This weekend is the beginning of the holiday season—filled with both joy and stress, families gathering around the Thanksgiving table with loved ones, and memories of Thanksgiving from our childhood. It’s a time to be thankful for family, friends, our successes and those of our children, the bounties before us as we gather for Thanksgiving dinner. I feel blessed for my wonderful children and am thankful for many things including continuing the business that my grandparents started more than 75 years ago. My brother, Mark, my two kids and I are thankful for our dedicated employees of Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion, and our loyal customers and business partners. It is time to step back and reflect, and most importantly, give thanks.
Thanksgiving is THE busiest travel weekend of the year with 41.3 million Americans traveling in vehicles. (The holiday “weekend” begins on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight on Sunday.) The National Safety Council is estimating 418 fatalities in the U.S. this weekend from crashes and 44,700 injuries. Those are staggering numbers.
Last Thanksgiving, I remember seeing the overhead road signs in New Hampshire counting the deaths from traffic fatalities, and while the numbers were in the single digits, I remember thinking: “one death is one too many. This is supposed to be the season to celebrate…” and I saw the number grow as the weekend continued.
• Buckle up…everyone, no exceptions! (The National Safety Council estimates that 153 lives will be saved from accident victims wearing seatbelts and 104 more lives will be saved if every traveler wears a seatbelt.)
• Be certain to restrain children and babies properly.
• Do not drink and drive, no matter how far you have to drive, no matter how little you’ve had to drink. (Last year there were 560 alcohol-related fatalities on this holiday weekend.)
• Refrain from using electronic devices, even hands-free devices.
• Plan ahead, drive defensively, especially in inclement weather.
• If you are drowsy from all the food you ate and the long day, stay overnight if at all possible. Even if it’s cold out, crack the window to help you stay alert, refrain from using the heat as it will make you sleepy, play loud music, sing and/or have a cup of coffee before you drive. If you feel too tired to drive, have someone else drive or take a nap.
Weather.com is predicting a 90 percent chance of precipitation in our area on Wednesday with rain and/or snow from 5-8 inches. Thanksgiving Day predictions include 37 degrees with only 20% chance of precipitation and the rest of the weekend looks dry and cold. So please drive slowly, at the speed limit or less, depending on traffic, and allow extra time to arrive safely. Last year, 349 people from Massachusetts and 108 from New Hampshire were killed in motor vehicle accidents. Don’t become a statistic when the simple tips above can help save lives.
Let’s all work together to make this the safest holiday weekend in years. Your driving habits not only affect those in your vehicle, but all those families driving around you. I want you to arrive safely at your destination for Thanksgiving and return home safely. I wish each and every one of you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving. Make it home safely so you can enjoy the full holiday season with your loved ones and get ready to head into the New Year!
As most people know, Consumer Reports is the most unbiased publication in the country, as they accept no advertising, survey the most consumers and conduct tests by product experts under their nonprofit foundation. They just published their annual vehicle reliability report. It is the largest survey of its kind – generating 1.1 million responses. The highlights of the recent report included the following: “As in the past, most of the top 10 brands were Asian…Toyota leading the league the league by a comfortable margin.”
“One of the reasons Toyota manages to do that, we [Consumer Reports] believe, is that they introduce technologies slowly and on proven platforms…” meaning the new models are improved versions of the prior tried-and-true models. Though they pointed out many consumers are excited about the new vehicles that appear in the marketplace, they often don’t have the reliability of the proven models. Oftentimes, purchasing a new vehicle model in its original version proves to be the least reliable.
“Toyota and its sub-brands may not make the most fascinating cars on the block,” said Consumer Reports, “but they certainly hold up. If we looked at a list of the 10 most reliable new cars in our survey, nine of them would be a Toyota, Lexus [manufactured by Toyota] or Scion.”
“This year…the Scion xB hatchback (pictured above) was the most reliable new car…” with the top score in Most Reliable. Toyota Yaris, the sub-compact, also made the list. Most reliable hybrids included the Toyota Prius and Prius C, V, and Plug-In; and the Toyota Camry Hybrid. With five hybrids on the list, Toyota dominated the hybrid/electric cars category.
Toyota was also selected for most reliable mid-size cars for the Camry; most reliable mini-vans and wagons for the Toyota Sienna and Venza (V6 and 4-cylinder). Toyota was the only manufacturer with most reliable Midsized SUVs: the Highlander (V6) and 4Runner.
One of the biggest challenges identified for consumers highlighted by Consumer Reports was the technology, and in-car electronics. The capabilities of technology in vehicles is amazing, but the challenge can be headaches for the consumer. Two weeks ago in my Ask Gary column, we featured how Toyota’s Entune technology received accolades in a landmark AAA study for the lowest distraction level. Fortunately for Toyota owners, Toyota was not mentioned in the Consumer Reports’ study as one of the manufacturers causing consumer headaches due to its electronics. If you need help with the electronics in your vehicle or the Entune technology, please join us for our “How do I…” sessions in our showroom on Tuesdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Thursdays from 5-7 p.m.
If there is one top 10 list, reliability report or survey to defer to, Consumer Reports is clearly one of the best due to its guaranteed objectivity. Just one more time that I am especially proud of the manufacturers we represent…as I am time and time again.
Veteran’s today are honored everywhere, including in the automotive industry. However, before I get into the specifics to answer your question, I would like to say a very big THANK YOU to all U.S. veterans for risking their lives, protecting our freedom and fighting for democracy at home and abroad, from all of us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion.
In the last few decades, similar to the veterans of World Wars I and II and the Korean War, veterans are returning to the U.S. with tributes honoring them as they deserve, and treating them like the heroes they are. In many cities and towns, bases and airports, volunteers line up to send off veterans and welcome them home, expressing their appreciation. Signs and banners hang in many cities and towns to welcome their hometown veterans back home. They deserve these tributes and so much more for defending the honor of the United States.
Let me share with you some information on the roots of this special holiday of Veterans Day:
Who does this holiday honor? Veterans Day is a federal holiday that is celebrated on November 11th each year and honors all those who have served in the armed forces, past and present, unlike Memorial Day, which is set aside to honor those who died serving their country.
How did Veterans Day first become a holiday? This holiday dates back to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who proclaimed Armistice Day on November 11, 1919 to mark the end of World War I. The armistice between Germany and the Allied nations that ended WWI was signed on that day and a ceasefire went into effect on the 11th hour of November 11, 1918. (However, the war didn’t officially end until seven months later on June 28, 1919, when the parties signed the Treaty of Versailles in France.)
How did they celebrate the holiday in earlier years? The initial celebration included a short work stoppage at 11 a.m. on November 11th. President Wilson’s proclamation noted: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
Was it a national holiday from the beginning? On June 4, 1926, Congress passed its own resolution asking President Calvin Coolidge to issue a proclamation to observe November 11th as a national holiday designed to celebrate world peace and the end of WWI.
In 1945, a veteran of World War II from Birmingham, Alabama, led a delegation to Army Chief of Staff General Dwight Eisenhower to convince him to turn Armistice Day into a time to honor all those who served in the armed forces.
When did the name and date change? Eisenhower, by then president, signed a bill into law in 1954 and Congress agreed to change the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October in 1971 then changed back to its original November 11th date in 1978. If the day fell on a Saturday or Sunday, then it was observed on Monday or Friday, respectively.
How is it celebrated now? Veterans Day is now observed on November 11th, regardless of which day of the week it falls. Federal and most state offices and most schools are generally closed.
As for the automotive industry, Toyota has a “We salute you” program with a $500 rebate on all new Toyotas financed or leased at a Toyota dealership. This is for active duty, inactive reservists, veterans, retirees of U.S. Military; or for any household member currently living with eligible U. S. military personnel or veteran.
Volvo currently has a program for the disabled called “Mobility by Volvo” whereby anyone who is disabled can be reimbursed up to $1,000 toward the cost of adaptive equipment added to an eligible new Volvo; or up to $200 on alert hearing devices. Volvo’s award-winning safety features and technology serve the disabled well. There are also specials for military personnel overseas.
Retailers, service business and other professions recognize veterans by offering them special deals, discounts and free items on Veteran’s Day. For veterans looking for Veteran’s Day free meals, snacks, haircuts and more, go to a national list posted on U.S. Today’s website. Local lists are available on the web at various local media websites.
Click here for a list of special deals for veterans throughout the year on the Military.com website from national stores, companies and organizations.
Today, on this Veteran’s Day 2014, let us all pray for peace, the safe return of all our veterans abroad and for those veterans we have lost. And of course, remember to say thank you and honor all the veterans you know or come in contact with today.
You’ve been focusing on reducing the number of distracted drivers, so aren’t the new phones and vehicles with voice recognition software eliminating the problem?
The simple answer is: no! There was a landmark study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah this past year and the media in every state and many national magazines broadcast the results of the study last month. With the popularity of the Apple’s iPhone “Siri” promoting hands-free talking, the study determined that the Siri was one of the most dangerous voice assistants. (Participants in this study also expressed disapproval of Siri’s “sarcasm and wit.”)
The research team used a ranking system to measure the heart rate, response times and brain activities of 45 drivers. Drivers were asked to use hands-free commands while driving in simulators and test vehicles on residential streets. Their rating system was based on five categories that included using hands-free commands to compose texts or emails, listening to texts or emails, updating calendar appointments, and using social media. They determined the lower the accuracy and reliability of voice recognition software, the higher the level of distraction. They also evaluated the two most common uses of voice-based interactions to adjust the radio station and dial a phone number.
The study compared the on-board voice recognition technology among six popular vehicle manufacturers: Toyota, Hyundai, Chrysler, Ford, Chevrolet and Mercedes. Toyota’s Entune technology system (pictured above) received the lowest rating for distraction! The graph below shows Toyota received a ranking of 1.7, far less than the technology systems in the other manufacturers’ vehicles and the only one falling into the low distraction category.
According to AAA, three out of four drivers believe that using hands-free technology is safe to use. However, it actually increases mental distractions as proven by this study. While Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion has worked hard to promote “Take the Pledge” on our Facebook page to not drive while distracted, we caution you that some of the hand-free technology also reduces your ability to focus and creates a distraction. We are pleased and proud; however, that Toyota’s Entune technology is the safest according to the AAA study.
If you are not sure how to use the technology effectively and safely and are a Jaffarian customer, we invite you to our “How Do I…” sessions in our showroom to learn more about this technology. We offer these hours every week on Tuesdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Thursdays 5-7 p.m. to answer your questions. (If you haven’t figured out how to set your clock back this past weekend, come in and we’ll show you how!)
While the hands-free technology and on-board voice recognition command system are safer than using hand-held cell phones, please know how to use and when to use such technology so that it does not impair your ability to concentrate. Technology is a wonderful thing, but trying to figure it out while driving is dangerous.
Drive safely and stay focused on the road!
A common belief is that it costs more to service your vehicle at a dealership. It doesn’t cost more. As I often say, “Buyer beware!” I want you to be an informed consumer – whether buying or leasing a new vehicle, buying pre-owned or servicing your vehicle. As a consumer, I encourage you to do your homework and “Dare to compare.” Be sure you are comparing “apples to apples” when comparing services provided at a national chain, local service station or one of our service departments. Use this simple checklist to help you make an informed decision and protect your wallet:
1. Genuine parts. Decide how important it is for you to keep your “Toyota a Toyota or your Volvo a Volvo.” I have written about this topic before, but depending on where you service your vehicle, you may be losing value. For a refresher, read my prior blog on this topic. At Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion, we only install genuine Volvo and Toyota parts to maintain the integrity of the vehicle you purchased. If we were going to use or recommend re-manufactured parts, your service advisor would discuss that with you, as well as the warranty on that part and the cost-savings, in order for you to make an informed decision. We believe in full disclosure. If you choose to service elsewhere, be informed about the parts being installed.
2. Dare to Compare Value. At Jaffarian Toyota, we make it easy for you to compare service costs as we do it for you! Click here to review how common service appointments compare to local providers and notice the difference in the services provided! Get the specifics from other providers and Check Us Out too to ensure you are comparing apples to apples. Be sure to get the specifics of parts (genuine OEM parts or not) and oil type etc.
3. Quality of Technicians. Are the service technicians performing the work on your vehicle certified? Like any profession, training, expertise and experience matter. Rest assured Jaffarian’s service technicians are trained and certified for the vehicles they work on. The more you work on these vehicles, the better you get! Our technicians have longevity which offers great value to our loyal customers as they get to know your vehicle.
4. Professional Service Advisors. Do they have service advisors who communicate with you and are not on commission to sell you more? Our service advisors are highly trained and knowledgeable, but they will not sell you something you don’t need. An important part of their role at the Jaffarian Service Department is to guide you and answer any questions you have about servicing or maintaining your vehicle. I had a customer tell me that she went to a national franchise for a $29 oil change and came out spending more than $100 on parts they claimed she needed. Many of the low-priced, quick oil change franchises lead with coupons and low prices, only to upsell you once in the door.
5. Convenience. Do alternatives offer you a ride to work, train, or home? Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion offers you a ride in our clean shuttles with professional, friendly drivers getting you where you need to be and providing rides back to the dealership, too.
6. Amenities. Do you have to sit in a small, dirty waiting room with old magazines and undesirable rest rooms? Jaffarian offers beautifully-appointed waiting rooms with flat screen TVs, computer work stations with Wi-Fi, snacks and beverages (Starbucks coffee in a real coffee mug) and pristine rest rooms. I once heard a customer in our Volvo service waiting room say he was so comfortable, he’d prefer to work in our waiting room all day instead of in his own office!
Still looking for more value? I don’t blame you! We all should be protecting our wallets and making sure we are getting the most for our money. Drive into our covered service drives to avoid rain and snow and slush and we will deliver a lot of value and take good care of you and your vehicle. But just as I used to say to my own kids, do your homework! I think you will be surprised by what you learn.
P.S. This is Halloween week so please be careful on the night your city or town deems “Trick or Treat” hours. It will be dark and you need to drive more carefully than ever with all the children out on the streets and in the neighborhoods. Also, remember to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday night. If you need help setting the clock back in your vehicle, stop in to our “How Do I” showroom hours and we will show you how.
This week (October 19-25) is National Teen Driver Safety Week. As adults, it is so important that we serve as a good role models for teen drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of 14 to 18-year-olds in the U.S. In 2012, there were 2,055 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes and 859 (42%) of those teen drivers were killed in the crashes. Let’s use this week as an opportunity to reduce those numbers.
The theme this year is “5 to Drive” and I hope every single parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or anyone who knows a teen driver, will reinforce the message and take a pledge on our Jaffarian Facebook page to honor the tenants of the “5 to Drive” campaign, sponsored by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to a recent survey quoted on the NHTSA website, only 25 percent of parents even take the time to talk with their teens about the dangers of driving. Parents are the most important part of the solution. Speak to your teens not only about the dangers of driving and following the “Five to Drive,” but also as a passenger. Most people know that passengers are generally at higher risk of death in traffic accidents than drivers. Most teens have cell phones. Make sure your teen knows to call you for a ride rather than get into a vehicle when they don’t feel safe. Commit these to memory for when you have the opportunity to speak with a teen driver:
1. Alcohol: Teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcohol-related crashes compared to drivers in all other age groups, even though they’re too young to legally buy or drink alcohol. In 2012, 28 percent of the young drivers (15 to 20-years old) who were killed in crashes had a high blood alcohol level.
2. Seat belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Whether it’s immaturity or a false perception that they’re invincible—teens aren’t buckling up. In 2012, of all the young (15- to 20-year-old) passenger vehicle drivers killed in crashes, more than half (55%) of those killed were not wearing seat belts.
3. Texting: Texting or dialing while driving is more than just risky—it’s deadly. In 2012, among drivers 15 to 19-years-old who were distracted in fatal crashes, nearly 1 in 5 were distracted by phones. This age group had the highest percentage of drivers distracted by phone use. In Massachusetts, it is again the law for anyone to text and drive and it is against the law for drivers under age 18 to use cell phones at all.
4. Speeding: In 2012, speeding was a factor in almost half (48%) of the crashes that killed 15- to 20-year-old drivers.
5. Passengers: Teens may be very social, but the car isn’t the place to socialize. Extra passengers for a teen driver can lead to disastrous results. In fact, according to a recent survey by the Allstate Foundation, half of all teen drivers even admit that they are safer drivers without their friends as passengers.
Parents – please be part of the solution by talking to your teens and setting a good example for them.
Let’s use the week of Teen Driver Safety Week to start the conversation and also acknowledge that driving distracted is not just a teenage issue, but a national issue. Take the pledge now to not drive distracted and to follow the “5 to Drive” points of this year’s theme. As role models, we can make a difference, and together we can change driving habits and save lives. Many auto schools recommend that you contract with your teens as they start to drive. If you have never tried this with your teen, this is a great time to make that happen. Keep it visible and remind them of how much you care and that you want to remind them to return home safely.
Other things we can do as parents is to write your teen a letter, leave notes in the car before they drive off, or use social media to message them and remind them of the “5 to Drive” points.
Just like when they were little, they will mimic the behaviors they see. This is a great reminder to be good role models as drivers and to have open and honest conversations about the importance of driving safely.
Best wishes to all parents and teens and safe driving!
With the price of gas coming down and the foliage at its peak, this is a great weekend to go to see the magnificent fall foliage. There are so many spectacular places to see the foliage as it seems particularly vibrant this autumn – and they are all a day-trip away. I’d like to focus on a couple of well-known places that are my favorites, as well as some obscure places that have been written up in the media or showcased on television these last few weeks.
In New Hampshire:
1. The Kancamagus Highway is by far the most scenic drive in New England, in my opinion. It is a 34.5 mile scenic drive along N.H.’s Rt. 112 in Northern New Hampshire that is well known as one of the best foliage viewing areas in the entire country. The Kancamagus Highway is now designated an American Scenic Byway. I caution you, however, to make sure your vehicle is in great shape (or come see at the Jaffarian Service Department) before you go, because cell-phone coverage is non-existent along much of this scenic drive. But it’s a great get-away from work, cell phone and all obligations as you view the most spectacular foliage in New England.
2. North Conway has over 700,000 acres of the protected White Mountain National Forest and the tallest peak in the North East (Mt. Washington at 6,288 feet), but I love the scenic railroad ride, the outlet stores and the restaurants. In addition to the fall foliage, you have a great little downtown area with Zeb’s old-fashioned country store with great homemade root beer, cream soda and an ambiance that will make you forget it’s 2014!
Mt. Washington’s Cog Railway in Bretton Woods has a three-hour guide tour up Mt. Washington and is one of the few cog railways left in the country. Now that is the perfect way to see foliage!
3. Meredith was the pick of N.H., last week on Channel 5’s Chronicle for its corn maze (no thank you!), pumpkin bowling, antique shops and restaurants. Their recommendation was based on places to visit that are a tank-away and not crowded, so try it and let me know what you think!
1. Boothbay Harbor was Chronicle’s pick for Maine. It has the best of both worlds—foliage and a water view with beautiful marina. It has the 248-acre Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. That alone is a great half-day tourist attraction. There is also the Boothbay Railway Village, a museum featuring steam locomotives.
In Rhode Island:
1. Westerly to Wickford — north, west and south of Providence – is probably the most neglected part of New England, and therefore, never crowded. Being further south in New England, means the beautiful foliage is at its best in late October.
2. Warren – One of Chronicle’s pick of three places in New England with beautiful foliage and no crowds. I haven’t been there but it’s worth checking out. Nice to know there are beautiful places that are more secluded and less touristy!
1. Stowe and surrounding areas along Rt. 100. If you go to New Hampshire or Vermont during foliage season, you can’t go wrong! With its white church steeples above the colorful scenery, it’s one of the best places for taking New England photos! Basically the entire state could make this list!
1. Plymouth and Carver (Plymouth County)—cranberry bogs driving tours are great in the fall when they’re harvesting the cranberries.
2. Berkshire County is by far the best place to travel in Massachusetts, though it may be more than a day trip. Travel along the Mohawk Trail, a great 55-mile drive throughout the Berkshires. If you haven’t been to that part of the state – you need to go in any season! It’s one of my favorite parts of the state, with quaint and scenic towns and the famous Norman Rockwell Museum. That would make a beautiful drive this weekend.
If you’ve been thinking about replacing or repairing your vehicle – or trying to decide which option makes sense – come to Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion and let us help you make an informed decision. It’s a great time to buy because the new 2015 models are out and you can still buy the new 2014 models at great prices, or let us help you decide if it’s time for a service check or repair. Whatever you choose to do, we are concerned about your safety, particularly on extended day trips. Let us know who we can help. “Check us out! You deserve better.”
P.S. Please let me know your favorite fall foliage trips or if you try one of the places mentioned above, let us know how you enjoyed it. Feel free to send a photo of the places you visited, perhaps with your Toyota or Volvo and we’ll post some of them to our Facebook page.