How Does Car Maintenance Factor into Safe Driving?

Posted in Car Accident on December 28, 2017

Thanks to the efforts of police and safety-focused organizations, the basics of safe driving are well-known by almost everyone in Tennessee. They include things like never exceeding the speed limit, never getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, and never driving while distracted.

But there’s another key factor in driving safety that’s often overlooked: vehicle condition. Newer vehicles or well-maintained vehicles are simply safer to drive than older vehicles or ones that have been neglected for many years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that regular maintenance, including tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations can help prevent breakdowns. And any time you experience car trouble on a highway or interstate, your chances of being involved in a crash increase, as you may lose control of your vehicle and crash.

Keep These Vehicle Components in Good Condition

At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident attorneys know that there are a huge number of factors at play in auto accidents. But some of the cases we handle involve some aspect of vehicle component failure—especially when crashes occur at night or during bad weather.

You can reduce your risks by making sure these vehicle components are kept in tip-top condition all year long:

  • Tires – Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that meet the ground. That’s why it’s extremely important to keep them in great condition. Check your owner’s manual to verify the recommended PSI for both your front and rear tires, as it may be different for each. Use a tire pressure gauge monthly to make sure the PSI of your tires stays within their manufacturer-recommended range, and fill your tires if their PSI becomes low.You should also check your tires for signs of wear. Many tires have built-in wear indicators that make it easy to tell if their tread is worn down. You can also use a penny placed upside down in your tire tread to determine how much life they have left. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, it’s a sign that your tires need to be replaced. In addition, uneven wear can be prevented by having your tires rotated and realigned on a frequent basis.
  • Lights – Your vehicle’s lights aren’t just used to illuminate your path—they’re also used to make your vehicle visible to others and to communicate your intentions. Driving with a burned-out headlight, taillight, or turn signal isn’t just dangerous—it can also put you at risk of getting pulled over and receiving a citation. Check all your vehicle’s lights regularly and be prepared to change burned out lights right away to stay safe.It’s also important to be smart with how and when you use your lights. If your vehicle’s lights don’t turn on automatically at night, in the rain, or at other times of low visibility, remember to always turn them on if it’s hard to see or if you think other drivers may be unable to see you. In addition, you should avoid using your high beams when driving on congested roads or when approaching vehicles traveling in opposite directions, as the intensity of the light can make it difficult for drivers to see the road.
  • Brakes – Your brakes are essential for slowing or stopping your vehicle. It’s essential to be able to rely on them in both everyday situations and emergencies where you need to reduce your speed in a matter of seconds. In most cases, brakes themselves don’t need to be replaced, but brake pads do. There are two ways to determine if brake pads need to be changed: physically inspecting the pads and listening to them when your brakes are applied.For visual confirmation, look at your brakes through the gaps between your wheel spokes. If your brake pads have less than ¼ inch of material left, they should be replaced. When it comes to listening, check for a high-pitched screeching noise when you apply your brakes. That sound is intentionally designed to occur, as it’s produced by a piece of metal called an indicator. When brake pads are worn, the indicator begins to make noise, alerting vehicle owners to the issue.
  • Fluids and wipers – A well-functioning vehicle relies on several different types of fluids, including oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. When those fluid levels get low, transmissions, steering wheels, and brakes can become sluggish and less responsive. Over time, low fluid levels can damage them, increasing the likelihood of vehicle breakdowns, potential accidents, and costly repairs.Wipers are also vital for safe driving, especially in rain and snow. There’s a big difference in effectiveness and rain-clearing ability between new and properly installed wipers and wipers that are off-kilter or old and worn out. Driving in the rain with ineffective wipers is dangerous, as the rain may pool on your windshield faster than your wipers can clear it away. Replace broken or worn wipers right away to maintain visibility during inclement weather, and don’t hesitate to pull over and wait for rain to subside if your wipers are unable to keep up with the intensity of the storm.

It’s also important to get body damage repaired right away if you’re involved in an accident. Driving a vehicle that was previously damaged can put you at significant risk, as its structural integrity is compromised, and its safety features will be less effective during a subsequent crash. You should also get seat belts and airbags replaced if they’re damaged or have been stressed during a prior accident, as they may be less effective after the initial collision.

Accidents Happen—And When They Do, We’re Here to Help

Following all traffic laws, driving defensively based on the weather and situation at hand, and keeping your vehicle in excellent condition are the best ways that you can personally reduce your risk of being involved in a crash. But no amount of proactivity and safety-conscious decisions can help you eliminate your chances of being hurt in an auto accident.

Other drivers are prone to making mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes are due to negligence. When careless drivers get behind the wheel, they can instantly change the lives of others forever. Auto accident-related injuries can be disabling and put victims out of work for long periods of time, and they can cause others to suffer life-threatening injuries that can prove fatal even with immediate medical care and attention.

Our legal team knows how devastating auto accidents can be, especially for victims like you who do everything they can to stay safe on Tennessee’s roads. If you or someone you love was hurt in a crash, don’t wait to get the legal help you deserve. Evidence can quickly disappear, and the longer you delay, the longer you’ll have to wait to get the compensation you deserve.

Call Matt Hardin Law today at (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form. We have 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of injured victims like you, and we know what it takes to win.