This content is provided courtesy of USAA.
In 2010 alone, there were 32,788 traffic fatalities on U.S. roadways, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you need another reason to drive safely, March is National Collision Awareness Month, when safety-conscious organizations across the country promote responsible driving behaviors. There are three main avenues to prevent a car accident and avoid getting injured:
- Drive safely. Each month we'll give you tips to reduce your risks by forming smart habits behind the wheel.
- Drive a safe car. That means opting for a vehicle with up-to-date safety equipment and high crash-test ratings, such as the ones on the list of USAA Preferred Vehicles. See how your current vehicle stacks up in crash ratings by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
- Maintain your vehicle. A blown tire or faulty brakes can lead to serious trouble on the highway.
What if you can't avoid a car crash? The actions you take immediately following an accident are extremely important. Follow USAA's Vehicle Accident Checklist for guidance on what to do after a collision and how to file an insurance claim. Print this list and leave a copy in the glove box of every vehicle used by members of your household.
Curb Drunken Driving
While drunken driving is a problem year-round, March (when many schools let out for spring break) is a good time for a reminder. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one in three Americans will be involved in a drunken driving-related crash in his or her lifetime. When people drive under the influence of alcohol or any other substance, they're putting their lives at risk and endangering everyone else on the road. Here's how to avoid becoming a statistic:
- If you drink, don't drive. Period. Enlist a designated driver, take a cab or use public transportation.
- Hosting a party? Let your friends know you care too much about them to let them drive home drunk. Send them home with a friend, call them a cab or offer your couch.
- Talk to your children (whether teens or adults) about the dangers of drunken driving. While few parents would encourage underage kids to drink, some realize it's a possibility and offer their kids a punishment-free ride home, no matter the hour or circumstances.
- Be on alert for drunken drivers, especially at night. If you see someone driving erratically, stay out of the way. If you can describe the vehicle or get its license number, pull over and call the police.
Monthly Reminder: Change Your Windshield Wiper Blades
Windshield wipers, while simple and inexpensive, are an extremely important part of your vehicle. After all, if you can't see clearly, you can't drive safely. Wiper blades wear out over time and will tear or crack. How long your blades last will depend on how often you use them, the local climate, and whether you store your car indoors or out. Regardless, most experts recommend inspecting your wipers at least twice a year for signs of damage, or anytime your wipers squeak, skip or leave streaks on the windshield.
If the blade arms are in good shape, you may be able to fix the problem with wiper refills, replacing only the thin rubber strips that make contact with the windshield. Find the correct part numbers in your owner's manual, or seek help at your local auto parts store.
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