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Category: Safety and Accidents

an aerial view of two turn lanes and a white car pulling up to turn right

This may come as a surprise to Texans *wink*, but not all drivers know the rules of the road. So what can we do to make the roads safer? Brush up on those driving laws! Even if you are a safe driver, knowing how to react to certain situations could lead you to make a safer decision, and in a timely manner.

Take the quiz below and find out how you fare. Then, find some pointers on these laws below.

Driving in TX: Do you know state laws?

Some traffic laws vary from state to state. Do you know what to do if an emergency vehicle is parked on the side of the road? Or when to use (or put away) your cell phone? Take our quiz to find out how much you know.

 

Some of these laws are tricky, and some have even changed recently. Here’s an explanation for each of these questions, in case you missed it.

1. If an emergency vehicle is parked on the right side of the road with it’s emergency lights flashing, what should you do?

If the vehicle is parked, you don’t need to stop, but flashing lights indicate that there’s still activity going on on the road. This is why Texas law says cars must slow down to 20 mph under the posted limit. Most drivers are inclined to slow down when they see flashing lights anyway since they associate them with police. Keep in mind there might be debris from an accident, people walking close to the road, and/or stopped traffic ahead.

2. What should you do if a school bus has its yellow hazards flashing?Three teens exit a yellow school bus.

School bus hazards are used much like those of regular vehicles. The most common use is when buses stop for a train track. Busses are required to stop before crossing tracks and look both ways. Drivers in their personal vehicles may not realize, or forget, and could run into the bus if they’re not expecting to stop.

3. Can you cross the median between freeway and frontage road in stopped traffic?

Crossing a median is illegal in all instances, but crossing between frontage and freeway (and vice versa) is a common maneuver for Texans. It may seem like a good idea to get off a slow road, but doing so puts other cars in danger when you merge in a location they aren’t expecting you to merge.

4. Which of these statements on handheld devices is true in Texas?

While Austin used to be entirely hands-free (no talking, texting, messing with electronic devices at all), Texas’ no-texting law overruled that one. Under this state law, sending and receiving messages is banned, but talking on the phone or using devices for other purposes is not.

However, drivers in school zones, drivers with permits, and drivers under 18 may not operate a vehicle and use handheld devices at all.

5. What do you legally have to do if you see a funeral procession?A motorcycle with an American flag pattern, and "funeral escort" on the windshield, leads a line of cars

It may be rude to drive past a funeral, but there’s no law against it. You don’t have to slow down if you’re not putting others in danger. The main thing is to be cautious and respectful.

6. When should you use a turn signal?

Even in a turn lane, you must use a turn signal, Texans. This signals your intention to cars around you. Even if you know you’re in a turn lane, other drivers may not.

7. What does the law say about using the shoulder lane on the highway?

Unsurprisingly, it’s illegal to use the shoulder as a passing lane. However, it’s perfectly legal (and encouraged) for slower drivers to move over into the shoulder lane to let faster cars pass on a two-lane highway.

8. Is it legal to parallel park facing oncoming traffic?

Even though this is common in residential areas, parallel parking the wrong direction is not legal anywhere in Texas. For one, you have to cross oncoming traffic to do so. Another obstacle is the way another parallel-parked car in front of you will block your view when you try to pull out.

The front of a red car is parked near a leaning stack of shiny new tires
Choosing tires isn’t as complicated as it looks. Here’s a few things to look for.

One of the most essential maintenance checks on your car is your tire quality. Buying tires, and knowing when to buy, is important for your safety and to prevent unnecessary wear and damage to your car.

Most tires need to be changed between 25 and 50k miles. Not all drivers wear their tires the same. Sometimes it depends on how frequently the driver uses the vehicle. Sometimes it’s the type of terrain you drive on or even the type of car you drive. The type of tires, themselves, have different lifespans. Regardless, buying new tires is important when you have significant wear.

When do I know it’s time to get new tires?

This will depend on the kind of tires you have. There are a few signs to look for to determine if you need new tires.

  1. Tread – You should be able to stick a penny in your tread, the top of Abe’s head downward, and not be able to see the top of his head. If you can, it’s time for new tires.
  2. Age – Your tires have an expiration date on them. While this may not be the most reliable way of telling if your tires need replacing, if you drive a lot, and it’s past your expiration, it’s probably time. Also, tires should not be used after 10 years, at which point they start breaking down.
  3. Uneven wear – If your tires show more wear on the edges, or on one side more than the other, you need to get them replaced. Uneven wear can be caused by a number of factors, including under-inflation or needing an alignment.
  4. Sidewall damage – Some damage in the tread (like a nail, for example) can be repaired, but damage to the sidewall affects the integrity of the entire tire. If you see signs of sidewall damage, get new tires ASAP.

It’s important to properly maintain your tires to get the most mileage out of them and to stay safe on the road.

There are quite a few options when it comes to buying tires. A good tire shop will help walk you through your options and the benefits of certain tires. Here are a few things you’ll want to look at before you go to buy.

What size tires do I need?

Look at your car specs. Your owner’s manual should list the minimum specifications for buying tires. This is what the manufacturer recommends for safety and optimum car performance. You can also find this on the inside of your driver’s door. When buying tires, be sure to get an appropriate size.

What type do I need?

There are three main types of tires you can buy: Summer, All-Season, and Winter. Each has pros and cons. In warmer weather (like Central Texas) you’ll likely want summer or all-season tires. Summer tires often have better grip, handling, heat resistance, and less chance of hydroplaning. All-season offers a bit stiffer handling, but also can better handle snow (should you run into it) and last longer.

Here’s a breakdown:

Summer:

Best for: Sports cars, beginning drivers, summer temps, rainy weather

Drawbacks: Don’t last as long, not meant for cold temps, can’t drive well on heavy snow and ice.

All-season:

Best for: A variety of weather, drivers with trucks and SUVs, commuters, rolling resistance

Drawbacks: Not as good for gas mileage, stiffer handling, and slightly less effective traction in rainy weather

Winter:

Best for: Regular snow driving, ice traction, road grip, SUVs and pickups

Drawbacks: Not as good for gas mileage, more expensive, need to be switched out in the summer

For more informational tips and maintenance information, follow Fogle Collision Center on Facebook.

a hand holds a phone with text messages pulled up in front of a steering wheel

If you have a teen driver, you’re probably worried about your teen and their newfound freedom. Teen drivers are inexperienced, and therefore less likely to know how to avoid accidents. Only practice will fortify their driving skills, but in the meantime, you can help reduce their risk of an accident by giving them hands-free tools for the road.

Drivers under 20 are at the highest risk of distracted driving accidents, largely thanks to phones. Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident. In 2018, 4,637 people died due to driver cell phone use.

Luckily, there are quite a few hands-free tools to help your teen driver keep their attention on the road.

1. Bluetooth audio for hands-free calls

bluetooth adapter options on Amazon
These are a few top-rated Bluetooth receiver options from Amazon.com

If your teen’s vehicle is not already connected for Bluetooth, there are affordable adapter options for older vehicles. Bluetooth allows for hands-free calling, audio control, and voice-to-text.

For cars that are already connected with Bluetooth, make sure your teen knows how to pair their devices to use these capabilities. Newer cars also have the option of controlling volume and audio tracks from buttons on their steering wheel – so their hands don’t have to leave the steering wheel.

Though we still recommend that teens keep this usage to a minimum, it offers a safer way to communicate than grabbing for their phone.

2. Earn points with a driving app

Safe 2 Save is a Texas-based app that rewards you at local businesses for safe driving. For every minute you drive hands-free, you earn 2 points. That adds up to some great rewards at your favorite places.

Some insurance companies, like State Farm, also have their own app for safe drivers, often providing discounts on insurance for safe drivers.

3. Simplify basic apps for driving

Visual of the Drive Mode app that has big buttons with simple functions like calling and playing audio
Apps like Drivemode can simplify the most commonly used phone features for easy access and less time with your eyes off the road.

Drivemode is another helpful app that can greatly reduce distraction. The app controls your messages, music, apps, and navigation, and simplifies them. This allows for a few simple, easy-to-see controls, as well as voice commands.

4. Easy-to-use dash mount

A small mount on the dash hold a smartphone
Use a magnetic phone mount to keep your teen’s phone near their line of vision instead of them looking away from the road to check it.

One of our biggest recommendations is that if you are going to use your phone at all while you drive, have it somewhere stable near your line of vision. These handy magnet mounts make setup effortless and come with more than one magnet for another device (like a GPS).

The magnets are slim and fit into your phone case, and are also strong enough to hold your phone securely through the case.

5. An organizer for essentials

When your teen is driving, make sure they know to keep things they need accessible. If they will be going through a drive-thru, they’ll probably need their wallet, or a place to drop spare change. Using a front-seat organizer can help keep them from reaching around the car unnecessarily.

Again, while this should be kept to a minimum, it’s likely your teen will want to grab something they use frequently. It could be a water bottle, lip balm, a snack bar – keeping these sort of items in a convenient space, within reach, could save your teen from spending unnecessary time looking away from the road.

For more teen driving safety tips, follow Fogle Collision on Facebook.

auto body repairs regulation

We all know that each shop management has its own standard of customer service and shop maintenance. But have you ever wondered who requires collision repair shops to be in compliance with legal regulations?

The real answer is that there is not a comprehensive law in Texas that governs collision repair. However, there are still certain inspections and regulations that must be met.

Anytime you have an issue with auto body repairs made to your car or the process to make those repairs, you should always speak with the management first. Often, a shop will immediately attempt to address the issue to your satisfaction. If this doesn’t solve your problem, depending on the issue, there are state agencies and organizations that can assist.

Not what you paid for

It’s always good practice to review your bill before paying and take a close look at the work that was completed. If you believe unnecessary repairs were made, you were charged for an incorrect part, or charged for something you didn’t receive, you can contact the Texas Attorney General’s office. They can determine if your circumstance falls under the Deceptive Trade Practices – Consumer Protection Act.

This is important to be reviewed because it’s possible this may have happened to more than one customer.

Requirements for body shops

All collision repair shops have to follow regulations set forth by state agencies. Body shops also have to follow environmental rules established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

These rules focus on air quality, proper waste disposal, water, and other regulations that body shops must comply with every day. The agency ensures shops follow these rules and makes the necessary adjustments if they violate these rules.

Fogle Collision Centers welcome feedback from customers so we can continuously improve what we do. We strive to provide you with the best quality collision repair.

a pair of hands touches a smartphone that has a Fogle Collision screen up.
It’s more convenient than ever to get an estimate on your phone. However, to know the extent of the damage, a technician should inspect your vehicle.

When a car has been in a wreck, some of the damage will be obvious. You’ll have broken taillight or a dented door, or a crunched hood. What is not immediately noticeable, and may be impossible to see unless you are an expert, is any damage that may be behind the body of the vehicle.

Technicians are trained to look for damage in the operating parts and the computer system within a car. They can determine if there is further damage beyond the cosmetics of the vehicle.

A dent may not be just a dent

Never assume that if a collision is minor that the damage is just a dent. For example, if someone backs into your car and puts a dent in your car door, there could be further damage inside, such as the power windows not operating properly.

If the dents are much larger and caved into the vehicle, the car should definitely be inspected by a technician for safety reasons.

Review the estimate

When you bring your vehicle in to a body shop, the location should give you a repair estimate. This estimate explains the cost for parts and the labor to repair the vehicle. Be sure to review the estimate and ask any questions before the work begins so that you have a good understanding of what you are paying to fix.

Many collision centers, like Fogle Collision, will offer free estimates. To get a preliminary estimate, you can use our new Smartphone Estimating Tool. You will get a repair estimate within 24 hours of submitting photos. However, we can fully determine the damage once a technician takes a close look at the vehicle.

 

distracted driving car accidentScreens in cars located between the driver and passenger, often referred to as vehicle infotainment systems, are becoming a common feature on most cars. Like many other technology, including cell phones, these are adding to driver distractions and accidents.

The AAA Foundation conducted a study recently that showed while the technology is convenient in some ways, it results in some startling statistics related to distractions while driving.

New law in the Lone Star State

The most commonly talked about distraction while driving is using a cell phone. That’s why legislation was created to address this issue. As of September 2017 in Texas, it is against the law to text message on your phone while driving. This law refers to wireless communication devices but does not address the in-car systems.

Drivers should be focused on the road while operating a vehicle. Law enforcement can also pull over drivers who are reckless or distracted in general.

Greater chance of a collision

AAA studies found if a driver stops focusing on the road for just two seconds, they double the chance of having a wreck.

The most recent study found that when drivers use the in-car technology systems, on average, they had more than 40 seconds of mental and/or visual distraction. About 40 percent of drivers nationwide use these systems. The study compared drivers using 30 different types of systems, including those that allowed web surfing and checking social media sites.

Fogle Collision Centers has been part of the Houston area for many years. We work and live here, and we care about our community. No one wants to experience an accident caused by distracted driving. It is our hope that all drivers in our area drive safe and focus on the road at all times.

Three young men take a selfie, two inside a white SUV, the other standing outside. They have ski gear, and snow and trees are visible in the background.
Holidays are a busy time for the roads. Make sure you and your family and friends arrive safely.

It’s the season for family and friends to come together and enjoy time spent with one another. This can mean taking a road trip, along with many others who will head out on the highways and roads. But with more travelers comes a greater chance of accidents.

Leave early

It helps to leave early for your destination so you don’t feel rushed. Plan ahead to avoid making hasty driving decision. The more time you give yourself, the more likely you’ll be a patient and careful driver.

Get a good night’s rest

Never take a road trip while drowsy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 72,000 accidents nationwide are caused by drowsy drivers. Go to bed in time to get a full night’s sleep the night before a trip.

If you travel overnight, consider traveling a short distance and then stopping for a rest break. If you are having difficulty focusing on the road, pull over and take a 20-minute rest. A well-lit grocery or hospital parking lot is ideal at night because of the amount of people around.

Monitor the roads and weather

Prior to leaving for your road trip, look at the road and weather conditions. If you think you may run into bad weather, pay attention to travel warnings. If conditions are extreme, wait until the weather improves to take off. It’s better to arrive a day or two later than to not arrive at all.

If you do not feel comfortable driving in the weather occurring on your route, you might also look for alternative routes that may allow you to avoid it.

Watch your surroundings

Accidents can happen on residential roads, rural roads, and major freeways. No matter the time of day, pay attention to your surroundings while driving. Stay away from erratic drivers, pay attention to exits and entrances to the freeway, and always use your lights and turn signals so others can be aware of where you’re going.

At Fogle Collision Centers, a Houston body shop, we want everyone to be safe when traveling for the holidays. If you are in a collision, give us a call for a free estimate and we’ll exceed your expectations for efficient auto body repair.

A deer munches some grass on the side of the road, near a tree.
Be on the lookout for deer when you’re on the highway.

There are more than one million deer-related accidents a year across the country. Deer are plentiful in the Central to Eastern parts of Texas, and many roads should be driven with caution. Swerving is likely to worsen your odds of an accident. Instead, here are some tips to avoid hitting a deer.

Pay attention

Any time you are driving, it is important to keep your eyes on the road and pay close attention when driving in wooded areas. Here, deer may suddenly come out and run toward cars.

Deer typically roam more often during dusk or dawn, so pay attention if you are driving during these hours. If you are not familiar with the area where you are driving, look for caution signs that alert drivers to deer in the area.

Remember, deer often travel in packs, so if you see one deer there may be more nearby.

Make a bright path

If the roads are not well lit and you do not have oncoming traffic, use high beams to create a brighter path. This will give you a better opportunity to see a deer before you come upon it.

Keep control

If you see a deer, slow down and brake firmly, but don’t swerve. Swerving can cause you to hit another car or lose control.

Also, deer may move if they see or hear you. Honk your horn to try to scare a deer out of your way. Swerving may still make you run into the deer if they start to move out of the way.

If you are about to hit a deer, turn slightly right before you collide to hit the deer at an angle. This way the deer won’t flip up onto your windshield.

Don’t approach an injured deer

If you do get into an accident and the deer is on or near the road, do not approach it. Call law enforcement and the local game warden. An injured deer could potentially injure you, and it’s best to have trained professionals care for an injured deer. If the deer is dead, it is OK to move it off the road, but it is against the law in Texas to take the deer with you.

If you have an accident and need auto body repair, Fogle’s Online Estimating Tool offers fast and free estimates directly from your Smartphone.

 

The camera looks at a driver and passenger from the backseat. They appear to be driving on an open highway and the driver is using his cell phone.
Find out how Texas’ new texting-while-driving law affects you.

Texas’ new texting and driving law is cracking down on distracted drivers. It is now illegal to write, send, or read on your phone while driving. In 2016, distracted driving accidents killed more than 450 Texans, and the number of accidents increased by three percent.

Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.

Steps to quit texting and driving

If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a text or social media message, it is time to get in the habit of not using your phone while driving. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit yourself to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Try putting your phone on silent in the glove compartment, or in the backseat.

Some phones and/or applications allow voice-to-text features that will allow you to respond to messages without touching your phone. If you have a long commute or feel an urgent need to respond to messages, you might consider an application that will both read your new messages and allow you to respond via voice command.

Bluetooth connectivity also allows for in-car phone calls. Though Houston does not require hands-free calls, it may be easier to call than it is to respond via text. It is also safer than holding the phone and taking one hand off the wheel during your call.

Know the law

With the new law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.

Unlike many states, the law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped at a red light. Once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down.

If an officer sees a driver looking down or the car not maintaining a lane, they can pull the car over to determine if the driver was texting.

We know accidents can happen, but texting and driving accidents can be prevented.

If you are in an accident, our team at Fogle Collision are here to help make the repair process efficient. We’ll get you an estimate so you can get your vehicle repaired and get back on the road.

A driver behind the wheel holds the steering wheel in one hand and a smartphone in the other.
Distractions like texting take our eyes and minds off the road.

Distractions are everywhere. They demand our attention throughout the day, including when we drive. Texting

while driving has become such an issue that starting September 1, 2017 in Texas, it will be illegal to text and drive.

Campaigns are also in place by several organizations nationwide and major cell phone providers to send a constant reminder that using a phone while driving leads to injuries and fatalities. Every week, Houston body shops repair cars involved in distracted driving accidents.

Distractions, distractions, and more distractions

There is a long list of what can distract a driver, but there are only three types of distraction that interfere with concentration – cognitive, visual, and manual. An example of a manual distraction would be a driver removing hands from the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions take the driver’s focus away and visual takes the driver’s eyes off of the road.

Other actions that keep someone from focusing solely on driving include changing the radio station, looking at a map, talking on the phone or to others in the car, and eating. A recent survey showed that more than 60 percent say they have watched a driver apply makeup while driving, more than 50 percent witnessed someone reading, and more than 20 percent have seen a driver take a selfie while behind the wheel.

Although these tasks were not high scoring in the survey, people also witnessed drivers putting in contacts, flossing teeth, and actually putting on a costume.

Real risks

A few seconds of a distraction behind the wheel can be deadly. Nationwide, there were 3,477 people who died in accidents in 2015 that were caused by a distracted driver.

Don’t get distracted

Most distractions are preventable. It starts with the driver making a conscious effort to focus only on driving. As a driver gets into the car, that is when any seat or mirror adjustments should be made, plus setting the radio and GPS.

If you find yourself taking your eyes off of the road to look at your phone, put it somewhere in the vehicle that you can’t reach while driving. Make a firm commitment to yourself that you will only check your phone once you get to your destination.

At Fogle Collision Centers, we hope everyone drives safely. If you are involved in a collision due to distracted driving, we can take care of your auto body repairs. Our technicians will perform high quality repairs to your vehicle so you can get back on the road.

For more driving safety tips, follow us on Facebook.

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