Following simple safety rules will keep you, your passengers and your vehicle safe. Even if you are the best driver there are those around you that drive and are out of control. Protecting your safety and keeping your vehicle safe and sound should be one of your main focuses as a driver.
According to the statistics branch of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each year there are over 6 million traffic crashes reported to law enforcement officers. In these accidents around 40,000 people are killed and over 2.5 million individuals are injured. Of all crashes there were over 4.2 million that involved property damage only.
These statistics prove that accidents happen a lot and there is no guarantee that you will not be involved in one. That is why you need to prepare and protect yourself in advance. This way if there is a possibility of a crash occurring you will not become part of the fatality statistics.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has what they term the three P's of Safe Winter Driving. The first P, which stands for Prepare, has already been discussed in a previous article. This article discusses the second P, Protect. Yes, the DOT has these P's listed for winter driving but really they can help you during any season as we will show you here,
The easiest and one of the most important ways to keep yourself and your passengers safe is to buckle up. Use the seat belt as it was intended to be used. Most cars, unless they are very old, should have both a lap and shoulder belt. Use both parts of the safety belt. Have the lap belt fit snug around your lap. Same for the shoulder belt, have it securely draped over body and then over your shoulder.
Many people say the safety belt is uncomfortable so will use the lap belt portion but free themselves from the top portion. This is a very bad idea. The shoulder portion of the belt holds your main upper torso in place if you are involved in an accident. It has been proven over and over that using both part of the safety belt is necessary and will reduce your injuries and possibly save you having a fatal injury. Also you can get ticketed just as you were not belted in at all if you do not properly use the lap belt with the shoulder belt.
Remember it is not only you, the driver, who needs to be bucked in properly. Laws in many states also assert that all passengers should have their seat belts on. As the driver you are responsible for not driving the vehicle until everyone is secured in their seats. This is especially true if you have children.
Make certain your children buckle up. Some parents allow their children to believe the car will not even start if all the belts are not securely fastened. If your kid requires a child safety seat make sure it is correctly installed and then used properly. A majority of parents misuse their child seat in some way. Follow the instructions for your seat exactly so that you know it will be secure if you are in a collision. You should also always fasten your child into their seat. Make sure their belts are secure around them so that they do not slide around in their seat.
Never put a rear-facing newborn or infant seat in the front of a vehicle that has an air bag. If the air bag was to go off it could seriously injure your child. Newer trucks, where there is not a back seat, have a switch so that you can turn off the passenger air bag so that the child safety seat can be placed there. If you have this type of vehicle remember to always turn off the air bag in this type of situation,
Children under the age of 12 are much safer sitting in the back seat. If the kids are yelling about sitting in the front with you remind yourself and them of this. It is for their safety that they sit in the back, where they are more protected if an accident were to occur.
As a driver you could also be harmed by an air bag. This is a life saving device but it does explode out quite quickly. So quickly in fact it could burn or bruise you. Do not let this scare you away from having a vehicle with this safety feature. What it does mean is that you need to sit back at least 10 inches from where the air bag comes out from. This distance will allow the air bag to come and extend properly. The air bag then becomes the protection device it was built to be.
Being a safe, defensive driver will always make you more protection from collision. As a defensive driver you need to be aware of where other drivers are, drive the speed limit and drive within your limits. Know how to handle your care in various weather conditions. Always give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
Beyond what you can do as a driver there are other means of protecting yourself. This is by using the safety features that are built into your vehicle. Always buckle up and secure the safety belts or seats of your children. Make certain your passengers use them as well. Allow air bags to do their job by not sitting on top of them. If you follow these simple steps you are one step closer to keeping yourself protected from severe harm on the roadways.