Posted by: safedriver | April 23, 2015

Fulfil your passion for driving… and for cars

Car Lister logoLet’s face it; I love cars and I love driving… and I’m not alone. Millions of people worldwide share this passion. For over 27 years I’ve tried to instill road safety on as many people as I possibly can. In my spare time I go to car shows and drool over those amazing machines and fantasize about owning such a vehicle. Well, it can get better than that. There are a variety of social media sites that can help that fantasizing come to life. One such site is called Car Lister.

Car Lister has a few advantages that other social media sites don’t have. They allow the member to view vehicles for sale like many sites offer but they also allow them to either start up an online car club or join an existing one. It’s rather unique as it combines buying and selling with the enjoyment of car clubs. Each member can chat with other members though private message, email or even a phone call. That can make it easier especially if you’re always on the go and don’t have time to play phone tag. And the best part; it’s free.

car lister mobileCar Lister has prepared an app for your phone for buying and selling cars online to make it easier if you’re not at your computer. As said, the app is free and as Car Lister tells me, it “creates responsive, media-rich listings from any mobile device in less than 2 minutes, but the best part is that it’s the first auto eCommerce platform with a social network build in”. You can find out more about Car Lister by checking out their website at http://carlister.co.

I’ll spend hours looking at a variety of car sites and clubs just to help fulfil my passion of driving and cars. There are other sites that let you do these things as well, but in many cases, you’ll need to use a few sites to accomplish same thing as this one site does. It’s a different look as well, so that can be refreshing and exciting.

Here’s what you can expect with this site; car clubs discussing events, TV shows uploading video previews for an upcoming car restoration series, dealerships announcing sales, manufacturers updating users about recalls, car fans sharing photos and keeping up with industry news, amongst the ability to buy and sell from one another. Sound interesting? Did I mention I love cars and driving? So does Car Lister.

I joined Car Lister and looked around. It does look like it could be a lot of fun. They’re live right now and are going to begin their launch their social platform in May/June of 2015 in the US, so go check them out! After that, they’ll hit Canada and the international stage. This could be fun and an interesting way to stay on top of the automotive world; in one easy stop.

Posted by: safedriver | April 21, 2015

There’s more to waiting in traffic than…actually waiting

IMG-20130806-00526Wait. Wait. Wait. We seem to be waiting a lot these days. Whether it’s in line at the cashier in a store, at a gas station or to get into the movies, waiting is part of our lives. Waiting in traffic is also part of our lives; an everyday occurrence. As mundane as it seems, there are proper ways to wait to help you avoid injury… or worse.

The traditional way many drivers wait to make a left turn is to angle their wheels slightly to the left. They tend to feel this will help them get out of the intersection quicker. Others feel they can see around the driver turning left opposite them better this way. Unfortunately, they’re wrong on both counts. Let me explain.

The wheel angle points your vehicle slightly in the direction you’re intending to go. The actual movement of the vehicle is what gets you out of the intersection sooner. With that angle, the front left corner is closer to the line of traffic. Your seating position is in a position that doesn’t necessarily allow you to see any better. To help you exit the intersection safely and as soon as possible, look ahead for a gap in traffic. As the last vehicle before the gap reaches the intersection, check the crosswalk to your left for cyclists and pedestrians. If the crosswalk is clear, gently ease off the brake to get your vehicle moving. Just as that oncoming vehicle passes you, look into your intended path and off you go. Quick and easy.

The other most common time we wait is when stopped in traffic; either before making the above mentioned turn, at a red light or just stopped in traffic in general. In North America, the rear crash is the most common type of collision. In some cases, the driver actually sees the approaching vehicle before they get hit, but does nothing about it. Sometimes this is because they don’t know what to do, but other times they just don’t have a place to go. However, this can change.

Many drivers stop close enough to the vehicle ahead of them to see the wheels of that vehicle touch the road. That was a technique many of us learned years ago when you could see the hood of your own vehicle. In many cases, vehicles are too aerodynamic to see the hood, so seeing the wheels touch the road generally means you’re less than half a car length from their rear bumper. Unfortunately, that’s not enough space any longer.

When you’re stopped in traffic leave yourself enough space to get out of the way if the vehicle ahead of you stalls. This is usually at least one car length. Leaving extra space also has an advantage of helping you avoid a rear crash. Before stopping, plan your escape. Figure out where you can go before you actually need to go. This makes it quicker to escape the rear crash. Now for the most important part; checking the mirrors. Not only should you check the mirrors, you need to pay attention to what you actually see. Ask yourself; what’s behind you? Are they gaining on you quickly or are they slowing down?

After many drivers stop in traffic they usually look around at just about anything other than where they should, which is behind them. If you monitor the mirror, plan your escape and leave yourself room to get out of the way, there’s a better chance you can avoid a rear crash. Now, let’s put the two errors together – waiting with your wheels angled and not checking your mirror. What could happen? Check this vehicle to find out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tADvFcj7Cm4

The driver made a few mistakes, but luckily came away without much injury that we can determine from this video. Seatbelts and the airbag definitely helped him. He did glance in his mirror twice before the impact. Once while slowing and the second time after he heard screeching tires. Could this have been avoided? Yes. At worst case, leaving the wheels straight would have just pushed him into neutral area and not into the oncoming truck.

So the next time you’re waiting in traffic, either to make a left turn or just waiting to start moving again, think about your wheel position and what’s happening behind you. It could save you and your vehicle.

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Posted by: safedriver | April 8, 2015

You never find what you’re not looking for

No right on Red 1-27I’ve talked to many people over the years about what makes someone a good driver. Many say its attitude. Others say good reaction time does the trick. Some will say proper training is the key. Well, those all play a role into whether or not you’re going to be a good driver, but let’s look at it a little differently. Let’s say you have all the above mentioned attributes; will that always make you a good driver? There’s something missing from this list; your mind and eyes.

Learning to use the skills you were taught helps, having the positive attitude will also help, but learning how to think like a driver is a big part of whether or not you’ll become a safe driver. Many people obtain a driver’s licence but never really embrace what it takes to actually become a safe driver. They get into the vehicle and go from point A to point B without much thought. But that should change.

Here’s how it should work. While driving your brain sends a message to your eyes where to look to ensure you’ll see potential problems early enough to respond. Staying focused on driving and avoiding distractions is your main job as a driver. However, knowing where to look is an important step. I’ve often said; you drive with your mind and your eyes. Your hands and feet are only tools for what your eyes have seen.

I was speaking with a couple of local police officers recently regarding what people say after they get stopped for making illegal driving actions. Many times they just plainly say they didn’t see the sign. One officer said the driver who turned when they shouldn’t said they saw the light but not the sign. That’s interesting since the sign was next to the light. Was this an excuse or did their brain omit that piece of information?

Having 20/20 vision doesn’t mean you’re using your eyes effectively while driving. It just means you have normal eyesight. To use your eyes effectively while driving, look for things that may affect your travels. Even though you may have driven a certain route each day, looking for signs and lane markings is always a good idea. Your jurisdiction may have made changes since the last time you drove that route. While I was re-evaluating a licensed driver we came across an intersection with a newly placed stop sign. Since he wasn’t slowing I asked him to apply the brake…a few times. He still didn’t slow down so I used my dual brake to stop us. His reasoning for not braking – the sign wasn’t there yesterday.

Learning to move your eyes constantly and looking from building to building and on the sides of the roads will help you spot potential problems and information to help you drive safely. If you’re not looking for warning and information signs, will you see them? I think it’s important for all drivers to keep an open mind to help them spot these signs. Constantly moving your eyes will also help you see pedestrians, cyclists and other road users too. There’s an old saying; you never find what you’re not looking for. It’s time to start looking.

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Posted by: safedriver | April 4, 2015

It’s time to listen to those who care

bdf8c51442169262ffc5769bdb8cWe all know people who do things because they care; teachers, parents, coaches, aunts, uncles and many others. Have you ever asked yourself why they do these things? Is it because they were told to or is there a genuine part of themselves that wants to help others? Most people who help with the sole purpose of allowing success in others want to help. I’m pretty sure we all know people like that. These people were most likely a big influence in your life at some point in time.

When it comes to road safety I know many people who fit that profile. They genuinely want to help others. Yes, they often get paid to help others, but that’s so they can earn a living to help pay their expenses. However, they tend to go deeper than the basics to ensure the success of others. In the many decades I’ve been involved in road safety, I’ve met many who also volunteer their time before earning a living. One person to mention is Curt Kindschuh. Curt started off as a police officer who had pulled many people over for impaired driving during his 18 years as an officer. In 1990 until 2002 Curt was also heavily involved as a volunteer with MADD.

logoCurt’s experiences have taken him many places, but one important place was developing goggles to represent what it would be like if someone was impaired by alcohol or drugs. The problem exists when someone is impaired, their thoughts and judgement are also impaired. They can’t realize what they’re doing is wrong when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle if they are already impaired by alcohol or drugs. That’s where these goggles come into play. They send a strong message about the dangers of drinking and driving.

When I first started to teach driver training, we had a pair of these goggles and students were a little surprised with how their vision, coordination and their balance became impaired. My students in the classroom couldn’t walk in a straight line with these goggles on, especially if I asked them thought-provoking questions at the same time. Once they made the connection between these goggles and how their judgement and vision were affected with alcohol, they stopped smiling and started to listen. I always believe in a teaching philosophy of “sell it; don’t tell it”. In other words, no one will do what I tell them. They do what they believe. These goggles helped me “sell it” to my students.

Curt now has branched off into his own company called Drunk Busters. He produces and sells these goggles worldwide. As long as the teacher can make the connection between those goggles and real life, they’re a great tool to use to educated people of all ages of the effects of impaired driving. Learning how impaired driving can affect us is everyone’s responsibility.

To find out more about Curt, his mission and what he does, check out his website here. http://www.drunkbusters.com/about.php It’s time to listen to those who care.

Posted by: safedriver | March 31, 2015

Getting more value from your vehicle starts with you

Toronto-20140221-00781Getting good value from the things you have is important to just about everyone. There are so many things people do to try to save money, including buying things they need when they are on sale, using coupons and perhaps using discount stores. But without realizing it, many people waste money on a daily basis. What if you were given a break on your monthly rent or mortgage; would you take it with a smile? Many drivers make the effort to find the gas station that offers the cheapest prices, but will they do the things to get good value from their savings?

When you’re sitting in traffic or anywhere really, you’re wasting more fuel than you may realize. In many cases, it’s from the daily commute. Even though many people feel there’s nothing they can do about fuel waste, there actually is. The photo below shows time spent in a drive-thru line up. The line-up was short and the time spent was minimal, but look at the waste. This 30 litres/100 km translates to under 8 mile per US gallon. My average fuel rating on the vehicle I’m driving is currently 7.7 liters/100 kms. That translates to well over 30 MPG. Would you ever buy a vehicle that showed fuel consumption to be 8 MPG or 30 litre/100 km? Of course not, but many choices that a driver makes can hurt their fuel consumption more than they may realize. So let’s look at a few solutions for saving fuel and money.

IMG_20150325_100045Based on what was just mentioned, go inside to buy your coffee or use the banking machine. The drive-thru can also waste a lot of time, not just fuel. I’ve been to some places where the drive-thru has more customers waiting than what was inside waiting. I went inside and purchased what I needed, then returned back to my car while others were still waiting in line at the drive-thru. Not only was I saving fuel, but I also saved time.

During your morning commute; look for roads that often have less traffic lights and stop signs. The initial start-up from a stopped position uses up most fuel. Keeping a steady flow is better for your savings. To help keep that steady flow, look well ahead while driving and when you see the traffic lights change to red, ease off the gas early and coast. This can save you a lot of fuel over time. If you ease off the gas early and you only have to drop your speed in half, the acceleration back up to speed takes less power and that uses less fuel. The added plus is that it gives you the sense that you’re still getting to your destination instead of sitting in traffic.

Since many people want to be in control, they often want to drive. But have you ever thought about sharing rides with one other person, perhaps every other week? Here are just a few of the benefits other than fuel savings; less vehicle wear, sharing parking costs, less stress from the grind of daily commutes.

If you really want to get the most out of the fuel you’ll need to make some changes to what you do with your vehicle. Dropping prices in fuel is only one small part of saving money at the pumps. A change of attitude and skill should also happen if you really want to save your hard earned money.

 

Posted by: safedriver | March 26, 2015

How to avoid the perils of potholes

POT-HOLES

As written for The Insurance Bureau of Canada. Please visit their blog.

We seem to have a pretty good crop so far this year. It almost seems after each rainfall there’s more and more. The crop seems to grow quickly when the mild weather happens. Does this sound familiar? Do you think I’m referring to fruits and vegetables? I’m actually referring to potholes on our roads. The mild weather seems to create more potholes after a cold winter, so what can we do to prevent being gobbled up by them? Well, I’m glad you asked!

The first thing to realize is what type of damage driving into a large pothole can do to your vehicle. It can cause a fair bit of damage to your vehicle’s suspension system, alignment, steering control, your tires and your rims. Those are enough reasons to avoid driving in a pothole as they can be very costly repairs.

To help you spot potholes early enough to avoid them, look well ahead and see if you can spot a change in the shading of the pavement. If it’s darker, it may be an actual pothole. This gives you early information to do something to avoid having your wheels drive into it. The other advantage of looking ahead is if you notice the vehicles ahead of you all moving over slightly, chances are there’s a reason and that reason may very well be a pothole. Seems like a good reason to follow the trend, doesn’t it?

Another way to spot a pothole is seeing larger puddles on the road. If it hasn’t rained recently, chances are that the puddle you spotted is actually a pothole holding onto that water. Again, do your best to avoid driving into that larger puddle.

Now that you’ve spotted the pothole, how can you avoid driving into it? Many drivers will slow down dramatically before they hit the pothole, but that can still damage your vehicle. The added problem of slowing down is the traffic behind you. Those drivers may not expect you’re about to suddenly brake and may not be prepared. So why increase the odds of vehicle damage just to avoid vehicle damage?

The best thing to do is to adjust your vehicle’s position on the road. Sometimes that means moving closer to the lane next to you. To ensure you can do that safely, it’s a good idea to position your vehicle in traffic so that there won’t be another vehicle immediately beside your vehicle. This is commonly referred to as a staggered position. In other words, you’re driving beside space. This space allows you a safe cushion to move into to avoid those dreaded potholes.

Making these changes to your driving not only helps you keep control of your vehicle under these conditions, but it also saves you money for repairs. Seems like a win-win situation to me.

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Posted by: safedriver | March 23, 2015

Driving into the sunset isn’t always romantic

136Like most people, I enjoy having the bright sunshine compared to an overcast day anytime. Feeling the warmth on my face relaxes me and makes me happy…well, most of the time. Driving toward the bright sun isn’t always relaxing and driving into the sunset isn’t always romantic. Sometimes it can be blinding. Even though that’s the case there are a few things we can do to help make driving safer in those conditions.

The most common thing drivers do when they’re faced with bright sunshine are sunglasses. Wearing a pair of sunglasses will help to block the glare, not just the brightness. They help you focus on the things you need to while driving, including the traffic lights, pedestrians, road signs and other road users. However, make sure the sunglasses don’t impede your visibility to the sides. Sunglasses with wide arms can add to a blind spot which may stop you from noticing something approaching from the side soon enough to avoid it, such as cyclists or pedestrians.

Other than sunglasses, don’t forget about the sun visor to help block the sun. This is adjustable and can swivel toward the side if the sun is shining through the side window. I’ve watched how some drivers will shield the sun with their hand while driving, only to leave the sun visor up in the ceiling. The added problem with this is trying to safely steer with one hand on the steering wheel. Why not use the tools your vehicle came with? When you do use the sun visor, push it toward the windshield to block the sun. This will still help you spot traffic lights and road signs.

Sometimes the sun can be high enough to not really bother us, but the added glare from the sun can make it difficult for us to see properly while driving. To help reduce this glare, ensure you clean the inside of your windshield regularly. Using a glass cleaner will help get rid of the grime that seems to gradually build up over a period of time. If you allow smoking in your vehicle, cleaning the inside of each window every few weeks will make a huge difference.

Here’s the second worst case scenario. You’re heading toward the sun with sunglasses on, the sun visor lowered and the inside of the windshield clean, but the sun is below the visor and it prohibits your view, what can you do? If you always keep a hat with a brim, such like a baseball hat it can help to shield the sun while you drive.

Here comes the worst case scenario. Regardless of all the things you’ve done to help keep your visibility while driving toward the bright sun, it’s getting tougher to see clearly from that glare, what do you do? Pull over to a safe place and wait for approximately 15 to 20 minutes until the sun has gone behind the buildings or trees. Once that happens, you know you’re good to go again.

Now file away these tips and save them for a rainy day. I mean a sunny day.

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Posted by: safedriver | March 14, 2015

Are you ready to leave winter driving behind?

kids

As written for The Insurance Hunters. Please visit their blog.

Well, it might finally be here – spring. We’ve had a long, cold winter and I think everyone is looking forward to nicer weather. Many people begin to feel happier when the temperatures begin to rise. When that happens, we also begin to see more kids playing outside. I enjoy watching my kids outside getting fresh air, but as a driver, having kids playing outside creates added risks on the road. Are you ready for these and other risks?

When the weather warms up, you’ll often get a bit excited that spring is on the way. Car windows get rolled down and stereos get turned up. Both of those things can distract the driver from their job of driving safely. Loose papers inside your vehicle can blow around when the windows are down. Securing any loose items such as papers is a good thing to do to help you avoid distractions. Focus on your driving as the weather improves.

When weather improves and the windows drop, many drivers tend to rest their elbow on the door and drive with one hand. Show how good a driver you are by keeping two hands on the wheel. Having two hands on the wheel will help you steer around a sudden problem with ease. Typical reaction time often isn’t quick enough to allow you to grab the wheel with your second hand when you need it. By the time your brain tells your hand to get back on the wheel, it’s too late.

As the temperatures rise, you’ll find more kids sledding, playing road hockey and just fooling around in the yard and near the street. It’s always a good idea to mentally prepare ourselves as we drive when changes with the weather happen. This is important at any time of year, but especially during spring and summer when we’ll find more kids outside playing.

Expect to see kids darting out onto the road without much warning. To prepare ourselves, reduce your speed while traveling in areas that have kids. In many areas across Canada, school zones and park areas already have a reduced speed limit. Just because school may not be in session doesn’t mean you can increase your speed. Slow down so you can respond to these kids quicker. Also, stay away from parked vehicles as much as possible as kids can dart between them at any time, especially as they slide down a big snow pile.

Look for feet in front of parked vehicles well before you reach them. From a distance, you’ll have a good angle to spot them. When you get too close to the vehicle, it will be more difficult to spot those feet about to walk in front of you. Once you learn to anticipate their actions, you can help keep them safer.

Remember, there may be other drivers who are caught up with “spring fever” just like you who may not be paying much attention to their driving. Someone has to, so let’s put our safety in our own hands.

distractedDo you ever find yourself in public doing something just a little out of the ordinary? Figuring no one is watching, you just keep doing what you’re doing. Well, sorry to bust your bubble, sometimes people do watch. Okay, that sounds creepy, but it’s not really. It’s kind of funny actually.

Recently while I was stopped in traffic I noticed the driver behind me was moving their head a little odd. In reality, they looked like a bobble-head. I thought maybe they were singing, as many people do. After a few moments I realized what they were doing – they were dancing in their vehicle. While stopped they hand their arms and hands moving all over the place. If they had a front seat passenger I’m pretty certain they would have smacked them in the head. It was pretty comical to watch. This had me thinking of all the other unusual things I’ve seen drivers do while driving.

Many people eat snacks while driving. Most of these snacks take very little thought, but can be distracting none the less. There was a time I watched someone eat a full size sub while driving. A friend of mine was driving so I was able to watch a lot longer than if I was the person behind the wheel. They had to use two hands for the sub so they could keep it together without spilling most of it on their lap. To do this, they had to guide their vehicle with, you guessed it, their knees. Once I noticed that, it was time to move as far away as possible so their actions wouldn’t affect us.

You know how sometimes the temperature in your vehicle can get a little too warm? Most drivers will either turn the temperature down or crack open a window. Not in this one case. I witnessed someone taking their sweater off. They weren’t stopped at a traffic light. They were in full motion. Okay, that’s talent – and dangerous. Why couldn’t they wait until they were safely stopped at a red light or stop sign? Could they pull over to the side of the road and do it there? Sure, but where’s the excitement in that?

There’s so much to do while driving that many drivers have a difficult time keeping up. Glancing at many things is a common part to driving, so adding things less important shouldn’t really happen. Well, during rush hour one day, I noticed the driver next to me was reading. Many drivers read the gauges on their vehicle or perhaps the GPS to help them plan their route. But this driver was reading a book. I guess driving was a little boring for them. Either that or the book was too good to put down.

With all the talk about distracted driving, this next one left me speechless. While out with my sons, we approached another vehicle and happened to notice the vehicle was drifting slightly in their lane and was also driving much slower than the other traffic. As we passed the vehicle, we noticed the driver was texting while driving. To help the driver keep their vehicle in their lane, their front seat passenger was steering. I guess that’s better than steering with your knees, right?

So tell me what you’ve seen that falls under the category of odd, crazy or just funny. Sometimes we need things like this to let us know we’re fairly normal…most of the time.

Posted by: safedriver | February 28, 2015

How to deal with road raging…as the giver and receiver

AngryDriverLet’s face it; we’re not happy all the time. Neither are the people we come across in our daily activities. Sometimes the grumpy, annoyed or angry feelings come with us where ever we go, including when we get into the vehicle. If you take these negative feelings with you while driving, this can often lead to road raging. So let’s take a look at both angles of road raging – the giver and the receiver.

Let’s first address you, the road rage giver. Why do it? In most cases, road ragers are just having a bad moment, bad day or bad few days. The stress seems to build up and when the smallest thing that doesn’t go in their favour happens, then wham! They take most actions from other road users very personal. They often feel those people did those actions to them directly. Well, that’s not really the case. The main difference between an angry driver and a road rager is follow-through. The angry driver may say things aloud in the vehicle to themselves or their passengers. The road rager will act upon their rage.

When I was a judge on Canada’s Worst Driver during their first season, we had a participant who felt other drivers were doing things just to annoy him personally. This tended to get him so angry he often retaliated to these drivers by cutting them off or by hitting the brakes suddenly causing the driver behind to do the same, almost crashing into them. That’s often what road raging really is – retaliation to someone else’s actions. During that season of the show, we used the other participants as examples to him that people make mistakes while driving; quite often not intentionally toward someone else. After we did that he seemed to have a better understanding that people do make mistakes while driving and became less of a road rager. He tried not to take other driver’s mistakes personally.

So what can you do to avoid being the road rage giver? If you’ve had a bad day, put on your favourite music in your vehicle before driving away, close your eyes for a few minutes and take deep breaths. This will slow down your heart rate and put you in a relaxed mood before you head off on your commute. If what’s causing your stress is at home, try to leave it there when you get into your vehicle. The same can be said if the stress you’re feeling is with your job. Leaving your “work problems” at work allows you to stay calm while behind the wheel. Always take a few moments before driving if you’re feeling annoyed, angry or grumpy to relax and clear your mind of those issues. And never take the actions of other drivers personally.

Now, what can you do if someone is the road rager to you? The first thing is never retaliate back to them. Drivers have been seriously injured or even killed through the act of road raging. You’re no better than they are if you act like them. Also, avoid making eye contact with them. That sometimes seems to fuel their rage even more. Another possible solution is to turn off the road you’re currently driving on to get rid of them. If they follow you, keep making smooth turns until they decide it isn’t worth pursuing. If they still persist with the raging, drive to the closest police station or fire station. They’ll tend to back off after they see where you’re going.

Remember driving is a journey, not a race. Take the time to relax and focus on this journey. Personal problems will come and go, for you and other road users. Take a moment and think of the consequences of your actions before you do those actions. You’ll be safer because of it.

**Note** Here’s an update of a related road rage incident. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/61-year-old-man-spat-at-younger-woman-in-road-rage-police-say-1.2982956

**Second note** Check out the video of this driver getting caught road raging by police! http://www.motoringexposure.com/30071/friday-fail-dont-get-road-rage-police-nearby?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=motoexposure&utm_content=Friday%20FAIL:%20Don%27t%20Get%20Road%20Rage%20with%20Police%20Nearby

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