S.A.F.E. Summer Driving Tips

'S' stands for seat belts. Seat belts keep the driver from slamming into the steering wheel or windshield following a crash. They prevent occupants from being tossed inside the car or even thrown out. Leave the car in park until everyone inside the vehicle is buckled up.

'A' stands for automobile maintenance. A well-performing vehicle is more likely to get you where you want to go. Examine, inflate, rotate, and balance tires periodically. Replace those with insufficient tread. Check headlights, taillights, brake lights, and blinkers. Install new bulbs as needed. Confirm air and fuel filters, belts, and hoses are in good shape. Be sure radiator, battery, transmission, and oil fluid levels are adequate. Top off wiper fluid frequently and get new windshield wipers when necessary.

'F' stands for focus. Driving is a complex skill. Pay attention to the roadway and focus on the task at hand. The cell phone is an obvious distraction. Illinois allows hands-free cell phones in certain areas, but hands-free calls are still distracting. Adjusting music, reaching for an object, dealing with children, gazing at scenery, eating, and sipping on drinks are all activities that take the driver's attention off the task at hand. Make a conscious decision to minimize distractions and to drive with focus.

'E' is for expectations. Defensive drivers are aware of their surroundings. Stay alert. Use turn signals. Put a safe distance between your vehicle and the other cars. Adjust speed to changing road conditions. Obey the rules of the road. Keep emotion and ego out of the driver's seat.