Having a pilots license I often consider how poorly prepared most people are when it comes to driving an automobile. Before a pilot ever takes off, he or she does what is called a pre-flight. They have a complete list of things to check before they ever taxi that craft.

What kind of thought do you put into your drive? Most people just hop in the car and go.

Things to consider:
What would you do if your vehicle got a flat. Are you prepared to change it? And just because you know the mechanics of changing it, consider the environment you might be in. Is your life and the ones that depend on you less important than changing a tire? Maybe it would be better to safely drive somewhere off the main road before changing or calling someone to change it. Tires are cheap in the overall scheme of things. Sometimes it is wiser to just use a can of fix-a-flat and get to a safe place.

Have you prepared the vehicle for emergencies? What if we got stuck with our vehicle, say because we had a bad earthquake (there are at least 7 bridges on the way home from my work and there isn’t one way home without at least that many). Lots of reasons exist that could cause us to be stranded with our cars. Have some water and snacks as a bare minimum in your vehicle. Never go anywhere without an extra jacket in the vehicle. Never let the fuel tank get low. If there is an emergency in your area, I guarantee that gas stations and stores (if they can even operate) will be jammed. We have had many wind storms here in the northwest that have caused power outages (look out for live wires) and blocked roads (fallen trees) that have left motorist stranded sometimes for days.

In todays world, make sure you have a way to keep your cell phone charged. After a major event or emergency, cell systems are overloaded and/or down. If you don’t have enough charge, you won’t be able to call when the systems do come back up.

A side note. NEVER stand between vehicles. Ever. You will get crushed if another vehicle hits one of the ones you are in-between . So often I see people in a busy area stand between the vehicles to get information etc. after a minor fender bender or accident. I have seen first hand how horrific the results of that are.

This is a bare minimum to think about. How about the vehicle? When is the last time you checked to see if all your lights worked? Most auto repair shops gladly do multi-point inspections at no charge. Most service advisors will gladly walk around your vehicle and give advice or show you how to do a pre-flight. Pilots would never consider flight without doing a check of the aircraft, drivers shouldn’t either!

Feel free to give suggestions on this, as we all could benefit.