We’re dividing our top ten driving related resolutions for 2010 into two categories.—Safety and Financial.
First we’ll look at five simple things drivers can do to make their driving experiences that much more safe in the new year.
1. Inspect and adjust your car before driving. Of course we are always in a rush, but a couple of minutes (if that) before driving away can make a big difference.
-Seatbelts all work properly.
-Signal lamps and brake lamps all illuminate and function properly.
-No illuminated warning lights on your dash indicating engine or other issues.
-Loose items in the car can become projectiles in a collision. Secure everything possible in compartments, in the trunk, with cargo nets, etc.
-Position your seat. Easy access to the pedals, comfort while steering and safety in the event of an air bag deployment are the primary goals. The general rule has your seat positioned so your wrist is at the top of the steering wheel with your arm fully extended.
-Adjust the mirrors. The entire back window should be visible in your rear view mirror. Side view mirrors should be positioned for maximum visibility of approaching vehicles and for minimizing any blind spots.
-Position the head restraint high and close to your head. This can make a big difference in preventing neck injuries in case of a rear-end collision.
2. Wear your seatbelt. By now, the message should be loud and clear from all the available statistics and national campaigns promoting seatbelt use. Nevertheless, way too many people still don’t wear one. We know this to be the case –we see no seatbelt tickets every day. Just wear it.
3. Make sure children are as safe as possible in your car. Too many drivers are either unaware or the safest measures or consciously choose to ignore them. Again, we know this by the number of child seatbelt tickets we see every day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes the four steps for kids.
-Rear facing child safety seats. Kids under one year old or under 20 pounds should be in a rear facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
-Forward facing child safety seats. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).
-Booster seats. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).
-Standard seat belts in the back seat. When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest). Buckled in the back will always be safer than buckled in the passenger seat so keep the child in the back as long as possible.
4. Avoid distracted driving. We all know about driving under the “influence” of alcohol, but what about the “influence” of cell phones, GPS, ipods, etc? There are way too many gadgets available to us these days and the “mobile” revolution, from a technology perspective, is just getting started. Add to this a wave of hybrid or electric vehicles soon to come with new gauges to read and dials to monitor. Driving was challenging enough when the only “distraction” was other cars on the road. We must all commit to focusing only on the potentially very dangerous task at hand—driving a vehicle.
5. Take a defensive driving course. No matter how long you’ve been driving, it’s good to review. When/how to pass vehicles, avoiding blind spots, don’t trust anyone or simply proceed on green lights without looking, tips for bad weather driving, not getting yourself boxed in on a highway… You may know it all but for a couple of hours of your time it’s at very least worth a review.
Coming soon. Part 2—Financial Tips.