Modern motor cars are built with many safety features built in as standard which has led to some people getting complacent when it comes to car safety. The attitudes around car safety differ depending on where you live, how old you are and how often you drive, but by following a few simple steps, you can help keep the roads safer.
Before Starting a Journey
Before setting out on a trip, you should make sure your vehicle is safe to drive and has suitable safety features. Most cars produced today have airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and pre-collision technology. Depending on the age of your vehicle you could have all of these already available, or you might have none. It would be advisable for you to inspect your owners manual to see which features your vehicle is equipped with.
One of the greatest leaps in bounds in terms of technology in the automotive industry is precisely the area of safety. If you happen to have a car that is older than 15-20 years, then you very well should be aware that even a great big offroader from 1999 is no match for vehicles offered today, even those in a smaller class. Fortunately, the future is looking bright for the safety conscious – with Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and Autonomous Vehicles (AV). Research conducted by CARRS-Q revealed that through the adoption of AVs the number of road fatalities could be reduced by up to 90%!
Whilst driverless tech is already being employed in some vehicles in a limited capacity, we’re still a fair way away before actual implementation happens and the tech becomes mainstream. Until then you’ll still have to carry out all your checks yourself before heading out on any lengthier journey. Here are some areas to pay attention to:
Lights – Check all the lights and make sure to have spare bulbs should you need them.
Fluids – Oil, water, brake fluid, and screen wash should be at the recommended levels when cool.
Tires & Wheels – Tyre pressure and tread need to be checked along with ensuring all wheel nuts are secure.
Windscreen Wipers – Make sure they clear the window, and no cracks are developing along the edge.
Safety Equipment- Ensure your spare wheel is operable and ready to use. Make sure you have a high visibility jacket, hazard triangle, and a torch in case you breakdown.
Mirrors & Driving Position – Set all your mirrors correctly before putting the car in gear and make sure you are in a good driving position.
While Driving on the Road
There are many dangers we should be aware of when driving on a public road, by following a few simple steps you can increase your safety when driving in heavy traffic. Many drivers are aware of the dangers but do little to avert them as they feel safer in modern cars and take safety for granted.
Beware of the following areas where you will be most likely to be involved in a collision:
Distractions – The number one reason for most accidents is distracted drivers, never use your phone and be careful when changing radio stations.
Be Obvious – Make it clear what your intentions are when driving by using turn signals before turning or changing lanes.
Obey the Laws – Speeding and driving under the influence are significant contributors to vehicle accidents, never drive while intoxicated and always check prescription medicine for side effects.
Adapt to the Conditions – When visibility deteriorates, or during bad weather, be sure to slow down and account for the cars braking ability in wet conditions and your reduced visibility.
Stay Alert – When making long trips it can be tiring, so stopping regularly for drinks, food and sleep if needed will keep you awake and focused.
If you get severe winters with ice and snow, you will need to take some additional precautions to make sure your car is fit for the journey. Driving in snow or ice can be dangerous, so it would be advisable to observe some tips for driving during the winter months.
Tires – If you get heavy snow you should look at buying winter tires that give extra grip.
Safety Equipment – Be prepared with blankets, water, food, salt spreaders and grit, and a torch in case you get snowed in.
Communication – Always let someone know where you are going and ensure your phone has a full charge.
Be Cautious – Allow additional time for braking at intersections that may be icy.
It usually happens when you least expect it, but most of us will need to deal with a car accident at some point during our driving life.
Stay at the Scene – Never drive off from an accident as this can lead to hefty fines and punishments.
Call the Police – The police will attend every accident to make a report and can help with diverting traffic and calling ambulances when needed.
Stay in the Car – Standing at the roadside can be dangerous so if your car is OK, stay seated inside until the police arrive.
Keeping you and your passengers safe in your car isn’t time-consuming but does take a little consideration. Get in the habit of checking your car and safety equipment regularly, stay up to date with weather and traffic reports to help plan your journey. Taking on board some of the tips we suggested, you should have a safer trip next time you take the car out for a drive.