Keeping you safe behind the wheel
We all share the road together. By learning the rules of the road, you can help keep everyone safe. You may be a great driver. Or a great driver having a bad day. So you have to be alert and careful at all times because those around you might not be. We offers a few safety tips that can help you avoid accidents and can help you teach new drivers about road safety.
What to do if your gas pedal sticks
- Tap the gas pedal to try to un-stick the throttle linkage.
- Hook your toe under the pedal to try and free it.
- Shift to neutral and apply firm pressure to the brakes without locking the wheels.
- Find a safe place to move the vehicle completely off the road.
- If your automobile has power steering or a locking steering wheel, do not turn off the ignition or you will lose either your power steering, or the ability to steer.
- Have your vehicle checked with a mechanic as soon as possible.
- Distracted driving increases accident risk
Did you know that 80 percent of automobile accidents are tied to distraction? And distraction means more than texting or using a cell phone while driving.
Think of a visual distraction as doing something with your eyes closed. You would not make a turn or change lanes with your eyes closed. Yet, distracted drivers are, in effect, doing just that.
Consider that distracted drivers also are:
- Nine times more likely to have an accident if reaching for a dropped water bottle or other item while driving.
- Four times more likely to be in an accident if reading while driving.
- Three times more likely to have an accident if performing personal grooming while driving.
- Almost twice as likely to have an accident if eating while driving.
Distracted driving statistics like these should alert all drivers to stay focused, with eyes and attention where they should be – on the road. Find more information at distraction.gov on what is distracting your driving.
Steps parents can take to help their teens be safe
While getting a drivers license is an exciting rite-of-passage for teens, it can be enough to make a parent frantic.
Here are some steps parents can take help their teens be safe:
- Pick a safe car.
- You and your teenager should choose a car that is easy to drive and would offer protection in the event of a crash. Avoid small cars and those with high performance images that might encourage speed and recklessness. Trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) should also be avoided, since they are more prone to rollovers.
- Understand your state’s teenage driving laws.
- Many states have specific restrictions on teenage driving, often referred to as Graduated Drivers License laws. You should understand your state’s restrictions and the quality of those restrictions before your teenage begins driving.
- Have your teen take a certified driver’s education course.
- A teenager who has learned to drive through a recognized driver’s education course may be viewed more favorably by insurers. In some states, teens must take a driver’s education course if they want to get a license at age 16; otherwise, they have to wait until they are 18. The more driving practice they have, the more confident your teen will be behind the wheel, and the better able to react to challenging situations on the road.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of combining driving with alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep and distractions.
- Teach your children about the dangers of drinking and driving, and other distractions. Accidents occur each year because a teen driver was driving while drinking, using a cellphone, text messaging, playing with the radio or CD controls, or talking to friends in the backseat. Also, teens should be careful not to create distractions and to exhibit safe behavior when they are passengers in their friends’ cars.
- Be a good role model.
- New drivers learn by example, so if you drive recklessly, your teenage driver may imitate you. Always wear your seatbelt and never drink and drive.
- Drive at least 30 minutes each week with a newly-licensed driver
Practice specific skills together and provide teens with feedback in the following critical areas:
- Scanning the road ahead to recognize and respond to hazards
- Controlling speed, stopping, turning and following distances
- Judging the gaps between vehicles in traffic
- Managing the highest risks, such as driving at night and with young passengers
What to do when your vehicle breaks down
Follow some of these steps if your vehicle breaks down, and take extra precaution if you are in a busy intersection or on a highway.
- Never get out of the vehicle to make a repair or examine the damage on a busy highway. Get the vehicle to a safe place before getting out. If you’ve been involved in an accident, motion the other driver to pull up to a safe spot ahead.
- If you can’t drive the vehicle, it may be safer to stay in the vehicle and wait for help or use a cell phone to summon help. Standing outside the vehicle in the flow of traffic, under most circumstances, is a bad idea.
- Carry flares or triangles to use to mark your location once you get to the side of the road. Marking your vehicle’s location to give other drivers advance warning of your location can be critical. Remember to put on your hazard lights!
- In the case of a blowout or a flat tire, move the vehicle to a safer place before attempting a repair – even if it means destroying the wheel getting there. The cost of a tire, rim or wheel is minor compared to endangering your safety.
Source: Insurance Information Institute; http://www.iii.org
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