An Overview Of Car Safety Tips
Driving an automobile becomes so automatic after a while, it’s easy to let security fall through the cracks. But even if you’ve never been in an accident before, you shouldn’t lull yourself into a false sense of security, failing to carry out basic safety precautions that could save your own life, or those of your passengers, in a collision. These car safety tips can reduce your chance of getting into an accident and help you handle tiny emergencies like a flat tire.
1. Wear your seat belt properly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 15,000 lives are saved every year because drivers and passengers are wearing seat belts when they get into an accident. Seat belts keep the vehicle’s occupants inside the vehicle during a collision, restrain the strongest parts of the body, spread out pressure from the crash, protect the brain and spinal cord and assist the body slow down after impact, reducing injuries.
For a seat belt to be effective, however, it must be worn properly. Make certain that the shoulder belt rests across your chest and shoulders never across your neck. Don’t place the seat belt under your arms or behind your back. The lap belt should fit snugly over the hips. Seat belt extenders can be purchased for larger-sized passengers and drivers that maintain safety while increasing comfort.
2. Make sure that car seats and boosters are properly installed.
Kids and babies need special protection in the car to prevent serious injuries and fatalities in an automobile collision. The N.H.T.S.A. recommends that children be firmly buckled into a car seat that’s appropriate for the child’s age, weight and height. From birth to 12 months, babies should always ride in a rear-facing vehicle seat; children aged 1-3 years should remain rear-facing till they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by car seat manufacturers. From ages 4-7 years, children should be strapped to a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they outgrow it, and then proceed up to a booster seat until they are grown enough to safely use an adult seat belt. Keep kids in the backseat at least through age 12.
Always refer to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions to install a car seat, or even better, have it properly installed at your neighborhood fire station. You can discover additional child car seat inspection stations in the N.H.T.S.A. website.
3. Never text while driving.
How dangerous is it to be distracted by the action of writing, sending or reading text messages while behind the wheel? Car and Driver Magazine conducted a test that evaluated drivers’ reaction times to brake lights while attempting to text on their mobile phones, and compared them to those of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent, the legal driving limit. Driving 70 mph in a straight line, it required an unimpaired driver .54 minutes to brake while a legally drunk driver had an extra four feet. However, if the driver was sending a text, an additional 70 feet were needed to come to a stop. Another study found that texting while driving was the possible cause of more than 16,000 street deaths between 2002 and 2007.
4. Don’t try to multitask.
Put down the food, makeup and other distractions while driving. While text messages have a dramatic effect on a driver’s ability to remain safe on the street, other distractions take their toll as well. Talking on a cell phone, eating, use of in-vehicle technologies like navigation systems and other visual, manual and cognitive distractions take the driver’s eyes, hands and attention from the task of driving. Attempt to perform activities like placing your vehicle’s route, selecting music and making cell phone calls before you start to drive, and pull over to handle distractions like fights between children.
5. Be conscious of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
Roads aren’t just for four-wheeled motor vehicles; even in remote rural areas, there may be pedestrians and bicyclists that are not visible to drivers until they get too close. Always keep safe speeds and require extra caution when going around blind curves or over hills. Be watchful for pedestrians crossing the street at intersections, especially when turning right, and provide cyclists at least half a car’s width when passing.
Because motorcycles do not have seat belts, it is all too simple for motorcycle drivers and passengers to be seriously injured or killed in a crash. Motorcycle drivers should avoid the blind spots of trucks and be extra cautious of other vehicles on the road. Needless to say, helmets are a necessity for motorcycle drivers and passengers. Drivers of other vehicles shouldn’t pass a motorcycle too close, as a blast of air from the car can cause a motorcycle to lose stability.
6. Pack a climate-appropriate emergency kit.
Roadside emergencies can occur at any moment, and drivers should be prepared with supplies that can aid in getting help, making minor repairs and signaling that your vehicle’s presence to other drivers. Consumer Reports recommends a simple kit containing a cell phone, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, hazard triangle, tire gauge, jack and lug wrench, foam tire sealant or plug kit, spare fuses, jumper cables, flashlight, gloves, rags, pen and paper, disposable flash camera, $20 in small bills and change and an auto-club or roadside assistance card.
You might also want to think about additional clothing, water and nonperishable emergency food. In cold, snowy conditions, a windshield scraper, tire chains and tow strap, blanket, chemical hand warmers, small folding shovel and a bag of kitty litter (for traction on slick surfaces) can be convenient. You can purchase pre-assembled roadside safety kits and fortify them with items that suit your needs.