It is a white winter in many parts of the United States with the polar vortex and record-breaking cold. Storms are bringing winter precipitation to normally warm areas including snowfall in Hawaii.
Blowing snow and ice can create poor visibility and challenge the skills of any driver. Professional racer and driving expert Jordi Gené is offering some tips for winter driving.
It may be easy to become a white-knuckled driver when facing harsh conditions. Gené says it is vital to plan ahead and stay calm; “Anticipate what’s ahead and take it easy, that’s the basic rule for driving in harsh conditions.”
“Using the engine brake is fundamental. Driving downhill in low gears will help handle the vehicle and it takes a lighter toll on the brakes”, explains Gené.
His recommendation applies to both winter and summer, but is especially true in the cold season as at low temperatures the wheels lose grip on the asphalt.
There are shadows on the road and those may hold dangerous surprises Gené cautions: “When driving on snow, pay careful attention to dark patches on the road where there could be black ice. You have to turn the wheel gently and lightly step on the brake until you’re over the ice patch and the wheels begin to gain grip again”, he points out.
The driving expert recommends increasing the safety distance between your vehicle and other cars during inclement weather. The professional driver keeps an emergency kit in the vehicle in case there is an accident or a long wait on a highway. Your emergency kit should be personalized to reflect your family’s size and needs, but should contain blankets, water, non-perishable food, first-aid supplies and any other essentials should you become stranded in a winter storm. These steps and frequent inspections of your vehicle will help make your winter travel safer.
I live in a city filled with reminders of epic travelers from the historic journeys of Lewis and Clark to the cross country treks in automobiles along Route 66. There are still many icons around Saint Louis and across Missouri modern travelers can visit today.
From Missouri’s rolling hills and natural wonders explored by Lewis and Clark to the kitschy man-made attractions that helped make Route 66 a favorite for family road trips, the unique views make a Missouri road trip memorable.
For blind travelers, this is a part of the trip they miss. A new prototype smart car window aims to change the experience by enabling blind or partially-sighted people to visualize passing scenery through touch.
The smart car window named Feel the View takes pictures that are turned into high-contrast monochrome images. These images are then reproduced on the glass using special LEDs.
By touching the image, different shades of grey vibrate with a range of 255 intensities, allowing passengers to touch the scene and rebuild in their mind the landscape in front of them.
Feel the View was conceived and developed by Ford in Italy in collaboration with Aedo, a start-up that specializes in devices for the visually impaired.
“We seek to make people’s lives better and this was a fantastic opportunity to help blind passengers experience a great aspect of driving. The technology is advanced, but the concept is simple – and could turn mundane journeys into truly memorable ones,” explained Ford representative Mac Alù Saffi in a written statement.
See how Feel the View may give visually impaired travelers epic journeys in the future in this video:
Spring is officially here, but winter like weather is hanging around in many parts of the United States.
Extreme weather and changing conditions are creating a lasting problem for drivers: pothole! Highways have turned into costly obstacle courses. According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, potholes and poor roads cost drivers $6.4 billion dollars in repairs, last year. And while no one plans to hit one, they are inevitable and in many cases unavoidable.
Whether it’s a flat tire, lost hubcap, warped wheel alignment or a bent axle, a pothole can cause significant damage to your car. So how can you avoid potential bumps in road? According to GM experts, some of the most important things drivers can do during pothole season include:
● Maintain the recommended tire inflation
● Use winter tires
● Slow down and watch for street hazards
● Have your vehicle’s alignment checked after hitting more severe potholes
Yoiu can watch the expert on how to avoid potholes:
After a long winter, the sun’s warmth feels great. Just as our skin needs sun protection, the eye’s surface is vulnerable for potentially blinding sun-related diseases. The long days of sun filled recreation and many other spring activities can also lead to an increased risk of eye damage.
Dr. Mary Kay Migneco, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences instructor at Washington University School of Medicine, advises sunlight is a risk factor for several eye diseases including cancer: “Exposure to ultraviolet radiation can increase the risk for development of cataracts and macular degeneration. While non-vision threatening, lesions on the lids such as basal cell carcinomas are also at increased risk.”
It is important to start wearing proper sun protection at an early age to protect eyes from years of damaging rays. To be eye smart in the sun, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends you wear 99 percent and higher UV (ultraviolet radiation) absorbent sunglasses to protect your eyes:
Choose wraparound sun-glass styles so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
If you wear UV-blocking contact lenses, you’ll still need sunglasses.
Add a hat to maximize protection; broad-brimmed hats are best.
Limit exposure to UV-intense conditions: sunlight is strongest mid-day, higher altitudes, and reflected off water, ice or snow.
Anyone of any age and skin pigmentation is susceptible to ultraviolet damage and some people may be at a greater risk. Many factors influence sun sensitivity including medications. There are drugs that can make your eyes more vulnerable to light explains Dr. Migneco, “Photo-sensitizing drugs can lead to photophobia.”
If you are taking any of the following common drugs, Dr. Migneco says it is vital to wear sunglasses and a hat whenever you go outside:
Spring is often a time to tackle outdoor chores. Lawn mowers propel objects at high rates of speed. Regardless of the debris thrown by a mower, it will penetrate the cornea, cause intense pain and inflammatory response. These eye injuries are easily preventable with safety eyeglasses that are worn during yard work. Wear safety glasses while doing home improvement projects that involve grinding metal, sandblasting, power washing or leaf blowing.
Chores inside your home may present an eye injury risk too. Using hazardous products such as oven cleaner and bleach can impact your eyes. Common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year.
The aroma of barbecues and fish fries are a part of outdoor fun. Take care around the grill or fire pit, often the sparks or ashes that fly through the air can get into your eyes. Cooking foods that can splatter hot grease or oil can also put your eyes at risk.
Cookouts and picnics may take you into contact with poison ivy, poison sumac, or poison oak. If you come in contact with any of these plants keep your hands away from the eyes. Exposure directly to your eye will require medical attention.
Popular sports can also pose a risk to your eyes. A national survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology finds more than forty percent of eye injuries every year are related to sports. Most people do not wear protective eye-wear when playing sports like tennis or baseball. According to the U.S Eye Injury Registry, 5% of all eye injuries result from baseballs. Doctors say the smaller the ball, the greater the risk of an eye injury. Golf balls, tennis balls, and paint balls are the causes of common sports related eye injury.
Hitting the road on a trip? Put goggles in the trunk for car trouble. Spewing radiators can project steam at the eyes. Snapping bungee cords can hit the eye at 50 mph.
Everyone is at risk for eye damage and injuries but a few simple steps can help protect your sight for many seasons to come.
Pets are a big part of our lives and many of us take our dogs and cats with us when we travel. Millions of pets are included in vacation plans every year. In fact, more resorts and vacation packages are being designed around pet families. The American Automobile Association, or AAA, says more hotels and resorts welcome companion animals. AAA says in the United States there are more than 12-thousand pet friendly hotels. Other vacation options for pet families include animal friendly campgrounds and marinas. Double-check with your resort, hotel or other location on their animal policy to ensure your pet receives a warm welcome on arrival.
So how will you get there? Flying might sometimes seem to be the fastest and least stressful way to go, it can be the opposite for a pet forced to fly in the cargo hold. The only time any animal should be placed on a plane is if you’re relocating and all other options are unavailable. Most pet families drive with their pets. Nearly six in 10 respondents to an AAA/Kurgo survey reported they had driven with their dog in the automobile at least once a month in the past year.
Before you begin packing, there are few preliminary steps to get your furry friend ready for the big trip. Consider having your animal microchipped by your veterinarian or a facility like the Animal Protective Association of Missouri. This is a low cost and painless process in which a microchip containing all identification information is inserted under the animal’s skin. Also have your veterinarian issue a health certificate stating that your animal is healthy and able to travel and that all necessary vaccinations are up to date.
Plan your trip with your pet in mind. Will there be a lot of pet friendly activities, or will he or she be cooped up in a hotel room while you are on the golf course, sunning on the beach or riding roller coasters? As much as you love your pets, if they suffer from motion sickness, get over-stimulated easily, or get physically or emotionally upset when their routines are disrupted, the best option for them may be to stay home or in the care of a trusted sitter.
If your trip itinerary is pet friendly and your vehicle is outfitted for your furry friend there are, of course, some steps to follow:
• Never leave your pet alone in the car: Dogs can suffer and die when left inside parked cars, even on mildly warm days. On a 78°F day, the temperature inside a shaded car is 90°F, and the inside of a car parked in the sun can reach 160°F in minutes. Animals can succumb to heatstroke within just 15 minutes.
• To prevent sickness, feed pets early so that they don’t eat in the few hours before departure. Exercise them several hours before you depart so that they aren’t hot and thirsty in the car or forced to “hold it” for hours after gulping down water after a walk.
• Don’t transport your pet in the bed of a pickup truck. All it takes is one abrupt stop for them to be propelled into the street; plus, heat brings the added danger that they might burn their feet on the hot metal.
• Carry water and ice in containers for rest stops. No-spill travel bowls are available in pet supply stores and online.
• For pets prone to car sickness, consult your veterinarian for remedies or try ginger capsules, available at health-food stores.
• Use a kennel or restrain your dog with a canine seat belt, available from pet supply stores and catalogs.
• Never open a car window or door when your pet is unrestrained. Countless animals have been lost at tollbooths and rest stops this way.
• Stop to walk dogs often.
• Use a window shade for the back and side windows. Make sure that your air conditioning is working properly, and use it while driving. It is not safe to let an animal hang his or her head out a car window.