Vehicle Safety: Protecting Yourself on the Road
Sometimes we look at our cars as mobile fortresses. People get to their car in a parking lot and immediately (and mistakenly) feel “home free”. While our cars do offer us a measure of safety, we’ve also seen many examples of people being pulled from their cars when they were surrounded during “mostly peaceful” protests. Here are some vehicle safety practices that can contribute greatly to your personal safety.
Regular Maintenance: Your Vehicle’s First Line of Defense
Regular maintenance is the foundation of vehicle safety. It not only ensures your vehicle operates smoothly but also prevents unexpected breakdowns that can lead to situations that put you in unnecessary danger.
Taking your car for routine inspections, oil changes, brake checks, and tire rotations helps maintain the integrity of your vehicle. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Remember, a well-maintained car is a safe car.
Tire Safety: Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that touches the road, so their condition is crucial to your safety. Check the tire pressure regularly to prevent underinflation, which can lead to reduced traction and poorer handling.
Additionally, inspect the tread depth and look for things like nails or debris in them. If the tread is too worn, it’s time to replace your tires.
Defensive Driving: Your Best Offense
The road can be a challenging place, and you can’t control the behavior of other drivers. However, you can control your own actions. Defensive driving is a mindset and set of skills that allow you to anticipate and react to potential hazards.
Staying focused, maintaining a safe following distance, obeying traffic rules, and refraining from distractions like texting or adjusting the radio are essential components of defensive driving. Your attitude behind the wheel can make a significant difference in your overall safety.
Don’t Make it Personal
Almost every day, I see behavior that could be classified as road rage. Dangerous and/or aggressive driving in response to perceived sleights or in response to rude behavior by others. Gestures turn into dangerous driving practices like tailgating and “brake checking”. The next thing you know, there is a crash, or someone is jumping out of a car at a traffic light with a gun.
Dial it down. Be the gray man/woman that nobody notices. It may make you angry when some jerk cuts you off, but is it worth getting into a gunfight over? Practice self-control over your actions and responses. Extend grace to people who don’t exercise control over theirs. And if you see a situation developing with a driver who may be targeting you, disengage as soon as you can. Turn down another street or pull into a police or fire station. Call 911 if you need to.
Be Prepared For Mishaps
Mishaps will happen. Being prepared for them helps. If you don’t know how to change your tire, learn how. Make sure your cell phone isn’t nearly dead. (It stresses me out when people post screenshots and I see their phone is at 5%).
I bought portable jump starters for my daughter, son, and wife. They don’t have to wait in some sketchy parking lot, hoping to find someone willing to jump-start their car. The starters are super easy to use. They can do it themselves in 2 minutes. (And both my daughter and wife have done it)
Some of you may be more like me. I carry a full medical bag and an AED in my SUV. Or maybe a small first aid kit is more your speed. Make wise choices.
Have all your paperwork like insurance, registration, and important phone numbers all in one spot, ready in case there is a crash or you are stopped by the police.
Avoid Distractions: Focus on the Road
In today’s connected world, distractions in the car are more common than ever. Using a cellphone, eating, or even adjusting the GPS can divert your attention from the road, often with tragic consequences.
Put away your phone, finish your meal before driving, and set your GPS before you start your journey. Keeping your focus on the road is a fundamental part of vehicle safety.
Often we choose parking spaces by how close they are to the place we’re going. Instead, pick ones in well-lit, highly visible areas. Not only do they help keep your car from getting broken into, it makes it safer when you return. When you approach your car, swing wide and look around before you approach the door. Make sure there is nobody waiting to ambush you as you open the door. Use mirrors and reflections in the windows of nearby cars to your advantage.
Similarly, your location in traffic matters. Don’t stop too close to the car in front of you at a light or stop sign. Leave enough room that if that car doesn’t move (or someone jumps out of it), you can drive around it without having to back up.
Related to this: know where you are going. It’s easy for us to just follow the GPS directions, but have an idea where you are going. Be aware of events going on in your area, such as protests. This can prevent you from getting caught in a potentially deadly situation. If you see protests or road blockages ahead, seek an alternate route if possible.
Safety First, Always
When it comes to vehicle safety, remember that your safety, as well as the safety of others, should always be your top priority. Embrace a safety-first mindset, and you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re doing your best to protect yourself while on the road. Stay safe out there!
If you’d like more information about personal safety training, contact us.