BEFORE YOU GET BEHIND THE WHEEL:
- Keep up with car maintenance – Well-maintained cars are safer cars, so make sure you change your oil on a regular basis and make sure all the parts of your car (engine, tires, belts, hoses, mirrors, windows, windshield wipers, lights, horn, etc.) are working properly.
- Consider installing a car alarm to deter potential thieves.
- Plan ahead – Consider the safest route and give yourself enough time to get to your destination so you don’t feel the need to speed.
- Check the forecast to find out if severe weather is expected when and where you’re driving, then plan your trip accordingly.
- Be prepared for emergencies – All drivers should prepare an emergency road kit and store it in the trunk of their vehicle. Suggested items include a flashlight, road flares, a first aid kit, blanket, water, road atlas and warm clothes for use in the winter season.
- Don’t drive tired – Make sure you’re well rested and alert for your journey.
- Avoid driving distracted – Put down the cell phone, food, hairbrush and makeup. Avoid adjusting the radio, heater/air conditioner. Stay focused on the road ahead instead of the scenic view and any accidents that might be on the side of the road.
- Follow the driving laws – Buckle up, maintain a safe distance from other cars, stay out of the passing lane if you’re not passing another vehicle, etc.
- Never operate a vehicle while impaired – An auto should never be operated if you drink alcohol or take drugs. Once they’re consumed, alcohol or drugs immediately impair your judgment, reaction time slows, and emotions and behavior become exaggerated. If you operate a motor vehicle while impaired, you jeopardize not only your life, but also the lives of others.
- Be patient and considerate to other drivers – It’s important to treat other drivers as you would want to be treated. Aggressive driving, following too close and using high beams improperly are all examples of actions that can lead to serious accidents.
WHEN YOU PARK YOUR CAR:
- Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up, and take your keys with you. Don’t make it easy for thieves to steal your car or the items in it.
- Remove valuable items from your car or keep them out of plain site so thieves won’t be tempted to break in and steal them.
- Park your car in a well-lit, well-traveled area.
- Avoid parking next to large vehicles or any objects (dumpsters, large trees or shrubbery, etc.) that someone could easily hide behind.
IF YOU HAVE A BREAKDOWN:
If you’re in an accident or your car breaks down, safety should be your first concern. Getting out of the car at a busy intersection or on a highway to change a tire or check damage from a fender bender is probably one of the worst things you can do. The Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department recommends the following precautions when your car breaks down:
- Never get out of the vehicle to make a repair or examine the damage on a busy highway. Get the vehicle to a safe place before getting out. If you’ve been involved in an accident, motion the other driver to pull up to a safe spot ahead.
- If you can’t drive the vehicle, it may be safer to stay in the vehicle and wait for help or use a cell phone to summon help. Under most circumstances standing outside the vehicle in the flow of traffic is a bad idea.
- Carry flares or triangles to use to mark your location once you get to the side of the road. Marking your vehicle’s location to give other drivers advance warning can be critical. Remember to put on your hazard lights!
- In the case of a blowout or a flat tire, move the vehicle to a safer place before attempting a repair—even if it means destroying the wheel getting there. The cost of a tire, rim or wheel is minor compared to endangering your safety.