The latest news from AAA
A Troubling Trend on Distracted Driving
First, the good news: The annual number of traffic fatalities in Washington decreased in 2012 for the eighth straight year, according to preliminary state and federal data. Now the bad news: The total number of traffic deaths nationwide grew in 2012, marking the first such gain after seven years of decline. Equally alarming are survey results that suggest that Americans are growing less concerned about dangerous driving behaviors.
In an analysis of data collected between 2009 and 2012, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered a decreasing concern for such potentially fatal actions as driving after drinking, drowsy driving, texting while driving and running red lights.
“We have made great strides in recent years to reduce vehicle-related deaths, but there are still too many needless fatalities caused by dangerous driving,” says Jake Nelson, AAA's director of traffic-safety advocacy and research.
The holidays often increase the pressure to engage in dangerous behaviors such as those described above as motorists rush off to complete their shopping, attend parties or travel to visit loved ones. AAA Washington reminds drivers to resist such pressure by refraining from alcohol, turning off your mobile phone in the car, staying patient and, if you are setting out on a long drive, getting adequate rest before you leave. We also urge you to be aware of the dangers posed by those drivers who act less responsibly during the holidays.
The funny thing about technology is, even as it brings convenience to our lives, it raises questions about the way we conduct our personal business. Take auto insurance: Technology has made it easier than ever to automatically renew your auto insurance policy each year without giving much thought to the details of your coverage. Technology has also made vehicles exponentially more sophisticated than they were even just a few years ago, while, on the medical front, many technological advances have added to the costs of treating injuries.
So what would happen if you were in an at-fault traffic collision? Would your insurance carrier cover the cost of repairing the sophisticated new gadgets in your car? Would your liability limits cover all of the medical costs for injured parties?
Vehicles change. The medical industry changes. Your personal circumstances change. And all of these changes have an impact on your insurance needs. In other words, even if you renew your policy on time each year, your coverage might not be as up-to-date as you think. This is why it is more important than ever to review the details of your auto insurance policy with your agent every year. A good agent will walk you through your existing coverage, including changes implemented by your carrier, to make sure that your specific needs are being met. AAA Insurance agents are available to conduct a complete insurance-coverage review for any member, whether you are insured through us or not. This is the level of service you are entitled to receive, just for being a member. For a full insurance review, please call (877) AAA-INSURE (877-222-4678) for information you can trust.
The Lights of Christmas
The grandest holiday event in the Pacific Northwest returns to Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood throughout December, and AAA members can save in a number of ways. Receive $4 off Dinner Theatre standard tickets or $2 off Sunday Dessert Matinee standard tickets. You can also receive $2 off general admission for yourself and members of your immediate household and special discount pricing for overnight getaway packages on select nights. For details and reservations, visit the productions's website or call (800) 228-6724, and use your 10-digit membership number to receive your discount.
The Car Doctor
Shop Talk with John Paul
Q: I have a small car and want to bring home a Christmas tree is there an easy was to transport a Christmas tree or other long items with a small car?
A: I have found a piece of foam rubber (or an old mattress pad) cut to the appropriate size works great. The pad doesn’t slip, protects the paint and cradles the objects you are moving. A couple of ratchet straps run around the cargo and the roof will hold everything securely. If you are traveling any distance check the cargo periodically. Now of course this is great for light items, but if you need to carry something heavy, find a friend with a truck.
Q: I have heard about a new diesel engine that is going to be put into the Ram 1500 pick-up truck. Do you know anything about this engine and the truck?
A: The 2014 Ram 1500 can now be ordered with a low emissions 3.0 liter V-6 diesel engine. The model that I drove was a four-door Laramie, with four-wheel drive. The diesel engine adds $2,850 to the price of the truck. This latest engine is connected to Chrysler’s newest transmission, a smooth shifting eight-speed automatic. This new engine develops of 400 foot-pounds of torque and 240 horsepower. There is a bit of diesel clatter at idle which just about completely disappears when underway. The most flattering thing I can say about this latest diesel is that it drives like a powerful V-8 gas engine—very smooth, never giving any indication it is a diesel. The ride is quiet and smooth and overall fuel economy during my limited test drive was a very commendable 27 miles per gallon.
Q: I drive a 2004 Honda Civic EX. I have around 90,000 miles. Starting about 2 months ago my car would overheat once I had been driving for 45-50 minutes. I brought the car to a local dealership and they replaced the water pump. When this didn’t fix the problem I went back to the dealer and they suggested it was the cylinder head gasket. When I asked how much it would cost to fix I was told $720 to $2000. What do you think?
A: It is entirely possible that your car needs a cylinder head gasket. Testing for an internal coolant leak is relatively easy. The shop either needs to use an infra-red exhaust gas analyzer or a kit that measures exhaust gas in the coolant. If the shop has an exhaust-gas analyzer, they can determine if the engine has a problem within minutes. If they don’t have this tester, they may use a “block-check” kit. The reusable kit costs about $50. Regarding the prices to perform the repair; if the engine just needs a new gasket, the $700 is about right. If the cylinder-head was damaged, the price could run to about $2,000.
Certified auto mechanic John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, which publishes Horizons magazine.
Serving Washington and northern Idaho