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Road Safety: Vehicle Maintenance and Safe Driving

According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the first quarter of 2022 showed the highest first-quarter motor vehicle crash fatalities in 20 years at 9,560 deaths. It also showed a seven percent increase from Q1 2021.

As a driver, you can help keep the roads safe by staying up-to-date on your vehicle’s maintenance and driving safely. Here are some tips on how to do both

Vehicle Maintenance Tips

It is your responsibility as a car owner to ensure that your vehicle is well-maintained so that it does not cause accidents on the road.

Check your tires regularly.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated and that there is enough tread left. Balding tires can cause you to lose control of your car.

Have your auto service shop balance your tires with a wheel balancing machine. If your tires are not correctly positioned and are imbalanced, your steering wheel will vibrate, making it harder to control your car.

Check and change your vehicle’s fluids regularly.

Check all of your fluids regularly and change them as required. This includes the power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid.

Change your engine oil and filter as often as recommended in your car’s manual. Dirty oil can cause your engine to overheat. This can damage your engine and cause it to seize up.

Check your brakes.

Brake pads should be replaced when they get thin. If your brake pedal feels spongy or you hear a grinding noise, have your brakes checked immediately. Bad brakes can cause you to lose control of your car and have an accident.

Check your lights regularly.

Burned-out headlights or taillights can make it hard for other drivers to see you. On the other hand, do not use lights that are too bright. These can momentarily blind oncoming traffic and cause an accident. Both can also lead to fines.

Use your car’s lights only when necessary and dim them when approaching other cars.

Clean your windshield and windows.

A dirty windshield can make it hard for you to see, especially at night. Make sure your windshield is clean and that there are no cracks or chips. If you have a crack in your windshield, get it fixed as soon as possible. Wipers should be replaced when they leave streaks on the windshield.

Keep your windows clean. Dirty windows can hinder your vision while driving. Clear your windows of snow and ice in the winter. In the summer, keep them clean to prevent insects from splattering all over them.

Keep your gas tank at least half full.

If your gas tank is low, you may run out of gas and be stranded on the side of the road. This can be especially dangerous if you are in an isolated area.

Safe Driving Tips

According to the US Department of Transportation, the top causes of road fatalities in 2019 were:

  • driver intoxication for 10,142 deaths
  • speeding for 9,478 deaths
  • not wearing a seat belt for 9,466 deaths
  • driver distraction for 3,142 deaths
  • drowsy driving for 697 deaths

In addition to maintaining your vehicle, it is also your responsibility to drive safely.

Man driving a vehicle

Do not drink and drive.

Never get behind the wheel of a car if you have been drinking alcohol. Even if you have had only a few drinks, take a taxi or public transportation.

If you must drive in an emergency, drink a lot of coffee first and drive slowly.

Obey the speed limit and drive at a safe speed.

Speeding is one of the leading causes of accidents. Obeying the posted speed limit can help you avoid an accident. Remember that the posted speed limit is the maximum speed you should be driving in good weather conditions.

In poor weather conditions, if the roads are wet or icy, you should slow down. It takes longer to stop on a slippery road, so you need to give yourself more time to brake.

Allow for extra space between you and the car in front of you.

This is called the “three-second rule.” You should allow three seconds between you and the car in front of you. This allows you to react if the car in front of you stops suddenly.

Be extra cautious when driving near large vehicles, such as trucks and buses. Large vehicles have blind spots where the driver cannot see you. If you cannot see the driver in the side mirror, he or she cannot see you.

Do not drive if you are tired.

Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. If you are tired, take a break. Drink coffee or take a nap before getting back on the road. Get plenty of sleep before going on a long road trip.

Never drive distracted.

Distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from driving. This includes talking on the phone, texting, eating, drinking, and talking to passengers.

Do not drive distracted. If you must do any of these things, pull over to a rest area or park your car first.

Keeping Everyone on the Road Safe

Road safety is a responsibility that all drivers and car owners share. By following the tips provided in this article, you can help keep yourself and everyone else on the road safe. Remember to keep your vehicle well-maintained and drive safely.

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