Car care is an essential part of auto safety in Upper St Clair. But the most important thing we can do to improve safety on Pennsylvania roads is to drive safely.

Defensive driving is safe driving. And defensive driving is all about attitude. You have to decide that you will be a safe driver in Pennsylvania, no matter what anyone else is doing.

Upper St Clair car owners can start with awareness. Always maintain awareness of your surroundings, the road conditions, other vehicles on the Upper St Clair road or highway and road hazards. Have you ever suddenly realized that you have arrived somewhere, but you don’t really remember driving there? That is unsafe driving.

Never assume that other Upper St Clair motorists are paying attention. You be the one on alert. You be the one to take initiative to stay out of the way of other Pennsylvania drivers. And don’t let familiarity dull your alertness. Remind yourself to pay as close attention while driving on the roads near your Upper St Clair home as you would in unfamiliar territory around Pennsylvania.

Prepare your SUV so you can give the road your full attention. Secure passengers and pets before leaving the driveway. Secure loose items in your SUV so they can’t become projectiles if you have to brake suddenly. If children or pets become a distraction while driving, pull over and take care of the problem before re-entering traffic. Unclutter your windows. Take down the danglies from your rearview mirror. And don’t use your SUV dashboard as an office. Move distractions and clutter to the backseat. Keep your windshield clear.

Properly maintain your SUV. Preventive maintenance doesn’t just prevent repairs; it prevents unsafe vehicles. Make sure your tires, lights, brakes, suspension, alignment and steering get regular check-ups at Chuck’s Complete Auto Service. Also, listen to your efficient Chuck’s Complete Auto Service service advisor when he gives you auto advice about other systems in your SUV. Knowing about the wear and tear on your SUV can help you avoid dangerous situations.

Avoid driving when you are sleepy or angry. Get a good night’s sleep before a road trip in Pennsylvania, and learn to set aside relationship, job or other issues while you are in a vehicle. Again, you have to take charge of your own safety. Don’t daydream in your vehicle. Also, talking to passengers can be a distraction. Keep your mind on the road. Conversations may keep you from daydreaming or excessive boredom on a long trip, but always keep your driving foremost in your mind.

Maintain a proper speed. Driving too fast is dangerous on crowded Upper St Clair roads, but driving too slowly can cause accidents, too. At night, don’t overdrive your headlights. Your stopping distance needs to be shorter than the distance your headlights are illuminating.

Never drink and drive. Alcohol plays a part in half of all fatal accidents in Pennsylvania and nationally. Also, don’t drive drugged. Pay attention to the warning labels on any medications you are taking.

Other Bethel Park motorists need to see you and know what you want to do. Use your SUV turn signals, and stay out of other Pennsylvania drivers’ blind spots.

If you can, avoid driving over debris in the road. You can damage your SUV or end up in an accident. Of course, if swerving to avoid the debris is dangerous, then slow down and navigate as best you can. Do what you can to alert other auto owners to the problem. You may want to pull to the side of the McMurray road and report the debris or move it to the side of the road, if you can do so safely.

Never follow too closely on Pittsburgh roads or highways. Observe the two-second rule. Choose an object ahead such as a tree or traffic sign. As the car in front of you passes it, start counting: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand. If you reach the object before you’re done, you’re too close. Back off.

If you are on one of the Pennsylvania expressways, or if you are hauling a heavy load, or if you are tired, or if in any way you are not the model of the alert and attentive driver, then increase that two-second rule to three seconds. Give yourself an added measure of safety. If the Pittsburgh weather is bad, increase the rule to five seconds.

Inevitably, someone always pulls in front of you when you are trying to follow the “seconds” rules. Don’t get mad. Just back off and leave them to their bad driving habits. Remember, you are not going to give up your safety for anyone else’s cussedness. It’s always a bad trade.

If someone is following you too closely, pull over and let them pass. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. If you’re late, worry about it after you’re there, not while you’re on the road.

If you see a vehicle driving erratically in Upper St Clair, stay away. Take the next right or the next exit off the expressway. Notify the Upper St Clair police as soon as you are safely stopped.

And of course, don’t be the idiot driver we all complain about in Upper St Clair. Don’t contest your right-of-way, don’t race to beat someone to a merge, and don’t cut into someone else’s two seconds of space. Winning these types of ego trips may end up losing you your SUV—or worse, your life or the life of a friend.

The professional automotive team at Chuck’s Complete Auto Service wants all Upper St Clair drivers to stay smart and stay safe.