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As part of my Crash Safe Campaign I wanted to explore some issues around driver safety related to the vehicles we choose to drive.
People either love SUVs or hate them. Usually based whether they own one or not.
They are certainly notorious when it comes to effects like pollution, obstructing visibility of other drivers, driving over other cars and running over toddlers in the driveway.
We chose our Kia Sorento because we wanted something a bit more substantial to protect the kids, as well as being able to handle the conditions on the family farm when we visit.
I must admit I feel safer riding up above other cars. In fact, now when I get into a normal size sedan it feels like I’m sitting on the road and it’s scary!
When we first got our Kia it took a while to get used to driving it. It felt heavy, it didn’t stop as quickly and felt top heavy going around corners (that is if I accidentally didn’t quite slow down enough – oops!).
So I wanted to share some tips on how to drive more safely in your SUV
How to safely drive your SUV
1 Learn to drive it
Like I said, it took me a while to adjust to driving a bigger, heavier vehicle. Don’t underestimate this when it comes to judging stopping distances. Practice somewhere off road if you can, or during a really quiet time on the roads.
2 Slow Down
Goes without saying. You’re driving a lot of vehicle that can do a lot of damage to you and others on the road. Drive courteously and defensively, giving yourself more time to react when you need to.
3 You’re not driving a sports car
SUVs are big, tall and heavy. You can’t ‘corner like it’s on rails’ or you’ll end up in a ditch on your roof. Slow down and take corners carefully. It took me a while to adjust for this, as our Kia tends to lean into the corners and the rolling feeling is not nice! Likewise, try and avoid sudden or sharp steering when driving, which can cause the tyres to bite in and tip a top-heavy vehicle.
4 You’re not the only one on the road
While you might feel like the King of the Road sitting up high and mighty, the majority of traffic around you is below you. Consider that cars behind you cannot see the road ahead through your windscreen. Give them ample warning of hazards ahead by maintaining a safe distance yourself and braking safely. You don’t want a car up your backside. I often tap my brakes a couple of time to flash a warning before braking fully myself, just to let cars behind me know that something is coming up, especially if they’re up my backside.
5 Be aware of what you can see
Each time I get into the Kia after CrashHubby has been driving I have to do a lot of adjusting. The car seat, the rearview mirror and the side mirrors. Adjust your side mirrors down and outwards so you can actually see what’s at road level. Be aware of your blind spots, rear pillars in an SUV can be quite substantial. Before getting into the driver seat, walk around your vehicle so you are aware of what is behind and near you before reversing out. Low posts, bicycles and of course children can be very hard to see.
6 Brake better
I’ve mentioned it a couple of times, but it deserves repeating. You will need a greater breaking distance, especially when it’s wet. Hopefully you have ABS, learn how to use it. Don’t pump your brakes, just maintain firm constant pressure and let the ABS do the work for you. If you haven’t experienced this, try it somewhere safe so you don’t freak out the first time you feel the brakes do their thing.
7 Buckle Up
SUVs are more prone to roll overs in an accident. Make sure you’re safely buckled in.
8 Be careful of large loads
Heavy loads change the way your SUV performs. Loading up the roof racks will change the centre of gravity, making you even more top heavy. Carrying a large load on a trailer can also change the game plan, a lot! We recently brought home a heavy load of wood and the Kia felt like it was almost floating in comparison to the load on the back. Slow down.
9 Keep up your maintenance and check your tyres
Your tyres are the only thing between your vehicle and the road. They are one of three key active safety features that help avoid crashes, the other two being ABS and ESC (Electronic Stability Control). Make sure you have the correct tyres for your vehicle and that they are balanced and at the right air pressure. You don’t want a blowout when you’re driving along, because you’re probably going to end up on your roof.
Product Highlight: Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV tyres from Beaurepaires
I was offered a new set of Goodyear EfficientGrip tyres by Beaurepaires – especially made for SUVs. I was pretty keen to crash test them, because anything that makes our decision to own an SUV safer is much welcomed.
I’m pleased to say that I’m actually a little bit in love with them. Since having them put on, the Kia feels like a new vehicle. Both CrashHubby and I have noticed and extra ‘gripiness’ when driving and there’s a little less rock ‘n’ roll when manouvering too. The tyres just feel more responsive and as a result I feel safer. I’ve also appreciated them in recent wet conditions. Braking is definitely responsive.
Based on braking tests conducted by Goodyear Innovation Centre in Luxembourg on various road surfaces, Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV proved to have 7% shorter braking distance on wet roads than its predecessor.
The EfficientGrip SUV tyres offer the following benefits:
- Combining a Closed Shoulder Design, Increased Pitches, Rib Type Design and Shock Absorbing Carcass delivers an exceptionally quiet and comfortable ride, ideal for a SUV.
- The optimised contact patch, along with the high number of bitting edges provides better grip, improved cornering and reduced wet braking distances.
- Provides a very responsive structure encouraging crisp handling behaviour for heavy SUV vehicles.
- The highly loaded silica blend compound reduces intra-molecular friction for measureable reductions in fuel consumption.
Additional benefits are the QuietTred technology for a quieter on road experience. I can concur, our ride is now noticeably quieter. Another is fuel efficiency. I haven’t actually measured and compared on this one, I’m just trusting that every little bit makes a difference in the war against ridiculous fuel prices.
EfficicientGrip SUV tyres are upwards of $202 each depending on the size you need. A worthwhile investment for your safety.
Thank you Beaurepaires!
* Disclosure: I was provided with set of Goodyear EfficientGrip tyres from Beaurepaires for my consideration. My opinions are my own.
Do you drive an SUV? Love them or hate them?
Don’t forget about the giveaway with Safe-n-Sound! Click the image :)