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posted in: Safety

Defensive Driving

Whether it’s anticipating dangerous situations or constant preparedness, defensive driving is the best way to ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers.

Tire Blowouts

Today, tires are so reliable that "blowouts" are uncommon. It’s that lack of frequency that makes them more surprising and has the potential to be more dangerous.

Ensure your safety and the safety of motorists near you:

  • Don't hit the brakes if the car starts to swerve.
  • Ease your foot off the accelerator and tighten your grasp on the steering wheel to keep the car traveling straight.
  • Turn in the direction you want the car to go if the vehicle skids.
  • Signal, brake and steer onto the shoulder of the road, once the car is under control.
  • Drive the car onto a flat level surface to change the tire.

Help prevent blowouts:

  • Inspect your tires on a regular basis.
  • Check for proper tire inflation. Most blowouts are caused by under inflated tires that become overheated and explode.
  • Measure your tire pressure at least once a month, especially during cold weather. For every 10 degrees that the temperature drops, your tires lose about two pounds of air pressure.
  • Rotate your tires as prescribed by the owner's manual and keep your wheels properly aligned.

Seat Belts/Safety Belts

More than 50 million adult Americans are buckling up, according to the National Safety Council. Are you one of the 168 million who don’t?

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Association says that if you wear a seat belt every time you get into a vehicle, you’re more likely to:

  • Get where you’re going on time. In other words, you won’t be stopped for breaking the law. Many states have incorporated "Click It or Ticket," which is increasing seat belt usage.
  • Hold on to your hard-earned cash. Seat belt tickets are not cheap.
  • Prevent injuries and possibly death. If you’re not buckled up, you could be thrown through a window, sent skidding along the pavement or be crushed under a vehicle in a crash.
  • Live. Did you know someone is killed in a crash every 13 minutes? Seat belts save more than 11,000 lives each year.
  • Lead by example.
  • Make sure your kids buckle up.
  • If you have other passengers in your car, ask that they buckle up.


Airbags act as an energy-absorbing buffer between a driver or passenger and the interior of your vehicle. If your vehicle has airbags, you have extra protection beyond just using your seat belt.

Airbags will be more effective if:

  • Used with a seat belt. Alone, airbags are not effective at reducing deaths.
  • You’re seated at least 10 inches away from where it will be activated.
  • Children under 12 are correctly buckled up in the back seat.

Avoid Driving Distractions

Many of us are guilty of doing other things while driving such as searching for CDs, fussing with our kids, or talking on cell phones. The following table lists common driving distractions and what to do to prevent the distraction.

Using a cell phone
  • Let calls go to voicemail
  • Pull over to a safe area to dial numbers, talk, and send text messages
  • Ask passengers to make or answer calls
Shaving or putting on makeup
  • Allow more time at home
  • Wait until you get to your destination
Searching for items
  • Pull over to a safe area before searching
  • Ask a passenger to search for loose items
Eating, drinking, or smoking
  • Allow more time at a restaurant or stop and park
Programming your navigation system
  • Plan your route before driving
  • Ask a passenger to enter the information
  • Pull over to a safe area to program your GPS

Be Proactive

Being involved in an accident, or any emergency, is scary. It’s not the time to be searching for the right people to contact. Store useful numbers in your phones now, so you have them in an emergency.

"ICE" ICE stands for "in case of emergency." Save the number of your emergency contact (parent, spouse, friend) here. Emergency personnel know to look for this in case you are unable to respond.
Home This is for your home number, in case you lose your phone. Someone can call this number to let you know he/she has found your phone. It is also good to have it listed as an alternate number if there is no answer at the ICE number.
Police With this number stored in your phone, you can quickly report when you, or someone you see, needs help.
Insurance Company
In case you are in an accident or need roadside assistance through your insurance company, you will have the number handy. Auto claims can be reported to COUNTRY Financial by calling 1-866-COUNTRY (1-866-268-6879).
Your Auto Club If you have an auto club membership, store their 800 number. It will come in handy if you have a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
State Highway Patrol If you or someone needs help on the highway, you will easily be able to call the state highway patrol.

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