Backing / Reversing with a Trailer? A little bit of fun!

It is a sad fact that many drivers who have not had adequate training struggle to reverse without a trailer, let alone with one.

Indeed, many of the corporations for which we instruct experience an unduly high number of collisions when their personnel are backing or reversing a company vehicle — something we can swiftly rectify for you, while making your drivers safer all around.

Once again, however, technology is also coming to the rescue, and here’s a smile-making advertisement for one automaker’s offering:

Ranking Countries for Road Safety – the ‘Per Vehicles’ Rate, 2015

Deaths per 10,000 Vehicles

  1.   0.15   Iceland
  2.   0.37   Norway
  3.   0.41   Switzerland
  4.   0.46  Sweden
  5.   0.47   Netherlands
  6.   0.51   Spain
  7.   0.51   UK
  8.   0.52   Finland
  9.   0.53   Japan
  10.   0.61   Germany
  11.   0.61   Denmark
  12.   0.66  Australia
  13.   0.66  Italy
  14.   0.67   Austria
  15.   0.77   Ireland
  16.   0.79   Slovenia
  17.   0.80   France
  18.   0.81    Luxembourg
  19.   0.83* Canada
  20.   0.84   Greece
  21.   0.87   New Zealand
  22.   0.94   Israel
  23.    1.08   Czech Republic
  24.    1.11*  Belgium
  25.    1.12    Portugal
  26.    1.19    USA
  27.    1.21    Poland
  28.    1.66   Hungary
  29.    1.78   Lithuania
  30.   2.24   Argentina
  31.   2.27* Korea
  32.   4.74   Chile

What does this mean in relation to the USA?

Sadly the seemingly small numbers listed above are very misleading.        By this metric, if America (1.19) could match the per vehicle fatality rate of Norway (in second place at 0.37) an astonishing 22,516 American lives would have been saved in 2015 alone – and a similar number every year – and an vastly larger quantity of injuries would have been avoided or have been less serious.


At the time of posting, 2015 was the most recently available data.

* represents data from the previous year

Also see: Ranking Countries for Road Safety – the ‘Per Capita’ Rate, 2015

Source: IRTAD data as shown on 21 June, 2017, at:



Ranking Countries for Road Safety – the ‘Per Capita’ Rate, 2015

Deaths per 100,000 Population

  1.   2.3   Norway
  2.   2.6   Sweden
  3.   2.9* UK
  4.   3.0   Switzerland
  5.   3.1    Netherlands
  6.   3.2   Denmark
  7.   3.6* Spain
  8.   3.6   Ireland
  9.   3.8   Israel
  10.   3.8   Japan
  11.   4.3   Germany
  12.   4.7   Finland
  13.   5.1    Australia
  14.   5.3    Iceland
  15.   5.4* Canada
  16.   5.4   France
  17.   5.5   Austria
  18.   5.6   Italy
  19.   5.7   Slovenia
  20.   6.0   Luxembourg
  21.   6.1*  Portugal
  22.   6.6   Hungary
  23.   6.7   Belgium
  24.   6.9   Czech Republic
  25.   7.0   Greece
  26.   7.0   New Zealand
  27.   7.6   Poland
  28.   8.3   Lithuania
  29.   9.1   Korea
  30. 10.2* USA
  31. 11.9    Chile
  32. 12.4    Argentina

What does this mean in relation to the USA?

Sadly the seemingly small numbers listed above are very misleading.        If America (10.2) could match the per capita fatality rate of the leading country (Norway, at 2.3), an astonishing 25,308 American lives would have been saved in 2015 alone – and a similar number every year – and an vastly larger quantity of injuries would have been avoided or have been less serious.


At the time of posting, 2015 was the most recently available data.

* represents data from the previous year

Also see: Ranking Countries for Road Safety – the ‘Per Vehicles‘ Rate, 2015

Source: IRTAD data as shown on 21 June, 2017, at:

Rear Fog Lights for Driving in the USA? What ARE They?

Please note:  All photographs here and in other articles on this website are taken from the passenger seat and with telephoto lenses, from much further away than the resulting images appear to show.  Safety is never compromised to get a photo.

Sadly, in the USA, matched pairs of high-intensity rear fog lights are not permitted. Indeed, if I ask American drivers about this – which I frequently do – they haven’t even got a clue what rear fog lights are.  So let’s get the answer out of the way:  Rear fog lights are red, they are very bright and they must only be used (to protect your ‘six’) in bad visibility.

The car near the center of this photo, which has a matched pair of rear, high-intensity fog lights illuminated — not brake lights — will clearly remain more visible than even cars nearer the camera that have only their regular rear lights to rely upon. Look at the two cars just beyond and to the left of the well-lit car: both of them do have their regular tail lights on yet are fading from view. The difference in safety is very obvious.  Copyright image.

To say that the absence of paired rear fog lights is a pity is an understatement because these things save lives. Admittedly, cars from Europe can be imported to the USA with just one rear fog light fitted – not the two they have when on European roads – but as I will show below, this is inadequate and less safe.

Here, a car in heavy spray and with just one rear fog light makes it obvious that in worse visibility or at a greater distance away, only the one light will remain visible. In those circumstances, it is much harder for a driver following your vehicle to correctly assess how big the gap is, between the vehicles, and that  makes the situation significantly less safe. (Had you spotted the tall truck, visible between the two cars the camera vehicle is following? )  Copyright image.

About 15 years ago, at an event in Manhattan, I asked some top-level, European vehicle engineers about this silly situation and was told that paired rear fog lights are not permitted in America “in case people mistake them for brake lights!” This reason would be hilarious if it weren’t so stupid.  Pairs of these very bright, additional rear red lights have been used in Europe for 3-4 decades, and not once – not even when I was a traffic patrol police officer investigating crashes – have people ever even implied to me that they confused rear fog lights with brake lights.  Once informed, even a child would instantly know the difference between them.

Let’s imagine a scenario: You are driving your sedan or SUV  in the half-light of dawn or dusk in very thick fog but its 20 miles to the next exit so you have no choice but to continue, by driving as slowly as the conditions dictate.  (Stopping on the shoulder in bad visibility can be even more dangerous than continuing, unless you were to cross right over the shoulder and drive on the grass, as far away from the asphalt as possible.)  Coming up behind you, driving too fast for the conditions, let’s say there is a fully loaded 18-wheeler semi-tractor-trailer; the driver is late and he’s in a hurry.  What happens next?  Do you want him to say “Those lights ahead are very bright.  I wonder whether they’re brake lights!<<joke>>  Or instead, do you want him to wonder what he has just rammed from behind because he didn’t see anything until it was too late and he slammed into your car and wrecked it… and perhaps you and your family!

The whole purpose of having rear fog lights (plural) is so that not only can other drivers see your vehicle from behind, from a much greater distance in fog, heavily-falling snow, thick smoke, heavy road spray or even sandstorms, but also – when there are two of the lights and not just one – they permit drivers behind you to gauge the distance between their vehicle and yours quite accurately. A single bright rear light often does not allow the same degree of awareness.

Once again, the more distant car, with its rear fog lights in use, is very obviously the most conspicuous. Copyright image.
A close-up of the distant vehicles in the photo above. Had you spotted the third car? Its near-invisibility could be lethal. Copyright image.

There is an answer to concerns about such bright lights being inappropriately used when there is good visibility and the lights’ brightness becomes a nuisance. It is, of course, called the law – specifically one that prohibits the use of rear fog lights unless atmospheric visibility (as opposed to just night-time darkness) is bad.  A similar law should already be in existence to prevent people having their front fog lights on except in the conditions described, but in most if not all states, no such law yet exists.  The very low mounting height of front fog lights means they create a serious amount of glare on clear nights, even though they don’t actually dazzle, yet in those conditions they serve no good purpose whatsoever.  That, however, is the subject for another article which will be linked here in due course.

So there you have it. High-intensity rear red fog lights have been around for at least one third of a century.  They are used in quite possibly all of the countries that have a much better road safety record than the USA.  Yet still, somebody in some little office took it upon him/herself to decree “not in America!”  That person or committee’s ill-informed decision has very likely cost a lot of Americans their lives or their limbs in thousands of bad-visibility crashes over the years.

How about it, NHTSA?  It is time for a re-think (preferably by reference to overseas best practices).  It would be so easy to use this inexpensive, additional equipment to make bad weather driving significantly safer.

Oh, and please don’t let Detroit force its penny-pinching refusals on you over topics like this. Contrary to their apparent belief, their profits are emphatically not more important than the lives of the people of this great nation.

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America



A Classic Example of why Lies about America’s “Good” Highway Safety must Stop!

I would very much like to stop writing about the repetitive lies told about the USA’s alleged success in cutting road deaths when, in fact, the country does very poorly in this crucial situation compared to the other developed  countries of the world.  But the lies continue and therefore so will my rebuttals, in order to give the American people a more accurate picture.

Let me make the vital point once more:  If you, the government departments and major road safety organizations of the USA, keep peddling false propaganda telling the people of this great nation that ‘we’ are doing well in the fight against highway fatalities, when the US has in reality, long been effectively the worst-performing wealthy country in the world, with a rate of deaths over four-times worse than the leading nations, the public will believe you and say nothing when, in fact, they should be yelling at the Government to stop the unnecessary slaughter!

Some government-level people have made the excuse to me that it is simply mistakes, or ’rounding,’ or ‘simplification’ of the data, but apart from being an egregious understatement this is unacceptable.  The facts are regularly being twisted far beyond the context of those words.

Here is just one illustration of how far and wide these very misleading ‘inaccuracies’ are being spread:

On June 18, 2016, David Frum, a “lifelong Conservative [who] campaigned for Ronald Reagan and wrote speeches for George W. Bush,” appeared on the BBC HardTalk television show, around the world, and repeated some of the wildly erroneous propaganda about American road safety.

As part of his argument about banning assault rifles in the USA following the Orlando shooting massacre, he said this:

“One of the great public policy successes across the developed world and in the United States has been the reduction in automobile fatalities.  It’s just dramatic what’s happened over the past generation. That isn’t because we did one magic thing that one nefarious industry had been blocking.  Seat belts helped, yes. true.  So did better cars.  So did making it more difficult for 17-year-olds to get drivers’ licences… So did the crackdown on drunk driving.”

But this one short comment is full of gaping holes.  Of the ~thirty member-nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] — in other words, the world’s developed countries — the USA has the second-worst death rate and has made by far, by FAR, the least progress of any of the long-term members in reducing road deaths, over at least the last three decades and possibly much longer.  Indeed currently, based on year-2015 figures and year-2016 estimated figures, the annual number of road deaths is truly rocketing back up again after the expectable slump caused by the global recession which started around 2008 — and America, rather predictably, is suffering a bigger rate of increase than in any other developed country!

If the USA could match the per capita road-death rate of the world’s two long-term, most reliably-performing road safety countries — Sweden and Britain — almost 30,000 American lives could be saved every year and a much higher number of people would be spared from serious injury.

Some U.S. professionals are pinning their hopes almost entirely on self-driving cars, but while such autonomous vehicles might eventually take away the embarrassment of the current reprehensible state of road safety standards in the USA, they are not even close to full fruition yet.  (But then may come the quietly-ignored problem and dangers of criminals or terrorists hacking those vehicles!)

So when are U.S. politicians and people responsible for road safety going to stop perpetrating or silently accepting the lies and the propaganda about something that has killed more than a million Americans in just the last 25 years?

There have recently been discussions here in the U.S. how to emulate the greater successes and much greater road safety achieved by other countries — most notably the two most consistent, long-term leaders in this field, Sweden and Britain — but I have yet to see anything significant put into action as a result.

There are many good people working in different branches of U.S. highway safety and I hope that you will stand up against the tidal wave of misleading garbage that is poured over the American public.  It’s time to tell the accurate truth and let the people of this wonderful nation know so that they can vote for those who will help protect their children and their grandchildren from this massive killer.

Inter alia, I hope that people in the USDOT, NHTSA, FHWA, NTSB, GHSA, State Governments, DMVs & RMVs, NSC, DSAA, ADTSEA and others will take this message to heart and will stand in the way of the liars, propagandists, and exaggerators who are hiding the full extent of this very dangerous, long-term situation from the public, and are thereby letting the American people down.

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America


Also see:

Odometer Fraud in the USA — a half million cases a year!


It’s a crime to alter a vehicle’s odometer. NHTSA estimates that more than 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with false odometer (i.e. mileage) readings, which costs American used-car buyers more than $1 billion annually. We want consumers to know what odometer fraud is, how to spot it, and who to contact if you think you’re a victim of this illegal behavior.

A How-To Guide for Odometer Fraud Detection

It can be difficult, but not impossible, to detect when a vehicle’s odometer has been altered. The following is a list of tips to help used car buyers detect odometer fraud:
  • Ask to see the title and compare the mileage on it with the vehicle’s odometer. Be sure to examine the title closely if the mileage notation seems obscured or is not easy to read.
  • Compare the mileage on the odometer with the mileage indicated on the vehicle’s maintenance or inspection records. Also, search for oil change and maintenance stickers on windows or door frames, in the glove box or under the hood.
  • Check that the numbers on the odometer gauge are aligned correctly. If they’re crooked, contain gaps or jiggle when you bang on the dash with your hand, walk away from the purchase.
  • Examine the tires. If the odometer on your car shows 20,000 or less, it should have the original tires.
  • Look at the wear and tear on the vehicle — especially the gas, brake and clutch pedals — to be sure it seems consistent with and appropriate for the number of miles displayed on the odometer.
  • Request a CARFAX Vehicle History Report to check for odometer discrepancies in the vehicle’s history. If the seller does not have a vehicle history report, use the car’s VIN to order a CARFAX vehicle history report online.

Odometer Fraud Law

Committing odometer fraud is a crime. The federal government passed a law that requires a written disclosure of the mileage registered on an odometer be provided by the seller to the purchaser on the title to the vehicle when the ownership of a vehicle is transferred. If the odometer mileage is incorrect, the law requires a statement to that effect to be furnished on the title to the buyer. However, vehicles ten years and older are exempt from the written disclosure requirements.

Digital Odometers

Digital odometers that have been tampered with are even harder to detect than traditional mechanical odometers (since they have no visible moving parts). A vehicle’s condition and a detailed history report are the best clues a buyer has for determining whether clocking has occurred.


Source:  NHTSA

Officials Mislead America About Highway Safety (article from 2003)

First published n the Drive and Stay Alive website on Dec 3, 2003:

Being economical with the truth is a common political tactic and nowhere is this more the case than in the arena of US highway safety. Recent quotes – published rather ironically on Thanksgiving Day – make this deceit-by-omission very apparent.

The claim is that America, in the international rankings for road deaths in relation to distances traveled, has fallen from first place to ninth over the last thirty years. Yet this is only half the story and it gives a highly misleading insight. The figures are seemingly based on the International Road Traffic and Accident Database, administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Belgium. Yet the IRTAD actually gives two measurements by which death rates may be judged: deaths per 1 billion vehicle kilometres – a similar parameter to the figures used in the above claim – and deaths per 100,000 population.

Is there a big difference? You bet there is. And surely the key criterion must be the actual number of people who are killed, not how many miles they can successfully travel before that tragic moment occurs.

It has long been internationally acknowledged that, statistically, the safest roads on which to drive are divided highways, whatever they are called locally and whichever country they happen to be in. There is, after all, generally no oncoming traffic to worry about, no pedestrians, no bicyclists, few serious curves, and the intersections are few and far between. Crashes on such roads, relatively speaking, are therefore quite rare. If the sheer size of the USA is taken into account, the importance of this factor starts to loom. The large distances between many American cities and towns undeniably affect the total number of miles traveled, but these are journeys that are usually undertaken on safer, divided highways, so deaths-per-mile statistics reduce accordingly.

Only a few other countries have such large distances as a factor. Canada, for example, has 1.42 million kilometres of public roads and Australia has 900,000 km, but both have a much lower population and a lower death rate, per capita, than the USA. The much smaller size of many of the other countries involved has the opposite effect: the roads have a much greater density of vehicles per mile, and this is likely to increase the number of crashes. From figures given in the IRTAD, one finds, for example, that the number of passenger cars and station wagons on Britain’s roads is almost exactly the same, in proportion to the population, as is found in the USA. But Britain only has 396 thousand kilometres of roads, compared with America’s 6.354 million kilometres. When these distances are converted to miles, the result is a potential density of 104 cars per mile of available road in the UK as opposed to a mere 32 in the USA.

The other parameter used in the IRTAD tables – the deaths per 100,000 population – gives an entirely different perspective. The most recent figures available, for 2001, show that the USA had 14.8 people killed in road accidents for every 100,000 members of the population. The top two countries, Britain and Norway, each had a rate of 6.1 deaths. Indeed, Turkey is listed as having a rate of just 5.6 but given the lack of supporting data and that country’s performance in the two previous years this would appear to be spurious. Yet now, all of a sudden, the USA shows herself to be about 2½ times worse than the best-performing countries and that certainly doesn’t sound as acceptable as the difference in the quoted “deaths per 100 million miles traveled” – 1.51 in the USA vs. 1.2 in Britain – a mere 25% variation. How easy it is to sanitize tens of thousands of pointless deaths by reducing them to the lowest possible figures.

It is all just playing with math; statistics don’t register as being dead bodies and untold grief. What it really means is that Britain, with a population of 59 million, lost 3,431 people in 2002 compared with 42,815 people killed on America’s roads. The population of the USA at that time was 285 million, only 4.83 times greater than Britain’s, and 4.83 multiplied by the UK death toll is 16,571. This would suggest that – if the USA could match the fatality ratios in Britain and Norway – over 26,000 American lives could be spared annually; just a little bit different to the 12,000 hitherto suggested. And even the 12,000 is indicative of dreadful failures to correct this situation.

Of course, it is not quite that simple. Several other factors affect death rates, but from an American perspective the most saddening fact is that the countries that have a lower (i.e. more acceptable) death rate than the USA are often ones with additional dangerous factors, such as higher overall speed limits, much smaller cars (which are less protective in crash situations), and a much lower proportion of divided highways.

Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is quoted in the New York Times as saying “We’ve got the safest vehicles in the world, so when you consider where we fall in the scheme of things, we can’t blame the vehicles.”

When asked about these comments, Tim Hurd, NHTSA’s Chief of Media Relations, said “I don’t believe Dr. Runge was talking about cars manufactured in the USA as opposed to cars made in other countries. His point was that low seat belt usage and drunk driving are the things that make the difference.”

But build quality and design represent an extremely important aspect of highway safety. History shows that automakers in several other countries have constantly held the lead in vehicle safety and still do – most notably Volvo, in Sweden, and Mercedes, in Germany. Honda is hot on their heels, too, with new crash testing facilities, both in Japan and Ohio. The list of safety advantages that non-U.S. cars have over American-made cars is very long. Apart from protective engineering standards, it includes many seemingly minor yet truly important things like compulsory yellow rear indicator lights, rather than red ones that not only don’t utilize the safety benefits of contrasting colors but also take away 50 percent of brake light efficiency when in use. High-intensity, red rear fog lights are another example. In Europe they are effectively a standard fitting and are used in matched pairs so that distances may be gauged in very poor visibility, yet in the USA they are usually fitted only to European-made cars and – ludicrously – are in some states only permitted singly, rather than in pairs, so that they “cannot be confused with brake lights.” Do legislators truly not comprehend that in thick fog, falling snow or heavy road-spray it is being seen that is crucial, not whether the lights in question might be confused with brake lights? The fact is that on many fronts the USA does not manufacture the safest vehicles in the world and many more examples could be used to illustrate this.

It is fashionable, these days, for those with an engineering bias to claim that driver education plays little part in highway safety and that vehicle and road design are the most important factors, but in another recent article the American automotive journalist Eric Peters accurately identified a key problem when he wrote:  “Lack of skill—not speeding—is the fountainhead of America’s traffic problems. If you disagree, then you’ve got to explain how it is that the Germans routinely drive much faster than we do, yet, miraculously, have lower overall accident and fatality rates.

“Go to the head of the class if you guessed the Germans’ luck is due to more-demanding licensing requirements and skills testing—not anything special about the Germans themselves.

“It takes a lot to get a first-time driver’s license in Germany—as much as 25-45 hours of Fahrschule instruction, on the road, in a real car—culminating in an extensive written and practical test. The cost to pay for the necessary schooling (at an approved Fahrschule) and so forth runs about $1,500-$2,000. They don’t mess around. As a result, the road competence of the average German driver is much higher than that of the average American driver.

“Almost anyone (including a 10-year-old) can pull a lever from ‘Park’ into ‘Drive’ and get a vehicle rolling—and that’s about all we demand of people [in the USA] before issuing them a valid operator’s permit. That and a quickie written test that even Forrest Gump could pass.

“If we spent more time and energy on fostering better driving—rather than licensing just about anyone who can walk unaided into a DMV office—we’d almost certainly have fewer accidents…”

The American public should ask themselves why they are only getting half of the information and being told that the situation is reasonably good when, in fact, America is faring very badly in terms of highway safety and countless thousands are dying as a direct result. Down from first place to ninth? The more telling truths are that the USA is actually in 24th place out of 28 listed countries in the IRTAD, and the US death toll is currently the equivalent of the World Trade Center massacre being repeated every twenty-five days.

# # #

Eddie Wren is a former traffic patrol police officer from the UK and a specialist in highway safety issues. He is the executive director of the NY-based “Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.”, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to reducing deaths on America’s roads, particularly among teen and twenties drivers. (As at 2003.)ENDS


Re-posted here on the Advanced Drivers of North America website on June 14, 2017, again by Eddie Wren. The ADoNA Disclaimer & Copyright apply.

It’s “Mirror-Signal,” NOT “Signal-Mirror,” Despite Bad Advice for 100 Years!

Have you ever seen a vehicle ahead of you veer sideways because another vehicle started a lane-change or a turn after giving a signal far too late or no signal at all?

Yes, of course.  Many of us throughout the U.S. see such incidents every day.

Because of this situation, all motorcyclists and many car drivers are very leery, for good reason, when a signal suddenly starts flashing on a nearby vehicle.  They know all too well that the driver may start his lane-change (or a turn) immediately, and bikers in particular may veer away immediately to protect themselves from this danger, but doing so can then endanger the biker!  Part of the reason this situation happens so often is that Americans have been taught a crucial driving technique incorrectly…… To put it bluntly, American drivers have been taught yet another example of dangerous garbage!  (No, we are not trying to be offensive by using comments like that; we are trying to protect American citizens better!)

Research paper: State Drivers’ Manuals Can Kill Your Kids!

All American drivers have invariably been taught to signal then check the mirror, but as the above paragraphs show, this method can, and frequently does, cause at least anger and in many cases danger — whether from collisions or road rage.

If you used “signal — mirror” technique in most other countries you would never even be able to pass the relevant driving test because it is such an inconsiderate and risky practice!

A dramatically safer and more thoughtful method is this:

.                  Yes, okay…. Maneuver! {:-)
  1. MIRROR first!  Check that it is safe to actually give a signal (i.e. without scaring the bejeezus out of a driver or motorcyclist who is coming up alongside your vehicle, or even a bicyclist on your right if traffic is moving slowly!).  This means that the mirror check needs to be done in plenty of time — and more than once, if necessary.
  2. SIGNAL at a suitable distance before the turn or lane-change you wish to make.  This distance varies in relation to your speed so if anyone ever tries to tell you to use a physical distance, such as 100 feet, just ignore them (and anyway, do you think that you could accurately point out 100 feet every time?  Not many people can, at all).  You must not signal for a turn so early that it could cause confusion about you turning into another intersection (etc.) earlier than the one you want.  Wherever possible, your signal should flash at least 4-6 times before a turn and definitely at least that many times before you start to make a lane-change!  If you are worried about others not letting you in, don’t be — someone eventually will, and all you need do to stop this being a problem is to make lane changes in plenty of time so that a few inconsiderate drivers can’t be a serious problem to you; just let them go by.

The full sequence of actions to stay safe when handling any change of direction (at an intersection or obstruction) or a lane-change is based on “Mirror, Signal, Maneuver” (meaning the turn, lane-change, etc.).  There is a second part to this sequence, which breaks down that word “maneuver” into its component actions, but that will follow later in a separate blog post.


This post is subject to ADoNA’s  Disclaimer and Copyright

Teaching Drivers How to Get Out of a Skid or do an Evasive Swerve Can Result in More Crashes Afterwards, Not Fewer!

Research paper:

Training drivers to have the insight to avoid emergency situations, not the skills to overcome emergency situations

Executive Summary

Emergency situations are situations that require immediate action to regain control over the vehicle and/or that require immediate action to avoid a crash. Driver training that aims to enhance the skills to regain  control  in emergency situations such as skid training, evasive swerving and emergency lane changes has proven not to be effective. Moreover, there is a plenitude of evidence that crisis evasion courses can actually increase crash rates. However, driver training that aims to enhance risk-­‐ awareness, self-­‐awareness and the acceptance of low levels of risk can reduce the crash rates of young novice drivers. As driving is predominantly a self­‐paced  task, technically skilful drivers are not necessarily also safe drivers.  A not too technically  skilful driver (i.e. a driver who has moderate vehicle handling skills) who does not overestimate his or her capabilities and/or does not underestimate the risks, drives safer than a skilful driver who overestimates his or her capabilities and/or underestimates the risks.

The Driver Behaviour, Education, and Training Subcommittee has declared that training programs aimed at enhancing the skills to regain control  in emergency situations should not be included in basic driver education or in advanced driver training programs; because, the learned  skills  in such training programs erode quickly, and such training programs result  in more  risk taking due to overconfidence. Basic driver education  and advanced driver training should be aimed at improving the calibration skills of learner drivers and novice drivers. Well­‐calibrated drivers can detect latent hazards in traffic situations, do not underestimate the likelihood that these hazards will cause their adverse effects (i.e. they are aware of the risks), and do not overestimate their own skills (i.e. they are aware of their own limitations).

The full paper is available here as a pdf:

2014 – IRF-DBET-SC-Endorsement-Driver-Training-11-07-2013 (1)


Vlakveld, W. & Wren, E. (2014)  Training drivers to have the insight to avoid emergency situations, not the skills to overcome emergency situations.   International Road Federation (IRF), Washington, DC.

Corresponding author: Dr Willem Vlakveld, at SWOV.



See also: When Extra Driving Courses Are a Bad Idea (first posted in 2005)


The Crash-Risk Argument for a Limit of 0.05% Blood-Alcohol Concentration rather than 0.08%

This research indicates that a driver with a BrAC of 0.05% is twice as likely to crash as a driver with no alcohol in their system, and the risk for a driver with a BrAC of 0.08% — the current legal limit in all states of the USA — is almost exactly four-times higher than with no alcohol.

An old but excellent French advert: “Drink OR Drive!”

What follows is an excerpt from the ‘Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk: A Case-Control Study’ (Executive Summary), from NHTSA (2017):

Alcohol Crash Risk Estimate 

The unadjusted crash risk estimates for alcohol indicated that drivers with BrACs of .05 grams per 210 liters g/210L are 2.05 times more likely to crash than drivers with no alcohol. For drivers with BrACs of .08 g/210L, the unadjusted crash risk is 3.98 times that of drivers with no alcohol. When adjusted for age and gender, drivers with BrACs of .05 g/210L are 2.07 times more likely to crash than drivers with no alcohol. The adjusted crash risk for drivers at .08 g/210L is 3.93 times that of drivers with no alcohol.  [#End]

Importantly, readers should also view the World Medical Association Statement on Alcohol and Road Safety (1992, 2006 & 2016), which states “…it would be desirable to lower the maximum permissible level of blood alcohol to a minimum, but not above 0.5 grams per litre, which is low enough to allow the average driver to retain the ability to assess risk.”



  1. “BrACs” are Breath-Alcohol Concentrations, as opposed to the more commonly seen Blood-Alcohol Concentrations [BACs].
  2. “0.5 grams per litre” is the equivalent of 0.05% BAC.