Motor vehicle related accidents account for almost 40,000 deaths each year, with an additional 270,000 persons needing hospitalization due to injury. What makes these statistics so alarming is that these injuries are occurring despite increased emphasis on vehicle safety standards. Even though modern technology has led to increased airbags and smarter accident avoidance systems, American car drivers are continuing to experience car accidents in record numbers.
These statistics, however, are not meant to scare. Instead, they are meant to reinforce the importance of car safety. As a driver, you are primarily responsible for your own personal car safety, and you should never take this safety for granted. With this in mind, the following offers a list of six car safety musts that every driver needs to know.
- Air pressure: Regularly check your tires’ air pressure to ensure that they consistently remain at the manufacturer’s recommended inflation rate. This number can be found in the glove box, in the owner’s manual, on the side of the tire, or near the door latch on the driver’s side.
- 2. Tread and Wear: In addition to checking tire pressure you need to inspect the tires’ tread for wear. If you have your oil changed by a professional mechanic, ask them to include a tread check as part of the process. When inspecting your tires yourself, you will want to make sure that all the treads are wearing evenly. If some spots on a tire seem to be wearing faster than others, see your mechanic immediately.
- 3. Warning signs: Most cars are engineered to let the driver know if the braking system requires maintenance. This includes warning sounds like screeching, whining or grinding. In addition to warning sounds, brake pedals that feel soft and dashboard warning lights are indications that your brakes need immediate attention.
- Brake Fluid: You will also need to periodically check your brake fluid. This can be done by inspecting the brake fluid reservoir located under the hood of your car. Keep in mind that the brake fluid system is a closed system. If the reservoir level is low, this is an indication that there may be a leak, and you should have your car serviced immediately.
Child Passenger Safety:
- Car Seats: Child safety seats save lives; however, when these seats are improperly installed, injuries and fatalities can occur. This is why it is important to note that the safest place for the car seat is in the middle of the backseat, and rear facing car seats should never be placed in the front of a vehicle.
- Latch System: If your vehicle was made after Sept. 1, 2002 it is required to have been manufactured with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. This system uses anchors, allowing you to install the car seat without relying on the vehicle’s safety belt system. Consult your car’s owner manual for instructions on using the latch system.