thanksgiving trafficAccording to AAA, nearly 47 million Americans will travel this week to join friends and family for a Thanksgiving feast. Given that gas prices are the lowest they’ve been since 2008, it’s projected that 90% of those travelers will be driving to their destinations.

To minimize your travel frustrations, plan your trip for off-peak driving times. Waze, a popular navigation application, used data from the 2014 Thanksgiving travel season to identify the busiest driving days. USA Today recently reported these statistics.

  • Tuesday (11/24/2014): Peak traffic from 4-8 p.m. Huge increase in usage starting from 1 p.m. until the end of the day, fewer users than usual in the morning.
  • Wednesday: Peak from 3-7 p.m. Large increase in usage starting from 11:00 till the end of the day, fewer users than usual in the morning. Also an increase of 62.9% in accident alerts, 38.6% in police alerts and 31.3% in hazards.
  • Thursday: Behavior similar to a weekend day and not a work day.
  • Friday: Behavior similar to a weekend day and not a work day.
  • Saturday: Small increase in usage.
  • Sunday: Peak traffic from 1-6 p.m. Entire day is above average.
  • Monday: Increase in usage in late morning, attributed to people going to work later than usual.

Whenever you choose to travel, give yourself enough time to get to your destination safely. We recommend planning an extra two to three hours into your driving time to allow for stops, delays caused by traffic accidents and road conditions, and other unforeseen holdups.

And before you take off, bring your vehicle into Levin Tire & Service Center to make sure it will get you to your destination safely and without incident.

Holiday DrivingMillions of people will take to the highways to visit friends and family between Thanksgiving and the New Year. These safety tips will help you navigate the busy roads without incident.

  1. Get a vehicle checkup. Levin Tire & Service Center will make sure your lights, indicators, tires, belts and hoses are operating as expected.
  2. Plan your route. These days, many people depend on their GPS to get them where they’re going. But technology can fail. And it may not be able to route you around unexpected construction or traffic jams. Be aware of alternate routes to your destination, and make sure you pack a paper map, just in case.
  3. Drive with the conditions in mind. The maximum posted speed limit was set with ideal road conditions in mind. On snowy or icy roads, reduce your speed until you feel comfortable and in control. Give yourself plenty of room between vehicles and when you need to brake, do it slowly.
  4. Be prepared for emergencies. All those people who got stranded on Lake Shore Drive in 2011 wished they had a winter emergency kit in their vehicles. Check this blog post for what to stock yours with.
  5. Get enough rest. A long road trip starts with a good night’s sleep. And plan to stop frequently, every two hours or so. This will give you and everyone else in the vehicle an opportunity to walk around and stretch. Remember, driving tired is just as dangerous, if not more so, than driving intoxicated. Share the driving responsibilities if you can, or pull over for a nap if you need to.

TPMS21A 2012 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that low tire pressure is a factor in many automotive accidents. Data from the study also showed that vehicles with underinflated tires are three times more likely to be involved in an accident than those with properly inflated tires.

Low tire pressure can inhibit your vehicle’s ability to handle turns and brake effectively, and cause your tread to wear unevenly and prematurely. Under inflation can even result in total tire failure, often called a blowout.

You probably won’t be able to tell your tires are low by looking at them, either. By the time a tire starts to look like its going flat, it has less than 50% of the recommended PSI. That’s why, since 2006, the law has required all passenger cars and trucks to feature a tire pressure monitoring system, which alerts the driver when tire pressure is about 25% lower than the recommended level.

Even if you have a tire pressure monitoring system, you should check the pressure in all of your tires, including the spare, once a month. This is especially important in the winter months because every 10 degree drop in temperature leads to a drop of about 1 PSI in your tires. Check the pressure before you start driving for the day, and if you need to add air, swing into your neighborhood Levin Tire & Service Center location. We’ll top off those tires for you, free of charge.

4 Winter TiresAll season tires, what you most likely have on your vehicle right now, aren’t designed to handle extreme cold temperatures and slippery driving conditions. The rubber compound is stiffer and the tread pattern isn’t as aggressive as winter tires. Winter tires feature a softer rubber compound, which provides better contact and grip on the surface of the road, and a tread pattern that’s specially designed to crunch through compacted snow and displace slush and water as you drive.

So why do you need all four tires to be winter tires? It all comes down to stopping. If you only put winter tires on your driving tires, either your front wheels or your rear wheels, the other pair won’t be able to provide adequate stopping assistance. The winter tires will bite the driving surface more effectively, and the non-winter tires will slip, causing your vehicle to fishtail or preventing you from steering away from an obstacle.

Using four winter tires of the same tread depth on your vehicle will increase your stopping distance and help you maintain better control of your vehicle in slick driving conditions. It is not safe to install 2 winter tires and then install 2 more winter tires at a later date because the tread will be different.

Canadians know a thing or two about winter tires. In 2006, the Automobile Protection Association, Transport Canada, and the Rubber Association of Canada conducted a winter tire testing study on a variety of vehicle types and drive trains with all season tires, winter tires and a mix of the two tire types.

You can view all of the videos here and decide for yourself if buying four winter tires is the right choice for you.

toys for totsAll of the Levin Tire & Service Centers throughout Northwest Indiana will be collecting gifts to donate to Toys For Tots.

Businesses and organizations across the country participate in the Toys For Tots with the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve to collect either new, unwrapped toys or gently used toys each year and distribute them to less fortunate children in their local areas for Christmas.

You can participate by purchasing a new toy at a local store and dropping it off at any Levin Tire & Service Center location from now until December 14th. The gifts don’t have to be extravagant, but they should be new or gently used.

Once we’ve collected the gifts, they’ll be transferred to our local Toys For Tots program coordinator for distribution. These toys will be a message of hope to our area’s under-privileged children and help spread the message of joy and giving this holiday season.

As a way of saying thank you for your help, Levin Tire & Service Center will be giving an additional $5 off any one service with a donation. One discount per customer per day.

For more information, contact your local Levin Tire & Service Center.