Everybody knows the importance of being safe on the road, but not all drivers are equipped with the proper precautionary steps needed to ensure their cars are safe. In fact, recent surveys from the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey indicate that mechanical defects are the second biggest cause of car accidents in the US after driver error. And while it’s useful to invest in car gadgets that improve safety, it’s equally important for drivers to know the basic ordinary tasks you can take to ensure your car is safe enough to drive.
Perform Basic Maintenance
Periodic car maintenance surpasses your standard oil checks and inspections and it’s also the #1 step to ensuring safety on the road. For starters, regularly check that your car’s fluid levels are not running low and replace as needed. Fluid levels in a standard car include; oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and engine coolant. It’s also important to have your car checked for faulty brakes, particularly if you are prone to stopping short.
Brace for Winter
If you live in a place where ice and snow are an annual reality, this adds another layer of precaution to driving. The DMV reports that car defects are most common during winter, with an estimate of 24% of accidents related to weather conditions. Prepare for winter by carrying a windshield scraper in your car to scrape ice off in the morning. If you’re driving in an especially snowy climate, it’s also a good idea to invest in snow tires to keep your car from skidding in the snow.
Know Your Make / Model / Year
Data suggests that many Americans do not know basic information about their car type, which is troubling, because in the event of an emergency, it’s one of the first questions responders will ask you. Knowing the Make / Model / Year of your car will also help inform you in the event that your car is recalled for a safety defect,
Check Your Tires
Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that the majority of accidents related to tire defects are preventable with good maintenance. Basic tire care and maintenance include checking your tire’s tread, alignment and pressure routinely. It’s a good idea to know the mileage life of your tires, as most tires last between 25,000 and 50,000 miles before they need to be replaced, but this number varies considerably among tire manufacturers.
Make a Back-Up Plan
In the unfortunate reality that your car breaks down or you have an accident, have a plan in place. Do you have AAA? Does your car come equipped with an emergency response automated system? These are important questions to plan for in the event of an emergency.
Use a Navigation System
While too many gadgets in a car can be distracting, experts conceded that ultimately, it is safer to drive with a GPS than without one for most Americans. This is because many drivers become distracted by parsing through road signs to figure out the “next step” in their journey, which takes their attention away from the road. Use a GPS when navigating an unfamiliar area to minimize risk and distraction.
As a preventative measure, basic maintenance reduces some major risks associated with owning and driving a vehicle in the US. It’s essential that drivers periodically check in with their vehicles to minimize risk and prepare themselves in the event of an accident.