• CARA

What to check for driving safely - Part 2

Worn tires, defective brakes, incorrect seat and steering wheel adjustments, improper load security - all of these can affect safe driving. The following information and tips can support you staying safe on the road.


Positioning of navigation devices

A navigation device is very helpful for orientation in unknown or urban areas. It also offers the possibility of avoiding certain routes such as highways. In order to prevent visibility obstructions (creating blind spots or blind angles), ensure that the navigation device is positioned safely. Ideally, it should be mounted nonglare on the dashboard, or alternatively on the windshield (if visibility is not reduced):

  • Compact and medium-sized cars: it is recommended to position the navigation device in the central area of the dashboard or in the central, lower area of the windshield.

  • (Mini)Vans: the navigation device should be positioned on the left side of the dashboard or in the lower left area of the windshield.

  • Attention: Do not install the device in the proximity of airbags (front and side airbags).

For safety reasons, the destination should only be entered before driving or if the vehicle is parked. In some countries, such as Austria, operating a navigation system while driving is prohibited.


Tires

The quality of the tires affects the vehicle's grip and braking distance. Well-maintained tires come to a stop more quickly in the event of emergency braking and will therefore be safer on the road. Tread depth, tire pressure and the age of the tires are decisive factors.

  • A tread depth of at least 1.6 mm is required by law in the EU. However, to be safe on the road when it’s raining or snowing, it is recommended to replace summer tires at 3 mm and winter tires at 4 mm. Insufficient tread depth increases the risk of aquaplaning.

  • Check the tread depth of your tires at regular intervals. To do so, have a look at the wear indicators (small triangular symbols, TWI) on your tires. You can also use a 1 Euro coin to check whether the tread depth is less than 3 mm, as the gold edge of the coin corresponds exactly to this dimension.

  • Note that in some European countries winter tires are mandatory.

  • The optimal choice of tire pressure influences the driving characteristics of your vehicle. Insufficient tire pressure not only has a negative impact on safety (increased braking distance, poor cornering), it also causes increased fuel consumption. Too much tire pressure should also be avoided, as this results in irregular tire wear. The correct setting for your car can be found in the operating instructions or, depending on the vehicle, on the B-pillar or the inside of the tank cap. You can check the tire pressure of your car at any petrol station.

  • If the vehicle is heavily loaded, make sure to increase the tire pressure accordingly.

  • Regarding the age of the tire, it is recommended to check the tires regularly for damage after six years due to the change in the material (brittleness). After about eight to ten years, they should be replaced in any case. The age can be detected by the "DOT" marking on the tire.


Headlights

Correctly adjusted headlights ensure that the road in front of you is well illuminated and other road users can see you in due time. If the headlights are positioned too low, the light cone will be too small, and your own visibility will be reduced. A position that is set too high blinds oncoming drivers. Note, that a heavily loaded car can have an effect on the inclination angle of the headlights. This can be corrected accordingly with the headlight range adjustment (small wheel next to the steering wheel).

If you notice that the basic setting of the headlights does not fit, the setting should be corrected at a garage.


Load securing

In the event of an accident, poorly secured cargo can be tossed around in the vehicle, potentially resulting in serious injuries. To transport objects safely, the following points must be considered:

  • Use nets, tension belts or other aids to hold the load securely in place.

  • When loading heavy goods, make sure that the main weight of the cargo is positioned in the centre of the vehicle or evenly spread.

  • Stow heavy items at the very bottom, ideally against the rear seat wall of the trunk.

  • When transporting heavy goods, adjust the tire pressure and consider the vehicle's maximum axle loads.

  • If you are transporting several small items, they should be stored in lockable boxes.

  • Note that objects cannot be safely transported on the rear luggage cover.

  • You should use appropriate transport boxes or partition walls for carrying animals.

  • In case of a fully or heavily loaded vehicle, it is recommended to take a short test drive. This will allow you to adjust to the changed handling characteristics of your vehicle (braking, cornering).


Sources:

[1] https://www.adac.de

[2] www.oeamtc.at

[3] https://www.123fahrschule.de

[4] https://www.tuev-nord.de

[5] http://www.sicher-transportieren.at

[6] https://www.reifen.at/

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