In the latest edition of what is undoubtedly the most comprehensive international summary of global road safety each year, the mission statement for the USA is: ‘Dedicated to achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle safety and reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes.’ However, as the following figures and references will show, this stated goal may be true regarding the intent but actual U.S. outcomes over recent decades have been a very long way indeed from any “highest standards of excellence.”
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.
On sunny days, or at dawn & sunset, big road bridges can often look very attractive, but when the weather takes a turn for the worse, they can create significant dangers for the unwary driver.
News has just been published today that a truck driver has been killed after high winds apparently pushed his vehicle through the safety fence on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Tragically the driver lost his life.
This is particularly saddening for me as I went over that bridge, in mildly bad but contrarily beautiful weather, just a few weeks ago while instructing on an advanced driving course in Maryland and Delaware.
Given that at Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA] we teach defensive and advanced driving, the use of assistance features which reduce the tasks and sadly also the concentration of drivers is not a key area for us. (How new safety technology might actually be making our driving worse.)
That aspect, however, is not the theme of this write-up. Instead, I will focus on the Tesla being driven normally, with the minimum of automated features and with maximum smoothness for the chauffeur context plus, of course, maximum regard for driving safely
The photographs in this article were taken around a Bronze Advanced Driving course, with Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA], in south east Massachusetts. They each show typical driving scenes but give only a very small insight into the discussions about the standards of the observations that are essential to effective driver training and to all safe driving.
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.
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.
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.
Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA] safe driving courses for chauffeurs are designed not only to maximize the safety of these specialist drivers, for the obvious benefit of their employers or clients, but also to significantly enhance smoothness and finesse (to an extent that always surprises and delights the chauffeurs concerned).
At ADoNA, we work with corporate drivers and chauffeurs throughout the USA, Canada and related islands.
Continue reading “Defensive Driving Course for Chauffeurs in Las Vegas”
Despite many years of advice and even laws to change the situation, many people apparently still don’t get it that headlights are not just to help them see where they are going!
Every time you drive past one or more parked vehicles there are nine common safety indicators that should be monitored so that you never end up being involved in a distressing collision that could easily have been avoided. The worst of these involve children being run over.
The latest “THINK!” advert gives a small but important insight into the proper use of observations when driving.
Far too many drivers simply gaze ahead of their vehicle while driving without actually noticing everything they should and being alert to all the things that potentially could go wrong. Worse than that, many drivers literally do just gaze at the back of the vehicle they are following, reliant on the brake lights of that lead vehicle to trigger a response in themselves. But either way, drivers who do these things are throwing away a lot of safety.