Automobile Safety

Detailed Look On Car Safety Tips

Driving an automobile becomes so automatic after a while, it’s easy to let safety fall through the cracks. However, even if you’ve never been in an accident before, you shouldn’t lull yourself into a false sense of security, failing to perform basic safety precautions that could save your life, or those of your passengers, in a collision. These car safety tips may lower your risk of getting into an accident and allow you to 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 in 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 collision, protect the brain and spinal cord and assist the body slow down after impact, reducing injuries.

In order for a seat belt to be effective, however, it must be worn properly. Ensure 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 drivers and passengers that maintain security 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 securely buckled into a car seat that’s appropriate for the child’s age, height and weight. From birth to 12 months, babies should always ride in a rear-facing vehicle seat; children aged 1-3 years must stay rear-facing until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by car seat manufacturers. From ages 4-7 years, children should be strapped into a forward-facing vehicle 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 children 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 at the N.H.T.S.A. website.

3. Never text while driving.

How dangerous is it to be distracted by the act of composing, sending or reading text messages while behind the wheel? Car and Driver Magazine ran 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. But when the driver was sending a text, an additional 70 feet were needed to come to a halt. Another study found that texting while driving was the likely cause of more than 16,000 road fatalities 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 stay 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 setting your vehicle’s route, selecting music and making cell phone calls before you begin to drive, and pull over to manage distractions like fights involving children.

5. Be conscious of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Roads are not 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 maintain safe speeds and take additional caution when going around blind curves or over hills. Be watchful for pedestrians crossing the street at intersections, particularly when turning right, and provide cyclists at least half a car’s width when passing.

Because motorcycles don’t 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 street. Needless to say, helmets are a necessity for motorcycle drivers and passengers. Drivers of other vehicles should never pass a motorcycle too close, as a burst of air from the car can cause a motorcycle to lose stability.

6. Pack a climate-appropriate emergency kit.

Roadside emergencies can happen at any time, and motorists should be prepared with supplies that can aid in getting help, making minor repairs and signaling that your vehicle’s presence to other motorists. Consumer Reports recommends a simple kit containing a mobile 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 .

You may 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 cat litter (for traction on slick surfaces) can come in handy. You can buy pre-assembled roadside safety kits and fortify them with things that suit your needs.