Life is busy. We spend a lot of time on the road whether it’s driving to and from work, getting ourselves and our children to activities or events, or simply for pleasure. Let’s look at some tips and facts to help you stay safe as you travel.
Keep your vehicles in safe driving condition:
Two areas in particular to pay attention to are tires and brakes. Tires should be inflated to the recommended pressure and all four tires should be at the same pressure. A simple pressure gauge can help with tire pressure checks. With your brakes pay attention to softness when you press down on the brake pedal and if there is any vibration when the brakes are applied. Get your brakes checked by a professional as soon as possible if you notice either of these issues.
Also, don’t ignore the gauges in your car. They are there for a reason and can tell you if the vehicle is running too hot or too cold, if there is an engine problem detected, a problem with brakes or battery, low oil which leads to overheating and many more, especially in newer cars.
While vehicle fires have gone down significantly since 1980 with safety regulations, modern materials being used in vehicles and general awareness by the public increasing, the NFPA estimate over 150,000 vehicle fires in 2015. Keep a small kit of tools, a blanket and a CO2 fire extinguisher (can be used on gasoline and electrical fires) in your car handy.
Don’t drive while drowsy:
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving causes over 100,000 accidents, over 1500 deaths, and 40,000 injuries each year. Almost three in ten adults admit that they drive while drowsy at least once per month. Pull over and take a break or let someone else drive if you begin to feel drowsy.
Be careful driving in bad weather:
Fog, rain, snow, and ice all create difficult and dangerous driving conditions. If you have to drive in any of these situations, slow down, leave extra room between your vehicle and the one in front of you, take it easy on curves, and use your low beam headlights.
Choose the right car seat:
Auto accidents are the top killer of children ages 1-12 in the United States. The best protection for young children is having them in the right car seat and using it in the proper way. Learn about the different types of car seats, how to select an appropriate one for your child based on his or her age, weight and height, the available features in the different makes and models of car seats, the correct installation of your car seat, and any recall information that may apply.
Not all vehicles handle the same:
Many of us who are transporting children are using larger, higher profile vehicles such as passenger vans and SUVs. Vehicles such as these are longer, higher, and wider than sedans, for example, and therefore handle differently resulting in a greater chance of rollovers and other accidents.
Establishing the rules for teenage drivers:
Many parents experience sheer terror when their teen begins driving. Giving an inexperienced driver the keys to the car and turning them loose on the road can be frightening. Believe it or not, research shows teens really do listen to their parents. So, to make it somewhat less scary, talk with teen drivers about safe driving and establish your family’s rules and expectations.
Some ideas include the following:
No alcohol or drug use: one of the top causes of fatal car accidents is alcohol use
Don’t speed: excessive speed is another top cause of fatal accidents
Always buckle up: this has become a standard law and saves lives
Avoid distracted driving: another top cause of fatalities. No texting, cell phone use, or engaging in other distractions while driving.
Establish curfews: they are still young and growing
Passenger restrictions: a good rule may be no more than one passenger for a beginning driver. Research shows the more passengers, the more distracted teen drivers tend to be.
Following these basic safety tips can minimize the chances for accidents and help keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.