The new year represents a fresh beginning, a time when many people resolve to start, stop, increase, decrease, or otherwise alter activities in their lives. Other people avoid resolutions all together. Me? Sometimes I make resolutions; other times I don’t. It depends on how motivated I am at the end of any given year.

This year I’m issuing a challenge to myself and all of CarseatBlog’s readers. For 2012, I would like everyone to make one change pertaining to vehicle safety. Call it a resolution or just an improvement, but do something.

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you already make vehicle safety a high priority, but there’s always room for improvement.

I came up with a few different ideas for myself before I settled on my change. Initially I thought about paying more attention to our tire pressure, but then I realized that my husband generally stays on top of that, and…well, I don’t really want to.

Next I decided I’d be better about keeping fuel in the car. That might not be a vehicle safety issue, per se, but it is important from an emergency standpoint if we need to evacuate for some reason, or if we don’t want to get stuck somewhere without gas. But then I realized that my husband stays on top of that, too.

Finally I started paying attention to my driving habits. I am generally a very good, safe driver, but I’m not going to lie: I sometimes break the rules. I have been known to speed, and I don’t always signal when making a turn. Something else I’m more-than-occasionally guilty of is following the vehicle in front of me too closely. It’s not like I ride people’s tails, but neither do I always keep a safe distance.

Hence I decided that falling back and leaving more room will be my resolution/change for 2012.

There are different recommendations on how much space is appropriate or how to judge that distance, but they all work out about the same way. I used to go with “one car length for every 10 mph,” but I’m pretty bad about judging what one car length is, let alone six. So I now use the “three-second rule” championed by the California Highway Patrol: Pick a fixed point (street sign, lane marker, etc.) and make sure that at least three seconds lapse from the time the car in front of you passes it until you do.

Unlike dieting or exercising, slowing down a bit in the car doesn’t take much effort, plus there’s no need to give up pie or chocolate.

Now it’s your turn! Tell us what you’re going to do differently this year (car-related or otherwise).

I hope you and your family have a safe and happy New Year!