With businesses closed down and Stay At Home Orders in place, fewer cars have been on the road, but that does not mean that we are invincible to accidents. As talks of reopening North Carolina begin and we start to resume a sense of normalcy, safety should continue to be of paramount importance. For some, it may be the first time driving in weeks. Keep these tips in mind to protect yourself and everyone else on the road.
Check Your Car
Before even starting your engine, be sure to check your car thoroughly. Insects and animals could have built nests in unsuspecting spots, even if your car has only been sitting for a week. Inspect the engine bay, grille, and under the wheel well around the tires for creatures, leaves, straws, and other debris. These can all catch fire in a hot engine or cause other damage to your vehicle.
Continue your walkthrough and make sure that all tires are inflated, fluids are topped off, and windshield wipers and lights are working. On your first drive, turn off the music and listen for any rattling or knocking sounds that may not have been there before.
Jurisdictions are planning on reopening in phases, but there may still be lane and/or road closures to accommodate construction and repairs. Traffic patterns may not be the same as they were before the lockdown. Watch the traffic feed, plan to leave earlier than usual, consider alternate routes, and set your GPS before you start driving.
Keep Your Composure
A global pandemic has indubitably impacted our mental health in some capacity, so tensions may still be high even when reopening phases begin. While uncertain times may put us on edge, it is important to practice appropriate coping mechanisms, especially when behind the wheel.
Be patient with yourself and with others while still abiding by the rules of the road. If you accidentally cut someone off, take a deep breath, wave your hand to apologize, and focus on paying more attention. If someone else makes a mistake, avoid responding with road rage and instead report reckless driving to local authorities as necessary.
Stay Focused on the Road
With everything that is going on in the world, it is easy for our minds to wander elsewhere, but when we are behind the wheel, our focus should be on the road. There are three main types of driving distractions:
- Visual – taking your eyes off the road
- Manual – taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive – taking your mind off driving
If you have become accustomed to being on your phone constantly during the quarantine, turn off your notifications so you don’t get tempted to check them while you are driving, even at red lights and stop signs. Avoid eating, applying makeup, changing the radio station, and turning around to break up an argument between the kids. If these types of distractions interfere with your ability to focus on the road, find a safe spot to pull over and resolve the issue as best as possible before driving again.
Many things have changed since the COVID-19 outbreak, but the dangers of car accidents are still very real.
Attorney Santiago Arroba brings a unique perspective to the Whitley Law Firm. Born in Venezuela, but raised in Wilson, North Carolina, Santiago is able to relate and connect to people of all backgrounds. He decided to put these skills to use as an attorney to help the people of our state fight for their rights against corporations and insurance companies.