With summer holidays in full swing, many of us are on the road heading out to various destinations. Planning and preparing for highway safety is imperative if we want to avoid accidents. Tires squealing, metal crunching, glass shattering, people screaming are not sounds anyone wants to hear or experience in their vacation.
It’s estimated that 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes each year, with as many as 50 million are injured. When it comes down to it, attention to safety and plain common sense can help us avoid many accidents. Let us see how.
Speed Limits, Seatbelts, and Texting
Follow the speed limit. Some roads may have a speed limit that seems too low, but exceeding the limit usually makes little difference in the time it will take you to arrive at your destination. Is it worth risking an accident to gain that little time?
Wear your seatbelts. Seatbelts are designed for safety. One government agency in the US concluded that seatbelts saved over 72,000 lives between 2005 and 2009 in just that country alone. In 2014, nearly 13,000 lives were saved. Yet in that same year, only 87 percent of drivers were wearing their seatbelts.
What about airbags? An air bag does not take the place of a seatbelt but works with it to provide increased protection. If you do not wear your seat belt, the airbag loses its effectiveness and can even be dangerous. Before you leave your driveway, get into the habit of making sure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up.
Texting is a major no no! Never attempt to read or compose text messages while driving. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. And nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. Even more disturbing statistics from the report say that more than 3,000 teens die each year in crashes caused by texting while driving, while approximately 2,700 teens are killed in drunk driving accidents. A staggering 49 percent of adults admit to texting and driving, even though 98 percent of them know the practice is unsafe.
Distracted driving, what does that mean? It means engaging in an activity that causes you to loose focus on driving. This can include talking on the phone, eating, drinking, fiddling with your radio, checking a map or your GPS, or turning around to speak with your kiddos.
Road Conditions and Maintenance
Before venturing on the roads, always check your tire pressure. Somewhere on the sidewall of your tire, you might notice words ‘Max Press. 35 PSI, this number tells you the maximum cold pressure needed for your tire to carry its maximum load. Cold pressure means ideally filling your tires when they are cold, like first thing in the morning. Usually, your tire’s maximum tire pressure is somewhere between 30 and 35 PSI. Tire traction is reduced on roads that are wet or covered with dust, sand, or gravel. By slowing down, you are less likely to slide or spin out when braking.
Check your six fluids which include your engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and windshield fluid. If these are topped up, you’ll have a more pleasurable holiday. Also, ensure your headlights, brake, and backup lights are working. And repair or replace worn parts to avoid the worry and time-consuming costly repairs that could ruin your trip.
Be prepared for construction. The warmer months make highway repairs easier but can create frustrating travel delays. You can check with your state or province on which highways are being repaired and if needed reroute your journey.
Sun glare is another concern. Driving on a beautiful sunny day can provide stunning scenery, but it can also create a hazard if the driver’s view is compromised by a glaring sun. Utilizing your sun visor and investing a pair of polarized sunglasses can help reduce the glare. Slow down and leave more room between the car in front of you if you’re unable to gauge the distance. Also, keep your windshield clean inside and out, and avoid storing papers and maps on your dashboard.
Stay alert! Very often out travels will take us on a long journey. You may be tempted to drive for extended periods of time to get there in one day, even when you’re exhausted. On top of that, familiar or uneventful terrain can be monotonous making the driver sleepy. Get a good night sleep before leaving on a long journey as fatigue will cause you to make delayed responses and perhaps poor choices. Take frequent breaks at rest stops and stop early if needed.
Finally, when you get to your vacation destination, park in a well-lit area and don’t leave anything in your vehicle that may tempt thieves. A neat car is less likely to be robbed. Lastly, have fun!! Forget about home, school and work. Enjoy the moment and live it to the full!