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Safety checklist: make sure your car is ready and distraction-free before hitting the road

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Is your car road-trip-ready?

Whether you're just heading out for the evening or preparing for a road trip of epic proportions, it is important to make sure your car is in working order.

There are, of course, some dangerous signs the average person can't exactly check for regularly. Design defects are the eighth leading cause of auto accidents, so it is important to make sure your car is regularly checked for severe defects that you cannot fix on your own. On the other hand, there are several things you can do before leaving the house to ensure you are putting both yourself and the other drivers around you in the safest position possible while out on the road. After all, even little, dangerous distractions can be the cause major accidents.

If nothing else, be sure to keep these three daily maintenance tips in mind as a short "safety checklist" before taking to the streets so that you are as ready and focused as possible.

Air pressure

Checking the pressure of air in your tires is a simple-yet-important step every driver should take before driving, especially when the temperature outside is either below freezing or extremely hot. The recommended pressure for car tires is typically between 30 and 35 PSI, but that pressure can drop one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature falls (and, likewise, tire pressure can raise one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature increases).

It is also important to check your tire pressure when it is raining. When the air pressure in your tires is lower, more of the tire actually touches the road. This gives you better traction in your fight against the elements, so set your tire pressure to the lower end of those recommended settings when doing battle with those April showers.

Check your lights

It might sound self-explanatory, but there are actually a plethora of different laws for all of the 50 states regarding car lights. Every state, however, requires the use of headlights when it is dark outside and when it is raining. They all also require drivers to have working brake lights and turn signals.

Astonishingly, 57 percent of drivers surveyed in 2006 admitted to not using turn signals despite the laws in place. This led to an estimate of one-two million auto accidents that could have been prevented by clicking that little button. At the same time, there are some people who do use turn signals and still fall into this same negligent category. Why? Because one of their lights is burnt out.

If you do, in fact, plan on using your turn signals, or your breaks, or even your headlights, then it would be best to give them a quick glance before embarking on your journey. Faulty headlights can be major distractions to other drivers, so who knows? It may just save you from a trip to the hospital or precinct.

Wash your car

Some will scoff at this notion, but washing your car doesn't only give you a fresh and classy look while navigating the highway. Keeping your car clean will also ensure that your windows are clean, and clean windows make for clearer visibility and better focus - which is even more important if you have bad eyesight.

Also, you will want to check that your wiper blades are in both working and usable order, because there may be nothing worse than getting caught in a thunderstorm with broken or inefficient windshield wipers.

Are you doing everything you should be before driving on the main road? By taking a few minutes to put yourself in the best position possible, you can rid yourself of unnecessary risks and distractions while getting from point A to point B.

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