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Turn Over a New Driving Leaf

january auto safety

This content is provided courtesy of USAA.

January Auto Safety Tips

It's a new year, and with it comes that annual tradition of leaving bad habits behind. More than any diet or exercise routine, there's one resolution that could have an immediate and profound impact on you and your family's well-being: driving safely. Here are seven easy ways to dramatically reduce the risk of causing or being injured in a car accident.

  1. Wear your seat belt, and insist that all your passengers wear them.
  2. Follow posted speed limits. The faster you're driving, the worse a crash can be.
  3. Avoid phone conversations, texting and other distracting activities while driving.
  4. Don't drink and drive. Appoint a designated driver, call a cab, or get to know your public transportation system.
  5. Drive friendly — not aggressively. Don't weave or tailgate.
  6. Use turn signals and lights to communicate with other drivers.
  7. Avoid driving at dawn, dusk and at night, the most dangerous times to be on the road.

Get High-tech Protection

Many of today's vehicles boast advanced safety features that help prevent crashes or minimize the damage from one. Below are five relatively new technologies that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says can save lives. If you're shopping for a new or used car, put these features on your wish list. If your vehicle already has them, know how they work.

  • Electronic stability control: ESC uses computer-controlled braking of individual wheels and modulated engine power to help drivers maintain control during emergency maneuvers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required that this feature come standard on all new vehicles starting with the 2012 model year.
  • Emergency brake assistance: This system senses when the driver hits the brakes especially hard or suddenly, and immediately applies extra brake pressure for maximum stopping power.
  • Forward collision warning: A radar or laser system detects when you're approaching an object too fast and warns you with an audible cue. Some systems also apply the brakes for you.
  • Reverse cameras and/or sensors: An in-dash screen shows you what's directly behind your rear bumper. Other systems beep when you're about to back into something or someone (though the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says cameras are more reliable).
  • Lane departure warning systems: If you drift out of your lane without using a blinker, your car alerts you with visual or audio cues.

Monthly Reminder: Get Regular Automobile Check-ups

It's important to make sure your engine and other systems stay in good condition, both to avoid a breakdown and to protect your bank account. Think of it as spending a little to save a lot. Replacing belts and filters and making minor repairs now could prevent a major engine overhaul later. So have a trusted mechanic give your vehicle an overall inspection once a year, and keep up with the manufacturer's maintenance schedule found in your owner's manual.

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