When you’re a young adult or teenager, getting a car for the first time is one of the most exciting things imagineable. Even as an adult, the new car smell, jingling of the new keys, and feeling the road under you is exhilarating. However, owning a car shouldn’t just be about having fun and looking flashy. Safety in the car should be your priority at all times. Practicing safe driving techniques, proper inspections of your car, and all other safety measures can help save you or someone else’s life.

There are about six million cars sold every year in the United States. Millions of other cars are out on the road every single day, and every car holds a different person. This life within every single car, including your own, is why safety in the car is so important.

Scary Statistics

Just like there are six million cars sold every year, six million vehicles are involved in accidents every year in the United States alone. Some of these are fatal, involve other substances, and all can be dangerous and a threat to life. Technology and common sense practices for safety in the car have come a long way since the car was first invented in 1886. Following safety tips as the times and technology progress is important if you’re a vehicle owner. Consider these 15 everyday ways to be safe in your vehicle. It might save you thousands of dollars in damages, repairs, and certainly your life.

1. Conduct Proper Inspections

A car is nothing but a well-oiled, working machine. Many people begin to forget this the more time they spend driving and in their vehicle. But, at the end of the day, a car is a machine that needs to be properly inspected to ensure it is functioning properly-every single time you go out to drive. You might be thinking that this is a bit overboard, but on the contrary, a vehicle should be given an inspection before you go out onto the road. Many little things can make your trip not just a hassle to complete, but even hazardous if your vehicle is not working properly.

Turn signals, fluid such as oil, window washing fluid, and water, and properly working mirrors should all be top priority for you to maintain safety in the car. This is why many first responders, such as EMT’s, fire-fighters, policemen and even bus operators all conduct inspections on their respective vehicles before starting a shift- and why you can receive a ticket for something as minor as your break lots not working. These little things count, so make sure to continue to inspect your vehicle every time you drive.

2. Maintain Your Tires

Just like your proper inspections, your tires should be checked thoroughly before getting on the road. Checking your tires involves checking your treading, or the grooves inside your tire, to make sure you have enough traction to keep you safe on the road. This is especially true in rainy conditions, where hydroplaning can risk your safety and those of other drivers. Check your tire treading in addition to checking to make sure you have enough air in your tires as well. Even if your tire light isn’t on, it’s important to make sure your tires are at the proper PSI level. A tire that is low in air is more likely to pop suddenly in the road and cause devastating shredding. Depending on where your tire blows out, it could be hundreds, if not thousands in car body repair.

3. Stay off Your Cell Phone

Safety in the car involves having a driver that is present, in the moment, and nowadays not on their cell phone. Of all accidents, the National Safety Council reports that cell phone use leads to 1.6 million crashes each year! That’s a huge number that is not only tragic, but preventable as well. Don’t think simply checking a text message is okay, or taking just one second to answer a phone call is either. Using your cell phone for any amount of time can distract you just long enough to be susceptible to an accident. Consider blue tooth technology, or hands free phone stands to install into your car while driving. As technology advances, there is no excuse to be risking safety in the car by using your cell phone.

4. Do Not Drive Drunk

Driving drunk is one of the biggest mistakes you can do, and one of the biggest risks to your safety in the car. Not only will you need to abide by the drunk driving law in your state, that can prosecute you in case of an accident, but you will also have to live with the consequences of your drunk driving mistake. Jail time, fines, losing your license, and possibly hurting yourself or someone else should be a big deterrent to drunk driving. Just don’t do it.

5. Do Not Use Medication

Though driving drunk is sometimes a blatant mistake, using medication while driving is just as dangerous, but a lot more subtle. Medications should as benzodiazepines, pain relievers and even some anti-depressants can cause dizziness, fatigue, and cause you to lose your reflexes while driving. The result could be a motor vehicle accident that could also result in a drinking while intoxicated charge. Don’t be fooled, the criminal justice system will still prosecute you for using medication that is clearly labled with “use caution while driving,” or “may cause dizziness.” To maximize safety in the car, it’s your responsibility to see how you will react to a medication before going behind the wheel.

6. Check Your Blind Spots

The blind spot is one of the biggest causes of accidents for drivers everywhere. Without properly checking your blind spot, as many do when they get overly confident, rest assured it’s not a matter of if, but when you cause an accident. Faulty mirrors, speeding vehicles, and cars changing lanes can all cause you to have to hire a car accident law attorney after a crash. Don’t risk your safety for a half-second of laziness, and continue to check your blind spots when switching lanes.

7. Don’t Road Rage

The stress of driving on the road is one that can cause you to be incredibly stressed, irritable, and with a short fuse. Practicing breathing and calming techniques while driving can be a great way to reduce road rage and stress. In addition, don’t play in to the road rage of others, as these can become very dangerous very quick. Safety in the car in this case translates to safety at home, as sometimes road rage drivers can follow you home.

8. Maintain a Safe Distance

When needing to get somewhere in a rush, many drivers tend to follow too closely to other cars and tailgating them. It’s important to always keep a cushion of safety at least one car wide on either side of you. In case you have to brake suddenly, have to maneuver out of the way to prevent an accident, or any other reason, maintaining a safe distance is important for all these reasons. If you don’t maintain a safe distance, more times that not, rear-ending a vehicle will more than likely put you at fault for an accident for following too closely. A good car insurance agent might be able to help you prove your innocence if the accident was unavoidable, but it’s better to always leave a cushion for safety and peace of mind.

9. Don’t Drive Tired

Highway hypnosis is a very real phenomenon that can cause you to become distracted, fatigued, and cause an accident when driving tired. It’s better to pull over, take a nap, or simply go without driving when you’re feeling too tired to drive. Thinking you can drive without proper rest is a mistake. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated in 2013 that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths. To avoid becoming one of these statistics, and having to hire a car accidents attorney later on, maintain safety in the car by taking more time to rest at home.

Rest assured that a car accident lawyer can help when you need it.

10. Maintain Insurance

It’s important to maintain proper car insurance to not only ensure your safety in the car, but also the safety of others. Whether or not an accident is your fault, having insurance can give you peace of mind in knowing you’re covered when sustaining damage. This can also help another driver that, unfortunately, may be the victim of your reckless driving. Continue to seek the best insurance coverage, and don’t go without it.

11. Child-Proof Your Car

Driving with children in your vehicle involves more than just child safety seats. Child safety locks, proper cushioning, and seating them in the proper area of your vehicle are all incredibly important. State laws make it so that you may receive not just a citation, but possible harsher punishments such as child endangerment if you do not properly protect your child in your vehicle. Also, consider things such as texting and driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and smoking inside your vehicle with your child in your car. These are all big mistakes, and should be avoided to ensure safety in the car of both you and your precious child.

12. Watch for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Pedestrians and bicyclists can sneak up on you while you’re driving. Don’t get lazy when turning into garages, parking lots, drinking in parks, and around populated areas. Pedestrians are unpredictable, and getting into a crash with someone walking down the road can prove to be fatal. Not only will you have to hire a motor vehicle accident attorney to explain why you weren’t able to avoid an innocent bystander, but the consequences and trauma of hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist can be even worse. You might also have to hire a personal injury lawyer. It’s important to keep an eye out while driving for pedestrians, bicyclists, and also motorcyclists. In the states of California and Florida, motorcycle drivers are allowed to cut in between lanes, and do so with the hopes that drivers like yourself will be aware of this switch lanes carefully. If you live in one of these states, keep these details in mind.

13. Prepare for Long-Distance Trips

Long-distance trips can be fun, but they do need to involve heavy planning if you wish to take your own vehicle. Maintaining safety in the car during long-distance trips is not just about getting other drivers to help you, but doing a proper tune-up of your vehicle, planning out proper pit stops in safe locations, and having food and water for the trip. Long-distance trips can be a spur of the moment decision, but it’s important to not risk getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with no back-up plan. If you leave your home and take another vehicle, consider downloading a car access device for the car you leave at home.

14. Always Lock Your Vehicle

As silly as it sounds, many people still don’t remember the simple act of locking their vehicle. Though a car locksmith can help you get your keys when you lock them inside your vehicle, who can you call when someone breaks into your vehicle and steals your belongings? Only the police, and by then it’s too late. Never leave valuables inside your vehicle, bags, money, or any other items that might entice a break-in. It’s also important to keep your vehicle in a safe location, such as a garage if possible.

15. Check Your Lights Regularly

Accidents can be caused easily by having your headlights go out on you suddenly. In addition, making sure your high beams work is a good idea if you plan on taking a trip out to rural areas. Don’t risk an accident by having faulty headlights, and make sure to inspect your lights, including your brake and turn signals, regularly to ensure your safety in the car.

Safety Is Everyday

Driving should be fun, exciting, and make your great memories. But, it’s important to remember to be safe each and every second you’re driving. A second texting, not looking out to your blindspot, not inspecting your vehicle, and not ensuring the safety of everyone in your vehicle is all it takes to cause an accident.

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