Cars are powerful and can be dangerous if not operated correctly. On average, 3,287 people die each day from car accidents. Car crashes are the 9th leading cause of death in the United States (In 2014, British Columbia alone had over 500+ fatalities), and across the globe they account for more than 2% of all fatalities. Although driving in BC is fairly safe, Vancouver is known to have it’s share of drivers who have road rage.

MILLIONS ARE SPENT ON SAFETY

Automobile companies spend millions of dollars each year to provide advertisements to educate drivers on how to be safe on the road, and many of their campaigns have been successful. While these statistics are meant to be taken seriously, you can keep yourself safe with our tips for remaining safe on our Vancouver roadways. Technological advances have helped road safety immeasurably, as well as some common sense things regarding phone and text usage on the road. Here we will discuss how to keep your road trips safe (and fun!), as well as providing some everyday insight on the safety of operating a vehicle.

BEFORE RENTING, KNOW YOUR CAR

When acquiring a rental car that you’re not familiar with, it is essential to get to know the vehicle. Spend the first 10 to 15 minutes becoming familiar with the features of the car, and check for scratches or dents on the body. Make sure to find the air conditioning and heating dials. Many accidents are caused in rental cars because the driver failed to complete the process of locating these knobs and buttons, and were searching for them while trying to drive down a major highway. Ensure to adjust all of the mirrors before ever leaving the parking lot, this ensures that the field of vision is customized to your needs, and will be a huge factor in maintain your safety. While the radio doesn’t seem to be important in regards to safety, it is. You should use this time to determine how the radio works, and set it to your preferences so that it will not become a distraction while driving.

PLAN YOUR ROAD TRIP

When planning a road trip, it’s necessary to prepare the night before. When determining how long you’ll be on the road, it’s vital to give yourself ample time for sleep the night before. Resting periods the day of are equally important, as well as eating plenty of nutrient rich foods to maintain your energy. Sleeplessness among drivers account for a large number of accidents each year, as being sleepy or hungry is highly distracting even when an individual is not driving.

LONG ROAD TRIPS SHOULD HAVE MORE THAN ONE DRIVERS

The moment a driver begins to feel sleepy, they should pull over at the nearest rest stop or appropriate stopping point to get a bit of rest or just stretch their legs. Even if you are not sleepy, but know you’ve been on the road for an extended period of time, the “stop and snack” has been known to reduce distractions for drivers when they resume the trip. If feeling a bit tired, but stopping for a while is not logical for you, crank up the radio and roll the window down. These choices can help keep you alert, and can help save your life.

STAY FOCUSED ON THE ROAD

Distractions are a HUGE no-no while driving. There have been numerous reports of accidents being caused by cell phone usage, people applying makeup, eating and the like. While these things may not seem like a big deal at the time, the fact is: you are distracted. When talking on the phone, a 20 year-old driver’s response time equates with the response time of a driver in their 70s. How could this be a good thing? If you have a need for any of these things, it is best to pull off the road into a designated area. Do not pull off on the shoulder or in the emergency lane unless it is, in fact, an emergency. There is a place for eating, a place for applying makeup, and a place for talking on the phone. The fact is, that place is just not behind the wheel.

ALWAYS GET THE SAFEST CAR

Investing in a vehicle with the best safety technology can only bring a good outcome for the future. Rear view safety cameras are one of the top new technologies that provide a safer environment for drivers. They not only give a great perspective of a reversing motion, but they also allow the driver to parallel park safely. However, these should not replace your eyes. They are meant to be a helpful tool and should be used as such. The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) is not only recommending it, but will make it a requirement to have a rear view safety camera in all cars by the year 2018. They have announced that the camera will have a 10 foot wide field of vision, and should go back a minimum of 20 feet. This will greatly reduce reversing accidents and injuries, and since it will soon be a requirement anyway, we should all start to invest in this technology when purchasing or renting.

DON’T AVOID THE BASICS

While it may seem like common sense, wearing your seatbelt is vital to maintaining safety regulations. The NHTSA reports that more than half of traffic accidents that caused fatalities were due to not being properly belted up. It takes mere seconds to pull the belt around and fasten it, and that can be the difference between life and death. Speeding is also a huge contribution to accidents and injuries.

There is nothing more important that a driver needs to endanger the lives of everyone around them in order to get somewhere on time. Not only does speeding contribute highly to the national average of fatalities, but there’s also a hefty fine involved even if there is no accident. It’s senseless to endanger others and your financial future just to get somewhere a few moments ahead of time. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive to your destination without speeding.

Also, ensure that you are checking on your car or rental’s tire pressure. Uneven pressure, or pressure that is too high or too low can cause significant damage to a tire, including blowouts. Blowouts will never result in an attractive scenario. It’s also imperative to check all fluid levels and make sure that they are at the appropriate level.

Check for the gas level as well, this will save you from grabbing the gas can and walking miles down the road in a potentially dangerous situation. Hopefully, you’re already a member of AAA or an appropriate vendor through your insurance, especially when traveling out of town. This way, you’ll be covered in the event of running out of gas, a flat tire, or locking the keys inside the car and help will only be a call away.
Drinking and driving: don’t do it. There are numerous accidents involving drunk drivers every year. While it may seem like a good idea to have a beer or two before getting out on the road, it isn’t. Those beers may not get you drunk, but they will definitely make you drowsy and impair your judgment. No one wants to live the rest of their life with regrets, so if you’ve had a few drinks, just call a cab or sleep it off. Everyone on the roadway will thank you in the end.

BE AWARE OF OTHERS

Sometimes, an accident will not be your fault. You could be the safest driver on the planet, but there is still someone out there who is not as careful as you. Remaining alert and paying attention to all other drivers on the road will greatly increase your chances of arriving safely. If a friend or another passenger is distracting you, let them know. It’s become increasingly important to remain attentive and watchful to the road. Never assume that a turning signal guarantees a turn, and never assume that a stop sign means that someone else will actually stop. Just because you follow all traffic laws and pay attention doesn’t mean that everyone else will too. Remember, you can’t control what someone else will do, but you can control your participation in the situation.

KEEP THESE IN YOUR CAR

Our final suggestions for vehicle safety are as follows: Ensure that you have a first aid kit and flashlight along on your road trip. These have been known to come in handy in many dire situations, and a driver doesn’t want to be caught without them. It’s also a good idea to keep some spare change with you for upcoming tolls, or if you might need to use a payphone in the event of a dead cell phone. A spare tire is also vital. Make sure there is one in your car or rental! They are extremely essential, as well as knowing how to change a tire.

Car safety is not rocket science, but it is surely just as important. Keeping all of these safety tips in mind will ensure that the driver is aware and attentive, safe, and able to have fun during their travels. Get to know your car, be prepared with necessary equipment for changing a tire, make sure your cell phone is charged, and NEVER drink and drive. Traveling, while fun, is a serious business. Treat it that way and the roadways will remain safe.