.

CARFAX works with insurance companies and police departments to be informed of every accident they can be. In many instances CARFAX is able to obtain information from these resources, like the accident claim and accident report, among others to determine how serious the accident was. Through these things CARFAX is able to identify an accident on a vehicle history report as minor, moderate, or severe. These classifications help consumers be better informed of the type of accident a car has been involved in, which can help them determine whether or not they want to buy that car.

How Hidden Damage Can Affect Used Car Values

When looking to buy a used car it is important to know how much the car that you are interested in is worth. Many different factors determine vehicle value, for instance, the year the car was manufactured, the mileage, the number of owners, the type of owners, if it had been in an accident, etc. As a smart car buyer you want to know of there are any underlying incidents that the car has been involved in that are not obvious, such as flood damage. We want to help you learn how hidden damage can affect used car values.

To begin, you can do research that will help you make an educated decision on what the used car value is. A great resource to help you do that is ClearBook; they provide professional advice that helps determine specific car prices you are interested in.

After natural disasters hit parts of the country, it is possible that they may affect cars in that area. Be aware if a car has been transported from an area that has experienced a natural disaster. With storms often come heavy rainfall and flooding, which can seriously damage a car if it hasn’t been properly protected. One of the major problems that occurs is flood damage. There are several ways to protect yourself from purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle, and a helpful resource for flood damage education is CARFAX. Some easy things to check and watch out for is water damage inside the car in the form of silt, mud, or rust. Check if the upholstery inside the vehicle does not match or is loosely fitting, indicating that it has been replaced. Testing the car’s basic function ability such as the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, radio, heater, and air conditioner help to show if it has experienced any trauma.

By checking a vehicle’s CARFAX Report, you will know more about the used car you are considering buying. If you are buying a car from a private party, it is especially important to protect yourself by checking the car’s CARFAX Vehicle History Report. CARFAX gives you as much information about a car’s history as is available. This will prepare you as much as possible to know how much the car is worth, and it will guide you to getting the best value for your money. If you find damage through further research it will decrease the vehicle’s value in conjunction with the level of unknown damage that is revealed.