Blind spots may be a good thing when it comes to a spouse’s annoying habits, but when driving an automobile in Chesapeake, they are definitely to be avoided. So, while it’s not good marital advice, it’s good auto advice to minimize your own blind spots and stay out of other Chesapeake drivers’ blind spots, especially when it comes to large, heavy vehicles like trucks and buses.
First, minimize your own blind spots. Do this before you pull out of the driveway or parking space. Adjust your rearview mirror so that you see as much of the area behind you as possible. And, no, this doesn’t include the passengers in the back seat. The rearview mirror isn’t designed to be a baby monitor.
Next, lean to the side until your head almost touches the driver’s side window. Now adjust the driver’s side mirror so that it just catches the side of the van. Then, lean to the middle of the car and adjust the passenger’s side mirror in the same way. These adjustments will ensure you the widest possible view behind your vehicle.
Of course, you can’t eliminate blind spots entirely. There is always an area behind any vehicle where the driver just can’t see what’s there. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. Toddlers are just the right size to hide in a pickup’s or SUV’s blind spot. The blind spot on an RV or tractor-trailer can actually hide your crossover! You should always check behind any vehicle before getting in and backing up. And if you sit in the van for a few minutes before backing up, it is important to get out and check again, especially if you are pulling out of a neighborhood driveway in Chesapeake. No precaution is too extreme if it saves the life of a child.
Once you have taken care of your own blind spots, be aware that other Chesapeake drivers have them, too. And avoid them. Trucks and buses have large blind spots, and they have blind spots on all four sides, so they should always be given extra room on Suffolk roads. They are also heavy, which means they need more room to stop, and their length means they need a wider area for turns, and their large size makes them less maneuverable than a car.
Trucks may cause about 60% of the accidents involving a truck and a car, but 78% of fatalities in such accidents are with the smaller vehicle. The number of fatalities in Virginia, as well as the number of crashes, could be cut significantly if Chesapeake car owners learned to properly share Virginia roads with trucks.
Never follow a truck too closely. If you can’t see the driver’s face in his side mirror, then he can’t see you. If you need to pass a truck, it is important to make sure you give yourself enough time to pass the rig. Wait for the right opportunity rather than “cutting it close.” On a two-lane Virginia highway, it’s always a good idea to wait for a passing zone if they are available. A little patience could save your life or the lives of others. Turn on your turn signal so the truck knows what you’re planning, and pass on the left whenever possible. Remember those blind spots? They are much larger on the right side of a truck.
Once you’ve committed to passing the truck, don’t muck about. Pass it quickly and give yourself plenty of room to move back over. It is vital to wait until you can see both headlights in your rearview mirror before pulling back in front of the truck. Once again, use your van turn signals. After you pull in front of the truck, decelerate to the regulated driving speed slowly. Remember that the truck has a long stopping distance, which translates into a long slowing distance. And, since trucks are so big, we often perceive them as traveling more slowly than they really are. Trucks are a lot of weight moving at a high speed, and we need to treat them accordingly.
Never pull to the right of a truck at an intersection unless you are absolutely certain it is not going to turn. Check if its turn signals are on or if it has angled to the left or right. (Trucks often begin a right turn by angling to the left to widen their turning area.) Trucks need a lot of room on city streets, and they probably can’t see you if you pull along their right side. Too many cars have ended up in Chesapeake body shops because the auto owners thought they could beat that truck to the right turn, or they only noticed the seemingly open lane, and not the truck angling into a turn.
While learning to share Chesapeake area roads and interstates with trucks and other large vehicles may not seem like preventive auto maintenance, it does, in fact, go hand-in-hand with good Chesapeake car care. Keeping your van out of the body shop can save you big bucks and prevent the stress of a major accident, along with the injuries that could come with it.
The team at West Service Center, Inc. in Chesapeake urges you to stay safe, and stay on the road!
Car care is a vital part of auto safety in Chesapeake. But the most important thing we can do to improve safety on Virginia roads is to drive safely.
Defensive driving is safe driving. And defensive driving is all about attitude. You have to decide that you will be a safe driver in Virginia, no matter what anyone else is doing.
Chesapeake drivers can start with awareness. Always maintain awareness of your surroundings, the road conditions, other vehicles on the Chesapeake road or expressway and road hazards. Have you ever suddenly realized that you have arrived somewhere, but you don’t really remember driving there? That is unsafe driving.
Never assume that other Chesapeake car owners are paying attention. You be the one on alert. You be the one to take initiative to stay out of the way of other Virginia drivers. And don’t let familiarity dull your alertness. Remind yourself to pay as close attention while driving on the roads near your Chesapeake home as you would in unfamiliar territory around Virginia.
Prepare your van so you can give the road your full attention. Secure passengers and pets before leaving the driveway. Secure loose items in your van so they can’t become projectiles if you have to brake suddenly. If children or pets become a distraction while driving, pull over and take care of the problem before re-entering traffic. Unclutter your windows. Take down the danglies from your rearview mirror. And don’t use your van dashboard as an office. Move distractions and clutter to the backseat. Keep your windshield clear.
Properly maintain your van. Preventive maintenance doesn’t just prevent repairs; it prevents unsafe vehicles. Make sure your tires, lights, brakes, suspension, alignment and steering get regular check-ups at West Service Center, Inc.. Also, listen to your honest West Service Center, Inc. service advisor when he gives you auto advice about other systems in your van. Knowing about the wear and tear on your van can help you avoid dangerous situations.
Avoid driving when you are sleepy or angry. Get a good night’s sleep before a road trip in Virginia, and learn to set aside relationship, job or other issues while you are in a vehicle. Again, you have to take charge of your own safety. Don’t daydream in your vehicle. Also, talking to passengers can be a distraction. Keep your mind on the road. Conversations may keep you from daydreaming or excessive boredom on a long trip, but always keep your driving foremost in your mind.
Maintain a proper speed. Driving too fast is dangerous on crowded Chesapeake roads, but driving too slowly can cause accidents, too. At night, don’t overdrive your headlights. Your stopping distance needs to be shorter than the distance your headlights are illuminating.
Never drink and drive. Alcohol plays a part in half of all fatal accidents in Virginia and nationally. Also, don’t drive drugged. Pay attention to the warning labels on any medications you are taking.
Other Norfolk motorists need to see you and know what you want to do. Use your van turn signals, and stay out of other Virginia drivers’ blind spots.
If you can, avoid driving over debris in the road. You can damage your van or end up in an accident. Of course, if swerving to avoid the debris is dangerous, then slow down and navigate as best you can. Do what you can to alert other auto owners to the problem. You may want to pull to the side of the Suffolk road and report the debris or move it to the side of the road, if you can do so safely.
Never follow too closely on Chesapeake roads or highways. Observe the two-second rule. Choose an object ahead such as a tree or traffic sign. As the car in front of you passes it, start counting: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand. If you reach the object before you’re done, you’re too close. Back off.
If you are on one of the Virginia highways, or if you are hauling a heavy load, or if you are tired, or if in any way you are not the model of the alert and attentive driver, then increase that two-second rule to three seconds. Give yourself an added measure of safety. If the Chesapeake weather is bad, increase the rule to five seconds.
Inevitably, someone always pulls in front of you when you are trying to follow the “seconds” rules. Don’t get mad. Just back off and leave them to their bad driving habits. Remember, you are not going to give up your safety for anyone else’s cussedness. It’s always a bad trade.
If someone is following you too closely, pull over and let them pass. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. If you’re late, worry about it after you’re there, not while you’re on the road.
If you see a vehicle driving erratically in Chesapeake, stay away. Take the next right or the next exit off the freeway. Notify the Chesapeake police as soon as you are safely stopped.
And of course, don’t be the idiot driver we all complain about in Chesapeake. Don’t contest your right-of-way, don’t race to beat someone to a merge, and don’t cut into someone else’s two seconds of space. Winning these types of ego trips may end up losing you your van—or worse, your life or the life of a friend.
The professional automotive team at West Service Center, Inc. wants all Chesapeake car owners to stay smart and stay safe.
Safe Virginia travel starts with preventive maintenance and good car care at West Service Center, Inc.. But there are other things Chesapeake car owners can do to prepare for emergencies on the road. Here’s some auto advice that can help you plan for emergencies, and just may save your life — or someone else’s.
First, Chesapeake motorists should consider keeping an auto emergency kit in their car. The kit should contain items that will allow you to deal with common emergencies on the road.
Some important items you should carry in your van include jumper cables (or a booster box), flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools. Other useful items include gloves, two quarts of oil, some antifreeze, water and everything you need to change a tire. You might also consider a can of tire inflator, which is a great temporary fix for minor flats.
But taking care of your van is only part of emergency preparedness. It is vital to take care of the people in the car, too. For this reason, you should carry a first aid kit, drinkable water and blankets. Other items to consider include high-calorie food items (like energy bars), toilet paper, a towel, a hat and boots. And, of course, when you travel in Virginia and out-of-state you should always have your cell phone, some emergency cash and a credit card.
Depending on where you live, you may need to add other critical items to this list. For example, sunscreen, sunglasses, and extra water would be good to have on hand in a hot climate. For the cold and snowy Virginia season, some salt, a hand shovel, emergency blankets and matches might be in order. Also, if your Virginia area is prone to severe weather or earthquakes, you should check with your local Red Cross or disaster preparedness office for their recommendations on what to keep on hand in your van for emergencies.
When you travel away from your Chesapeake home, you should check the weather forecasts before you leave, and pack appropriate emergency supplies. Also, do some research about the areas you will be traveling through so you can be prepared for the climate and terrain. Remember the basics: heat, water, shelter, light, and food.
When you travel, it is important to leave your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member. Check in periodically at prearranged checkpoints. That way, if something does happen, someone else will quickly know you are in trouble and will be able to send help. These checkpoints will also help rescuers find you quickly, as they will have a better idea as to where you are.
The automotive professionals at West Service Center, Inc. want Chesapeake car owners to be safe. Preventive maintenance, proper planning, smart communication: these are the basics of safe travel.