Understanding How Car Safety Goes Beyond Getting a License

presenting a driver's license

After hosting the Indy 500 for decades, Indiana residents know there’s more to car safety than just getting a license. There are multitudes of ways to keep your drives safe, but the most basic ones are the most effective.

Drive Defensively

Anything can happen on the road; the secret is staying alert and giving yourself ample time to react. Defensive driving reduces the risk of accidents and collisions by anticipating situations and acting smart. It can be as simple as wearing a seatbelt, using turn signals, or driving below the speed limit. You don’t necessarily have to take a class (although it would help), make the right decisions and keep other drivers in mind whenever you’re behind the wheel.

Stay Sober

A DUI or what’s known as an OWI (operating while intoxicated) charge in Indiana can be more than problematic. You immediately get charged with a felony if you’re over 21; otherwise, it’s a misdemeanor. A felony conviction can land you up to two years and six months of jail time and a hefty $10,000 fine. Charges are aggravated if another person’s life was endangered or if a driver over 21 had a passenger under 18 inside the vehicle. An OWI doesn’t just cover alcohol; it also includes controlled substances (including medical marijuana) and illegal drugs. A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent qualifies you for an OWI, so does the presence of controlled substances or their metabolite in your system.

Even if you avoid jail time, a conviction comes with a suspension of your license. You can apply for a special permit, but you’ll also need to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or a Breathalyzer that’s connected to the engine of your vehicle. If the device detects traces of alcohol above the legal limit, your car will either shut down (if driving) or not start at all. An OWI stays on your record for five years, and any other violation automatically counts as a felony within that timeframe.

Monitor Your Trips

driving

Every state has problems with scammers staging accidents. Unscrupulous drivers will intentionally cause collisions by cutting in front of other drivers and then slamming on the brakes. Most of these accidents are fairly minor, although seniors can get serious cases of whiplash. Scammers will then claim serious injuries and a bunch of other complications to bump up insurance payments. Staged accidents are hard to prove. Most law enforcement will instantly blame the tailing driver for rear-end collisions unless overwhelming evidence is presented.

Fortunately, a dashboard camera does exactly that. A camera will keep a record of your drives, allowing you to provide detailed circumstances in case of accidents or scams. A dashboard camera can also serve as a record of whether you were driving haphazardly. Getting pulled over for an OWI requires clear signs of intoxication, and a video recording of your time on the road can refute that.

Stay Polite

If you do get pulled over, how you present yourself can make the difference between a standard check or a rough encounter. Keep calm, stay in your vehicle, roll down your windows, and politely cooperate with the officer. Ask for your violation and point out that you have a recording of your trip (through the dashcam). Avoid outbursts of emotions and try to be as civil as possible. Most cops do their jobs properly. The media puts them in a bad light by focusing on the worst encounters; however, most encounters with law enforcement are positive.

Get Sun Protection

The Indiana Skin Cancer Center in Greenwood treats thousands of melanoma cases each year, and some of them are due to driving. Skin cancer and melanoma are serious conditions, and the sun and its harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are the main culprits. You might think you’re fine inside your car, but your daily 15 to 30-minute commute to work is enough to expose you to significant amounts of UV. Constant exposure leads to chronic sun damage, increasing your risk of developing melanomas on the left side of your body.

Your car’s windshield should have adequate UV protection; however, its windows don’t. A UV-filtering film can easily make your car safe from UV. Any shop that does auto windshield repairs should have it, and installation shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.

Car safety involves so many different factors. Drive as safe as possible, manage your interactions, monitor your trips to avoid scammers and overeager cops, and make your drives safer with a little sun protection.

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