Make sure you and your vehicle are safe to drive when you get in the car.

Approaching your vehicle before
getting in the car to drive

Many drivers think nothing of coming up to their vehicle and getting in the drivers seat, without checking around the vehicle first.

We call this a "circle check".
You should walk around your vehicle to make sure no objects, and especially children are near the vehicle where you would be driving out and running over them.

Most drivers are aware of the blind spot they have around their vehicle to the sides, but many drivers don't realize how big the blind spot is on the ground in the front and especially in back of their vehicle.

Click here for more on vehicle blind spots

Preventive Car maintenance

Keeping your car in good condition before maintenance is needed inside and outside of your vehicle will help prevent expensive repairs.

Click here for more on vehicle maintenance

Seat adjustment

Before you get on the road, it is critical to make sure your seat is comfortably adjusted.

You should be able to reach the pedals without straining and be about 10 inches away from the steering wheel.

Click here for more on seat adjustment

Seat belt safety

Make sure you and your passengers always have their seat belts fastened while in the car when it's in motion. Seat belts are the best way to protect you from injury in a collision.

If you have children, especially infants and small children, make sure they are in a safety seat appropriate for their height and weight.

wearing a seat belt correctly

Consequences of an unbelted passenger

car seat reviews

Comfortable Clothing

If you are wearing a sweater or jacket when you get in your vehicle, even if it is cold outside, remember just a little sun gets it quite warm in the car.

If you might get too warm take off extra clothing BEFORE driving out of your parking spot.

The Dashboard

Whether you are a brand new driver or have years of driving experience, it is important to get to know your vehicle and how to operate all controls in the caras well as knowing how to read the dashboard lights and gauges.

The best way to do this is to read the owners manual of your vehicle. Every vehicle is different and every car manufacturer may have different reasons for warning lights coming on.

Also get to know the controls you may need to use in an emergency or very infrequent situations.

Because you may use these controls in the car so infrequently, when you need to use them, your reflexes might be slow to reach them, having to take some time to remember exactly where they are located.

Parking Brakes

The parking brake: If it is on the floor of your vehicle it can be difficult to reach if you had to use it while driving and your brakes failed.

The reason is, the pedal is so far to the left and lower than your standard brake pedal, and you would be using your left foot to reach it, which most people don't use for the floor pedals, making it an awkward movement to do quickly.

To get practice reaching the parking brake quickly, go to an empty parking lot, high schools usually have large, empty parking lots outside of school hours.

start at one end of the lot (giving yourself plenty of room), push the gas pedal all the way down for about 3 seconds, let up, and push the parking brake down as quickly as you can (without pushing your other brake pedal)

You will not only be testing to see how well your brakes work in an emergency, you are getting that left foot used to finding That brake pedal quickly!

(Don't do this maneuver if you question the safety of the area or feel uncomfortable doing it. You want at least 250 feet of space to do it.)

High Beam Lights

The high beams: Almost every car I have driven I have had some trouble knowing how to turn the high beam lights on and off.

this is critical to know if you get on a winding back road at night.
It's just as important to turn the high beams off quickly for an approaching vehicle as it is to turn them on, on a dark road. Get familiar with the high beam light control in the car you drive.

Hazard Lights

You wont be using your hazard lights unless for some reason your engine is having trouble, or the transmission is going out and you have to suddenly drive very slow.

This has happened to me a few times and it did take me a moment to find the hazard light switch. In one of my vehicles the hazard light button is on the dash and in the other it's on the steering wheel. Get to know where that button is in your vehicle.

Every once in a while check the hazard lights to make sure they are working and to make sure you know how to turn them on if you need them.

Unsecured Objects

Objects that can roll, such as pens, cups, bottles and anything else round or cylinder can easily come up under the brake or gas pedal while you are driving, disabling your ability to give gas or brake, which could cause a serious collision.

make sure these objects are secured where they won't roll around while driving.

Any unsecured object can become a lethal projectile if you are in a collision. Even small objects coming at you at 65-70 MPH can do serious damage.

Auto parts stores have containers to store things you carry in your car. That small investment for in car safety may well be worth it.

Insurance and Registration

If you were pulled over by a policeman, would you quickly know where to locate your registration and insurance papers in the car?

If you are like me, the glove box is so full, the registration and insurance papers get lost in the glove box.

I have those documents in a ziplock bag, stored in a compartment behind my seat where nothing (or very little else) is stored.

You can buy a document holder that fits easily on your visor as well.

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