March 24 2010 by Claudia Kunkel
It seems that every day a new recall is hitting the news. It's been a tough couple of years for automakers, but Toyota has been hit particularly hard. Understandably it makes everyone rethink car safety and wonder just how safe the car is that you're driving.
I thought it might be a good time to go over some general car safety tips and who better to give out advice on car safety than AAA. We have been members of AAA for many years and have signed up our three daughters for coverage. It's inexpensive and invaluable when your car breaks down on the freeway, you have a flat tire with no spare or when you're planning a vacation and need some great discounts. Not to mention the peace of mind when your teenagers or young adults are out driving around at all hours!
Here are some great tips and advice from the AAA experts themselves:
For Your Safety
- Keep your doors locked, safety belts buckled and children safe and secure in properly installed safety seats.
- Don't let your gas tank fall below 1/3 tank.
- Stay on main roads and highways, and don't forget your AAA maps!
- Pack a flashlight, blanket and a first-aid kit. In cold climates, pack extra warm clothing.
- If you are going on a long trip, pack an emergency ration kit of water and nonperishable food items such as fruit or granola bars.
- When stopping for breaks, never let kids go to the restroom alone. Always lock vehicle doors, even if you'll only be gone for a few minutes.
- Carry a cellular phone in case of emergencies.
- Do not stop to help a disabled vehicle. Instead, call for help from a pay phone or your cellular phone.
- If stopping during night-time travel, choose a well-lighted, populated facility. Park where your vehicle can be seen.
- If approached by someone while your vehicle is stopped, keep your doors locked and only roll your window down enough to hear what the person is saying.
If You Break Down
- Move your vehicle off the road safely away from traffic.
- Stay inside your vehicle, and make all passengers stay inside, too. Keep doors locked.
- If you can't move your vehicle off the road, ask all passengers to exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so, and stand away from traffic.
- If you must walk to a phone, keep your group together.
- Raise the vehicle's hood, tie a white cloth to a door handle or use reflective triangles or flares. Warning devices should be placed far enough away from the vehicle to give oncoming traffic time to react. A good rule of thumb: 3 devices at 100, 50 and 25 yards from the vehicle - or 300, 200 or 100 feet.
- Only roll down the window enough to ask any passersby to call police.
If you're concerned about whether or not your car has had a recall notice, here are some things you can do to check. The good news is that the car manufacturer is responsible for the cost of the repairs. Recalls can range from minor mechanical problems to major safety issues, such as the Toyota recall currently going on.
- You will typically receive a postcard from the car manufacturer notifying you of the recall and how to get your car repaired, at no cost to you.
- If you have access to a computer, it's easy to go online to your car manufacturer to check for any recalls as well as numerous internet sites that will provide you a detailed list of recalls
- Place a phone call to the car manufacturer or to the local car dealer for your make of car. They will be able to tell you quickly and efficiently if your car has had a recall or not.