When choosing a car, safety is often at the forefront of your decision. We all want the newest, safest model to protect ourselves and our passengers, especially children. New safety features like advanced frontal air bags, backup cameras, automatic brakes and more mean that people feel safer than ever in their vehicles.
However, new technology can’t replace driver attentiveness. Factors like distracted or impaired driving and speeding increase your risk of accidents and fatalities. More than 30% of all automotive fatalities in the United States involve drivers impaired by alcohol, while a study by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University found 20% of all accidents have sleepiness as a contributing factor. Nearly 80% of all crashes and 65% of all near-crashes involve a driver who is distracted by a factor like texting, talking on a cell phone, eating or drinking, talking with passengers and more. Learn more about distracted driving here. Speeding is just as dangerous; for every mile per hour faster you drive, the likelihood of being in an accident increases by 4 to 5%. This means that driving 10MPH faster increases your risk of crashing by as much as 50%, but only saves you minutes on your commute.
Despite the enhanced safety features car companies are touting these days, new technology cannot protect child passengers by themselves. Drivers have a responsibility to do all they can to protect their passengers, including using proper child restraints and attention to car conditions. Car seats have been proved to reduce the risk of death for infants by 71% and by 54% for toddlers, while booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury for children ages 4-8 by 45% compared to seat belt use alone. Children require different car and booster seats depending on their age and size, and it’s important to transition them to new seats as they grow and age. Proper installation is equally important. A study found that 72% of nearly 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that could be expected to increase the risk of injury during a crash. If you’re not sure that you’ve properly installed your child’s car or booster seat, ask your local Sears Auto Center to check for you.
Child passengers should always wear their seat belts, in addition to car or booster seats. In 2011, more than 650 children ages 12 and under died in crashes as occupants of motor vehicles and more than 148,000 were injured. Of those who passed away, 33% were not wearing their seat belts. A study conducted by the CDC found that in one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0 to 12 rode in vehicles without a car seat, booster seat or seat belt at some point. Seat belt use can reduce risk of death or serious injury by half. Be sure your children and passengers are always buckled up before beginning to drive.
Child car safety does not stop with proper seating. Children should never be left unattended in a vehicle, as they can suffer heatstroke leading to serious injury or death. A car’s interior temperature can reach 110 degrees, even in outside temperatures of just 60 degrees. Children overheat up to 5 times faster than adults, and it only takes 10 minutes for a car’s interior temperature to rise over 20 degrees. Watch your child closely for signs of heat stroke, including red, hot, moist or dry skin; no sweating; strong, rapid pulse or slow, weak pulse; nausea; and confusion or strange behavior. Be sure to check the backseat of your car for your child before locking your vehicle.
All of your vehicle’s occupants deserve a safe ride. General safety checks before driving, especially on long trips, can help protect you and your passengers. Routine maintenance, including regular tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations, extends your vehicle life and ensures your vehicle is operating in top shape. Before you head out, bring your car into your local Sears Auto Center for a free multi-point inspection, including:
- Fluid level check
- Alignment check
- Battery check
- Lights check
- Visual under-hood inspection
Plus, ask about Sears Auto Center’s Road Hazard Plus Expanded Tire Warranty Coverage, which offers additional protection on your tires, including free tire replacement (if non-repairable), free wheel balancing and valve stem replacement, and 25% off the purchase of an alignment service at the time of a repair or replacement.
Automotive safety shouldn’t be an afterthought. We depend on our vehicles to do a lot for us, but new safety technology can’t replace the attentiveness of the driver. To learn more about safe driving, visit safecar.gov.