Every year there are some 37,000 deaths on America’s roads. The on-going recall of Toyota and Lexus models for problems with sticking accelerators, steering and brake issues have made us all think more about automotive safety.
First, know what to do in an emergency if your gas pedal sticks or brakes fail to work.
Here are five more easy, free things you can do every day to drive smarter:
1. Buckle up.
Wearing a safety belt is the easiest way to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the road. In 2008, some 14,000 died because they were not buckled up.
2. Don’t mix drinking and driving.
Alcohol was involved in nearly 12,000 fatalities in 2008. That’s a staggering 32 percent of all highway deaths. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lives. Choose a designated driver, or take the keys away from friends who have had too much to drink, and you will help prevent thousands of deaths.
3. Avoid distractions.
Distracted driving is at least as dumb and dangerous as drunk driving. A University of Utah study found that distraction from using a cellphone can slow a driver’s reaction time as much as having a blood-alcohol level at the .08 percent legal limit, whether the cell phone use is hand-held or hands-free. Nearly 6,000 deaths were attributed to distracted driving in 2008. So, don’t talk on a cell phone or send or read text messages.
4. Mind your speed.
Excessive speed was involved more than 11,000 vehicle-accident-related deaths in 2008. That’s 31 percent of all such deaths. Speed limits are posted for a reason. Slow down when weather conditions such as fog, wind, rain, snow, or ice can make driving hazardous, and leave more space between your car and the one in front of you.
5. Maintain your tires.
Properly inflated tires will help you avoid a flat tire or dangerous blowout, which can result in losing control of your car, SUV or truck. Driving on balding tires is dangerous, as well. Maintain tread depth of at least 1/8-inch, inspect your tires and check the tire inflation pressure at least once a month, and have them examined annually by a mechanic as part of your vehicle’s safety inspection.
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