Oh Deer! Part 1

There’s been a chill in the air that signals the arrival of autumn. In this area, this also means that deer are on the move. Whitetail deer, named for the white undersurface of the tail, are common throughout Missouri and Illinois. They live primarily in timbered areas, along the edges of clearings. Deer graze on mostly on grass, leaves, twigs, fruit, nuts, foliage, and farm crops such as corn and soybeans. Although it isn’t unusual to see deer in the daylight hours, they are considered nocturnal, especially where hunted. We most often see deer moving about at dawn and dusk.

Deer move most during the fall season because of their mating patterns. The rut, which refers to the peak of the mating season, is typically around mid-November, though it varies from year to year. This increases deer activity, As well, the change in available food sources also increases deer activity.

All this means that our roads become a bit more dangerous at this time of year. One of every 115 drivers in Missouri will have a collision with a deer. In Illinois, a driver’s odds are 1 in 214. The reported average cost is around $3000, not counting the risk of injury to you and your passengers. November boasts the highest number of deer collisions, with October as a close second.

How can you avoid a close encounter with these plentiful creatures? We have a few tips to help you stay safe during this season:

  • Be aware. Know your surroundings and be alert where deer are known to be on the move. Obviously, deer crossing sign are a good clue that the area abounds with wildlife. However, deer patterns can change, so you should be aware of what attracts them. Deer typically live and move along the edges of timbered areas, so watch for them when you’re driving near the woods.  You will often find them venturing out of the woods into a field that once held corn or beans. Like all animals, deer must have a water source, which they will visit often. In areas where development has eliminated habitat and food sources, be on extra alert. You will often see clover planted in medians or on hillsides by a highway; since deer love clover, you are in a particularly tricky spot.
  • Timing is everything. Deer move mostly from sunset to midnight and in the hours before and after sunrise; drive extra carefully during these times.
  • If you see one deer, there are almost always more nearby. Keep an eye out.
  • Do not rely on deer whistles and/or reflectors that are widely marketed and sold to deter deer. There is no proof that they reduce your likelihood of an accident. It is much better to be prepared and alert.
  • Use your high beams when possible; this improves your chances of seeing deer.

In our next blog, we will further explore avoiding a collision with a deer, and will discuss what to do in the event of such an accident.

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Out For A Drive

Happy October! The fall season is underway and we see bits of color peaking out from the hills of green. We are so fortunate to live and work in this area, where we can enjoy the beauty of the seasons!  We’ve heard a few forecasts of a more dreary color palette for 2013, but we’re holding out hope for a bright and beautiful fall.  Since we love this area, we love Autumn, and we love cars, what better way to celebrate than with a local road trip! Here’s how and where to get the most out of your drive.

Planning is key. Resources abound to help you determine when and where. You can find a forecast for the best fall color in our area from the Missouri Department of Conservation or The Weather Channel. These guides can help you determine when you might want to venture out on your trip. We would also suggest polling your friends at work; after all, many people in this area have a lengthy commute. Their daily drive may hold breathtaking views. Asking questions on social media sites can be very valuable as well.

If you need additional guidance, let us suggest a few places to start:

The Great River Road is nationally recognized as one of the best places to capture autumn’s colors and many other beautiful views. The St. Louis area is near the center of this 3,000 mile course that journeys through 10 states, with the area north of Alton being one of the most traveled for locals. Great stops along the way provide hiking opportunities and countless perfect picture stops. Consider the Grafton area and Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois or Ste. Genevieve in Missouri, for brief day trips you may have missed.

The Katy Trail, which winds through St. Charles and St. Louis counties and beyond, is another amazing place to get in touch with nature. A walking and bicycle trail is a treat for nature and fitness enthusiasts alike.

The Missouri Botanical Garden offers the beauty of the countryside tucked into city of St. Louis. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll or tram ride for those who can’t go the distance on the highways and byways.

Speaking of highways and byways, you may just want to hit the road without a specific, formal destination.  St. Louis and the surrounding areas are full of gorgeous hillsides. Driving west on I-44 or south on I-55 is a good start. Also, the Wildwood area abounds with scenic passes, as does Highway M in Jefferson County. You can order or download a map here and begin planning your route. Share with us about your favorite local spot to see the fall colors on our Facebook page. Happy Autumn travels to you!

Additional source: Midwest Living

Thank you to acreagelife.com for the image.

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Is There Trouble Lurking?

So, you’ve had an accident. Another shop promised to “make it like it never happened”, and you drove away with your car looking pretty good. Little did you know that it may have looked like it didn’t happen, but invisible problems were brewing.

Recently, we came across an article by Mike Anderson, which discussed the myth of the dash light warning system. You see, there are some people who believe that if there is no dash light warning of troubles, that there are no troubles. His informal surveys in the autobody industry indicate that it is common practice to skip much-needed inspections, resulting in poor stability, inability to handle emergency maneuvers, or even airbags that won’t deploy when needed. Anderson recommends additional attention to catch these underlying issues.

We at Schaefer want you to know that we have tools available to address this issue. We utilize a system called ALLDATA, which provides accurate collision repair information, specific to more than 33,000 engine-specific vehicles. It includes complete OE mechanical diagnosis and repair information. We also work with VeriFacts, which assists us in ensuring that every vehicle is repaired properly and safely. Both ALLDATA and Verifacts have readily available internet help and on-site training. Finally, we are an ICAR Gold Certified Shop. This means that all of our employees complete ongoing training to stay educated on the latest technology.  Our commitment to education, training, and quality service sets us apart in the industry. We truly hold to the promise that we will Make It Like It Never Happened.

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Recycle Your Phone For Good

Think about all that you’ve done in the past week. You’ve worked in a job of your choosing; taken children to school and activities; participated in community or faith-based activities; watched TV, read, or surfed the internet; and celebrated a holiday by relaxing with those you love.  We are so fortunate to live in a country where we exercise our rights and freedom on a daily basis!

Though we sometimes fail to acknowledge it, that freedom comes with a price. Men and women all over the world pay that price daily; they sacrifice their time and comfort, and often their health, even their lives. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 1.2 million individuals serve in the U.S. military. We, at Schaefer, are thankful for those people who give up so much for us.

We are pleased to announce that, in cooperation with Travelers Insurance, we will be participating in a program that helps our troops stay connected with their family and friends. Each of our locations will serve as a drop-off for the Old Cell Phone program.  You can donate your used cell phones and wireless devices. These will then be recycled, and the proceeds used to purchase calling cards for troops visiting the USO facility at Lambert St. Louis Airport.

Thank you, in advance, for joining with Schaefer Autobody Centers and Travelers Insurance to support our troops in a practical and meaningful way. And thank you to all those currently serving, who have served, or who have sacrificed along with your loved ones who served. We appreciate what you do and have done for us!

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Up In the Air

According to the NHTSA, more than 30,000 people are killed in vehicle accidents each year.  Because we want you to be safe, many of our blogs are devoted to sharing important information about maintaining the safety of your vehicle and driving carefully. You know that your car does a lot to keep you safe.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to be safe is to buckle up. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of injury in a crash by 50 percent, as reported by the National Safety Council.

There’s another important safety device in your car that you probably take for granted. It’s there, waiting to protect you in the event of a crash. Since 1998, all new cars have been required to have front airbags for both the driver and the passenger. Many cars also have side impact airbags. So, how do they work?

Your vehicle has several sensors that send a signal telling the vehicle to inflate the air bag. In less than 1/20th of a second, the front impact airbags inflate via a chemical reaction that releases a harmless gas into the airbag. Side impact airbags are designed to inflate even more quickly because passengers are closer to objects they may strike from the side than they are from the front.

It is estimated that airbags saved more than 28,000 lives in the U.S. from 1980 to 2010. Still, there are a few important things you should know about this important safety device:

  • Children under the age of 13 and people who are very small in stature should not sit in a seat with an airbag. This is due to the rapid deployment, which can injure smaller individuals.

  • Many vehicles, especially those with limited passenger space, have switches that will disable the airbag so that those smaller individuals can ride safely.

  • It is safest to sit back in a seat, further away from the airbag. You will still be protected, but will reduce the risk of injury from airbag inflation.

  • Airbags are not a substitute for seatbelts! This is vital to remember.

  • Following an accident that causes your airbag to deploy, it is necessary to have your airbag replaced by a qualified professional.

We are thankful that technology has advanced, increasing safety and saving lives. We encourage you to drive safely and know your vehicle. In the event of an accident, know that you can count on Schaefer to “Make It Like It Never Happened!”

Sources: How Stuff Works and Safer Car.

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Celebrate Labor Day Safely

This weekend, we mark the unofficial end of summer with the Labor Day holiday. Americans will fire up the grill one more time and party at the pool for the long weekend, celebrating the hardworking men and women of our country with an extra day off. According to AAA, an estimated 34.1 million people will travel more than 50 miles to celebrate the holiday, with eighty-five percent of those people driving.

That’s a lot of people on the road! We don’t want to alarm you, but with more traffic, comes a higher number of accidents. In fact, the National Safety Council reports that each Labor Day weekend, an average of 38,800 people are treated for injuries sustained in automobile accidents. There is much you can do to prevent accidents while traveling far from home.

Obviously, the advice we frequently give is to avoid driving while distracted; put down your phone and pay attention. However, when you’re in unfamiliar territory, it is common to be fiddling with a map, GPS device, or just looking for road signs. It’s important to do as much planning as possible before you leave, don’t just wing it. Know where you’re going to the best of your ability. If you have passengers, designate someone else to navigate. Visit our past blog or Pinterest board to find out how to keep your most precious “distractions” busy in their car seats.

Another word of advice is to make certain that your car is prepared. This is even more vital as you venture out on the open road. Ensure your tires are properly inflated, your gas tank and other fluids are filled, and there are no obvious repair needs. Consider renting a car if your vehicle is not prepared to make the long haul. Pack wisely, keeping your line of vision clear, and of course, make sure your emergency kit is refreshed with necessary supplies.

Finally, everyone must take personal responsibility for their safety, and the safety of young children. Each person should be properly restrained in a seatbelt, booster, or car seat. According to the NHSTA, seatbelts are the single most effective device for saving lives; wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of injury by fifty percent. So buckle up! Also, only drive when you are fully awake and alert; it is well documented that drowsy drivers can be equally as dangerous as those who are intoxicated.  Planning ahead, again, is of vital importance.

The moral of the story is plan, prepare, and pay attention to (your car’s) performance. Regardless of where you are headed to celebrate the Labor Day weekend, we wish you a safe and fun-filled holiday!


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Time to Review Your Insurance

For just about everyone, money’s tight. Gas prices stay high, impacting everything you buy. Though the economy seems to be improving, many people find their wallet is struggling to play catch up. It’s important to save every penny you can, everywhere you can.

So, have you taken a look at your car insurance rates lately? Most experts agree that you should shop around every few years. Customer loyalty is great, and if you’re happy with your current provider, you should stay put. However, it is still a good idea to look around to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. If you find you are being overcharged, call your agent or ask for the customer retention department and use the information you found to make a deal.

When you begin to shop, be informed. You should know about several things that affect your insurance rates. Insurance companies use very complicated mathematical formulas to determine rates; and though you can often access them, they are difficult to understand. Several things that will raise or lower your rates are largely beyond your control, such as your age and gender, your geographical area, and the weather in recent years. What you drive, how likely it is to be stolen, how large it is, how powerful the engine, and how much it is worth influence how much you will pay. Now may not be the time to worry about this, but the next time you’re car shopping, it is worth a thought. What you can control is much more important. The formula is fairly simple: safe driving is rewarded. Accidents and tickets will raise your rate, though companies vary regarding whether one ticket or one accident will make a difference. Safety features, including theft protection on your vehicle, should cause you to be eligible for discounted rates; know your car and ask your agent or company to go through a checklist of what will grant you cheaper rates.

Discounts can also come from unexpected places. Make sure your agent knows if you have a garage, if your commute is short or if you telecommute, and if you’re a homeowner. Other possible discounts include your place of employment, a college education, or obtaining insurance for your home though the same company.

When it is time to make your decision, consider the reputation of the company, Better Business Bureau Ratings, and word of mouth. Also be sure to consider if they would raise those initial rates in response to one minor accident. You want reduced rates, but not at the risk of poor coverage or unstable rates. Take your time and ask a lot of questions. Get a variety of quotes, then make your decision about which company suits your needs best. You’ll be on the road to easing your budget and your mind!

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Are Your Tires Tired?

Chances are, everyone in your family got new shoes to begin the school year. What about your car? It has taken you many places over the summer, keeping you safe, sound and comfortable throughout each trip. You rely on your vehicle’s “shoes” each day, usually without a thought, and they deliver. As the point of contact between the road and two tons of metal, the tires do a lot of work to keep you safe. Thankfully, you don’t have to replace them at the start of each school year, but anytime is a good time to check on their condition.

So, how do you know if you need new tires? The number of miles that your tires will travel varies widely, from 25,000 to 60,000. When you are shopping for new tires, you should know what the manufacturer recommends. Regardless, it’s important to watch for wear and tear on a regular basis. One widely-shared method of checking the tires is to place a penny in the tread. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head, then you do not have enough tread. In addition, you want to watch for worn spots, bulges, and cracks. Tires produced in recent years have a tread wear indicator bar, which look like flat rubber bars perpendicular to the tread. As these begin to appear, it’s time to think about new tires. Also, increased vibration when driving is a sign to check out your tires’ condition.

There are a number of things you can do to increase the life of your tires. First, keep them properly inflated. We have often discussed the dangers of underinflated tires, which contribute to many accidents and lower your gas mileage. Having your tires underinflated or overinflated also causes them to wear out more quickly. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your car, check the pressure every week and adjust to the psi indicated in your owner’s manual. Rotating your tires approximately every 60,000 miles or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations will also preserve the life of your wheels. Those drivers who are aggressive, with sudden stops and rapid starts, will find that their tires wear out more quickly. So, take it easy on the road.

Healthy tires are vital to your safety and your vehicle’s performance. Keeping them in good condition will not only save you money, but may prevent a catastrophic accident. We encourage you to do your part to keep the roads, and your family, safe.

 

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Back to School Safety – Part 2

The clock is ticking on summer vacation, as parents, teachers, and students count the days until school begins (for different reasons). In last week’s blog, we discussed what you, as a driver, can do to help the school year begin more safely. Let’s continue the discussion of school safety, focusing on what parents and students can do to keep the roads and sidewalks safe.

Give yourself time. If you’re driving to a bus stop, plan to arrive five minutes before the scheduled time. Leave early enough so that you don’t have to speed and so children do not have to sprint to the bus as it pulls to a stop. Remember children will be excited or rushed, and by nature, do not pay attention to mundane things like traffic. Remind your children to walk when they approach the bus and to be watchful. They should never dart out from behind or between parked cars.

Be alert.  Just as you avoid distracted driving, children need to learn to avoid distracted walking. Before heading to the bus stop or on the walk to school, make sure that items are put away inside the backpack, shoes are tied, etc. Texts, calls and apps can wait, as walking while attending to devices can lead to accidents. Teach children to watch for drivers.

Follow the rules. According to the NHSTA, children are at the most risk when boarding or leaving the bus. Students should stand back and be still when the bus approaches, waiting for it to come to a complete stop. Lingering or walking near the bus can be very unsafe, so students should maintain a distance of at least 10 large steps away when crossing the street or walking alongside. Watch for signals from the driver to proceed or to stop, especially when crossing the road. Never run back toward a departing bus to retrieve an item. Pedestrians should follow all signs, laws, and common sense rules.

Respect the driver. On the bus, students must obey the rules. It is important that parents teach their children that the driver is a very important authority whose job is to keep children safe. Parents and bus drivers can work together to communicate expectations and maintain safety. Most importantly, students need to remain seated while the bus is moving and should not do anything that would distract the driver from the road. They must follow instructions of the driver as well. Questions for the driver and discussions should be saved for when the bus arrives at school.

Go Above and Beyond. Get an A+ in safety by talking with your kids at home before school begins. The NHSTA has an activity book that children can enjoy, as well as other resources for parents.

At Schaefer, we are looking forward to another great school year! Remember to discuss safety with your children, and if you missed tips for drivers, see last week’s blog.

 

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The Wheels On the Bus

School supplies now line the aisles of your local stores and the open house nights are on the calendar – just days away! Believe it or not, the school bells will soon be ringing and Facebook will be filled with pictures of the first day of school, along with cheers (or laments) by parents and teachers. This means that school buses will be on the roads with precious cargo. There are a few things that we, as drivers, need to be careful to remember.

Give yourself time. Whether or not you have school-aged children, buses could impact your commute. Much of the time, local bus routes can easily be found in the newspaper or on school websites; just remember that buses often run late the first few days of school. With a little planning, you may be able to avoid being caught behind a school bus and being late for work.

Be alert. The advice to avoid distracted driving seems to find its way into many blogs! That’s because it increases your safety in a number of situations. With kids on the road, whether walking, biking, or on a bus, you certainly want to do everything you can to be safe.

Follow the rules.  Just like the kids in school, you have rules to follow. Yours, however, have consequences of life and death. Slow down for yellow lights and prepare to stop. When the bus flashes its red lights or displays the stop sign, you stop! This applies if you are meeting the bus on the road or following it. In some instances it applies when meeting a bus on a divided road as well, though often opposite direction traffic is not required to stop in that situation. Even if you aren’t legally required to stop, be prepared to do so, in case a child runs the wrong way into the street or another driver breaks abruptly. Never pass a bus on the right.

Respect the driver. Few jobs could be more difficult than driving an 11-14 ton vehicle with more than 50 children, maintaining their safety and managing their behavior. Obeying the laws, using your signals, and staying a safe distance behind the bus make their day a little bit easier, and the children a little bit safer.

Go above and beyond. Sometimes the laws are unclear or nonexistent, such as what to do at a bus stop before the bus comes or as it is approaching. Use common sense and extreme caution. Slow down when nearing a bus stop with children present, remember that kids are unpredictable and much shorter than parked vehicles; one could dart out at any time. Do not try to beat the bus as it approaches. This is the time that children are rushing to get their things together and get ready to board the bus, oblivious to their surroundings. Keep an eye out for those who may be late and running alongside your car to get there before the door closes.

It’s going to be a great school year in the St. Louis area! Let’s be ready to make it a safe one.

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