Four quick tips to keep you safe on the road

The warmer weather means longer days, backyard barbecues and weekends away. Before setting out on the open road, make sure you and your vehicle are ready for the journey ahead.

Hankook Tire took a look at driving trends and behaviors to identify what drivers do (or forget to do) to keep safe on the road this season.

1. Keep your eyes on the road. One of the easiest ways to avoid accidents, wrong turns or other highway mishaps is to stay focused. Cell phones are most often responsible for distracted driving, according to the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index.

One-third (33 percent) of Americans regularly take phone calls while on the road, and one in 10 drivers (11 percent) admit to texting while driving.

To help put this risk into perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports texting while driving on the highway is equivalent to driving blindfolded for the length of an entire football field.

Promising news for drivers is that the Gauge also found that nearly one-half (49 percent) of drivers use Bluetooth, dictation or do-not-disturb features while driving to maintain better focus while on the road.

2. Take advantage of tech. As automotive technology continues to advance, cars are constantly updated with the latest and greatest to make your time behind the wheel more comfortable, more efficient and safer.

Over one-third (34 percent) of drivers reported their vehicles are equipped with a rear view camera, and 26 percent have adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe driving distance.

While 73 percent of Americans find these enhanced safety features very useful, the Gauge Index found that more than half (57 percent) of drivers don’t actually use them.

Regardless of the features in your car, it’s important to not let the summer fun distract you from checking rear and side view mirrors, blind spots and speed.

3. Don’t tread lightly. Before a road trip, most people fill up the tank, gather snacks and make sure the kids are set up with movies and games. What about your tires? Americans are mostly likely to check the condition of their tires if they appear to look low or uneven (65 percent) or if a warning light appears (49 percent).

Even if not prompted by a warning light or unusual sounds, always double check your tires’ air pressure and tread depth before an extended trip, as healthy tires improve gas mileage and save money at the pump.

In addition to the financial benefits of healthy tires, Americans also recognize the importance of tire tread in providing safety and control, as 75 percent of drivers think about how effective their tire tread is when driving through heavy rain, and 61 percent are mindful of their tread when driving on a hairpin turn.

Additionally, close to one-fifth (18 percent) of Ameri­cans believe enhanced tire grip provides more safety on tough turns than wider lanes, reduced speed limits or road sign warnings.

4. Who ya gonna call? Even the most prepared and proactive drivers can end up on the side of the road because of unforeseen driving events. Whether it’s a flat tire, dead battery or overheated engine, 41 percent of Americans listed an auto club as their first phone call, followed by their significant other at 27 percent, according to the Gauge Index. Only 3 percent of respondents recognized that their first call should be to local authorities, who can update traffic information, create a safe roadside situation and send the proper help to get you back on the road safely.

By following these quick tips and guidelines to safety, you can go full steam ahead to wherever your destination this summer may be. (BPT)

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