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According to the National Institute for Highway Safety, the number and severity of auto accidents increases 10 fold between the hours of 11 pm and 3 am. Here are proven tips to decrease your chances of an accident. Some of this may sound like common sense, but you wouldn't believe how many people don't follow these tips.
1) Stay home. Don't go out unless you have to. Even if you implement every safety tip below, you still run a higher risk of running into someone who isn't following these tips or is driving drunk. Every night there are reports of people killed by a drunk driver that were on there way home - it isn't worth it. If you don't need to go out, don't.
2) Don't drink and drive. You may think you hold your liquor well, and that you won't get arrested or be over the legal limit in your state, but it is a proven fact that any alcohol in your system will slow down or impair your reflexes. What if something happens where you will need to react quickly? Its not worth the risk. Get a designated driver. Everyday there are families torn apart by a drunk driver who thought they could handle driving. Alcohol also impairs judgement and will make you think you can drive when you shouldn't. Don't drive drunk - and don't let others drive drunk. Contact MADD if you have questions on this.
3) Fix, repair, restore your headlights so they work like new. It amazes me when I see people driving at night with very dim headlights. If you can barely see, how safe do you think that is? Your headlights are the number one safety feature for night time driving. If you need new bulbs, get them (they only cost around $10 each). If your lenses are cloudy, scratched, worn get a headlight repair, cleaner, restorer kit (see the authors link below). These kits will return your headlights to like new condition and save you hundreds over replacements. Having worked on a volunteer emergency squad, dim headlights were only second to drunk driving in the number of accidents we dealt with - and they tended to be the most severe. There is no excuse for having dim headlights - get them fixed.
4) Don't drive on bald or worn tires. This is especially true for driving in the rain. Bald or worn tires can cause your car to hydroplane and lose all control almost guaranteeing an accident. Take a penny and make sure you cannot see the presidents head, else replace the tire. Also have them properly balanced and rotated at least once per year. What good are good reflexes if your car won't respond correctly?
5) Replace windshield wipers every spring. When it rains, especially at night your visibility is reduced. Ineffective wipers will further reduce your vision and increase your risk of an accident. Some auto parts stores will even install them for free - take advantage of this.
6) Have your battery checked at every oil change. This will reduce your chances of being left stranded on the road in the middle of the night. More pedestrian accidents happen this way. The other driver is less likely to see you and pedestrian accidents are awful. You will not win with a 3000 pound car going 50 mph. For emergencies pack a flashlight in your car and a reflective vest so you can be seen.
7) Take advantage of driving classes offered by local companies, the DMV and your local police.
8) Wear your seatbelt. Working for an emergency squad, you see the grimm results of victims not wearing their seat belts - being thrown from the car - this resulted in many deaths, paralization, severe burns and disfigurment, etc... I'm sorry if you find it uncomfortable, but if you are in an accident it will increase your chances of survival and decrease the severity of the accident. Wear your seat belt.
Many people think the police are just out to give tickets, but who would want to have to pick up severely injured children or worse. They see this stuff too often and then they have to go home to their families. When I was working at the volunteer emergency squad we found even the toughest cops would cry at some of the accidents we were called to. State Psychologists were sometimes assigned to help the police, emergency medical personnel, etc... as the accidents would be so traggic and they could have been easily prevented by some of the above tips. Please don't drink and drive, wear your seat belt and drive safely.
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