Vacation Safety: Six Tips to See and Be Seen
today at 9:24 am
Experts predict another summer of record-breaking highway travel following the pandemic year. Most of us will have our cars checked and serviced before we hit the road, confident that we have taken every safety precaution. Being safe means more than having good tires, a spare and a flare in the trunk, however. Highway safety begins with a driver who can see and be seen.
April is National Car Care Month when inspections take place. In 2014, 20 percent of all vehicles have a worn belt that needs replacing; 90 percent of all failures happen on vehicles over 8 years old, and 80 percent of cars that fail have more than 85,000 miles. It usually happens at an inconvenient time. Windshield wipers that smear and chatter across the glass are also a danger, affecting the driver’s vision. Your vision/visibility checklist should include:
Wipers: Wiper blades should be checked periodically, and the rubber “squeegee” part replaced every six months; at the outset, one year. If they’re worn or brittle, it’s time to replace them. Any good auto parts store will do it for you.
Clean the blades with glass cleaner or windshield wiper solvent to remove accumulated oily road film. If the wiper arm springs are weak or broken, replace the arm. This ensures the pressure will be distributed evenly along the length of the blade.
Be sure the windshield washers are working properly, too, and that you keep the reservoir filled with solvent.
Signals: Get in the habit of checking your turn signals, brake lights and emergency flashers. They are essential for communication. When they’re not working properly, other drivers can’t get your message and the results can be disastrous.
Headlights: When the sun goes down, your chance of being involved in a fatal accident may increase by as much as 300 percent. That’s a good reason to check your headlights on a regular basis to make sure they are working on both high and low beam, if your vehicle is not equipped with daytime running lights. They help define your car’s position on the road and its distance from other drivers.
Rear Window: If you have luggage, camping gear or other travel items loaded in the rear window, you may be an accident waiting to happen. Although side mirrors help, they are a poor substitute for a clear view out the back window. Likewise, an unobstructed view when backing up is essential.
Windshield: The combined effect of chipped or cracked glass, bugs and road film obscure vision. Repair a damaged windshield as soon as possible and clean it regularly with windshield wiper solvent and a clean paper towel or cloth. Using a windshield cleaner/protectant such as Rain-X is invaluable. Once you try it, you won’t be without it. Easy to use and highly durable, apply it every couple of months.
Use these tips and you’ll be sure to have a safe trip!
And, watch out for the other guy.