If you have a driver’s license, you were taught how to drive defensively and take basic safety precautions. You learned about scanning ahead and side-to-side, keeping a space cushion between your car and the car in front of you, wearing your seatbelt, not getting distracted and not driving more aggressively than current road conditions and weather allow. All of these basic safety measures still apply, but some details are often overlooked. Here’s a list of tips you need to understand to keep you and everyone else safe inside and outside your car.
Newer cars come equipped with some advanced technologies to increase safety, but ironically, some of these features give rise to new safety hazards if they’re used improperly. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) has found that some common problems, in particular, stand out:
Blind-spot monitoring systems can detect a nearby vehicle and alert the driver, but they have limitations. A fast-approaching vehicle, for instance, won’t necessarily show up within the sensors’ range until it’s too late. For this reason, manually monitor your blind spots the old way — by using your mirrors and turning your head.
If your car comes equipped with emergency braking and forward-collision warning systems, you need to know that these are two separate features. Emergency braking, as the name indicates, isn’t intended for regular use. Furthermore, some cars may have forward-collision warning but not emergency braking. Many drivers are confused about these features and the fact that they don’t work together as some sort of automatic space cushion.
Adaptive cruise control is a useful feature that certainly saves lives, but drivers may assume wrongly that this is an autonomous driving feature and think they can engage in distracting activities like looking at their phones. These advanced driver assistance features can backfire if the driver has literally given up the task of driving.
More technological issues are raised as self-driving vehicles come to market. Until these cars drive themselves perfectly, human occupants need to be aware of their limitations. Tesla, for instance, is rolling out their autonomous features gradually, leaving their customers to test them out. Unfortunately, customers tend to assume that their autopiloting car is more capable than it really is, and this has led to accidents. Even Elon Musk exhibited some bad autopilot usage in a recent interview by taking his hands off the wheel and his eyes off the road, as if his Tesla could do all the driving without driver-supervision (it can’t).
We’ll close this list with some safety tips for parents to keep their children out of harm’s way while on the road or parked. Obviously, you should use proper child seats and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but some dangers are less obvious. When it comes to kids, you need to be careful about them playing around the car, for instance when you’re backing out of the driveway. Also teach your kids to never use cars in games like hide-and-seek, since they can get trapped inside the cabin or the trunk.