Automotive Safety Tips

General Automotive Safety Tips
Safety Tips for Long Trips
Safety Tips for Winter Driving/Bad Weather
Safety Tips for Wet Driving Conditions
Thoughts About Road Rage

Automotive -- Generally
  1. Check your tires' air pressure frequently. This can keep your tires from blowing out. Also, in this era of high gas prices, it will help you maximize your vehicle's mileage. When you do this, look for bulges and bald spots.

  2. After starting your car, check to make sure that your brakes are working properly. This can help you avoid any unwanted surprises, or far worse.

  3. Be prepared for problem situations. Always keep a flashlight, jumper cables, maps, and warning devices in your vehicle.

  4. We know, they are long and boring, but read your vehicle's manual. The knowledge you will gain will help you deal with problems that may come up.

  5. Always buckle up. In 2004, an estimated 55 percent of those killed in passenger vehicle crashes were not wearing safety belts.

  6. Use child safety seats properly, and put children under 12 in the backseat. (We will soon add the precise laws for child seat usage in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia).

  7. Don't tailgate. For every 10 mph of speed, stay at least one vehicle length behind the vehicle in front of you.

  8. Obey speed limits.

  9. Slow down in construction zones, and pay attention to warning signs and road crew personnel.

  10. Replace windshield wiper blades about every 6 months.

  11. Check your lights periodically, including your tail lights (they will decrease the likelihood of your vehicle being rear-ended).

  12. Keep a charged cell phone in your car in case of emergencies.

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Automotive -- Long Trips
  1. Beware of drowsy driving: get enough rest before beginning the journey.

  2. Set realistic travel goals about the time it takes to reach the destination.

  3. Eat healthy meals. Foods high in fat and sugar can contribute to fatigue.

  4. Listen to talk shows on the radio, rather than music. Discussions will keep you alert. Of course, you could also talk to your passengers if you keep your focus on the road.

  5. If you become tired, stop your vehicle at a safe place. Take a short (20-minute) nap, or drink coffee or tea for short-term alertness until you find a safe resting place.

  6. Take advantage of easy-to-use, real-time travel information sources that will help you plan the best route and time to travel. Traveling during non-peak commuting periods can reduce travel time as much as 37 percent compared to trips during peak rush hours.

  7. Check 511 telephone services and travel information web sites for updates on traffic jams, road construction, lane closures, severe weather and travel times on interstates and major highways.

  8. The Federal Highway Administration's web site at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/index.htm contains links to information on weather and road conditions and the availability of travel web sites and 511 telephone services.

  9. Factor in additional travel time if driving through congested areas or bad weather.

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Automotive -- Winter Driving/Bad Weather
  1. Tools for the road: keep a snow brush, shovel, ice scraper, and blankets.

  2. If your vehicle stops or stalls, don't leave it. Instead, put bright markers on your antenna(s), and shine the dome light inside your car. If you run your vehicle, do it just enough to stay warm.

  3. Know your way. Check the weather and maps or driving directions before you leave. Let others know your plans.

  4. Steer into a skid. To maximize safety in an emergency stop, learn whether or not your car has antilock brakes. If so, stomp on them. If not, pump them.

  5. On icy roads, you should allow at least three times more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Remember that bridges and overpasses are usually the first to freeze in cold weather.

  6. Slow down during bad weather. Each year, there are about 6,500 fatalities and 450,000 injuries from crashes that occur during bad weather.

  7. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, don't stick around for a long time with your windows up or in an enclosed space.

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Wet Driving Conditions – Skidding and Hydroplaning

Losing control of your car on wet pavement is a frightening experience.

Skids are scary but hydroplaning is completely nerve-wracking.

Hydroplaning happens when the water in front of your tires builds up faster than your car's weight can push it out of the way. The water pressure causes your car to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water between your tires. At this point, your car can be completely out of contact with the road, and you are in danger of skidding or drifting out of your lane, or even off the road.

Taking these simple tips into account can save your life.

  1. You can prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. Steer and brake with a light touch. When you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal.

  2. If you do find yourself in a skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas, and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes. This procedure, known as "steering into the skid," will bring the back end of your car in line with the front. If your car has ABS, brake firmly as you steer into the skid.

  3. Avoid hydroplaning by keeping your tires inflated correctly. Maintain good tire tread. Don't put off replacing worn tires. Slow down when roads are wet, and stay away from puddles. Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you.

  4. If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly. This could throw your car into a skid. Ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the road again. If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping actions. If your car has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally; the car's computer will mimic a pumping action, when necessary.

  5. Drive defensively: adjust your speed to the wet road conditions in time to avoid having to use any of these measures.

Source: National Safety Council

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Thoughts About Road Rage

  1. Don't stay in the left lane when you have no intention of passing or of making a left turn.
  2. Don't get into a speed contest.
  3. Don't tailgate.
  4. Don't cut off other drivers.
  5. Signal your lane changes.
  6. If a driver does something that angers you, try to avoid confrontation with that driver. It's NOT worth the risk.

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