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Is your car safe? Here’s how you can make sure

Your car may have the latest and greatest in safety features but inevitably, you are the driver in control of getting from A to B and it’s your responsibility to ensure your car is safe in every way possible. Here are some tips.

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Fatality Free Friday

This year's Fatality Free Friday will be held on 26 May.

The initiative operates on the belief that if we can go one day without a death on the road, we can demonstrate the impact a focus on road safety can have every day of the year

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Motor vehicles are manufactured to the highest safety standards, which are constantly reviewed as technology and awareness advances.

However, it’s important to be aware that car safety doesn’t stop there. You, as the owner and driver, have an ongoing responsibility for keeping your car safe to help reduce road accidents and deaths. 

According to the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-30, vehicles form part of the Safe System approach to preventing and limiting crashes. This is a shared responsibility, and the onus is on the owner to ensure vehicle safety.

So, what steps can you take to make your car safer?

Ongoing maintenance

Have your vehicle serviced at the time it’s due. Ensure you act on anything you notice as odd or unusual by notifying your vehicle service repairer or provider and remember to keep records.

Check your tyres for signs of wear and low pressure and opt for regular tyre rotations. This will keep them in good condition and extend their lifespan.

It’s also important that you are very familiar with the vehicle you are driving and how to look after it. Start by reading your owner’s manual, which is full of useful tips such as how to check your oil level and top up your wiper fluid.

Safety technology

Modern vehicles have many safety features and ANCAP includes these technology aspects in its 5-star safety ratings. Most of us are aware of reverse cameras and blind spot sensors but new technology is always emerging such as advancements in autonomous emergency braking systems (AEB), driver assist, and child presence detection in which the vehicle can notify the driver or emergency services if a child has been left in a locked car.

The owner’s responsibility is to be aware of their car’s technological capabilities and more importantly, how to use them.

Eliminate distraction

Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel. Any distraction that takes you away from this needs to be removed. For example, avoid keeping your phone where you might be tempted to check messages.

Passengers — both in human and animal form — can also cause distraction. It pays to have an undisruptive, helpful passenger rather than one who is noisy and bothersome. If your passenger is of the four-legged kind, it’s helpful to know there is much safety around the restraining of animals in vehicles with a range of seat belts and harnesses on the market.

Bull bars

Bull bars and nudge bars do have their place. They are a great safety option for those who frequently partake in off-road adventures.

However, bull bars are dangerous in populated areas and can put the lives of pedestrians, cyclists, and car occupants at greater risk of injury and even death. If you are using your vehicle in a populated area, you don’t need a bull bar.

Emergency preparation

Do you know where your spare tyre is kept and does your car have a jack and a cross wrench for changing a tyre?

It helps to find out where to locate these items and how to use them. While you are at it, make up a small tool kit to keep in the boot of your car with essentials such as a crescent spanner, rag, jumper leads for a flat battery, pressure gauge and tyre repair kit. You may never need to use them, but they are there just in case.

Intruder alert

Aside from keeping your car safe for yourself and others, are you keeping your car safe from others? Being the target of vehicle theft and destruction can be devastating and may leave car owners feeling vulnerable and violated.

You can avoid being targeted by keeping your car locked, valuables out of sight (or not stored in your car at all) and your car garaged if possible.

Some dash cams can detect and record motion when your car is stationary and may also record vandalism and theft. It’s also handy to know there are some not-so-expensive options on the market when it comes to dash cams.

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