(State of Colorado)


6. Before you drive


Your ability to be a safe driver depends on being able to see clearly, not being overly tired, not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, being generally healthy, and being emotionally fit to drive. In other words, being in "shape" to drive safely.

VISION: Good vision is a must for safe driving. You drive based on what you see. If you cannot see clearly, you will have trouble identifying traffic and road conditions, spotting potential trouble, and reacting in a timely manner.

It is important to have your eyes checked every year or two by an eye specialist. If you have a corrective lenses restriction on your license, you need to wear glasses or contact lenses while driving.

HEARING: Hearing can be helpful to safe driving. The sounds of horns, a siren, or screeching tires can warn you of danger. Hearing problems, like bad eyesight, can come on so slowly that you do not notice it. These problems should be addressed on a regular basis. And, per C.R.S. 42-4-1411, it is illegal to wear any type of headphones while you are driving because they can interfere with your hearing.

FATIGUE: When you are tired, you cannot drive as safely as when you are rested. Your reactions and decision making skills are greatly reduced. Break long driving periods into two hour segments. If you become drowsy, pull off the road and rest!

HEALTH: Many health problems can affect your driving - a bad cold, infection, or a virus. Even little problems like a stiff neck, a cough, or a sore leg can affect your driving. Some conditions can be very dangerous, such as epilepsy, diabetes, and heart conditions. Check with your doctor if you think your health condition could affect your driving.

EMOTIONS: Emotions can have a great affect on safe driving. You may not be able to drive well if you are overly worried, excited, afraid or angry. Do not give in to "Road Rage". See Page 24 on Aggressive Driving.

DISTRACTIONS: A distraction is anything that diverts your attention, even momentarily, from the task of driving. Driving requires your full attention. Before you begin your trip, adjust your seat, your mirrors, the radio and the temperature and secure any loose objects in the car. Be sure you and everyone else in the vehicle, particularly children, are wearing age-appropriate restraint devices. Do not allow yourself to become distracted by your cell phone, conversations with passengers, noisy children or by “rubbernecking”. Limit your cell phone use while driving to brief, essential conversations. Pull off the road to a safe area for longer cell phone conversations or to control children. Do not attempt to eat or drink, read smoke, apply makeup, shave or adjust the radio or a CD while you are driving. In the time it takes to change radio stations, lives may be changed forever.

VEHICLE: How safely you can drive includes the vehicle you are driving. It is the responsibility of drivers to make certain that the vehicles they drive are safe to operate.

A vehicle that is in poor operating condition is unsafe, costs more to run and may not get you out of an emergency situation such as a breakdown or collision. You should follow your vehicle owner‘s manual for routine maintenance. A few simple checks will prevent trouble on the road and ensure your vehicle is in compliance with Colorado Motor Vehicle laws.

- Braking System: If the brakes do not seem to be working properly, such as the brake pedal goes to the floor, have a mechanic check them immediately.

- Lights: Make sure that turn signals, brake lights, tail lights, and head lights are operating properly.

- Windshield and Wipers: Damaged glass can easily break in a minor collision or when something hits the windshield. Have the windshield replaced. Windshield wipers keep the rain and snow off the windshield. Make sure they are in good operating condition. If the blades have not been working well, replace them. Keep the windshield clean inside and out, and keep your window washer bottle full. Clear snow, ice, or frost from all windows.

- Tires: Worn or bald tires can increase your stopping distance, make turning more difficult, can cause “hydroplaning” at lower speeds when the road is wet, and increase the chance of having a flat tire. Unbalanced wheels and low tire pressure increase tire wear, reduce fuel economy, and make the vehicle harder to steer and stop. If the vehicle bounces, or the steering wheel shakes, or the vehicle pulls to one side, have a mechanic check your tires.

- Steering System: If the vehicle is hard to turn have the steering checked by a mechanic.

- Suspension System: If the vehicle bounces excessively, keeps bouncing after a bump, or after you stop, you may need new shocks or other suspension parts. Have a mechanic check it out.

- Exhaust System: Fumes from a leaky exhaust system can cause death in a very short time. Never run the motor in your garage, or sit in the car with the motor running, without opening a window. Most exhaust problems are easily heard. Have them fixed.

- Engine: A poorly tuned engine may lose power that is needed for normal driving and emergencies, may not start, gets poor fuel economy, pollutes the air, and could die on you when you are on the road, causing problems for you and other traffic.

- Horn: The horn should be checked for operation periodically.

- Mirrors: Adjust your rear view mirror and side mirrors before you begin to drive. You should be able to see out the back window with the rear view mirror, and adjust your side mirrors to let you see the lane behind and most of the lane next to you.

- Loose Objects: Make sure that there are no packages or other objects on the rear shelf or back seat that could injure someone in the event of a sudden stop or crash. Make sure there are no objects on the floor that could roll under the brake pedal or accelerator and interfere with your safe driving.

- Head restraints: They should be adjusted so the head restraint contacts the back of the head.


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