Top Five Signs You Need to Pull Over

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Sometimes it’s obvious you need to pull over, like if your tire blows out.  Other times, you might think it’ll be fine to power through and stop when you’re safely home.  Or you might even think you can take care of whatever the problem is while you’re driving.  Don’t make guesses when it comes to your safety.  Here are the top signs that you should pull over:

Smoke, flames or steam

Obviously if your car is on fire, you need to get off the road.  Smoke or steam can be just as dangerous.  If steam is coming out of your engine, it probably means that your coolant is leaking.  If it’s a small leak, it might not be that bad, but if it’s a large leak, it can overheat your engine.  Not to mention the steam can block your view and cause a fender bender.  Pull over.  Don’t open your hood to have a look though; when you open the coolant, it might spray up and burn you.  Call the mechanic and have them fix it.

Strange Noises

You should be familiar with the sounds your car typically makes.  Turn off the radio now and then so you can learn what your car sounds like on a normal day.  That way, if anything out of the ordinary suddenly pops up, you can take your car to the mechanic and prevent serious damage.  If you hear any sudden loud noises, pull over and address it.  You might have just run over something harmless in the road, like a milk jug or other trash, or there might be something seriously wrong with your car.

Medical Emergency

If you’re in pain, don’t try to hold out until you get home or to the hospital.  Driving during a heart attack will put your life even more at risk.  Even smaller concerns can still be dangerous – like a headache, or something in your eye.

Lack of Visibility

Sometimes storms come out of nowhere, and suddenly it’s pouring buckets and you can’t see the road.  Don’t try to keep going, it’s useless.  If it’s foggy, or your wipers are broken, or the spray from the road is blocking you from seeing the car in front of you, pull over.


No, it’s not okay to bend over and pick something off the floor or change your jacket while you’re cruising at 65mph on the highway.  If your kids are fighting in the back, pull over.  Anything can happen, and it only takes one negligent moment to cause an accident. Those few seconds you take to reach over and grab your CD, or take your hands off the wheel to slip out of your coat, could make the difference between a safe stop and a fender bender.

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6 Tips for Driving in the Rain

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Tis the season for rain and weather so we thought it would be helpful to post some safety tips for driving in the rain.  Decreased visibility and slippery roads increase the chances of being in an accident while raining.  Stay alert and follow these tips to stay safe in the rain.

1. Leave Earlier

Traffic will move slower in the rain, so it will take longer for you to get to your destination. Plus, you don’t want to be in a hurry or rushing to get somewhere when the roads are slick. Give yourself extra time, and leaver earlier.

2. Brake Sooner

Sudden braking can cause you to hydroplane and lose control of the car. Brake earlier than you would typically, and use less force on the brakes.

3. Turn On Your Headlights

Even if its day time, turning on your headlights will not only help you see better, but it helps other drivers see you. However, avoid using your high beams; the light will reflect off of the water droplets in the air and make it even more difficult to see.

4. Watch for Pedestrians

A pedestrian might be too distracted fiddling with his umbrella to notice you, so it’s up to you to keep your eye out for someone crossing the road. With decreased visibility, they may be harder to see, so stay alert and keep an eye out for them.

5. Avoid Puddles

Stay close to the middle of the road. Puddles tend to form on the shoulder and the sides of the road, so hug the yellow line. Don’t try to cross large puddles in the road if you can’t tell how deep they are – your car could get stuck. Try to find a different way around.

6. Know how to handle Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning is when your car skids on the surface of the water, and could cause you to lose control of the car. If your car starts to hydroplane, do not brake suddenly or turn the wheel – this could cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Instead, slowly take your foot off the gas and steer straight. If necessary, tap the brake gently.

Forecasts predict scattered showers until Wednesday. A flood watch is in place through the evening, so please stay safe on the roads!

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Car Seat Safety: How Safe Are Your Children?

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Do you follow the recommended car seat installation procedures?  A properly installed child seat could save your child’s life.

Recent studies show that most parents don’t follow the proper guidelines for installing car seats for their children – or that they don’t use the right seat at all.  Understandably, children don’t want to be stuck in a car seat – they want to feel like a grown up.  But even seven or eight year olds should be in a booster seat.

The purpose of child safety seats and booster seats is to protect your child in the event of a collision.  While the death rate has declined, car crashes are the main cause of death for children ages 3 to 14, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Child seats can decrease the risk of death by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers, and decrease the risk of injury by 59%.


If you have a child under the age of 13, here are some safety tips:

  • Children under two should be in rear-facing child seats.
  • Use the tether straps to secure the child seat. These will keep the tops of the child seats secured in crashes.  They are intended to make installation easier.
  • Follow the installation guidelines to make sure the seat is secured properly.
  • Strap the child seat in the middle of the back seat.
  • Do not use the LATCH anchor for children over 48lbs.
  • Children under 13 should be buckled up in the back seat.
  • Reinforce good seat belt usage while your kids are still young, so that once they get older, and go out on their own, they will continue to buckle up.


It’s very important that children up to seven or eight years old be properly secured in a booster seat.  Seat belts are designed for adults, and therefore won’t provide proper protection (or comfort) for your child.  A booster seat will ensure that the seat belt fits your child properly, so it’s very important that when you buy the booster seat, you check to make sure it fits the booster seat and your child comfortably.

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Today, with better, quality tires, blowouts are less common. Unfortunately this means that many don’t know what to do in the event of a flat tire. Instinctively, people might try to brake or take action that could actually put them in more danger and lead to a collision.

If you’ve never had a flat before, here is how to handle a flat tire:

Do Not Brake

This is the most important thing to remember, and possibly the hardest thing to do. Your instincts and reflexes will want you to move your foot off the gas and slam on the brakes. However, braking suddenly will cause the car to be unbalanced, and you will lose control of your vehicle and possibly cause an accident.

Instead, keep your foot on the gas and adjust your steering to stabilize the car. Once you are driving straight, slowly ease off the gas and make your way to the shoulder of the road. Still avoid braking – your flat will help slow down the car. Definitely do not stop in traffic. Slow down slowly until you can stop safely on the side of the road.

Stay Safe

Use your turn signal and change lanes carefully. If you can, aim towards the side of the road that is the same side that the flat tire is on. Move your car off of the roadway if possible to avoid rear-rend or side collisions. You don’t want to be close to fast moving traffic once you exit your vehicle.

Turn on your emergency flashers. If you are safely away from traffic and know how, change the tire. If not, call for roadside assistance. Stand away from your vehicle and wait for help to arrive.

Later, after help has arrived and your car is safe at home, take it to a mechanic to check to make sure there’s no residual damage. Our service department at Penske Automotive would be happy to assist you and check to make sure your vehicle is in tiptop shape.

What causes tire blowouts?

Sometimes, the cause of a flat is obvious – a nail or something in the road causes a gash. In other cases, most people think that overinflated in tires cause them to blow out, but it’s actually the opposite. An under-inflated tire will cause the rubber to flex beyond its normal elasticity.

This is why it’s incredibly important to check your tire pressure monthly. Buy a pressure gauge and put it in your glove box. It will only take you a few minutes to do, and can prevent more serious trouble further down the line. You can usually find the recommended tire pressure inside the driver’s door.

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Volvo Working on New Auto-Braking Technology to Prevent Deer Crashes

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It’s a common scene: the deer in the road stops, turns and stares, eyes flashing in your high beams, and the screech of your brakes fills your ears.  For some, the brakes prevent what could have been a terrible accident.  Others are not so lucky.  Deer may look harmless, but they have cost Americans $3.5 billion in damages.

Who should come to the rescue but Volvo?  In recent years, the Swedish manufacturer has focused on increasing safety.  In 2010, Volvo introduced a system in the S60 sedan that brakes for pedestrians.  This system includes a lane departure warning and pedestrian detection.

Now, the company is developing an Auto-Braking safety system that will detect movement on the side of the road and brake when a collision is imminent.  Swedish automakers studied moose and deer movements and analyzed that data to develop their technology.  Using infrared and radar technology, your Volvo car will be able to pick up motion off the side of the road and help you stay safe.

Although the safety system won’t be implemented for a few years, the announcement comes just in time for the fall, which is the worst season for deer collisions.  October, November, and December are deer mating and migration season, making the roads even more dangerous.  The news will surely be on the minds of many as they’re driving through deer-populated areas.

Deer collisions have dropped in the past couple of years, but Montana is still sixth on the list of states that have a high number of deer collisions.  The odds of hitting a deer are 1 in 93.  Hopefully Volvo’s new detection system will help decrease those odds in years to come.


In the meantime, while waiting for this technology to be perfected and implemented, here are some tips for staying safe:

  1. Slow down and stay alert
  2. Be wary around 6-9pm: this is when deer are most active
  3. Look for deer crossing signs
  4. Be careful in wooded areas
  5. Brake when you see a deer; swerving will confuse the animal and increases your chances of hitting another vehicle
  6. If you see one, look for more: deer travel in groups
  7. Wear your seat belt


If you do hit a deer, pull over carefully and call the police or animal control.  Do not attempt to touch the animal.  Call your insurance company when you get home.

Always be careful when driving and stay alert!

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Driving With Your Pet: Tips to Keep Both of You Safe

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Do you travel with your pet?  Is your pet properly restrained?  For most people, the answer to the second questions is probably, “No.”  While most people understand the importance of wearing a seatbelt, dogs are frequently let loose throughout the cabin as the driver cruises along.  This poses severe risks for both the driver and the pet.


Whatever the reason your pet might be traveling with you, whether you’re just going for a short ride or taking your pet with you on vacation, you want to make sure you keep your animal safe and secure in your vehicle.  An unrestrained pet can be a distraction, and can cause further safety risks in the event of a crash.


It’s estimated that tens of thousands of accidents are caused by unrestrained pets.  Unfortunately, there is no definite data because the records for these accidents only indicate that the driver was distracted, and don’t specify the cause.  Furthermore, it’s up to the driver to indicate that the pet caused the distraction.


That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drive with your pet at all.  At Penske Automotive, we understand you want to keep your pet at your side.  Just make sure that you follow these tips to keep your dog – and yourself – safe on the road.


Driver Safety

It’s obvious to many lawmakers that cell phones cause dangerous distraction when drivers call or text.  However, pets can be just as distracting.  When you’re on the road, your dog might bark, pace and jump around the cabin, paw at you, and even crawl down by your feet.  Just as you wouldn’t want your children yelling and bouncing around the car, you should also want your pet safely secured.


Your pet not only can cause distraction, but can also become a dangerous projectile during an accident.  It can hit other passengers, or cause another crash if it runs away from the accident.


Pet Safety

The dog is “man’s best friend,” so naturally you don’t want them getting sick or injured.  If you’re planning on take your dog with you, feed them hours before you leave, instead of right before.  Many pets get car sick, and you don’t want to have to clean it up or be distracted.


Make sure your pet is properly secured in your vehicle. Don’t let your pet ride with its head sticking out the window.  They might like it, but it can be especially dangerous.  They might step on the power window button, or could get hit by something outside the car.


The dangers aren’t just unique to when the car is in motion.  If you stop at a rest area, don’t leave the dog alone in the car.  If it’s hot outside, your pet can get overheated.  On the other hand, if you leave your window open to try to keep them cool, you run the risk of your pet being stolen or jumping out of the vehicle.  If you do take your pet out for a walk at a rest area, make sure they are secure in a leash or harness, and never let them run loose.


Some states are starting to implement laws and fines preventing people from driving with unrestrained pet.  Unfortunately, it’s not a top priority; lawmakers try to go after bigger issues. It’s up to you to keep yourself and your pet safe.



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7 Tips for Teaching Your Teen To Drive

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It’s time for your child to learn to drive. Soon, they will have their license and be out on the road on their own. As a parent, naturally you’re worried about how well they will do – you want them to succeed. At the same time, you’re also worried about sending them off on their own. Taking an active role in teaching your child to drive is a great way to reinforce good driving behavior and reduce their risk of being in an accident.

The more hours you spend teaching your child, the more experience he or she will have. Here are some tips for teaching your child the rules of the road.

1. Review the Driver’s Manual Together

Sit down and go over the driver’s manual. Make sure they know all the local rules in your state. You may even find the review helpful for you, too! It’s been awhile since you took your driver’s test, and rules may have changed. This refresher course could also help you when you’re on the road.

2. Sign Them Up for Classes

There are some things only a teacher can teach. Driving instructors have experience in teaching inexperienced drivers the rules of the road and how to drive. They might know advice that you wouldn’t think of because driving has become second nature to you.

3. Help them Study for the Written Exam

There are many quizzes online that help students prepare for the test. Let your child know so they can get extra practice. Ask them questions throughout the day to reinforce their learning. Encourage them to ask questions if they aren’t sure of something. However, also be wary of being too involved. You can’t take the test for them. Don’t provide them with the answers right away. See if they can remember the answer on their own first. Prompt them with hints and reminders.

4. Set a Good Example

When you are driving with your children, set a good example by observing good driving practices. Signal when changing lanes or turning, don’t speed, don’t tail gate, etc. In other words, drive how you would want your children to drive if they weren’t with you. Remember, your children learn behavior by watching you. The biggest fear of a parent while his children are out is their safety. By being a safe driver yourself, you reinforce safe driving behavior.

5. Stay Patient


When you are on the road with your child, stay calm. Remember they only just started learning. Progress at the right pace. For example, start teaching them in a parking lot, then a quiet neighborhood, etc. Don’t put them on the highway too soon. If they do make a mistake, don’t overreact or get mad, as that can intimidate them more and cause their performance to suffer. If they are doing something wrong, ask questions to prompt them to realize their mistake and correct their behavior on their own.


6. Wait Until They Are Ready

Some teens can’t wait to hop in a car and hit the road. Others are more cautious and anxious. If your child is not ready to learn yet, wait. If he or she is nervous, it will be harder to learn and can influence their behavior. An anxious driver won’t learn well and will make more mistakes.

7. Use the Weather to Your Advantage

In the beginning, train during the day, when the weather is nice. It’s harder to drive during the dark and during the rain, so wait until your child is ready before having them drive in those conditions. Once your child has plenty of experience and is ready, take them out during a light rain and teach them safe driving in poor weather conditions. Warn them that the road will be slick and they will have to break gently and sooner than they are used to. Try starting in a parking lot first.

It’s tough to see your child grow up, but when you help them learn, you know that they will be safe on the road.

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Keeping Your Family Safe

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Whether you’re planning a long road trip this weekend or just driving to the soccer field, it’s important to keep your children safe. Here are some tips for families about how to protect your children while you’re on the road. Even if you don’t have a family, check out these tips and stay safe in your new Penske Automotive vehicle.

Wear Your Seat Belt

Always check to make sure that all passengers are buckled before starting the vehicle. Kids twelve and under should sit in the back. While they may protest, sitting “shotgun” can cause harm to the child during an accident if the air bags deploy. Air bags are meant for taller, adult passengers, and could injure a child. Infants less than a year old and/or 20 – 22 lbs should be in a rear-facing child seat in the back of the car.

Drive Hands Free

Texting and using the phone can cause distractions. Set an example for your children and never text and drive at the same time. If it’s important, ask a passenger to talk on the phone or text for you; if you’re alone, pull over before responding. Even if you think it’s “just this one time” or it will “take just a second”, you should still pull over. You never know what might happen in that split second that your eyes are off the road – someone could pull out in front of you or stop short.

Use Turn Signals

Your blinkers are your way to communicate with other drivers. While it may slip your mind, make an effort to use them as they let other drivers know what you plan on doing. Whether you’re changing lanes, making a turn or pulling over, it’s not too hard to flick the switch and put on your blinkers.

Don’t take chances with safety! Buckle up and enjoy your weekend!

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