Maps V GPS

GPS is incredibly convenient and fairly reliable; however, it isn’t foolproof. Besides the obvious possibility of losing signal while trying to navigate in an area you don’t know there’s also the possibility that you could be sent slightly off course.

There have been plenty of stories of people ending up in precarious situations directly led by GPS. From being led down a flight of stairs into a park to being led directly into a lake, there are enough similar accounts of what can go wrong when we don’t rely on other means of getting to where we want to be. This is when the age-old act of using a map can come in quite handy.

Imagine this, you are on a little highway somewhere in Missouri, west of Illinois, north of Arkansas and heading to Kansas City. Your GPS instructs you to take a left onto an even smaller road that begins as blacktop, then becomes an even smaller dirt road until you slam on the breaks right before the front tires reach the waters edge of a shallow but moving river. The female voice on the GPS repeats, “follow the route.” Obviously, this is not a viable option. So you turn the car around and go back to the little highway where you began hoping she will give you a new way home. Instead, she once again instructs you to turn left back on the road that will once again lead you to the shallow moving river. Yes, this is a personal experience. Thank goodness I had purchased a map at the last stop. Combing the use of the map with the GPS got me home and reminding me of the value of human ingenuity especially when used alongside human created technology.

Beyond ensuring safe travels, recent studies have shown there is an even more important reason to know how to use a map, or even have a general understanding of where you are in respect to north, south, east and west.  Spatial mapping is innate to us as humans and a necessary exercise for our brains. If you’ve ever seen an arm or a leg straight out of a cast you were likely shocked at how tiny that arm or leg had become. Simply walking and lifting simple items keeps our muscles intact, having an extremity in a cast for any length of time prevents those muscles from being used, soon all you have is the mass of the bone. The brain works in a similar way. Specific types of critical thinking exercises our brains and keeps our brain muscles strong and healthy. Spatial mapping is one of those necessary exercises. Using a map, memorizing that turning right at the big oak tree gets you to Grandma’s house or turning left past the gas station gets you to church are ways to maintain our spatial mapping abilities.

I was shocked this last spring when my son told me he was making social media posts during a tornado warning to make sure his friends understood that they were in the path of the moving storm. He explained that most of his friends don’t know where they are in terms of where anything else is. If a storm is moving due  east at 40 miles per hour and is currently in Kansas City south of I-70, it is likely to hit Independence then Buckner then Levasy and so on. If you don’t understand where you are, you won’t anticipate the storm until the sirens go off. If you don’t understand where you are and your GPS stops working you’ll have nothing to rely on to get you back on tract.

It reminds me of a time years ago a group of our friends decided to explore a large National Forest. Around a mile in someone asked if anyone had a compass. One of our friends pulled a compass from her pocket, however, that was the first time she had looked at it. We had nothing to reference to. Thank goodness another friend had paid attention to the placement of the sun from the point we left the car and walked into the woods.

Yet another story of the benefits of both the new ways and the old. Keep using your GPS technology along with that good old fashioned folded up map in bottom of the glove compartment. Pay attention to what you see outside as you drive. You’ll be less likely to get lost and when you get older, your brain will thank you.

Blog By: Allison Green

 

 

Drivers Education from Experience

Passing a driver’s test and getting an official drivers license is only the first step in car ownership. All the little details from written laws to unwritten, much gets missed in driver’s education. Here are a few tips to help you or your young driver with the things they didn’t teach you in school.

There are many unwritten rules of the road that are learned from empirical education.

  • Flashing headlights – Fast flashes of headlights is a way to warn of a serious concern ahead such as a car accident or major road hazard. Some people will also flash their headlights to warn that they aren’t planning to slow down which is often a behavior of aggressive driving, however in the rare case of a busy intersection with a large vehicle such as a semi-truck, the truck driver may flash their headlights to warn that they aren’t able to stop the vehicle as the light turns from yellow to red. Many drivers will flash their lights once to warn of a speed trap, this is illegal in many states and honestly unethical. Speeding causes accidents and those who speed need a reminder to slow down. A headlight flash is also used sometimes to warn you that your headlights aren’t on or that you have a vehicle issue such as a low tire.

  • Stopping at a red light isn’t an opportunity to check your phone. Don’t hit the gas when the light turns green but be ready to go. If the person in front of you doesn’t take off the second the light turns, don’t immediately honk. It’s rude and aggressive, give them a few seconds before sending one quick reminder.

  • When it’s safe to do so, let people into your lane. On the same note, when you see that your lane is about to end get over, if you rudely rush up to the merging point no one will want to let you in.

Common courtesy

  • Unless your vehicle uses diesel, avoid the few pumps at the gas station that provide diesel.

  • If you are at a busy gas station and plan to go inside after filling up, drive your vehicle to a parking spot so that others can fill up.

  • Give a thank you wave when people are nice.

  • If you have to drive much slower than the speed limit, stay in the right lane, use your hazard lights and when safe pull over to let others pass.

Prevent the wreck

  • Don’t tailgate. It’s not just annoying to the person in front of you, it’s not safe. If the person in front of you is forced to hit their brakes you have no where to go but into them. Keeping a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you prevents unintentional accidents, this is ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT when you are driving behind a motorcycle.

  • We were all taught to use our turn signals, however too many seem to think this is only necessary to prevent getting a ticket. Turn signals are a warning to the people driving around you that you are about to slow down or merge. By not using them you are increasing the chance of being hit by another car.

  • Stop signs aren’t suggestions. You have to stop and look for pedestrians that are about to walk or ride their bike in front of you. Blind hills and driveways are called blind, because no matter how much x-ray vision you may think you have, you won’t be able to see oncoming vehicles until you stop at the sign.

  • Don’t pass on the right and unless you are passing or about to make a left turn, stay out of the left lane. The left lane is needed for emergency vehicles to safely and quickly arrive at their destination. When you see or hear an emergency vehicle, immediately get out of the way. Someone’s life is dependent upon that firefighter, EMT and or police officer getting to them as quickly as possible.

  • Stay off your phone, again this is common knowledge, and yet there are 1.6 million accidents every year caused from cell phone use while driving.  Drivers who use their phones are even more impaired than drivers under the influence of alcohol. Bottom line, don’t allow any distractions, no phones, no alcohol, no carload of friends.

Be prepared…always

  • Every car should have the following:

    • An emergency first aid kit, a blanket, a window glass breaker, current insurance card, a flashlight and a map.

    • If you are in an accident pull over, stay calm and follow these steps before leaving the scene of the accident.

Old vs New - The Benefit of Keeping the Car You Have

The battle scars are everywhere which often proves your car is paid in full! I personally prefer to refer to them as car character. There’s a story for each one, such as the green stained dent in the back-left corner of the bumper: that’s the one that reminds me of the time my mother in law borrowed the car and backed it into a giant trash bin. Or the massive dent on the front right bumper, the time my husband’s truck met my car as I was pulling up the driveway and he was backing out. Of course, there are interior marks of character on the inside as well such as the hole in the floorboard of the drivers side from way back when I used to wear high heeled shoes and apparently dug my left heel into the floor. Or the giant stain in the back seat from unknown ice cream spill by a child. Sure, it isn’t pretty, but it is paid for so each time a new knock or rattle or sputter brings me back to the mechanic I continue to answer his same question, “Are we keeping it?” with “Yep, still cheaper to fix than buying a new one.”

 At what point will the answer change? Well, obviously an extremely high cost repair will quantify an evening of math to decide but for the most part there are many of us that drive our cars until the wheels fall off.  

The average American keeps their car for around 6 years and the average age of American’s cars is a little over 11 years old.[1]

The average yearly repair cost on a ten year old vehicle ranges anywhere from around $300 a year to over $1000 a year.[2] With the average car payment around $550 per month this math works out quite well the keep the old dinged and stained car around a little bit longer.[3]  Even new cars often require repairs that go above and beyond the monthly payment.

With all that said, if you’re thinking about keeping your car as long as possible here are a few tips from the experts at Car Talk:

  • If buying a car with the intention to keep it long term, do as much research as you can before deciding on which one to take home.

  • Stay on top of recommended maintenance (especially fluid changes), don’t ignore concerns and never ignore engine warning signs.

  • Avoid keeping heavy items in your vehicle if possible, plan errands ahead of time to avoid short trips to and from home and when you can, simply keep your car at home.

  • -Find a trustworthy mechanic and take the time to communicate how long you hope to keep your car running.

Knowing the possibility that the day may arrive that you and your vehicle are forced to part ways, start saving now. As long as you don’t have a car payment, put a similar amount in savings each month to make that future transition much less financially painful.

In the meantime, be proud you kept that character filled payed off auto on the road. Besides, nothing gets a conversation going like a car scar story!

Blog by: Allison Green

Summertime Day Trip!

In only a few hours drive from Kansas City exist destinations that can provide a vacation for a day. This month’s blog will highlight several fun adventures worthy of hitting the road. Distance is based on starting in Kansas City.

Northward

Jamesport, Missouri - 82.5 miles (1 hour 20 min)

Jamesport is the largest Amish community in the state of Missouri.

Guided Amish Country tours (call ahead), Amish shops, art and antiques.

Watkins Woolen Mills State Park - 31.2 miles (36 min)

Preserved 1870 woolen mill (the only existing with original equipment in the United States) and home. The 100 acre park includes fishing, campgrounds and paved bicycle path.

Watkins Mill Cemetery.jpg

Weston, Missouri - 32 miles (41 min)

Wineries, breweries, historic downtown shopping, Weston Bend State Park camping, museums and Antebellum Era homes.

Marysville, Kansas - 151.9 miles (2 hours 32 min)

Pony Express Museum, camping, museums, historic downtown shopping, and trails. Only 6 miles from Oregon Trail stop - Alcove Springs.

Excelsior Springs - 28.9 miles (35 min)

1936 Art Deco Hall of Waters Museum, Blues garden, Elms Hotel and Spa, museums, ghost tours and historic downtown shopping.

Westward

Lawrence, Kansas - 40.9 miles (45min)

Spencer Museum of Art, KU Natural History Museum, historic downtown shopping, ghost tours and breweries.  Near Clinton State Park.

26 miles south of Lawrence is Gardner Junction Park where the California-Oregon Trail and Santa Fe Trail split.

Eastward

Lexington, Missouri - 52 miles (55 min)

Battle of Lexington State Historic site and Anderson House Museum, Antebellum and Victorian Era homes in four historic districts, museums, wine trail and parks.

Independence, Missouri - 10.6 miles (21 min)

Home of President Harry S. Truman, historic Truman Courthouse and Presidential Library (Will be closed for renovation on July 22nd). House museums include the Vaile Mansion, Bingham Waggoner Home and Owens-Rogers Museum (birthplace of Ginger Rogers). Historic downtown shopping, numerous museums and Border War/Civil War and historic trail sites.

Photo Courtesy of Allison Green

Photo Courtesy of Allison Green

Fulton, Missouri - 150.4 miles (2 hours 19min)

National Churchill Museum (including 32ft piece of Berlin Wall) and Church of Saint Mary the Virgin originally built in the 12th century, redesigned in 1677 and moved to Fulton in the 1960’s. Historic Brick District downtown shopping, art galleries, memorials, museums, wineries and micro breweries.

Southward

Warsaw, Missouri - 104.8 miles (1 hour 45 min)

At Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake. Camping, fishing, trails, museums and historic downtown shopping.

Route 66 - Varies

Day trip or days long vacation destination with many vintage hotels, signs and shops along the way. Original road began as Native American trade route, became Springfield Road in 1837 and route 66 in 1926 until 1985. Springfield is 155 miles (2 hours 27min) from Kansas City.

 Happy Travels!

Blog by: Allison Green

June is National Safety Month

As our loved ones file out the door each morning, the one wish we all have for each other is for everyone to safely return home each evening. Having some good sensible knowledge on how to help ensure that wish is granted every day will help put your mind at ease and help your loved ones to be more cognizant of dangers that exist in the world around them. The National Safety Council (NCS) has made June National Safety Month to provide you with everything you need to live as safely as possible.

NCS aims to prevent injuries and accidents with online resources for every potentially dangerous situation from falls to vehicle accidents. Their website provides articles, tips and information that can be downloaded and printed. The NCS encourages participation in National Safety Month in nearly every application. Because every possible safety hazard is addressed within the NCS website the following is a basic breakdown of the most common hazards:

At home: The number one cause of injury or death is poisoning, mainly from prescription drug overdose. This is followed by car accidents, falls, choking, drowning, fires and finally natural or environmental disasters. NCS has tips to prevent each of these tragedies as well as seasonal specific safety tips such as preventing firework injuries and safe bicycling practices during summer months.

At work: The same hazards that exist at home also exist in the workplace, however the likelihood of being injured by machinery or equipment is greatly increased in the workplace. NCS offers training to companies to help their employees prevent injuries from happening as well as first aid and medical response training.

NCS suggest that for both the workplace and in your community, participating in National Safety Month is a good opportunity to host safety presentations, lunch and learns or even have a fun safety trivia game.

On the road: NCS lists alcohol, distracted driving and speeding as the top three causes of vehicle related deaths that claimed over 40,000 lives in 2017.

Defensive driver training and other workplace programs are suggested to not only keep employees safe but everyone else on the road safe as well. With our recent severe flooding and rain it is also imperative that we all make a promise to abide by the well known saying, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”.

To learn more about what you can do to keep everyone in your life and community safer NCS is offering online webinars during the month of June. Wishing you a SAFE & HAPPY Month!