Most of us think of ourselves as safe and responsible drivers. Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council report that automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for people ages 5 to 33 and the leading cause of injury for people of all ages. You can't be responsible for other drivers, but it is wise to brush up on your own auto safety skills. To test your knowledge, try your hand at this true/false quiz.
1. In a severe accident, you have a better chance of surviving if you are not wearing a seat belt and are thrown from the car.
2. Driving when you are sleepy can be as dangerous as driving when you are drunk.
3. If someone is following your car too closely, you should gently tap your brakes as a warning.
4. If your car has an air bag, you don't need to wear a seat belt.
5. Never buckle a child safety seat into the front seat of a car that has an air bag.
6. If an adult is not wearing a seat belt and is sitting too close to the dashboard, he or she could be in danger if the air bag inflates.
7. Seat belts and child safety seats are necessary only for long-distance driving or for traveling at fast speeds.
8. The instruction booklet for a child safety seat tells you everything you need to know about installing the seat safely in your vehicle.
9. Once a child weighs 40 pounds, he or she can ride safely in a car with a regular seat belt.
10. If your car doesn't have an air bag, your children can ride safely in the front seat.
1. False. Studies show that many crash victims who did not wear a seat belt and were killed after being thrown out of the car would have lived -- often with only minor injuries -- if they had been restrained within the car.
2. True. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that sleepy drivers cause at least 56,000 accidents a year. If you are tired, don't drive. If you become drowsy while driving, pull over to a safe place and take a short nap, or get out of the car and stretch your legs at a rest area. Drinking coffee can help, but only for about 30 minutes. Turning up your radio and rolling down the windows are not effective wake-up methods.
3. False. Tapping your brakes could cause a collision. Instead, change lanes or pull over to the side of the road and let the other driver pass you.
4. False. An air bag is a supplemental restraint only. For it to work properly, you must wear your seat belt. What's more, front air bags inflate only in head-on crashes, side air bags inflate when the side of the car caves into the passenger space. Seat belts, on the other hand, can protect you in every type of collision and they are effective when the car rolls and an airbag doesn’t inflate.
5. True. In a crash, an air bag inflates in milliseconds at up to 200 miles per hour and can slam into the back of a rear-facing infant seat (where the baby's head rests) or into the upper body of an older child in a forward-facing safety seat. The safest place for a child 12 and under is in the middle of the backseat.
6. True. Unbuckled passengers of all ages can be injured or killed by an inflating air bag. Adults and teens riding in the front seat should buckle up and sit at least 10 inches away from the dashboard. Kids 12 years of age and younger should ride buckled up in the backseat.
7. False. Most crashes occur at speeds under 40 miles per hour and within 25 miles of home.
8. False. To install the seat safely in your car, read both the safety seat manual and your car's owner's manual. Depending on your vehicle, you may need a supplemental belt, metal locking clip, or other device for a snug fit.
9. False. Children who weigh between 40 and 60 pounds are safest when riding in a booster seat and secured by a lap and shoulder belt. The booster seat elevates the child so that the belt fits across the body properly and snugly, which maximizes protection.
10. False. Air bag or not, the backseat is still the safest place for children of any age to ride.