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Sunday, May 24, 2020

July 2019 Traffic Safety Newsletter

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AAA Urges Drivers to Equip Vehicle with Escape Tool

AAA recently reviewed an array of vehicle escape tools to determine which is most effective in quickly breaking passengers out of their cars. The study found that most escape tools will break tempered side windows, but none of the tools reviewed were able to break laminated glass – which is becoming more popular in newer vehicles.


Of the six tools studied, three were spring-loaded and three were hammer style. The spring-loaded tools were determined to be the most effective in breaking tempered windows than the hammer-style, though none of the tools were able to break the laminated windows.


To improve safety, more vehicles are being equipped with the difficult to penetrate laminated side windows (about 1 in 3 2018 models have them). This is in an effort to reduce the number of passengers ejected from a vehicle in the event of a crash. 21,400 people were thrown from their vehicle in a crash in 2017, resulting in 11,200 injuries and 5,052 deaths – which makes a stronger glass window a greater need than a window that is easy to break. But for those times when a vehicle catches fire or is submerged in water, AAA wants passengers to be able to escape – no matter the window type.


The good news is that almost all vehicles that are equipped with laminated side windows will also have at least one window made of tempered glass (easier to break). For that reason, it is important that drivers and passengers know which type of windows they have, and which window is tempered glass in case of emergency.


Drivers can determine the type of glass installed on their vehicle by first checking for a label located in the bottom corner of the side window, which should clearly indicate whether the glass is tempered or laminated. If this information is not included or there is no label at all, AAA advises contacting the vehicle manufacturer. It is also important to note that some vehicles are outfitted with different glass at varying locations in the car (i.e. tempered glass on rear side windows versus laminated on front side windows).


Vehicle escape tools come in many varieties, but AAA suggests avoiding tools with extra features such as lights or chargers since these functions do not improve the performance of the tool itself. Drivers should also remember that in the event their vehicle is submerged, a hammer-style escape tool (as opposed to a spring-loaded-style) will be ineffective underwater.


Prepare ahead of time:

  • Memorize the type of glass the vehicle windows are made of – tempered or laminated. If the car has at least one tempered window, this will be the best point of exit in an emergency. Also, remember – standard escape tools will not break laminated glass.
  • Keep an escape tool in the car that the driver is comfortable using, has previously tested and is easy to access following a collision. To make sure a vehicle escape tool is working properly, test it ahead of time on a softer surface such as a piece of soft wood. The tool works if the tip impacts the surface, leaving a small indent in the material.
  • Plan an exit strategy in advance and communicate it to everyone in the car. This will help avoid confusion in an emergency, which could increase the time it takes to exit the vehicle. Also, have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.


If trapped in a vehicle, remember there is a S-U-R-E way out:

  • Stay calm. While time is of the essence – work cautiously to ensure everyone safely exits the vehicle.
  • Unbuckle seat belts and check to see that everyone is ready to leave the car when it’s time.
  • Roll down or break a window – remember if the car is sinking in water, once the window is open the water will rush into the car at a faster rate. If the window will not open and the car has tempered glass, use an escape tool to break a side window to escape. Drivers should also remember that:
    • If a window will not open or cannot be broken because it is laminated, everyone should move to the back of the vehicle or wherever an air pocket is located. Stay with it until all of the air has left the vehicle. Once this happens, the pressure should equalize, allowing occupants to open a door and escape.
    • If the vehicle is submerged, a hammer-style escape tool (as opposed to a spring-loaded-style) could be much harder to swing underwater.
  • Exit the vehicle quickly and move everyone to safety.

Vehicle Theft Prevention Month

July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention month, drawing attention to an important issue that affects many motorists. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there were approximately 775,000 motor vehicle thefts in the U.S. in 2017 – causing nearly $6 billion in recovery damage.


In fact, a motor vehicle is stolen every 40.9 seconds in the U.S.


According to The National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the most commonly stolen vehicles in 2017 were:

  1. Honda Civic
  2. Honda Accord
  3. Chevrolet Silverado
  4. Toyota Camry
  5. Ford F150
  6. Nissan Altima
  7. Toyota Corolla
  8. Ford F250
  9. Ford Ecoline
  10. Honda CR-V


To avoid having your car stolen, AAA offers the following tips:

  • Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed. Even if you park your vehicle in a garage, this simple measure is added security.
  • Never leave belongings out in the open in your car as they could tempt thieves.
  • Never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave your vehicle running any time you are not in it.
  • Keep your vehicle in secure, well-lit areas. When possible, park in a locked garage. Also, consider installing a motion-activated floodlight that illuminates the area where your car is parked.
  • Use anti-theft or automatic tracking devices. If your vehicle wasn’t equipped with an alarm or hidden tracking device when purchased, have one installed. Such as:
    • Audible and visible devices: these deter theft by bringing attention ton an attempt to enter a vehicle. They create a visual threat, such as the use of steering-wheel locks as well as a deterrent, like flashing lights.
    • Immobilizing devices: these prevent thieves from hot-wiring the vehicle by using computer chips in ignition keys.
    • Vehicle recovery system: these use electronic transmission technology that help law enforcement locate the stolen vehicles.
  • Remove spare keys from vehicle. Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle. Remove keys from under floor mats, etc.


In addition to the preventative steps above, AAA Carolinas also urges vehicle owners to be vigilant in their auto-insurance coverage search and to consider the following:

  • Auto theft is covered under the comprehensive section of an auto insurance policy. Theft coverage applies to the loss of the vehicle as well as parts of the car, such as air bags.
  • Comprehensive coverage, which is not mandatory, also pays for fire, vandalism, and weather-related damage, including damage from flooding and earthquakes.
  • Rates for comprehensive insurance are affected by the risk of loss, meaning the likelihood that an insured car will be stolen or damaged, and also the car’s value at the time of the loss.

aLord Ashley Driving School

This month, we are highlighting AAA Approved aLord Ashley Driving School in Goose Creek, South Carolina, which offers courses to provide effective driver education in order to promote safe travels on today’s dangerous roadways.


aLord Ashley Driving School focuses on each student to help them become knowledgeable, safe drivers by teaching them how to examine their surroundings and make the right choice given the environment they’re in.


The school emphasizes the importance of getting down to the basics with driver training, saying, “aLord Ashley Driving School has always been about our students’ knowledge, abilities and attitude needed to adapt to the ever changing highway transportation system and vehicles. We teach valuable techniques instead of relying on the technology available. Much like old-time math classes, we learn to solve the problem by hand and then you are allowed to use the calculator.”


aLord Ashley course options:

  • Beginner Course (required for ages 15 & 16 – available to all ages)
    • Our exclusive Exper Driving System
    • 25 Defensive Driving Techniques
    • Road Test Preparation
    • Insurance discount until age 25
    • SC Knowledge testing included
    • SC Road testing included
  • Point Reduction Course
    • AAA Driver Improvement Program
    • 8 hours classroom
    • Remove up to 4 existing points from your record
    • Must be taken after the date of the infraction
    • May be taken once every three years
    • Introduction to driving best-practices
    • Licensed by South Carolina since 1954
    • Bonded
  • Pay as you Go (Individual Lessons)
    • No Minimum number of lessons
    • Progress at your own pace
    • Individual Training
    • Patient Instructors
    • Road Test Preparation
    • Introduction to aLord Ashley’s Expert Driving System
    • Introduction to aLord Ashley’s 25 Defensive Driving Techniques
  • Fleet Programs

To learn more about the course options or to register for a course, click here.


New Legislation Aimed at Curbing Child Heatstroke in Vehicles

Ahead of National Heatstroke Prevention Day (July 31) and due to the rising number of children dying in hot vehicles, law makers have introduced a bill aimed at preventing these tragedies from occurring in the future.


Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Peter King (R-NY) recently proposed H.R. 3593, otherwise known as the Hot Cars Act, which will ensure all new cars are equipped with a system that detects and alerts to the presence of a child unknowingly left in a vehicle.


According to KidsinHotCars.org, a record breaking 52 children died in a hot car in 2018, and more than 900 have died since 1990. To date, there have been 17 known reports of child death in hot vehicles so far this year.


Though every parent thinks this could never happen to them, it continues to do just that. This legislation would serve as a back-up reminder to all drivers to check the back seat before leaving the vehicle, in the hopes of preventing this heartbreak going forward.


“No one thinks a hot car tragedy can happen to them or their family. That is precisely why technology is necessary. The fact that technology exists to save the lives of children, but is not being included in all new vehicles is inconceivable,” stated Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org. “I am heartbroken knowing that families are holding their precious children right now that will no longer have them by the end of summer,” she continued.


A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body and they can die of heat stroke on a 72-degree day.


Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety commended the proposed legislation, adding that, “Cars already remind us headlights have been left on, keys were left in the ignition and doors are ajar. This vital system will save the lives of some of our most vulnerable passengers.”


Diverse stakeholders including public health, safety and consumer organizations, law enforcement and first responders, animal protection groups and others have all voiced support for a technological solution to this problem. In fact, in late May advocates joined lawmakers at a press conference on Capitol Hill leading up to a hearing on the issue.



Toyota and Discovery Education created a contest for students to submit a video about the importance of safe driving, and local teen Christina Williams blew the competition away.


A junior at Garner Magnet High School in Wake County, North Carolina, Christina was awarded the second place prize of $10,000 to go toward her college tuition because of her poetic rhymes and vivid videography as she highlighted the many distractions teens face behind the wheel.

The video was judged on 50% creativity, 30% content and 20% presentation.


Local first responders volunteered to play themselves and learned to lip sync their lines on beat. Christina impressed law enforcement enough to create another public service announcement, this one for the sheriff’s office about locking one’s car at night. She is currently in production of the video.


On distractions behind the wheel, before she made the video, Christina says, “Some of my friends did have some distracted driving issues, one ran a red light because she was busy texting. That friend didn’t cause an accident but did get a ticket. I think the video has taken a toll. I hope so.”


North Carolina is also home to the first place winner of last year’s competition, Kirklin H and Kellen S from Charlotte, North Carolina.

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