Please don’t be alarmed. Let this picture of a dismantled 1997 Toyota Corolla be your inspiration for safer and smarter driving during the holidays and for the remainder of your years behind the wheel. This accident involved my 18-year-old cousin Chris who was on his way to college when a quick rainstorm took him by surprise. As he turned at a heavy junction his Toyota hydroplaned into a pole, hitting on the driver’s side. Basically, Chris became a ping-pong ball between two forces of metal. Thankfully, prayers were answered and he survived after a few operations to the brain, throat and a few other places. He’s still numb on his entire left side, but doctors said he should recover after intense rehab. Chris doesn’t remember what happened but here are a few guidelines to heed:
a) Never speed into a turn. Especially when the surface is wet.
b) Make sure tires have proper air pressure. Especially in the winter.
c) Replace tires when tread is worn. Never ride on bald tires. Along with brakes, they are the single most important vehicle part. Also, invest in a quality tire that has tread for both rain and optimal grip. I prefer Michelin and Bridgestones.
d) Buckle up every single time. Yes, it can happen to you!
e) Slowly begin to replace older model vehicles with out of date technology. Side and curtain airbags would have prevented Chris’ head injuries. You also want Electric Stability Control (ESP) and Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS).
f) Drive with two hands on the wheel and sit up straight. I used to cruise with one hand and sat laid-back. Your reaction time will be delayed and a preventive situation may not be prevented.
g) Never drive while eating. A split second is all it takes.
h) And the latest bad habit: Don’t drive and text or read email on a mobile phone.
We all have our habits behind the wheel. But if you’ve never been in an accident then you can’t properly assess its outcome and can, therefore, believe you are safe no matter what. Wrong! I also suggest spending some time at a driving school or performance training so you can understand vehicle dynamics. Many accidents are avoidable through proper driver techniques and training.