Acts of Love: From Valentine’s Day to Presidents Day

By Rob Molloy

All this week we have posted blogs about “Acts of Love,” selfless actions that people have taken to improve the safety of family members, or even the safety of people whom they have never met. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and while couples mark the day with chocolates, flowers, special dinners and the like, safety advocates pursue their daily labors of love year-round.

To round off the week, we’d like to also remind readers that Monday is Presidents Day – a day to celebrate Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays, and, as it happens, a red-letter day for new car sales.

But we’re not forgetting about our theme, Acts of Love. With Valentine’s Day coming this close to Presidents Day, maybe it’s time to think of those you love when you’re deciding what you’ll drive.

In the market for a new car? Consider its safety features, even beyond the required ones. Does the car have collision avoidance technology, such as lane departure warning, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic braking?

At the National Transportation Safety Board, we think these types of advances should not just be luxury items – they should be standard on all new cars. For now, look for these features. They might just keep the one you love alive.

And if you’re looking at a used car, even from a relatively late model year, look for one with electronic stability control, which has only been standard in all new vehicles since model year 2012.

What about the new features in cars that help me stay connected with your loved ones in your car? Don’t they improve safety also? Not necessarily, some in-vehicle systems could distract you – or your beloved – from focusing on driving your vehicle. In particular when they make it easier to use your hand held devices in your car.. Even though these systems can eliminate manual tasks like typing texts, dialing a number, or using a hand-held phone, they can still cause cognitive distraction, decreasing your attention to the driving task. One of the most frequent causes of vehicle crashes is driver inattention.

So even if you’re dazzled by the present generation of available distractions, you might be best off making a promise with the one you love: If one of you calls or texts while the other’s driving, he or she gets a call-back – as soon as the one driving finds a place to pull over. And take a brief look at “Disconnect from Deadly Distractions,” on the NTSB Most Wanted List page.

If this Saturday reminds you of all the wonderful, unique things about the one you love, don’t forget those irreplaceable traits on Monday, if you’re at a Presidents Day sale. Protect that special someone while you’re shopping for the vehicle that you’ll both be driving for years to come. It’s an act of love that any car shopper can take.

Rob Molloy is the Deputy Director of the Office of Highway Safety

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