Are You a Phone Addict While Driving?

Are You a Phone Addict While Driving?

Are You a Phone Addict While Driving? When cell phones were first getting popular, they were a novelty. We never imagined how indispensable these pocket computers would become or how much there would be to do with them in addition to than making phone calls. Now most of us have a hard time imagining life without a smartphone. We trust them with our calendars, our finances, our personal information, our diets—and our phones have turned into communication devices beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings. It’s no wonder we spend so much time staring at them. For many of us, it’s a regular habit to whip out our phones for the slightest reason, and maybe this is how we fall into the practice of using them while driving. It seems safe enough while you’re doing it. Sure, you’re a great driver—better than most—and you’re certainly capable of multitasking. This is what everyone tells themselves, but research proves that, in fact, humans are NOT capable of multitasking. Furthermore, new research has shown that many of us are so addicted to our devices that we have no idea how dangerous we are while using them behind the wheel. If you’re one of the “great drivers” who has no problem using a phone while driving, read on to find out if you’re a smartphone addict, and what it could mean for your safety.

Signs of Phone Addiction

Zendesk (a driving safety analytics company) recently released a report profiling what they call “phone addicts,” an emerging segment of drivers who:
  • Handle their phones four times as much as other drivers.
  • Spend six times longer looking at the screens of their devices while driving.
  • Take their eyes off the road for more than a fourth of the time they’re behind the wheel.
But let’s back up a step: before this new, phone-addicted type of driver emerged, the numbers were already bad. A steady increase in traffic fatalities since 2005 has been correlated to smartphone use by drivers, so all of us, addicted or not, do a poorer job of driving when we’re talking, texting, playing music, geolocating, facetiming or Facebooking. Bluetooth headsets don’t help, according to the research; even if your eyes are on the road, your mind still becomes distracted when you use a smart device. But phone addicts use their phones a lot more than normal drivers, dramatically increasing traffic risks. And 93 percent of them describe their driving as extremely safe. Research shows that this just isn’t true, yet, like any other type of addict, the addicted driver does not connect the danger with the behavior.

The Bluetooth Headset Myth

Although it seems like hands-free talking should reduce the risks associated with having a phone conversation while driving, the research results beg to differ. Yes, you do eliminate the additional risk of taking your hand off the wheel, but that still leaves a lot for the brain to process. Even with your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, your mind is not processing all the information. Instead, you’re using some of your brain power to process cognitive information from the phone call, drifting into mental scenarios from your discussion. This steals much-needed mental attention from the road and surrounding traffic, making you statistically as vulnerable as if you were holding your device or watching a video.

The Multitasking Myth

In today’s digital world, it’s common to hear people brag about how well they can multitask. But the truth is, while our brains are accustomed to changing tasks more rapidly than they used to be, we’re still just doing one thing at a time. Computers can function with multiple processors, but we have only one. We don’t multiprocess; what we actually do is rapidly juggle. So what does this do to our driving focus? Studies have proven that, when we add a second task to driving, some of the attention we were giving our driving is reassigned. There is also a switching time between the thoughts you are devoting to your phone and the thoughts devoted to driving, so more attention time is sacrificed as we “multitask.” These switch times take roughly a tenth of a second, and when you are multitasking at 60 mph, they add up to critical losses of attention span that can mean the difference between life and death. We don’t notice that we’re absorbing less driving information because of a phenomenon called “inattention blindness,” which makes it impossible to know what we’re missing while we’re missing it. When we talk on the phone and look ahead at the road, we think we’re seeing everything in our surroundings, but our brains don’t properly process most of that visual information. MRI tests were performed on the brains of drivers while alone, and then again while listening to a conversation, and researchers saw a 37 percent reduction of activity in the brain’s parietal lobe, which is associated with driving. Photos comparing brain activity in the parietal lobe while driving alone with reduced activity while listening to someone talk.

Overcoming Phone Addiction Behind the Wheel

If you’re one of the people who really has a hard time putting their phone down to drive, you’re among the highest risk drivers on the road today. The first step to becoming a safer driver is to admit that you are not, in fact, an exception to the rule. No matter how fast your mind works, you are still sacrificing traffic safety by using a smart device while driving. The surest way to recovery is to replace the habit of picking up your phone with a habit of taking a second look at traffic, looking around to see if anyone is in your blind spots, checking traffic conditions far ahead of you. There’s plenty to keep a good driver busy behind the wheel; you just have to remind yourself that you are in control of a massive machine, recognize that things can change in a heartbeat, and that driving deserves your undivided attention.

Winning the Claim Game: A Perfectly Legal Body Shop Insurance Hack

Winning the Claim Game: A Perfectly Legal Body Shop Insurance Hack

A Perfectly Legal Body Shop Insurance Hack

Let’s preface this by saying that this hack doesn’t work for everyone; it only applies to certain types of collision repair and certain auto insurance scenarios. But if it fits your situation, you can save some time and money—maybe even keep your driving history clean. The insurance company may also save money on the deal—a win-win. In this article, we’ll show you how the “deductible hack” can save you hundreds of dollars on certain types of collision repair.

How it Works

Your natural instinct when the dust has settled after an auto accident is to call the insurance agent. That’s what they’re there for, after all, and insurance payouts can be financial lifesavers when you have major vehicle damage. But with some types of damage, you may actually come out ahead by paying for repairs out of pocket. If your repair estimate is $800, but your insurance deductible is $1,000 (the amount your policy makes you pay out of pocket before the insurance company will pay the rest), it’s pretty simple math. It makes no sense to file a claim because you’ll have to pay the full $800 either way. By filing a claim, you may also risk driving up your monthly premium payment, which could cost you more money every month for the next three years.
But what if your repair quote is, say, $1,300 with the same $1,000 deductible? If you file a claim, you’ll pay $1,000 out of pocket, and the insurance company will pay $300. Saving $300 is better than nothing, but you may be able to do better because this is the type of scenario in which the hack may work. It’s based on the fact that different types of body shops can charge very different amounts of money for the same types of work. Most of the repair estimates insurance companies see are from full-service body shops—the ones that commonly work on big, gnarly repair jobs. Many of these shops have ongoing relationships with insurers which guarantee specific payouts for specific types of damage. On the other hand, minor collision repair shops (like APR) don’t do the big jobs, and they don’t have cost agreements with insurance companies. These shops have much more leeway on pricing. At APR, we routinely beat full-service shop estimates by hundreds of dollars. So let’s go back to our hypothetical $1,300 repair estimate. If you have no frame or engine part damage—it’s just the body of the vehicle—APR may be able to do the work for far less than $1,300. We routinely do repairs previously quoted in that range for $800 – $1,000. You save money, the insurance company saves money, and nobody has to wade through red tape to get the job done. If your deductible is higher than your estimate, we may also be able to save you some significant cash when you’re paying the full amount out of pocket.

Hold Off on that Insurance Claim?

If you’ve had an accident, and you think the deductible hack may apply to your situation, start by getting an estimate from a full-service shop recommended by your insurer (it should be listed on their website). Then get an estimate from APR. We’ll do an inspection, run some numbers, and see if we can get you back on the road—and leave some money in your pocket.

The Four Auto Paint Stains You Shouldn’t Ignore

The Four Auto Paint Stains You Shouldn’t Ignore

Even if you’re picky about your vehicle’s appearance, as many of us are, you can probably live with a few blemishes on the paint between car washes. After all, you can’t babysit your car or truck’s appearance every second of every day. We drive through water, slush, mud, and probably a few other things best left unmentioned, but most of them can be washed away days or weeks later with no ill effects. That’s not true of the Big Four Stains: road tar, bug guts, tree sap and bird droppings. These should always be cleaned immediately or they may cause deeper damage to your vehicle’s clearcoat. The Four Auto Paint Stains You Shouldn’t Ignore And no matter how tempting, never use an abrasive sponge or steel wool on auto paint; it will scratch. Also note that you can pick up commercial products to get rid the Big Four Stains at your nearest automotive store, but you may already have what you need in your garage or tool drawer. Read on to learn how to remove these nightmarish boogers without making things worse in the process.

How to Remove Road Tar

Road tar is no fun to clean off after it hardens, but it’s the easiest of the Big Four Stains. The key is to surround it with a thin, greasy substance that can find its way under the edges of the tar and separate it from the paint surface. The best product is WD-40, a very thin, petroleum-based oil, but you can also us Goo Gone, peanut butter or a commercial tar remover. The technique is simple: Apply WD-40 to the stain and beyond its edges, so the liquid can work its way in and under the sides. Wipe off the loosened tar with a soft cloth. Repeat until the stain is fully lifted. Now wash the car to remove the residues of the cleaner. Off you go on the highway of life, free of unsightly tar stains. Note: keep the WD-40 away from auto glass; it’s no fun to wash off.

How to Remove Bug Guts

Bug guts should be removed as soon as you see them. A bug body contains acids that can damage your finish in as little as two days, wreaking cruel vengeance on you for its untimely death. WD-40 works for this stain, as well, and the technique is similar to tar removal: Wet the spot past its edges with WD-40 and let it soak for 10 minutes.Wipe off the stain with a soft cloth using circular motions. Repeat as needed. Again: don’t use WD-40 on auto glass. It’s a pain to remove. Wash the vehicle to remove the oily mess you’ve left, and you’re back on the road, ready to hit more bugs.

How to Remove Tree Sap

If you catch this nasty mess as soon as it happens, you can usually wash it away with soap and water. But after it dries, be very cautious because dried sap is like dried glue, and it’s possible to lift paint as you scrub it off. The solution is rubbing alcohol, often used in combination with WD-40. Neither will harm your vehicle paint. Wet a soft cloth with alcohol, press it against the sap and leave it for 10 minutes. Wipe the stain away with a microfiber cloth. Repeat as needed. Dried sap may take several passes to fully remove. If alcohol isn’t cutting it, soak the area for 10 minutes with, you guessed it, WD-40.Wipe again. Once all the sap is removed, wash the car to remove the chemicals you’ve used.

How to Remove Bird Droppings

If you haven’t figured it out yet, WD-40 has a lot of uses. And yes, it also works great for bird droppings. Spray it on the area and leave it for about a minute, then rinse or wipe it away with a soft cloth. As with the other tough stains on this list, it may take more than one pass, but you’ll get there. You can find other methods for removing bird droppings, but this is the most effective one we’ve found.

A Note on Removing Tough Stains from Auto Glass

Tar shouldn’t be a problem on auto glass unless you drive through a river of it. Here’s how to remove the other three stains from glass:
  • Bug guts: Water and dish soap should do the job here, but if you have stubborn spots, you can buy commercial remedies at an auto parts store.
  • Tree sap: This can be a tough one. If soap and hot water doesn’t budge it, use a window scraper or box knife blade to scrape it off. Be very careful around chrome and painted areas. Be even more careful with your fingers.
  • Bird droppings: Again, start with soap and water. If it doesn’t do the trick, seltzer water or club soda may help. Let the the drink of your choice soak into the droppings for five minutes, then wipe away.
If you run into a stain that just won’t come off, or you’ve removed a stain only to find out it’s damaged your paint, contact APR. We have a few other tricks up our sleeves that may help. Good luck!

Repairs Before You Return Your Leased Vehicle

Repairs and Restorations Before You Return Your Leased Vehicle

Leasing can be a great way to drive the car of your dreams, but alas, it’s not yours forever, and at some point you’ll have to return it to the dealership. When you do, they’ll perform an inspection to look for stains, damage and excessive wear and tear. They’ll allow a certain amount of normal wear on certain parts of the vehicle, but they’ll charge you for any necessary repairs and renovation—and they’ll charge considerably more than you’ll spend if you get the work done somewhere else. This is why many experienced vehicle lease customers handle repairs themselves before returning a vehicle. Most of the clean-up and repair you need to worry about is minor, so it doesn’t break the bank when you take it to a detailing or minor collision repair shop. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few of the “red flags” you should be aware of before returning a lease vehicle, and we’ll discuss some of the services APR provides that can save you literally hundreds of dollars on a lease return.

Interior Detailing

Photo of a detailing technician steam cleaning vehicle upholstery. A professional interior detailing is the bare minimum you should do before returning a leased vehicle. The fact is, we spend so much time inside our vehicles that we stop noticing some of the stains and marks we’ve left on them, but trained professionals have the eye, the tools and the experience to spot and deal with potential problem areas.Let’s take a look at a few services included in interior detailing that can help you get your car lease-ready.

Professional Stain Removal

Vehicles are like second homes to many of us.The average American spends 1½ hours per day in their vehicle, which sometimes includes eating and drinking. Over time, spills and stains are almost unavoidable,but you should definitely have them removed before returning the vehicle. Some stains are really difficult to clean and may require professional-grade chemicals or techniques to remove. For example, let’s take a look at the five worst things to spill in your car.

The 5 Worst Things to Spill in Your Car

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise spills are both greasy and sticky. The oils in the condiment stain and eat away at upholstery if not cleaned in a timely manner.

Coffee

Coffee is notoriously difficult to clean. Not only does it cause staining, but many coffee beverages contain dairy which sours if not cleaned. Sour milk is also an excellent bacteria nursery, so other foul odors can follow.

Gum

Gum is obviously sticky and ridiculously difficult to remove. Gum stains can actually get worse as you clean them, if you’re not using the proper chemicals with the proper techniques. Professionals are good at this.

Chocolate

Chocolate causes stains, and if it isn’t cleaned immediately it can attract ants and other bugs.

Soft Drinks

And number one … soft drinks; the absolute worst thing to spill in your car, and sadly most of us have done it. If not cleaned quickly, the soda will turn into a thick sludge and become very sticky, making it difficult to remove. Soda spills will also attract bacteria and mold if not dealt with quickly.

Odor Removal

Those spills, if not cleaned properly, can get mildewy and attract bacteria—creating some humdinger odors. These can be even more difficult to get rid of than stains; but most detailing shops have an ozone generator, which they use to fill the car with this modified version of oxygen. Ozone kills odors and germs at the molecular level without harming anything else in the vehicle. It dissipates quickly when the vehicle is ventilated, leaving zero harmful vapors. It also works great on pet odors.

Leather Restoration

As leather gets older, it loses surface protectants and becomes susceptible to dirt, oils, and UV damage. Leather seating is a common add-on to leased vehicles, and returning stained or damaged leather seats will definitely cost you. But detailing professionals have a few tricks up their sleeves for cleaning, restoring and repairing leather that can usually put you back in good shape.

Convertible Top Restoration

Photo of a fabric convertible top on a Ford Mustang. Whether it’s fabric or vinyl, a convertible top is exposed to dust, harsh weather, industrial chemicals, and other pollutants. Regular maintenance can go a long way, but sometimes your roof may need a little extra help to get it back to that “like-new” appearance. Detailing services can usually provide the repairs to get it ready for lease return.

Alloy Wheel Repair

Photo of a technician removing an alloy wheel from a vehicle for repair. Alloy wheels are susceptible to gravel, curb rash and the normal ravages of wind and weather. If you opted for alloy wheels on your lease vehicle, they need to look reasonably close to the condition they were in when you signed the lease. APR offers alloy wheel repair, which is much cheaper than buying new wheels, and we’re usually able to achieve stunning, like-new results.

Paintless Dent Repair

Photo of a PDR technician tapping the hood of a vehicle to remove a small dent. Paintless dent repair, or PDR for short, is a low-cost alternative to traditional body work. It only works on small dings and dents with no creasing and paint damage. Instead of grinding and filling dents, PDR technicians push, coax, tap and massage them back into their original shape without damaging the paint. It’s a very fast, surprisingly cheap procedure compared to traditional methods.

Coming Out Ahead on the Deal

Doing the detailing and repair work out of pocket usually makes good financial sense. By avoiding the bureaucratically inflated costs applied by lease companies, you can end up with more money in your pocket, once the deal is done.