Is this the Beginning of the End for Risky Right-Turns-on-Red?

Allowing drivers in the USA to turn-right-on-red increased cases of pedestrians and bicycles being struck by 43-123 percent, and many of these collisions have resulted in injuries.

A post today on Facebook, from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety [IIHS], pleasingly caught our attention when they confirmed the inescapable conclusion that research has shown that allowing drivers to turn right on red can put pedestrians at risk. There is a very blunt American expression involving ‘Sherlock’ that sums up the situation perfectly!

Whenever drivers who are turning right-on-red take their attention away from either of the two crosswalks they are typically about to cross — usually while looking for vehicles coming from the left — pedestrians are put in danger….. End of story! (Copyright image, 2018.)

Continue reading “Is this the Beginning of the End for Risky Right-Turns-on-Red?”

Five Displays of Bad Safety in One Chrysler Video Commercial

Do automakers have any responsibility for promoting safe driving?  We think that the majority of people would agree that they do, yet for countless years there have been television commercials from automakers showing bad driving — particularly those which glorify speed, or dodging and weaving through traffic — which at the very least, quite deliberately contradict safety values and driver courtesy in the hope of generating more car sales.  Some of it, however, seems to be sheer thoughtlessness or even ignorance and the images below would appear to be an example of this.

A Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid commercial, shown on August 24, 2018, showing a dangerously unadjusted seat-back and head-restraint, far too far away to protect the driver if hit from behind, and also the drivers fingers looped through the steering wheel rather than holding it the safer way with thumbs on the rim.
A Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid commercial, shown on August 24, 2018, showing a dangerously unadjusted seat-back and head-restraint, far too far away to protect the driver if hit from behind, and also the drivers fingers looped through the steering wheel rather than holding it the safer way with thumbs on the rim.

Continue reading “Five Displays of Bad Safety in One Chrysler Video Commercial”

A Truly Dirty Trick by Too Many Drivers, When Overtaking!

Does any driver enjoy getting a large amount of snow,  dirty water, or — worst of all — salt-filled winter slush thrown up onto their windscreen, temporarily making it hard to see and needing large amounts of windshield washer fluid to clean it away?  It’s a silly question, isn’t it?  It’s obvious that none of us likes that experience, especially as it can at least briefly make things unsafe, through the loss of view, the distraction of rectifying the lost view, and last but by no means least, the fact that the overtaken driver has now been forced into a tailgating scenario (see more about this, below).

Photograph in torrential rain on an interstate, in which the driver ahead of ours had suddenly pulled into our lane, too close ahead and without signalling, but then braked firmly as well. His spray and proximity badly harmed our already poor view and his braking was dangerous.
The driver directly in front of us in this photo dived into our lane, without signalling and far too close for safety, which also drowned our windscreen in his spray. Then, however, he riskily braked quite firmly and forced us to do likewise. Obviously, that is not something a sensible person wishes to do in such terrible traffic conditions. Copyright image.

Continue reading “A Truly Dirty Trick by Too Many Drivers, When Overtaking!”

In Winter some Drivers make Extremely Dangerous Overtakes

One of the biggest contributory causes of serious-injury and fatal road crashes in the USA (and the rest of the world) is speed.

Typically, speeds in excess of the posted limit, or that are within the limit but are inappropriate for the circumstances, are factors in around 28-30 percent of collisions where people are ‘Killed or Seriously Injured’ [KSI].  In American terms, this represents about 11,000 people killed and approaching a million people injured each year  as a direct result of those who drive too fast.

A dangerous driver crazily overtaking our car, despite the terrible visibility and the very slippery road surface conditions.
From our passenger seat, I photographed this dangerous driver crazily overtaking our car, despite the terrible visibility and the very slippery road surface conditions. Copyright photo.

Photograph of huge quantities of snow being thrown up from the wheels of a pick-up truck during a potentially deadly passing maneuver.
The driver of this pick-up truck is doing a homicidal overtake, with a very poor view ahead and on a slippery, snow-covered road, and he is now cutting in dangerously close ahead. The snow coming up from his wheels is about to bury our windshield and almost entirely block our view. (See the next two photographs in the sequence for what happens next)! Copyright image.

This is what you, as a driver, need to be ready for, even when it is just rain and heavy water spray, the impact of the snow and your potential temporary loss of your entire view.
This is what you, as a driver, need to be ready for, even when it is just rain and heavy water spray: the impact of the water or snow and your potential temporary loss of your entire view.  Where’s the pick-up?  (Our view was completely lost a moment after this photo was taken.)  Copyright image.

Moments later, after we had cautiously dropped our speed and the idiot in the driver had pulled ahead of us, the two vehicles coming the other way through the severely-limited visibility came into sight. If they had been just three or four seconds earlier, there would have been bodies in hospital and perhaps in the morgue.
Moments later, after we had cautiously dropped our speed and the idiot driver in the pick-up had pulled ahead of us, the two vehicles coming the other way through the severely-limited visibility came into sight. If they had been just a couple of seconds earlier, there would have been bodies in the hospitals and perhaps in the morgue.   Copyright image.

Clearly then, excessive speed, even when below the posted limit, truly is a killer — big time — despite all of the people who emptily argue that this situation is mere propaganda and is untrue.

If excessive speed is dangerous, and it is, there is still an additional aspect that defies any logic or any excuse, and that is speeding in bad weather.  And for our purposes, bad weather extends to include any situation where visibility is reduced, either through simple low-light or darkness, and also airborne view limitations such as mist, fog, dust, smoke or falling rain and snow, together with any cause of slippery road surfaces.

We hope the photographs that accompany this article give you pause for thought.  The driver of the silver pick-up truck in this incident could very easily have caused the deaths of several people.  All it would have taken was for an oncoming vehicle to loom out of the misty murk at the wrong moment and a collision would have been inescapable.  Was he driving at a speed inappropriate for the circumstances?  You betcha!

Even without a vehicle coming the other way, the pick-up driver caused significant risk to ourselves by unnecessarily throwing a large quantity of snow up onto the windscreen of our car as he passed and then pulled directly in front of us with less than a car length between the vehicles (see more on this aspect), and that alone was unforgivable.

Please don’t ever be ‘that’ driver, and equally importantly, be prepared for the day when you will encounter somebody as incompetent and brainless as this particular pick-up driver was.  Naturally, this involves getting your wipers onto maximum speed — in advance if possible — slowing down promptly but safely (there may be another vehicle close behind, and of course the road is slippery).  Then hold a steady course as you do this and don’t allow the situation to panic you.

Last but by no means least, always, yes always, drive with low beam headlights on, day and night, sunshine or rain, and even in preference to Daytime Running Lights.

Finally, please note that these are general comments and do not amount in any way to specific advice.  Please see our Disclaimer in this context.


Do You REALLY Want to Pass the Snow Plow?

It is easy to identify a person driving safely from someone who is a bad driver by their attitude about whether to pass a snow plough on winter roads.

View of traffic at sunset on Interstate I-87 in New York State.
Traffic on a wintery I-87, with the Catskill Mountains in the background.   Copyright image.

Is that whiteness you can see on the road just a sprinkling of light snow or could there be ice in among it.
Continue reading “Do You REALLY Want to Pass the Snow Plow?”

Watching a Video can be Deadly – If you do it While Driving!

Sadly, when politically-correct people in the field of traffic safety state that one should never refer to drivers as “stupid,” or by any other derogatory adjective, there have to be occasions which deserve an exception, and if watching television or videos while driving is not a supreme example of dangerous idiocy, I’m not sure what is.

Photo of a driver with a GPS unit badly positioned and blocking some view directly ahead, but also very dangerously watching a video or television while driving.
Driving at speed with a GPS unit badly positioned and blocking some of the view directly ahead, but also very dangerously watching television or a video while driving. Now look at the rearview mirror and even though it’s feint/dim, you will see the reflected face of a child passenger sitting in the second row of seats. This is the original image, with no edited additions. (Copyright image.)

Continue reading “Watching a Video can be Deadly – If you do it While Driving!”

The NTSB Wants Speed Limits and Speed Enforcement Tightened in the USA

Event Summary from the NTSB – July 25, 2017

[Comments from ADoNA are at the foot of the page]

Although speeding is one of the most common factors in motor vehicle crashes in the USA, it is an underappreciated problem, involved in about 10,000 highway fatalities each year according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Graph showing the Speed-Related Proportion of Road Deaths in the USA
The Speed-Related Proportion of Road Deaths in the USA. (In 2016, the overall number of deaths went back above 40,000 so the figures for 2007 may be closest to the current situation in 2017)

Continue reading “The NTSB Wants Speed Limits and Speed Enforcement Tightened in the USA”

A chat about: Drivers Stopping *at* Stop Lines!

We saw this earlier today, in Latham (Albany), NY, and the question is “can there be any worse example of thoughtless driving than completely blocking a crosswalk at a red light?”

Photo of a car stopped at a red light but completely blocking a crosswalk.
Bad drivers block crosswalks! (Photo copyright 2017, Eddie Wren)

Continue reading “A chat about: Drivers Stopping *at* Stop Lines!”

The Power of the Behavioral ‘Nudge’ – Is it Usable on US Drivers?

The attached article and video show a story about Kenyan bus drivers and their matatus, which between them have a truly dreadful crash record.  The story does, however, illustrate the power of speaking up against bad driving so, without triggering any ‘rage’ incidents, can you think of any ways that this approach could be used to discourage people from driving badly here in the USA?

One that springs to mind is to tell a friend or loved one that if either they drink alcohol or drive too fast you won’t ride with them because it is too frightening.  (It may be best not to say “too dangerous” because that can be seen as confrontational — accusing a person of being a dangerous driver.)

When Extra Driving Courses Are a Bad Idea

This article was first posted by Eddie Wren in 2005 at the Drive and Stay Alive website & has been re-posted here on July 11, 2017, because it remains important.


For their own safety, drivers — and particularly young drivers — should not be encouraged to do crisis evasion courses or skid training. They can now be shown to cause more crashes than they will ever cure.

I was one of the lucky ones — lucky because nobody can deny that skid training is great fun.

Having said that, the training I received lasted for a total of more than a week spent on a skid pan (known as  a “skid pad” in America) during various stages of driver training to become a traffic patrol police officer in Britain.(1)

But now there is overwhelming proof that the one- and two-day courses that are widely available in emergency evasive techniques, including skid control, are not only serving no useful purpose, they are actually increasing the risk of subsequent crashes; a classic example of a little knowledge being dangerous.(8)(9)


This revelation came as quite a shock to me, as I’m sure it has to many of my former police colleagues. Having had the benefit of such extensive training ourselves we perhaps naturally believed that even a small amount of skid pan experience would be beneficial for anyone because drivers would learn more about handling a car.


The fundamental difference, however, lies in the fact that qualifying as an advanced driver and an advanced motorcyclist (for most police traffic patrol officers achieve both qualifications) in British police forces can take upwards of 600 hours and the vast majority of this overall duration is spent learning the discipline and attitude necessary for a remarkably safe standard of driving, irrespective of the high speeds at which traffic police officers often have to travel.

And that is the key to this issue: attitude training.

Even after I left the police and became a supervisory driving instructor — and later still when I was invited to become the managing director of an advanced driver training company aimed at ordinary people, so that they could learn to drive to the same, possibly unequalled safety standards as British traffic officers — I believed that an element of skid training would be beneficial for all drivers.

But I was wrong… totally wrong… and at that time so were virtually of all my colleagues and contemporaries.

But at least the truth has now emerged.

And it is simply this: Skills-based [driving] courses currently are, at best, a waste of valuable resources and, at worst, actively harmful to road safety.

Job (1999) suggests that the naive but pervasive belief that great driving skill is a critical road safety benefit persists despite the evidence to the contrary. This faith in skill has led to the waste of many road safety resources on numerous skill based driving courses and advanced skill components in courses (this does not apply to knowledge based or attitude based courses).(2)

Job’s research was used in Australia. In Sweden, one finds that: A new course syllabus for skid training was introduced on 1 July 1999. It had been preceded by several years’ work by the Swedish Road Administration and the affected organisations (TÖP, Skidcar [Federation of Swedish Skid Tracks], STR and TR [Associations of Swedish Driving Schools]). The impetus for changes in the course syllabus was provided by research results from e.g. Norway which showed a negative effect, i.e. that drivers had a greater number of accidents after completion of skid training (Glad, 1988). This gave rise to a debate in Sweden, and the National Society for Road Safety NTF took the initiative for a research programme which was carried out by VTI. This research programme resulted in proposals that a course syllabus should be formulated with the emphasis on risk awareness, anticipation in driving and recognition of the driver’s own limitations, instead of teaching the pupil how to handle the vehicle in critical situations, as in the previous course syllabus (Gregersen et al 1994)….

During the after-measurement, interviews were held with those in charge of training and instructors once every six months, when they were asked what they thought of the development work itself and the skid training. The responses reveal a definite positive trend; as time went on, people increasingly accepted the new message and the training procedure, and are of the opinion that it is without a doubt the right procedure.(3)

From the 31 countries that form the International Commission for Driver Testing (CIECA) the question is asked: Do you still teach skid control training to your participants?

Leave out highly technical, emergency reaction training (such as regaining control of a skidding car). Insufficient practice time and the potential for counterproductive effects are likely to make such exercises pointless. Trainers with years of technical handling experience should not assume that everyday road users can master such manoeuvres in a one day course and, crucially, be able to execute in a split-second at some random stage in the future. For instance, whilst emergency braking training is recommended, high speed braking and avoidance is not, unless extreme conditions mean that this type of manoeuvre is readily needed in everyday driving (e.g. Scandinavian winter).(4)

From, in Canada, one can read: A word of warning: taking a course in more advanced driving skills such as emergency braking, skid control, collision avoidance maneuvers may create a new risk for you. If the extra skills make you overconfident, that cancels out the advantages of having the skills in the first place. Research has indicated that drivers who take advanced skills courses have a tendency to misuse the skills and actually have a higher crash rate.

Advanced skills such as emergency braking and collision avoidance are not a substitute for good risk management.(5)

From Australia, under the heading of ‘Post-Licence Training’, one finds: Skills-based driver training and education continue to be recommended as potential road safety measures despite consistent evidence (see the review by Christie, 2001) that this approach does not result in road safety gains and may result in increases in crash risk for some drivers.

The ongoing interest in skills-based training most likely reflects a general belief that safe driving involves vehicle control skills and conscious decision-making that can be influenced by education or training. Harrison (1999) discussed the potential value of education and training given the assumptions it makes about the development of driving skill, and concluded that the likely benefits of this approach were limited to improvements in relatively basic skills relating to vehicle control.

Continued investment in this area is unwarranted given the consistency of evaluation results.(6)

And in Britain, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) state: There is evidence that driver training courses tend to concentrate on vehicle control skills and place too little emphasis on attitudes, behaviour, risk assessment, and hazard perception skills.(7)

See also: Training drivers to have the insight to avoid emergency situations, not the skills to overcome emergency situations (2014)



REFERENCES (some links are no longer available – 2017):

(1) Police Driving — the Standards and the Reasons (a DSA web page)

(2) Job R.F.S. 1999 The Road User: The Psychology of Road Safety, Chapter 2, Safe and Mobile: Introductory Studies in
Traffic Safety, J.R. Clark — as discussed in Submission to the Australian Parliamentary Travelsafe Committee, January 2003.
View that document here. See also the transcript of the enquiry of the Travelsafe Committee, dated September 23, 2003, here.

(3) Evaluation of new course syllabus for skid training, VTI rapport 472 (November 2001)

(4) Document from CIECA

(5) Article from

(6) Report On Review Of Novice Driver Road Safety Programs (Page 19)
Prepared for NRMA Motoring and Services
By Warren Harrison of Eastern Professional Services Pty, Ltd.
Christie, R. (2001) The Effectiveness of Driver Training as a Road Safety Measure: A Review of the Literature, Report 01/03. Melbourne: RACV

(7) Young and Novice Drivers Education, Training and Licensing; RoSPA, March 2003 (9.13)

(8) Evaluation of an insight driver-training program for young drivers, T. M. Senserrick & G. C. Swinburne (Monash Univ., Australia); 2001.
“Traditional driver-training programs that aim to improve vehicle-handling skills, including manoeuvring exercises and skid training, have tended to be relatively ineffective in reducing crashes. In fact, the introduction of skid training into driver-training programs has been found to increase certain crash types for young drivers. This has been attributed to associated increases in confidence that resulted in greater risk-taking….”

(9) Conflicting goals of skid training; Katila A, Keskinen E, Hatakka M.; Department of Psychology, Univ. of Turku, Finland.
“Efforts to make novice drivers drive more safely on slippery roads by means of special courses have mainly failed…. The exercises may give students the impression that manoeuvring skills are more important than anticipating skills. Manoeuvring exercises also increase their self-confidence and may lead to underestimation of the risks involved, resulting in e.g. driving at higher speed.”

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief Instructor — Advanced Drivers of North America