A culture of safety requires that you ingrain safe behaviors so that they become habits. You are not truly safe if you do not engage in safe behaviors 24/7.
You should check your personal vehicle’s tires at least monthly with the same level of diligence you use to check those on your ambulance. When checking inflation pressure tires should be cold and not driven for at least three hours. The correct inflation is listed on the label of the driver’s door pillar or doorframe or in the owner’s manual. Look for signs of excessive or uneven wear, when the tread gets down to two-thirds of an inch it’s time to replace them. You can look for built in wear bar indicators or use the penny test for an approximation. Put a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head you need new tires.
Make sure there are no signs of bulges, blisters, cracks or cuts. Belts and hoses degrade faster in the summer. Do a thorough inspection. Don’t just look at the top. Make sure all hoses’ connections are secure. Do the same inspection on your wiper blades.
When the engine is completely cool, check your coolant level to make certain the reservoir is full. If the coolant is clear, rusty looking, or has particles in it your system should be flushed and refilled. If the fluid is oily or sludgy take it to a mechanic immediately. You should also check your oil, brake, transmission, power steering, and windshield washer fluids. Make sure your headlights, brake lights, turn signal, emergency flashers, interior light, and trailer lights in good working order.
Children in cars
We must exercise caution with children in our personal vehicles as we do in our ambulances. In 2011, more than 650 children ages 12 and younger died in crashes and 148,000 were injured. A third of the kids who died in crashes were not properly restrained. One study of 3,500 vehicles showed 72% of booster seats were used in a fashion that placed children in jeopardy. A similar one year study revealed that 618,000 children between the ages of “0-12” rode in a vehicle without car or booster seats at least some of the time. To learn more and find a free child safety inspection site go to nhtsa.gov.
Remember that a child’s body temperature may increase three to five times faster than an adult’s even if the ambient temperature is in the 80s. The temperature in a car can reach deadly levels in minutes, even with a window open. Don’t forget that every vehicle has blind spots. Perform a walk- around before you back-every time with every vehicle. Keep your car doors locked and your keys where kids can’t get them. Go to safercar.gov for more information.
Distracted driving continues to be a killer. All cell phones even hands’ free are dangerous and should never be used while driving. Cars are advertised with features that maximize driver distraction. They are increasingly touted as having features that isolate drivers from the driving environment. If you can’t see or hear what is going on outside of your vehicle, how can you operate with situational awareness?
Many of us have more allergies in the summer. We need to remember prescription and over the counter medications may make us drowsy, slow reaction time, and impair our ability to react in the driving environment. We should also be cognizant of potential interactions between prescribed and over the counter medications.
We have more potential targets in the summer. We must assume that everybody in the driving environment (vehicle operators and pedestrians) is distracted, which creates a responsibility for us to use extreme caution. Motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians and other motor vehicles become more numerous and frequent roadway users. Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks even if the crosswalks are unmarked. Don’t pass vehicles stopped for pedestrians.
We are not driving professionals, we are professionals who drive. We must hold our driving behaviors to the same standards we hold our clinical interventions.