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Chapter 12 - Summation
Purpose of Driver Safety Courses
Part of your safety is dependent on possessing the right attitude while behind the wheel.
The purpose of this point and insurance reduction program is to:
- SAVE lives.
- REDUCE injuries.
- MAKE you a safer driver.
Remember that although knowledge of laws is important, your safety ultimately is dependent on understanding your driving choices, having the skills to carry out your decisions, and possessing the right attitude while behind the wheel.
Major Driving Errors
As discussed in this course, most collisions and other driving mishaps are a result of driver error. These are the major driving errors to avoid:
- Failure to obey traffic laws.
- Failure to maintain your vehicle.
- Lack of courtesy to other drivers / combativeness.
- Lack of driving knowledge.
- Bad judgment/poor decision-making.
A safe driver makes good driving decisions.
Safe drivers are mature drivers. They:
- Have a good driving attitude.
- Know the rules of the road.
- Know what to do during a life-threatening driving situation.
- Make good driving decisions.
- Don't drink or use drugs and then drive.
- Wear safety belts.
SAFETY BELTS SAVE LIVES.
Remember: SAFE = SMART
Here is some additional information to help you to be an even safer driver.
Vehicle Maintenance for Safety
Proper vehicle maintenance is mandatory to ensure the safe operation of your vehicle. It also will help you to save money and gas in the long run. Even if your vehicle appears to be in great shape, it can still encounter the occasional problem. If you are not prepared, your vehicle may encounter problems when you least expect them to occur. You don't need to be a mechanic to perform basic maintenance on your vehicle. Here are some things that need to be checked on a regular basis:
- Change your vehicle's oil regularly. A good time to check is each time you fill up your gas tank. Consult your owner's manual to find out how often you need to do this, but the oil and oil filter should generally be changed every 3,000 or three months with the specified oil type to maximize the life of your vehicle's engine.
- Check tire pressure and tread wear regularly (at least monthly), looking for uneven or irregular wear and cuts and bruises along the sidewalls. Tires should be inflated and maintained at levels suggested in your owner's manual (follow the manual, not the tire, for the recommended tire pressure). Do this at every other fill-up. Your tires must have at least 2/32 of an inch (.16 cm) of tread. Replace them if the "wear bars" are showing or your tread depth is less than the minimum. Rotate tires as specified in your owner's manual to extend their mileage.
- Have your brake system inspected at least once a year or when the warning light flashes on, the steering wheel shakes, there are unusual pulsations in the brake pedal, the stopping distance is increased, or there is excessive grinding or squealing.
- Check fluids periodically. This includes brake, steering, transmission, and windshield wiper fluids and antifreeze. Consult your owner's manual to find their locations. Always check your fuel gauge when you start your car.
- Check all belts for tightness and wear. Look for any cracks or bulges in hoses. Replace belts and hoses when specified in the owner's manual (usually about 60,000 to 90,000 miles for belts) or if they are more than four years old. They must also be replaced if they show any signs of wear.
- Air filters should be checked when you have your oil changed. They need to be replaced at least once a year. If they are dirty, soaked, or show any signs of wear, air filters must be replaced.
- Check your lights. If any are out, have the bulbs replaced.
- Make sure your windshield wiper blades are clean and in working condition. Have them replaced about every six months. Also replace them if they show signs of wear.
- Have your car tuned up as recommended by the owner's manual.
If your "check engine" light turns on, you should have your vehicle checked. A serious problem requiring immediate attention may be present if it flashes.
Check your oil each time you fill up your gas tank.
Safety Tips to Help Protect You and Your Family
Before you get behind the wheel...
- 1. Have a Clear Head.
Make sure you always have a clear head before deciding to operate a motor vehicle. Alcohol and certain drugs, both illegal and legal, can severely impair your driving skills. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause dangerous drowsiness. Get a good night's rest, and don't drive for long stretches without a break. If you are tired, don't risk the safety of yourself and others on the highway by trying to drive. Just as with alcohol, designate a driver or choose another means of transportation, such as a taxi or public transportation.
- 2. Limit Driving Alone When Tired.
Driving with someone else in the car can increase your overall alertness. It is well-recognized that when driving alone, especially when sleep-deprived and at night, your chances of a crash are dramatically increased.
- 3. Read the Labels.
If you are taking medications, be sure to read and obey the warning labels. IF the label says the medication causes drowsiness or you should not drive--heed the warning and don't drive. The warnings are there for a reason. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or to ask about medications for your condition that don't cause drowsiness.
- 4. Plan Ahead.
Give yourself plenty of extra time to reach your destination and to allow for emergencies or traffic jams. In today's busy world, most of us are in a hurry to get where we are going. By setting aside extra time, we can be more relaxed when operating our vehicles and thereby cut down on incidences of aggressive driving or road rage, such as excessive speeding, tailgating, and weaving in and out between cars.
Research the safety performance of any vehicle you are considering buying.
- 5. Research Safety Features.
Safety should always be a top priority when shopping for a vehicle. Research the safety performance of any vehicle you are considering buying, including how the vehicle performs in crash tests. Both driver and passenger side air bags are now mandatory in all new cars. Look for side impact bags in many new models as well. When buying a used vehicle, look for one with air bags. Research what type of safety systems are in the car, and choose the safest to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of a collision.
In the Driver's Seat...
- 6. Relax.
Avoid aggressive driving by relaxing and having patience. By not being in such a rush to reach your destination, you will be a calmer person and won't feel the need to speed or run red lights. A yellow light means slow down, not speed up. Always stop at red lights.
- 7. Be Alert To Signs of Fatigue.
If you start to feel tired when driving, pull over in a safe area and let someone else drive. If you are alone, pull into a safe location, such as a well-lit rest stop, and take a short nap, or get out of the car and walk around for a few minutes. Stop as often as necessary. When traveling on long trips, eat light. Large, heavy meals can make you drowsy.
- 8. Practice Common Sense Safety Rules.
Always wear your safety belt, and make sure all your passengers are buckled properly, even on short trips. If traveling with children, educate yourself on the many kinds of child safety seats and restraints. Choose which system is best for your child, and always follow the directions. Make sure children ages 12 and under are always buckled up in the back seat, which is the safest place to ride.
- 9. Keep Your Eyes on the Road.
Avoid taking your eyes off the road by eliminating any possible distractions ahead of time. Before setting out on a drive, be sure that important items are within easy reach, i.e. directions and maps, sunglasses, etc. Reduce to a minimum possible dangerous diversions of your attention from the tasks of safe driving, such as changing tapes or compact discs, and always pull over to a safe place to use your cellular telephone.
Name a lesson you have learned from taking this course that you believe will do the most to help you to be an even safer driver.