With their increased seating capacity, higher ride height and versatility, sport utility vehicles offer their owners a wealth of uses. They come well equipped to handle the needs of a larger family, or outdoor enthusiasts looking for an off-road adventure. These larger vehicles do come with their own unique safety dangers however, that differ from smaller cars. To ensure your safety while behind the wheel of an SUV, here are a few important things to keep in mind.
Most importantly, understand the limitations of your vehicle. SUVs perform much differently than smaller passenger cars, and are typically much larger and heavier. Given their increased size, more work is required from an SUV’s brakes and engine to brake and accelerate, as well as stay under control on the road. By braking quickly, you will put great stress on your brakes, causing them to wear extremely quickly. Over time, worn brakes will dramatically increase the distances required to come to a stop, and failures are a constant threat, introducing the potential for a rear end accident or breakdowns costing thousands of dollars to repair.
In the same way, quickly accelerating will put added stress on your engine, potentially leading breakdowns. Added weight also raises the center of gravity, making it more top heavy through turns. If taken too quickly, a turn can cause an SUV to roll onto its roof. By turning gradually, you will keep your wheels firmly planted on the ground.
The physical boundaries of your vehicle should also be understood, as an SUV may not fit into places smaller vehicles can, such as tight side streets and parking spaces. It is important to know where your front and rear bumpers end, and how wide your vehicle is to ensure that you do not make contact with anything around you like other vehicles, walls, or curbs. Identify blind spots and places where bicyclists and pedestrians can be obscured from the driver’s seat, and make an intentional effort to check these spots before making a turn or changing lanes.
Your seat belt should also be worn at all times. This is true for any automobile, but the increased rollover potential makes it essential in an SUV. Should you find yourself in a rollover situation, your seatbelt will keep you securely inside the vehicle, rather than been thrown out and subjected to serious injury potential.
Avoid over packing when possible, as any excess weight will not only harm fuel economy but further raise the center of gravity, increasing the chances for a rollover. Over packing will also put additional stress on your engine and brakes, dramatically reducing their effective lifespan.
Keeping up with your SUVs maintenance schedule will also help ensure that it runs as intended for years to come. Check your engine’s oil, always replacing it when needed. Running on used oil, an engine will run much hotter, harm fuel economy and increasing the possibility for major internal damages. Checking tire pressures regularly is also important, as improper inflation can seriously affect performance and handling. Underinflation is especially dangerous, as the added weight could cause tires to rupture.
By understanding the unique challenges of driving a sport utility vehicle, you can avoid some of the most common dangers and stay safe on the road. Knowing the physical dimensions of your vehicle, as well as the performance limitations will give you a clear picture of what you can and cannot do behind the wheel, helping you reach your intended destinations safely and without incident.