To promote the growing importance of safety and road awareness, 27th January – 2nd February marks Car Safety Week in the UK. That’s not to say however, that the rest of the world shouldn’t be taking into consideration the valuable points raised on, and off the road at all times.
Each year as the roads worldwide get busier, the statistics of collisions and fatalities rise. Whether it’s the increasing number of cyclists fighting for space with fellow drivers, or prevented issues like drink driving and poor car maintenance, Car Safety Week works by exploring how you can not only make sure your car is the safest it can be on the road, but also how to minimise the risks of being behind the wheel.
Although it’s classified as one of the obvious points for car and road safety, it still remains one of the most common. How many of us can say we have driven tired before? It doesn’t necessarily mean you need the apparent warning signs of struggling to keep your eyes open – lack of sleep over one night is enough to affect your reaction time whilst driving.
A study conducted at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who get less than five hours sleep at night where four to five times more likely to get in a car crash. Studies have found that driver alertness is related to the ‘time of day’ more than the ‘time-on-task’ which means drivers are less alert at night, especially after midnight. The body’s natural drowsiness may be enhanced if you have been on the road for an extended period of time.
To remain alert and avoid slow reaction time and impaired judgement it’s recommended you get sufficient amount of sleep before driving (at least six hours but eight hours is recommended). Watch out for medications that cause drowsiness and limit your time on the road between midnight and 6am if possible. If you are feeling sleeping, schedule a break every two hours, get someone else to drive or opt for public transport or a lift.
One of the most important ways of keeping a car safe is through effective car maintenance and auto services. Like the working parts of a human body, the insides of a car need to have regular checks to keep it ‘healthy’ and running both safely, and smoothly.
The engine is the heart of your car so should be looked over by professionals – if it doesn’t work then your car is useless. Regular engine checks will ensure it’s up to speed and in safe working order. Checking brakes should also be part of your basic car maintenance, this is crucial for safety reasons. Low brake fluid levels can cause soft brake pedals resulting in serious car crashes.
All drivers should be aware of how to carry out a simple tyre check. Tyres play an extremely important role in increasing driver safety, and keeping fuel costs down. A regular check of the tyre pressure and tread depth will improve fuel economy and encourage a safer vehicle. By law, tread depth of your tyres should be a minimum of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters for all cars and vans.
Child Seat Safety
It’s not just your own actions as a driver and the condition of your car though, it’s even more vital for drivers to take responsibility and consider other passengers in the vehicle too.
If you have children or driving children around in your car it’s up to you, as the driver, to know the car seat laws in your state. Four out of five child car seats are used incorrectly so having a certified technician to check its installation is highly recommended.
If you are a parent, the safety of your children is questioned from the moment an infant car seat is installed through to the day they graduate to no-car-seat. If you are purchasing or using a second-hand seat, make sure it still complies with the manufactures safety standards. Child car seats should not be used in the front seat and should be disposed of if they have been in a crash.
Common ‘killer’ distractions that can be avoided are becoming a leading cause of car crashes. It may seem like an innocent text, a quick phone call to let someone know you’re on your way, or a few beers with mates that can lead into your life – and someone else’s – changed forever.
These killer distractions are fast tracking to be the new ‘drink driving’. Whist the safe drivers may be mindful of the obvious – being on your mobile phone and drink driving – many of us forget that it’s small distraction habits we are all guilty of doing at least once, that are dragging our attention from the roads.
Your quick stop through drive through for a burger and a coke is labelled as a hazardous driving habit. Second to kids, pets have also clawed their way into the 10 most dangerous distracted driving habits whether it be transporting them to the vet or moving house. Innocently daydreaming when you’re on your autopilot routine drive is the second highest killer distraction, so how do we beat these common movements? It’s simply about being aware of them, how they’re distracting you and eliminating as many as we can.
Whilst we can’t control what other people do on the road, from the innocent child that runs out to grab their ball, to the reckless driver or simple the inexperienced, we can take matters into our own hands to avoid as many accidents as possible.
The basics, sticking to the speed limit and wearing a seatbelt are all there in place to avoid those nasty situations. It’s no grand news that you’re twice as likely to die in a crash if you don’t wear your seatbelt, yet so many people ‘forget’ or don’t make it a priority. By law, you must wear a seatbelt in cars and goods vehicles where one is fitted. There are very few exceptions to this.