As a body shop owner it is not that I want you to stay away if you need us. However, there are several things that you can do to significantly decrease your chances of having an accident and needing an auto body shop. As someone who repairs hundreds of wrecked cars a year I have learned that many accidents are easily avoided if drivers will pay attention to 4 key areas.
The 4 key areas to consider are:
1. Visibility: For those in colder climates, have you ever gone to your car in the morning after a frost and couldn’t find that ice scraper that you swore would still be in there from last year. So you start rooting around the car looking for anything that might break through the frost or ice. You blast the defroster full tilt but you’re in a hurry so you grab your driver’s license or a credit card (where is that “reward points” card when you really need it!) and clear a spot that is just big enough to barely see through if you hunker down in your seat and pray you don’t need any peripheral vision. That is a rough way to start your day! Next you realize that maybe the wiper fluid will help melt the ice but the last few drops of water squirt out and just add one more layer of ice before emptying the reservoir. So now that bad day just got worse. AHA! The wipers… the next secret weapon in your ice war arsenal to the rescue. But wait. the rubber is just about completely worn off. They needed to be changed 2 years ago but somehow you managed to forget repeatedly and now the wipers are not an ally but a highly developed smudging tool.
The lesson: Low cost things like wiper blades, washer fluid (the kind that won’t freeze), and an ice scraper can make a big difference. These things that could save you a costly accident cost merely a few dollars each. The hard thing is remembering you need them before you actually do.
One other thing on visibility: check your mirrors. Make sure they are all in working order and set to where they can actually do you some good. Especially important when cars have multiple drivers and they need to constantly be re-set to the current driver. Again, a few seconds to adjust them can save you from a costly and time consuming accident.
2. Traction: Your tires are among your biggest allies when it comes to avoiding accidents. Check for wear and tear (if you see a metal belt starting to show or excessive wear – or worse still – balding on the edges its time for new tires) and inflation to the specifications listed on the side of the tires. Also, consider having them rotated every so often. Tire rotation during a routine maintenance or oil changes is a good time to take care of this.
3. Brakes: Have your brakes checked during maintenance as well. When your brakes feel spongy or don’t allow you to stop quickly if needed its time for them to be changed.
4. Distractions: Recent studies have shown that drivers are 6 times more likely to have an accident if they are texting. Phone calls and texting are gaining on drinking and driving as the number one cause for auto accidents.
So in summary here’s a list of things to do to decrease your chances of having an accident:
– ice scraper in the glove box at all times
– fill up your windshield washer reservoir with no-freeze washer fluid
– keep your wiper blades in good working order and change them at the first signs of wear and tear
– make sure your mirrors are set for you to have good visibility
– check your tire pressure and make sure it is up to factory recommendations
– check for tire wear and tear or balding
– rotate your tires during routine maintenance or oil changes
– have your brakes routinely serviced and changed as needed
– DO NOT text and drive
– if you’re going to use your phone while driving (which is not recommended) at least get a hands-free ear piece so your hands can stay on the steering wheel
– I’ll just go ahead and state the obvious as well: Do not drink and drive… ever.