Wednesday, June 1, 2011

10 tips for keeping your family safe on the road

 Summertime is here!  This past winter was long, cold and snowy.  I am so glad to see nice weather.  Along with summer comes road trip plans for a lot of people.  Whether you are traveling across town or across the country you want to make sure your family is safe.  What can you do to help ensure your road trips will be as safe as possible?  Here are some suggestions for you: 

 1.  How is your windshield looking these days? 
To drive as safely as possible you need to see as well as possible.  Not only should your windshield be clean, it should be in good repair, too.  The windshield provides up to 30% of your vehicles structural integrity. Do you have chips or cracks in your windshield?  What can you do about it? 
Windshield repair is often a safe and economical alternative to a full windshield replacement.  A chip smaller than 6 inches (or the size of a dollar bill) can easily be repaired by filling it with a special resin.  Scheduling a windshield chip repair is easy! Companies like Safelite AutoGlass provide mobile service – wherever your car is – often within 24 hours of your initial call.  Perhaps you feel you can purchase a do-it-yourself repair kit and give the repair a try yourself. Forget do-it-yourself repair kits. The resin could easily shrink or yellow, lowering the quality of the repair. Safelite AutoGlass uses a patented repair process… A vacuum is created over the damaged area and the resin penetrates and fills the finest micro-cracks. The technician pulls off the vacuum changer and the UV light hardens the resin. Safelite’s resin is proven to be the strongest and longest lasting on the market.  Remember, your family's safety is involved here!  Also, don't forget to look into your auto insurance.  This may be covered and there may even be no deductible for the repair.

2.  How are your tires?  Some things get better with are not one of them.  Are your tires old?  Do they need replaced?  
Check your tire pressure regularly. Tires tend to lose air over time. Buy a digital tire gauge and check your tires once a month and before a long trip. Proper inflation pressures can be found in your owner's manual or on a sticker on the car (usually on the driver's doorjamb or fuel-filler lid.
Check for tread depth. Check tread depth by placing the edge of a penny upside-down into the grooves of the tire's tread.  If you can see all of Lincoln's head, it's time for a new set of tires. Never buy a single tire -- it's best to replace all four tires at once.
Stay balanced. If your car develops a shimmy (a back-and-forth vibration, usually felt through the steering wheel) at a certain speed, it's possible that one of your tires has lost its balance weight. Having your tires re-balanced is a fairly inexpensive job.

3.  Are child safety seats installed properly?
In order for a child's car seat or booster seat to work properly, it has to be installed correctly.  Read the manuals for each of your seats.  Install each seat exactly as stated in the manual.  There may be differences in proper installation from seat to seat so this is very important.  Make sure the seats have a good tight fit with no wiggling or wobbling.  Consider taking your vehicle to a car seat inspection location to have your install job checked by a professional.

4.  Practice extended rear facing of children in car seats.
Although it may be common practice to turn a child to face front ward at their first birthday, is that the safest practice for your child?  Consider keeping your baby rear facing to at least 2 years instead.  Why is this practice safer? 
When a child is in a forward-facing seat, there is tremendous stress put on the child's neck, which must hold the large head back. The mass of the head of a small child is about 25% of the body mass whereas the mass of the adult head is only 6%!  A small child's neck sustains massive amounts of force in a crash.  The body is held back by the straps while the head is thrown forward - stressing, stretching or even breaking the spinal cord.  The child's head is at greater risk in a forward-facing seat as well.  In a crash, the head is thrown outside the confines of the seat and can make dangerous contact with other occupants, vehicle structures, and even intruding objects, like trees or other vehicles.
Rear-facing seats do a phenomenal job of protecting children because there is little or no force applied to the head, neck and spine.  When a child is in a rear-facing seat, the head, neck and spine are all kept fully aligned and the child is allowed to "ride down" the crash while the back of the child restraint absorbs the bulk of the crash force. The head is contained within the restraint, and the child is much less likely to come into contact with anything that might cause head injury.

5.  Keep your child in a booster seat.
Keeping your child in a booster seat is so much easier these days.  Booster seats are being made to accommodate children of greater height and weight limits.  They are also allowing you to use the seat's safety harness system for a lot longer as opposed to the car's shoulder belts.  A harness system is much safer for your child.

6.  Put the cell phone away!
Do not take phone calls while you are driving.  Do not text while driving.  Do not check your email on your smart phone...or the weather...or anything else.  It may be best to turn your phone off while you are at the wheel to avoid any temptation to take that quick call that comes in!  You can always return calls later when you check your voice mail!

7.  Avoid travel during peak road traveling times.
Could you leave a bit earlier?  Leave a bit later?  Avoiding the roads, especially busy highways, when traffic is at it's busiest will make for a safer trip.  There will be less for you to watch for and less drivers to be concerned about.

8.  Do not drive if you are tired.
If you have more than one driver in the car, frequent driver switches are a great idea.  It will give you time to rest your eyes and mind.  If you are the only driver, take breaks frequently.  If you are traveling a great distance and have to stop earlier than you wanted to for the day, don't stress about it.  Extra money spent on hotel stays will be well worth it considering your family's safety, possible even their lifes, are involved.  An extra night of hotel costs will be far less than the cost of vehicle repairs should you have an accident because you were not performing at your peak, too.

9.  Watch your speed.
Keep an eye on your speedometer.  Do not drive faster than what current conditions would allow as well.  Even though the speed limit might be 65, an extra busy road or bad weather may mean that its best to travel at slower speeds.  Again, the few extra minutes or hours added to your travel time will be well worth it when you arrive at your destination safely.

10.  Pull over in bad weather.
If its raining so badly you have to strain to see, its not safe.  Its best to pull over and wait it out.  Very bad weather conditions generallly last only a relatively short time, so you will not lose much travel time.  Even very windy conditions could warrant some time off the road.  Trying to control a car being blown about is not fun, or safe.

One bonus, last tip!   Wear sunglasses!
Before you pull out of your driveway make sure your sunglasses are handy.
  • You may be inside the car, but you’re not protected from the sun. Wearing sunglasses while you drive prevents exposure to UV rays as well as sun damage to the eyelids which can lead to skin cancer.
  • It has been suggested that if you’re driving in the rain, wearing sunglasses can help improve your visual acuity.
  • Sun glare can be extremely dangerous to drivers. Blinding sunshine can block oncoming vehicles, traffic control devices and pedestrians from your sight. Wearing a pair of sunglasses will help to reduce the risk of sun blindness.
So when you hit the road this season, do so with your family's safety being first priority.  I hope my tips will help you to accomplish that.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Safelite blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

About Safelite AutoGlass:
Safelite AutoGlass® was founded in 1947. Throughout our more than 60 years of service, our company has grown from a single store in Wichita, Kansas, to a national auto glass provider, serving nearly 4 million customers per year.

Through industry-leading 24-hour instant scheduling, convenient in-shop or mobile service, top-of-the-line materials and SafeTech™ certified technicians, you'll find that Safelite AutoGlass offers superior customer service, value and quality.

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