Car Safety: Never Take your Car for Granted

Don't take your car for granted

As the old saying goes, driving is a privilege and not a right. Only those who can pass the driving tests are allowed to drive, and certain expectations must be met. The world has entrusted you to be responsible for your license and your vehicle, and it can be taken away if you break that trust. The last thing you want to do is go through all the work of taking the tests and buying a vehicle, only to lose access.

So, how do you avoid taking this privilege for granted? Here are just a few ways to ensure that you drive responsibly and are allowed to keep doing so for many years to come.

Drive defensively

Defensive driving is a common term going around, especially in the Driver’s Ed world. It refers to a number of things that boil down to the basic concept of “watching out for the other guy”. It’s hard to tell what someone else will do on the road at any given time. While you don’t want to live in constant fear that the worst is about to happen, you need to be very mindful that anything could happen.

Always be mindful of other drivers and their location. Some drivers will signal before switching lanes while others won’t. Some drivers will drift in their lane and come too close. Some will cross many lanes suddenly, or slow down quickly, or speed past you. If you are mentally ready to react, you will be much safer. Keep your focus on the road and the situations around you, including construction areas, pedestrians, and changing road conditions.

Follow the law

Never taking your car for granted also involves following the rules of the road. While they can seem to be limitations to your driving style, they are there to keep us all safe. Speed limits stop us from going too fast in areas where we may need to react quickly, and traffic lights ensure that everyone passes through safely. DUI and DWI laws are in place to convince people not to drive while impaired, as it’s not only bad for those around them, but could be fatal for the driver themselves. Even being pulled over without insurance is against the law, as it is for your own good to be insured in case of an accident.

If you’re caught breaking a driving law, a range of punishments could be dealt out. Sometimes it’s just a fine (which can be a lot of money, and very inconvenient), or you could get points on your license, or get your license revoked. Even worse, you can cause a wreck, be liable for injuries and damages, and also be charged with breaking a law that led to the accident. It’s a lot better to just follow the rules that are there to keep us all safe.

Get those repairs

Probably the most obvious aspect of not taking your car for granted is to be sure to stay up on your car maintenance. There are tons of different parts in your car, and all of them need to be taken care of on a regular basis. There is no part of a car that lasts the entire life of a vehicle, except maybe the engine and transmission. Eventually, everything else needs repair or replacing.

Some aspects of car repair include replacing tires, belts, brakes, rotors, batteries, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. The most common maintenance is the oil change every 3,000 miles. Skipping this one a few times can cause major damage to the engine, leading to much bigger repairs.

Never ignore a light or an odd sound. While sometimes the light that appears on your dashboard may be nothing to worry about, sometimes it is very important. Odd sounds can be the same way: some are nothing to worry about while others are a sign of big problems to come. The best thing to do is to take it to a shop to figure out what’s wrong and get it fixed.

Ideally, check these things on your own from time to time. Check the oil dipstick occasionally to see if you’re low or if the oil is darker than usual. Check your tire pressure weekly to make sure the tires aren’t losing air. Use gas treatment from time to time to keep the fuel line clean. Take note of how well your car reacts when pushing the gas or pushing the brake. All of these preventative maintenance tasks will help you find problems early and fix them for less cost.

Pitfalls of taking your car for granted

All kinds of problems can arise when you take your car for granted. Break a law and you can have your license revoked. Drive unsafely and you could cause an accident and lose your car. Ignore maintenance issues and your car can break down beyond repair.

For your own good, never take your car for granted. There was a time in your life when you did not have a vehicle, and now that you do, it’s easy to get used to the privilege. It’s very tough to readjust to life without a car once you have had one, especially if there is little to no public transit in your area.

There are many resources out there that offer information on preventative maintenance, driving laws, and safe driving for teens. Take a look and learn how you can treat your car like the privilege that it is rather than a right.

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Steve Gebhardt

Gebhardt Insurance Group was honored by AAA Insurance for being the top New Policy Agency in Arizona for 2013 and achieving the "Emerald Achievement Award."
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