If you've been following Texas Mutual's Give Safety a Hand campaign, you know the majority of traffic accidents involve distracted drivers, tired drivers, speeding and people not wearing seat belts.
It's important to have a fleet safety program to address these core issues, but properly maintaining the vehicles your employees drive on the job is just as important.
In the summer, for example, tire blowouts are more common because high temperatures and hot roads contribute to tire breakdown, under-inflation and failure. In fact, there are nearly 11,000 tire-related crashes each year, and almost 200 people die in those crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If you maintain your vehicles properly, including your tires, you can help your employees get from Point A to Point B safely:
- Check tire pressure, including spare tires, at least once a month. The NHTSA notes that under-inflated tires are the leading cause of blowouts and other tire failure. One of the biggest mistakes well-intentioned drivers make is looking to the tire sidewall for the correct pressure, according to AAA. Drivers can find the correct pressure levels on the sticker affixed to the driver's-side door jamb or in the owner's manual.
- Replace tires when tread depth is less than 1/16 of an inch or the wear bars show. Here's a simple tip for checking tread: Place a penny in the tread with President Lincoln's head upside-down and facing you. If you can see the top of his head, it's time for new tires.
- Monitor tires for irregular tread wear, which may be a sign that they need to be rotated, balanced or aligned.
- Make sure windshield wipers are not cracked or in poor condition.
- Test headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, interior lights and trailer lights.
- Consistently perform routine maintenance, such as oil changes, tire rotations, tune-ups, battery checks and fluid level checks.
- Keep an emergency kit in every vehicle. Include a cell phone, first aid kit, flashlight, flares, jumper cables, drinking water, non-perishable food and windshield wiper fluid.
If your vehicle has a blowout, the NHTSA recommends you follow these tips:
- Gradually release the accelerator.
- Correct the steering as necessary to stabilize your vehicle and regain control. Look where you want the vehicle to go, and steer in that direction.
- Once your vehicle has stabilized, continue to slow down, and pull off the road where and when you judge it's safe to do so.
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