Unless You Want to Risk Killing People, USE the Parking Brake… Every Time!

Here we go once more — another half-a-million vehicles recalled in the USA because yet again the ‘P’ (Park) setting in automatic gearboxes is failing, and those vehicles that haven’t had the parking brake properly set inevitably will then roll away down any hills or even the gentlest of slopes they happen to be on, and then they build up momentum.  This frequently just results in damage but all too often it maims or kills people…. especially children playing on driveways or in nearby yards!

Photograph of a parking brake foot pedal.
The traditional pedal-style of parking brake (and no it is NOT an “emergency brake”) found on cars in the USA. See article for more information. (Copyright image, 2018.)

Vehicles can even cause harm if left on totally flat ground without a parking brake in use, if they are hit by another vehicle.  Think of billiard balls.  Your car’s “P” setting will be smashed by any hard impact and your car will careen away until it runs out of momentum or it hits something or somebody.

The humble parking brake is one of the most misunderstood and most abused safety controls found in modern vehicles, and this failure to understand and the resultant failure to actually use parking brakes leads to many pointless and preventable crashes, some of which cost lives.

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Driving Issues the USA Teaches Badly: Pulling Straight Off the Shoulder

Do not drive on the shoulder!  It’s a state law in many states but we have yet to encounter any Federal agency or state government in America that actually teaches this subject well… meaning for best safety!

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Dangerous Passing in the Early Morning

As we were driving southwards, at the very start of the morning rush hour, this road sweeper went by in the opposite direction, kicking up a cloud of thick dust.

Photo of a pavement sweeper in a long construction zone.
A slow-moving road sweeper — perhaps doing 15-20mph — triggered some drivers to dangerously overtake it illegally, on double yellow lines.  (Copyright image, 2018.)

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Sometimes Road Signs Speak the Truth – 1 (humor)

Sometimes, permanent traffic signs almost seem to be designed to be ignored (and therefore lose much of their safety value at relevant times).  One classic example of this, in the lower 48 states of the USA, might be the very common signs stating ‘Road Subject to Ice,’ but in a late July heatwave it’s a pretty safe bet they don’t mean ‘right now!’

Photograph of a school bus driving through floodwater.
The permanently positioned sign on the right reads ‘Water Over Roadway’ and it would seem to be telling the truth at this particular moment in time!  Clearly this is a relatively common event at this location.  (Copyright image, 2017.)

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The USA Must Stop Legislating a Mere 3-foot Gap when Passing Bicyclists

June 29, 2018

Despite recent new laws in several American states, which stipulate a three-foot gap as being enough space when passing cyclists, there are multiple circumstances in which passing that closely is both inadequate and dangerous.

Photograph of a car passing a bicycle at a bad location on a mountain curve.
Cyclists are often passed badly by reckless or unthinking drivers, and faster sections of road such as shown here, are definitely a place where passing just three feet from a cyclist, at speed, would be both dangerous and frightening.  (Copyright image, 2012).

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Don’t Hang Stuff from your Rearview Mirror (Unless you want to Cause a Crash!)

It is too easy for so-called experts to claim that only four or five key problems cause the majority of road crashes.  That claim is indeed true — and of course we teach trainees all about those issues — but to act as though these are the only dangers that drivers will ever face is incompetent and is asking for trouble.  There are many seemingly minor problems that collectively still cause hundreds of thousands of crashes and far too many deaths and injuries in the USA every year.  In whatever training time we have available to us, we teach our trainees how to comprehend and deal with many of these additional dangers, too.

Photo of a red tassel hanging from the rearview mirror in a car that is being driven by a person who is also using a hand-held cellphone.
It may *seem* trivial but even small objects like this, hanging from the rearview mirror and swinging around, can trick a driver’s eyes into not noticing a child or a cyclist who just happens to be at that angle to the vehicle (which typically means on a curve or at an intersection). Plenty people have died as a result of this type of seemingly innocent scenario so please take all hanging objects off your rearview mirror. This person is also using a hand-held cellphone while driving, thus making a dangerous incident dramatically more likely.    (Image copyright, 2017.)

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An Accurate Insight into the Danger of Tire Failure

In our fifteen years of operating in the field of safe driving, here in the USA, we have never seen any significant data on the dangers caused by tire failures or blow-outs, and yet there can be no doubt that, every year, many Americans are killed or severely injured by these events.

Photpgraph of the front tire on a pick-up truck.
Once a week — yes, week, not month — check the pressure in your tires against the pressures shown on the driver’s door post of your vehicle or in the handbook, NOT the *maximum* pressures shown on the sidewall of the tire itself.  Check the tread and sidewalls for any punctures or cuts, and of course enough tread depth.   (Is that white dot in the tyre tread on this photo just a bit of gravel, or is it the head of an embedded screw or nail?)   Copyright photo, 2018.

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24 Things You Didn’t Know (or Forgot) About Safe Driving on Rural Roads!

In developed countries around the world, it has long been known that rural roads are the location for far more deaths, measured against the total miles driven, than any other type of road or highway.  And this is equally true in the U.S.A.

“Twenty-five percent of America’s road miles are driven on rural roads but this results, very disproportionately, in around fifty percent of all U.S. roadway fatalities.” —  Eddie Wren, ADoNA.

There are several contributory reasons for this very serious situation:

Photograph of two roadside memorials, on opposite sides of a rural road, and from two separate crashes.
Not one but two memorials, for two separate crashes on either side of this road at this one location in Illinois. (Photo copyright, 2012.)

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Runaway Vehicle Fatalities Such as the Death of Actor Anton Yelchin are Frequently and Easily Avoidable

A law suit was settled last week in death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, who was crushed when his own SUV rolled on a slope and pinned him against the mailbox he was checking.

Sadly, however, deaths like this where a vehicle rolls away despite having ostensibly been left in ‘Park’ are all too common and actually have a  lot to do with the endemic incompetence of the majority of people who write state drivers manuals throughout the USA and yet have little-to-zero expertise in the subject of best-practise safe driving.

Photograph of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin
Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin at The Voice Awards, 2011. (Photograph: Wikimedia Commons)

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Should we Call them Road ‘Accidents’ or ‘Crashes’? It’s Actually an Important Distinction!

The incidents which generations of people have grown up calling “road accidents” or “highway accidents” are wrongly named — they need to be referred to as crashes or collisions — but if this sounds like nothing more than silly word-play and semantics to you, read on, because there is a very important reason behind it.

Photo of an SUV in Florida narrowly avoiding a collision with a semi tractor-trailer that rightlytly had to go wide in order to make a sharp right turn and which had been signalling the intended turn correctly for plenty of time. Classic unattentive driving by the person in the SUV.
The driver in this SUV in Florida brakes hard and narrowly avoids a collision with a semi tractor-trailer that correctly had to go wide in order to make a sharp right turn and which had been signalling the intended turn for plenty of time. Sadly, this was classic and potentially lethal inattentive driving by the person in the SUV.   (Copyright image.)   [1]
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