Every April, the US places a spotlight on two very important aspects of car ownership with Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Car Care Month. Let’s be honest, once you’ve passed your driving test it’s easy to develop driving habits and car care routines (or lack of routines) that would make your driving instructor and local mechanic cringe. That’s why April is the perfect time to pay a little extra attention to your car care and driving habits.
Car Care Month – It’s Time to Get Ready for Road Trip Season
April means spring is here, and summer fun isn’t too far away. Now that winter is over it’s time to give your car some love! The winter months can be brutal on cars, especially if you live in the colder parts of the country where winter driving means dealing with rain and snow. Fortunately, the Car Care Council’s Car Care Month is perfectly timed to wash away winter and prepare your car for spring and summer adventures.
Say Goodbye to Winter and Prepare for Summer
With the change of the seasons, you should take the opportunity to perform some routine maintenance on your vehicle. The Car Care Council figures show that 84% of cars that participated in Car Care Month events in past years needed some form of maintenance. Follow this three-step process, which can be done right at home:
- Check fluid levels
Take a few minutes to check washer, coolant, oil, power steering, transmission and brake fluid levels. These all play a role in keeping your car working efficiently and preventing premature problems. Check to see when the engine oil was last replaced as this should be done at regular intervals to avoid engine damage.
- Test your safety features
Take a look at the safety features of your car. This includes windshield wipers, light bulbs, and seatbelts. Look for worn areas of seatbelts and check that all buckles work properly. You should also replace wipers that show any signs of damage and all blown or dim bulbs.
- Inspect your tires
Finally, take a close look at your tires. Check that there is adequate tread left across the full width of the tire and look for any uneven wear patterns, which can be a sign of alignment and mechanical issues. If you spot unusual wear, look for a mechanic who offers free alignment checks. They’ll be able to tell you if your tire wear was caused by anything other than improper alignment. Don't forget to check the tire pressure on all four tires, too, as the changing temperatures between seasons can cause tire pressure to fluctuate.
April is a great time to get your car looked over by a trusted garage in your area. Tough winter driving can cause small problems which can often be fixed pretty easily before they cause major damage.
Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Distracted driving can’t be blamed on one specific cause, although much attention has been placed on cell phone use in the last few years. While technological developments have increased the potential for distraction, the truth is that many causes of distracted driving have been around since the first car hit the road in 1886. The difference is that the effect of a distraction on a person driving a car with a maximum speed of an exhilarating 10mph was much less of an issue than it is now, where cars frequently travel at 70mph on the freeway. In fact, distracted driving is now so dangerous that it was responsible for 3,477 fatalities and 391,000 injuries in 2015. These numbers continue to grow each year.
Understanding Distracted Driving
It comes as no surprise that texting is responsible for a large amount of distracted driving incidents, and there are many other behaviors that can distract drivers from being fully focused on the road. The CDC breaks distracted driving down into three categories:
- Visual – looking away from the road
- Manual – removing your hands from the wheel
- Cognitive – thinking about other things
Some activities people do while driving seem so minor that you might not even consider them a cause of distraction. For example, eating, drinking, changing the radio station, patting a dog, changing heater settings, or removing a CD all fall into one or more of the distraction categories. Whether you’re removing your hand from the wheel to drink your coffee, taking your eyes off the road to look at the display in a shop window or even daydreaming about your dinner plans, you are taking your focus away from driving. What many people don’t realize is that even if you are only distracted for five seconds, you could potentially be traveling further than the length of a football field during that time. That’s an incredible distance to cover while being distracted, presenting a huge opportunity for accidents to happen.
Nipping Bad Behavior in the Bud – Teaching Your Kids That a Text or Call Can Wait
While cell phones are not the only cause of distracted driving, they are one of the contributors. This is especially true among young drivers. If you’re a parent with a high school- or college-age child the following statistics may be startling:
- 42% of high school age drivers admit to sending texts or emails while driving
- 14% of fatal distracted driving crashes involved a cell phone
- Drivers under the age of 20 have the largest share of distracted driving accidents that result in fatalities
Although teenagers aren’t exclusively responsible for distracted driving incidents, they are at increased risk. Educating your kids on the potential consequences of using a cell phone or engaging in any other distracting activities while driving is key in helping them develop attentive driving habits that will keep them and others on the road safe!
National PTA recommends taking teenagers on commentary drives where the teen, as a passenger, has to describe hazards they see and how they would react at the same time as sending a text message. This exercise is designed to show how difficult it is to pay attention to hazards while looking at a cell phone.
Protect Your Family with Affordable Car Insurance
Whatever the cause of an accident, whether it’s distracted driving, mechanical failure or third-party error, the right car insurance can help protect your family from unnecessary stress after an accident. With over 100 years of experience helping individuals find insurance in the US and Canada, we have the knowledge to help you obtain insurance you can rely on. Get a free car insurance quote with Wawanesa and see how much you can save.