Monday, September 24, 2007
AAA Knows How to Avoid Car Crashes
AAA, that great American driving institution, has provided us with 12 Ways to Avoid a Car Crash. In a recent interview with Bottom Line, William Van Tassel, PhD, manager of driver-training ooperations at the AAA's national office in Heathrow, offered up some timely advice.
You should consider two things when driving safely: 1 - your own driving strategies, and 2 -dangerous drivers/vehicles.
1 - Your personal driving strategies - What can you personally do to reduce the risk of being in a car crash?
A - Stay off the roads between midnight and 3 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings. That's when many drunk drivers are out, and when you are most likely to be tired. During the week, most crashes happen during rush hours, but they tend to be less severe than those caused by drunk drivers.
B - Know the routes that have left-turn green arrows, and use them. This is especially helpful if you live in a region with lots of older people. For some reason, they get confused about oncoming traffice, and turn left without enough time to clear approaching traffic.
C - When roads are wet, brake and accelerate on the straightaway. Brake before you enter a turn and don't accelerate until you've completed the turn. This will reduce the chance that you'll skid.
D - Keep your headlights on, event during the day. Everyone in Florida knows this works! Lights on means other drivers are more likely to see you!E - Look through the car ahead of you. You need to watch cars ahead of you and anticipate. You will have better time to react if you see what's going on several cars up the road. (my editorial - don't tailgate! You lose a lot of time to react.)
F - Use your brake lights to alert people behind you. If you are stopped at a light and see another vehicle coming behind you, tap your brakes. It helps them see you better, especially if they are driving into the sun.
G - Position your hands on the wheel at 8-9 and 3-4 o'clock. The old standby of 10 and 2 o'clock positions have been found to cause arm fatigue on long drives, and a reduction in drive reaction time in emergencies.
2 - Dangerous Drivers and/or Vehicles Avoid them as best you can.
A - Stay away from vehicles that are towing trailers. Inexperienced drivers frequently underestimate the amount of time it takes to slow down and stop their vehicles when they are towing extra weight. This can lead to rear-ending the car in front of them. Another thing I've seen is someone who is towing a trailer change lanes like he doesn't have a trailer behind him. Very nervewracking!
B - Let aggressive drivers pass. If some crazy driver behind you flashes their lights, tailgates, or makes erratic lane changes - get out of their way and stay out of their way. They are an accident waiting to happen and you don't want to be anywhere near them.
C - Be extra careful in reverse. Parking lots are the scene of many minor accidents. Always turn your head and upper body to the right to look directly out your rear window. Don't rely on your rearview mirror for the whole picture. Take your time.
D - Keep an eye on the drivers to your sides, not just their cars. Drivers (like Cleveland Browns quarterbacks) frequently "telegraph" their next move. If you notice someone that keeps looking in your direction, it may mean he wants to get into your lane. If you see someone speaking on a cell phone (or even worse - TEXTING), put some distance between you and that driver.
E - Avoid driving near trucks. Crashes involving large trucks are often fatal. When following a truck, stay far enough back so you can see their side mirrors. The sign on the back of the truck that says, "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you" is accurate! Also, when passing a truck, don't be a part of a long line of cars. Let the other cars pass the truck, then quickly pass it yourself (following all speed limits of course.) Make sure there is plenty of room between you and the truck before you pull in front of it.