Don’t Wait till you get a flat to find out that you have no spare

Have you looked in the trunk of your new car since you bought it? Are you assuming there’s a spare there, or a donut? Think again!

A growing trend among car manufacturers trying to meet tougher standards for mileage, is to leave out the spare. You get a flat, pull over, go to pull the spare and find a repair kit instead.

Check out this CBS Boston news report for the full story.

Bottom line, look in your trunk now to make sure you’ve got a spare tire. If you don’t, you’ll want to find out now rather than when you’re stranded on a dark road somewhere at night, especially in winter.


Bike Safety Awareness and tips

May is National Bike Month

The League of American Bicyclists is the national sponsor of Bike Month, this year Bike to Work Week is May 13-17, 2013 and Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 17, 2013.

Spring and Summer fun has begun. Kids are soon out of school on the streets, gas prices are at record highs, now is the time we dust off the bike from the storage shed and hit the streets. Here are a few key bike safety tips to know.

When you ride your bike on a sidewalk, you must yield to pedestrians. Some sidewalk areas with heavy pedestrian traffic are signed prohibiting riding bicycles on the sidewalk.

When you ride on the road, your bike is a vehicle and you must obey traffic laws.

  • Scan the road behind. Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving left. Some riders use helmet-mounted or bike-mounted rear-view mirrors. Always look back before changing lanes or changing positions within your lane, and only move when no other vehicle is in your way.

When passing a bike in a vehicle you must give at least 3 ft clearance to the bicyclist.

  • Go slowly on sidewalks and bike paths. Pedestrians have the right-of-way. Give pedestrian’s audible (horn/bell/word) warning when you pass. Don’t cross driveways or intersections without slowing to walker’s pace and looking very carefully for traffic, especially traffic turning right.
  • When on the road, ride in a straight line whenever possible. Ride with, not against, the traffic. Keep to the right, but stay about a car-door-width away from parked cars.
  • Avoid road hazards. Watch out for parallel-slat sewer grates, slippery manhole covers, oily pavement, gravel and ice. Cross railroad tracks and speed bumps carefully at right angles.
  • Choose the best way to turn left. There are two ways to make a left turn:
    1. Like an auto, look, signal, move into the left lane, and turn left.
    2. Like a pedestrian, ride straight to the far-side crosswalk. Walk your bike across.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals. By law, cyclists must obey traffic laws when bicycles are ridden on streets and roads within the State of New Mexico and Texas.

  • Ride a properly equipped bike.
    1. Always use a strong headlight and taillight at night and when visibility is poor. (By law, in New Mexico, to ride at night you must have a light-emitting headlight visible for at least 500 feet and a red reflector visible for 50 to 300 feet from the rear. Most states have similar laws.)
    2. Be sure your bike is adjusted to fit you properly.
    3. For safety and efficiency, outfit it with a horn/bell, rear-view mirror(s), fenders (for rainy rides), and racks, baskets or bike bags.


Rule 1: Be Predictable
Ride so drivers can see you and predict your movements.

Obey traffic signs and signals. Bicycles must obey traffic laws like other vehicles.

  1. Never ride against traffic. Motorists aren’t looking for bicyclists riding on the left side of the road. Ride on the right, with the traffic.
  2. Use hand signals when initiating a turn. Hand signals tell motorists what you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, of courtesy and of self-protection.
  3. Ride in a straight line. Whenever possible, ride in a straight line, to the right of traffic but about a car-door-width away from parked cars.
  4. Don’t weave between parked cars. Don’t ride over to the curb between parked cars, unless they are far apart. Motorists may not see you when you move back into traffic.
  5. Ride in middle of lane in slow traffic. Get in the middle of the lane at busy intersections and whenever you are moving at the same speed as traffic. (Remember, your bike IS a vehicle when on the road and you ARE allowed to operate it in the middle of the traffic lane, not just at the right edge, when traffic is slow. You’re also responsible for signaling and stopping at stop signs and traffic lights like other vehicles.)
  6. Follow lane markings. Don’t turn left from the right lane. Don’t go straight in a lane marked right-turn-only.
  7. Choose the best way to turn left. Remember: There are two ways to make a left turn. 1) Like an auto. Signal, move into the left lane and turn left. 2) Like a pedestrian.
  8. Don’t pass on the right. Motorists may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.
  9. Go slow on shared paths. Yield to pedestrians. Give pedestrian’s audible warning when you pass. Do not ride on sidewalks where prohibited.
  10. When biking with others, ride in line when other traffic is present.
  11. Watch out for the parked car doors.

Rule 2: Be Alert
Ride defensively and expect the unexpected.

  1. Watch for cars pulling out. Make eye contact with drivers. Assume they don’t see you until you are sure they do.
  2. Scan the road behind. Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving left. Some riders use rear-view mirrors.
  3. Avoid road hazards. Watch for sewer grates, slippery manhole covers, oily spots, gravel, and ice. Cross railroad tracks carefully at right angles.
  4. Keep both hands ready to brake. You may not stop in time if you brake one-handed. Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain.
  5. Watch for chasing dogs. Ignore them, or try a firm, loud, “NO.” If you can’t get away, dismount with your bike between you and the dog. Call Animal Control or your local Police Dept. on your Plateau cell phone.

Rule 3: Be Equipped
You’ll ride more easily and safely.

  1. Keep the bike in good repair. Adjust your bike to fit you, and keep it working properly. Check brakes and tires regularly.
  2. Use lights at night or when visibility is poor. The law requires a strong headlight and rear reflector or tail light at night.
  3. Dress appropriately. In rain, wear a poncho or a parka made of fabric that “breathes”. Generally dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature changes. Avoid loose clothing. Purchase a “strap” at a local bike store to control your right pant leg to avoid catching in the chain.
  4. Use a pack or rack to carry things. Saddlebags, racks, baskets, and backpacks are all good ways to carry packages, freeing your hands for safe riding.
  5. Always wear an ANSI or Snell approved helmet. This reduces the potential for head injury by 85%.

· Place the helmet low on the forehead, just above the eyebrows.

· Helmet straps should be snug under the chin so the helmet stays in the same position.

· Helmet should not move back and forth or side to side.

Official IMBA Mountain Bike Rules of the Trail and Mountain Bike Safety

The following is the official list of mountain biking rules of the trail from IMBA, otherwise known as the International Mountain Bicycling Association. These mountain bike rules are designed to minimize our impact on our environment as well as promote friendly relationships between all trail users by creating a safe environment for us all. By following these rules we help ensure our access to trails in our local communities will continue and hopefully grow. Riding in control not only helps prevent crashes, it keeps others on the trail safe as well. When you ride out of control, you lose the ability to adjust to the terrain and environment as you pass through it. This can and does lead to dangerous crashes and injury to yourself and others.

Mountain biking is inherently dangerous and we all like to push the limits sometimes, but there is a fine line between pushing the limits safely and pushing them recklessly. Follow these steps to stay safe on the trails and on the right side of the danger line.

Gear up
Always wear a helmet and any other appropriate safety equipment for the riding conditions.

Never Ride Beyond Your Abilities
There is no shame in walking sections of the trail you don’t feel confident enough to ride, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Use Appropriate Equipment for the Terrain
Some bikes are better for different situations. Just because you can see tire tracks, doesn’t mean you can ride it with your bike.

Keep Your Speed in Check
Always keep your speed at a level that will allow you to adjust to any unforeseen obstacles or changes in trail conditions.

Know the Trail
Never push the limits on a trail you are not familiar with. You need to get to know the trail you are riding at slower speeds before you can ride it like the trails you’re used to.

Slow Down for Blind Corners
You never know what or who is around a corner when you can’t see past it.

Stop and Look
Stop and look at sections of the trail that look like they may pose a challenge before you ride them.

Plan on the Crash
Always look at the consequences of crashing in a particular section or on a particular stunt before trying to ride through it. Sometimes a section can look easy to ride but can have deadly consequences to a crash.

Start Small, Go Big
Work your way up to obstacles and stunts. Find ways to practice moves in less difficult and dangerous situations or at lower speeds before committing yourself to something more dangerous.

Play It Smart
If you think what you are doing is not the smartest, you are probably right. Think about what you are doing and trust your instincts.

Every mountain biker should know and live by these mountain biking rules from IMBA:

Mountain Bike Rules of the Trail
The way we ride today shapes mountain bike trail access tomorrow. Do your part to preserve and enhance our sport’s access and image by observing the following rules of the trail, formulated by IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association. These rules are recognized around the world as the standard code of conduct for mountain bikers. IMBA’s mission is to promote mountain bicycling that is environmentally sound and socially responsible.

1. Ride On Open Trails Only.
Respect trail and road closures – ask if uncertain; avoid trespassing on private land; obtain permits or other authorization as may be required. Federal and state Wilderness areas are closed to cycling. The way you ride will influence trail management decisions and policies.

2. Leave No Trace.
Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Recognize different types of soils and trail construction; practice low-impact cycling. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage. When the trail bed is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.

3. Control Your Bicycle!
Inattention for even a second can cause problems. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations.

4. Always Yield Trail.
Let your fellow trail users know you’re coming. A friendly greeting or bell is considerate and works well; don’t startle others. Show your respect when passing by slowing to a walking pace or even stopping. Anticipate other trail users around corners or in blind spots. Yielding means slow down, establish communication, be prepared to stop if necessary and pass safely.

5. Never Scare Animals.
All animals are startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise. This can be dangerous for you, others, and the animals. Give animals extra room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders – ask if uncertain. Running cattle and disturbing wildlife is a serious offense. Leave gates as you found them, or as marked.

6. Plan Ahead.
Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are riding — and prepare accordingly. Be self-sufficient at all times, keep your equipment in good repair, and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. A well-executed trip is a satisfaction to you and not a burden to others. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.

Keep trails open by setting a good example of environmentally sound and socially responsible off-road cycling.

Bicycles have the right to use on our roads; however, use of Interstate highways by bicycles is discouraged. Bicyclists Must:

  • Obey traffic lights, stop signs, one-way streets and other basic traffic laws.A bicyclist has the same rights and duties on the road as drivers of other vehicles, and some additional responsibilities.
  • Ride as far “as practicable” to the right (or to the outside lanes on a one-way street), particularly when automobile traffic is moving faster than you are.
  • Be prepared to yield at all times.
  • Use hand signals when turning or moving from a lane.
  • Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Give audible warning when overtaking a pedestrian.
  • Keep at least one hand on handlebars. Keep control of the bicycle at all times.
  • Use a headlight with a white light visible from at least 500 feet ahead, and a red reflector visible from at least 50 to 300 feet behind, when riding from sunset to sunrise or whenever visibility is poor.
  • Keep brakes adjusted so that, when braked, your bicycle skids on clean dry pavement.
  • Ride astride a fixed seat (kiddy seat and tandems acceptable). Riding “double” is discouraged.
  • Ride no more than two abreast.

Remember, your bicycle is a small, inconspicuous vehicle. It is not easily seen on crowded streets and will seldom attract attention on its own. At all times, do everything you can to make sure you are noticed. Safety First, Safety Always, Safety is our target.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

You can contact him at

Tire Safety Awareness and Tips

Put tires at top of car safe driving list

With winter fully upon us, it’s already a little late to get our vehicles ready for the rough weather and conditions ahead. Getting this accomplished before you need it is the way to go.

Some people call this winterizing and remember about anti-freeze, wiper fluid, water-grabbing gas additives and wiper blades.

While some climates aren’t as severe during the winter, these are all good things to take care of no matter where you call home, and at the top of the list is tires.

Most of us use all-season tires, so all we need to do is check the condition, age and pressure. The condition is the hard part … tread depth, road damage and sidewall cracks are some of the easy things to miss. Damage can be hard to find, so spend some time looking closely.

Don’t tolerate sidewall cracks. Sometimes called “dry rot,” and these deterioration patterns suggest the rubber is nearing the end of its lifespan. Trying to stretch this can leave you stranded or much worse, so you should have a professional inspect them. They know from experience there’s just no way to predict failure when these cracks start appearing.

If your tires are more than 5 years old, it’s time to think about replacing them. Every tire has a “birthday” stamped on the side, and the Department of Transportation requires tire manufacturers to follow a standard marking scheme. Of course, the tire’s birthday is in code. The “magic decoder ring,” which displays a tire’s birthday, is available on the DOT website.

The “US DOT Tire Identification Number” is stamped on the sidewall near the rim. On some tires, it’s hidden on the axle side, more commonly on raised white lettered tires. You might have to scoot around under the car a bit to find it. Once you find the code, it contains the tire’s birthday. The last four-digits of the DOT number reveal the week and year the tire came out of the factory, so 2809 would be the 28th week of 2009.

Tread depth is easy to remember and all you have to do is use a penny. Turn it upside down and if you can see the top of Lincolns head, YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TREAD!


The only tire pressure you need to know is the one printed on the vehicle data plate. Most of these are on the driver’s side door jam. It displays the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, as their judgment of the best compromise between traction, handling, noise, wear, etc. They tune the suspension components around this number and have carefully determined how the tread contacts the road, called the contact patch, at that pressure. Any deviation makes you the test pilot.

The factory recommended pressure is a “cold” pressure. The engineers know the pressure will rise with heat, and if you are using the same size and brand the car was born with, no worries. But if you change the tires, you need to make sure the maximum allowable pressure for that tire (also printed on the tire sidewall) gives you some headroom as the tire heats up.

The only way to know how much margin you have is to stop and take a reading on a hot day after some time at highway speeds.


That temperature sensitivity (about one psi for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit) means you have to adjust the tire pressure as the seasons change, typically in fall and spring. Now that summer is behind us, many people are probably seeing some tire-pressure warning lights if their vehicle has a tire pressure monitoring system.

If you filled your tires when it was 95 degrees outside last July, when the temps dip into the 30s, you could be almost 10 psi low. It’s best to check first thing in the morning, and in the shade. That will give you a true “cold” reading.


Extra pressure
With gas prices still on the rise, there’s a temptation to “add a little extra” with thoughts of decreasing rolling resistance and increasing gas mileage. The extra air consumes your margin, and causes the contact patch to change shape. It mucks with the handling, wet traction and braking effectiveness, plus it makes the center of the tires wear out faster than the edges.


There are tons of misinformation on the claimed benefits of using nitrogen in vehicle tires. It would take pages to dispute all the rhetoric out there on this subject, so look at the big ones. First, remember that air is around 80 percent nitrogen to begin with, so we aren’t talking huge differences to start out with.

There are claims that nitrogen is a good deal because it leaks out more slowly (backed up by pointing out nitrogen’s slightly larger molecular size). A consumer magazine took on this myth and found out it’s actually true, but on the order of one or two psi a year. Since you have to adjust your tire pressure at least twice a year anyway, that difference isn’t going to save you a trip to the air pump.

spare tire serves as a backup in case your car has a flat. Vehicles typically carry a spare tire mounted on a rim, to be used in the event of flat tire or flat tire. Many spare tires for modern cars are smaller than normal tires to save on trunk space, gas mileage, weight and cost and should not be driven far before replacement with a full-size tire. Jacks and for emergency replacement of a flat tire with a spare tire are included with a new car. Hand or foot pumps for filling a tire with air are available. Cans of pressurized “gas” can be bought separately for a convenient emergency refill.

Spare Tires

Spare tires come in a variety of sizes and versions. Many cars are equipped with temporary spare tires and wheels, which are noticeably different from regular tires and wheels. Some require higher inflation pressure, or the use of a pressurized canister to inflate the tire. The only type of spare tire that can be used without such restrictions is a conventional, full-sized spare that is the same as the other tires on the vehicle.


The Folding Spare- must be inflated with an air canister prior to mounting.
The Compact Spare- smaller and narrower than the other wheels on the vehicle.
The Lightweight Spare- the same diameter as the other tires on the vehicle but thinner.

These tires are:

  • labeled “temporary” spares because of their weight-saving construction.
  • are intended for emergency use only and not for sustained or high speed driving.
  • not to exceed 50 mph nor to travel further than 50 miles.

Maintenance Tips and Suggestions

Tire Air Pressure –Check the air pressure in your spare tire whenever you check tire pressure to be sure your spare is in top condition in the event of a flat tire.

Know How to Change Your Tire – Become familiar with the equipment needed for changing a tire and be sure essential tire-changing tools are in good repair and where they should be. Practice changing a tire. Always check your owner’s manual and the tire sidewall for instructions on proper use of a temporary spare.

  • Locate the jack, handle and lug wrench.
  • Know where the jack contacts the vehicle when raising it.
  • Locate the key for wheel locks.
  • Know how to access the spare tire.

A functional spare that is in good condition is a comfort. By avoiding the following pitfalls, you can be assured that your spare tire is in good form.

  • Under inflation – If your spare is low, it may shred on the way home or to the service facility. The distance you can travel before this happens is directly related to the tire’s inflation level. Check the pressure of the spare, as well as the other four tires every month.
  • Dry Rotting – Tires deteriorate with age. Tires do have a shelf life. After a period of time, they may begin to develop small cracks in the sidewall.
  • Inaccessibility – The leading reason spare tires fall victim to under inflation and dry rotting is inaccessibility. Clear out the trunk and check the spare or take your car to a shop and let an auto tech check your spare.

Spare Tire Safety

  • Most space saving spares are limited to 50 miles and 50 m.p.h. Replace a temporary spare with a full-size tire as soon as possible.
  • Keep your compact spare and its wheel together and do not use them on another car.
  • Do not use tire chains on a space saving spare. They won’t fit and will damage the car as well as the chains.
  • Do not drive through a car wash that pulls the car along guide rails with a spare on your car. The spare can get caught on the rail and damage the tire, wheel and very possibly other parts of your car.

The bottom line is keeping up with the tire pressure is probably the single most important user-safety and gas-savings task you can accomplish, and it does take some intervention as the seasons change. However, this is not the place to get creative. Follow the factory numbers, check it often and stay safe.

Information provided by NHTSA and NSC.

Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald
Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

Lowest Highway Death Toll in 6 Decades

Remember 1950? No, me neither. That’s why it’s pretty impressive to hear that fatalities on the highways of America have dropped to an all time low not seen since then. The US Department of Transportation announced yesterday (9/9/10) that traffic deaths fell 9.7 percent in 2009, down to 33,808 and that this number put us at the lowest level since 1950.

Credited mainly to better technology (airbags, better built side impact doors, etc…), “safety-conscious drivers and tougher enforcement of drunken driving laws” this is indeed great news.

Read the complete story here.

Free Download “Roadway Safety+”

Need help navigating the ins and outs of road construction safety standards? Than the Roadway Safety Awareness Program is designed just for you.

Available from the Work Zone Safety website ( this piece of software is described as:

The Roadway Safety Awareness Program provides an overview of common hazards in highway and road construction and simple prevention measures. It is designed for use by supervisory personnel with some safety and health experience or by safety and health personnel to orient new workers as they arrive on the jobsite. The program contents are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

This program is not intended as a compliance guide. It is intended to help your company produce the worker awareness needed to achieve best practices. It is not a substitute for an OSHA 10-hour course or more in-depth training. It is a labor-management safety reminder.

This material was produced under grant number 46C4-HT23 from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under grant agreement DTFH61-06-G-00007. It was developed by a consortium of the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA), American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), CNA Insurance (CNA), Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), and Laborers-AGC Education & Training Fund (Laborers-AGC). Produced for the consortium by FOF Communications.

This is worth downloading for anyone and everyone who works construction, road crews, flaggers or anyone responsible for safety in general.

It covers the following topics:

  • Runovers/Backovers
  • Operator Safety
  • Struck or Crushed
  • Flagger Safety
  • Nightwork
  • Electrical Hazards
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Fall Hazards
  • Noise Hazards
  • Health Hazards
  • Working Outdoors
  • Emergencies
  • Safety Driving

It includes Instructor manual, trainee booklet, toolbox pamphlets and case studies.

And it’s all for free! Why wouldn’t you download it???