Help Keep New Year's Happy By Not Drinking & Driving

The New Year's holiday is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Partiers who think they can get home after having a few drinks can easily ruin their own lives and the lives of others when it turns out they can't.

Texas ranks 7th for number of drunk driving deaths on New Year's Eve according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to statistics, some 44 people lost their lives during the New Year's Holiday in Texas alone. Another 171 were seriously injured, and over 4,000 had their New Year's holiday otherwise ruined due to drunk drivers.

Each year, the message is the same: Don't drink and drive. If you do have some drinks, get a cab or a ride share to take you home. Check around. There are often great deals and even free rides offered on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

But, maybe the best take on holiday drinking and driving comes from a Pennsylvania State University article written a few years ago titled: 10 Times It's Totally Okay To Drive Drunk On New Year's.

(Hint. The answer is "Never.")

We hope you have a great New Year's. Please stay safe out there.


Hoverboards Might Be Safe This Year, But Only If You Buy The Right One

Hoverboards, the most common name for two wheeled self-balancing scooters, made a big splash during the 2013 holiday season. A couple of years later, they were one of the hottest holiday gifts, but for all the wrong reasons. Cheaply made hoverboards often contained subpar batteries or badly designed chargers which caused several dangerous fires.

By 2016, hoverboards were becoming so associated with fire risks that recalls became common, multiple shipping ports in the UK blocked their import, and even Amazon.com, which will sell most anything, officially banned the sell of hoverboards for a time. The fires, recalls, and bans continued into the 2017 holiday season, but then things started to get better.

These days, hoverboards are again sold in stores and online. So what changed? According to one scooter and hoverboard manufacturer, hoverboards only started be accepted again once they started meeting Underwriters Laboratories UL 2272 standard. This series of tests sets safety standards for things like a hoverboard's battery, charging system, internal wiring, and general durability.

It still took some time for hoverboard manufactures to get onboard. The UL 2272 standard was established in 2016 but fires and recalls were still surprisingly common even into late 2017, but after that, the recalls stopped. There were no reported hoverboard recalls in 2018 and so far have been none in 2019.

Does this mean that hoverboards are now safe purchases for the 2019 Christmas season from a fire hazard point of view? Yes. Or, at least, they are a much safer bet than they were just a few years ago. Still, even though compliance with the UL 2272 tests seem to be much more widespread, you do need to do you homework. For instance, don't just rely on a badge on the packaging, be sure and do a check to make sure a hoverboard you are thinking of buying is actually certified.


Mazada Issues Second Recall of Takata Airbags

For years now, car manufactures have been recalling their vehicles to replace faulty airbags made by the Takata Corporation. Not only have millions of cars been recalled, there have been some twenty deaths and many more injuries related to bad Takata airbag inflators that can throw metal shards at the driver or passenger they were supposed to protect.

Recently, Mazda issued a second recall of some of their cars to again fix airbag issues stemming from Takata's bad design. As it turns out, in the early days of recalls, Takata simply replace known bad airbag units with ones of the same design. Those replacements also could go bad and result in the same types of injuries. This second recall from Mazda replaces the bad design with a new design that will hopefully eliminate the danger once and for all.

The important thing for drivers here is to keep paying attention to recall notices, even if they are for a part that was previously recalled. Sometimes a recall can be done improperly or the new part can have similar or even different and worse issues than the part being recalled. Even if you do not own a Mazda it is possible that similar second recalls could happen with other manufacturers as well.