One week ago, on July 10, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB] published their periodic “Safety Compass” blog. The post in question was called “Best Days of Their Lives” and is very good, in relation to the safety of young drivers.
Excerpt: “… [This is] the beginning of the ‘100 Deadliest Days’—the driving season in which crashes involving teens ages 16 to 19 years old increase significantly. Youth drivers are getting behind the wheel with cellphones in hand or drowsy from long, summer nights.
“Our Most Wanted List strives to end alcohol and other drug impairment, distraction, and fatigue‑related accidents, and calls for stronger occupant protection; during the 100 Deadliest Days, young drivers are often faced with many of the challenges included on the Most Wanted List, which makes the collaboration between the NTSB and youth‑serving organizations so vital…”
This is my reply that, for whatever reason, did not make it through ‘moderation’ and onto the NTSB blog page:
“Very valuable, but in addition it really is high time that all state drivers manuals in the USA were brought fully up to date with global best practices so that young drivers no longer have their heads filled with archaic, inaccurate or even dangerous ‘advice’. It is now over ten years since the paper “State Drivers Manuals Can Kill Your Kids” was published by the SAE at their 2007 World Congress, in Detroit (and won an ‘excellence’ award from audience feedback) but precious little has changed in that time.”
Here in the USA, it has become ‘fashionable’ but dangerously inadequate for states to introduce laws requiring drivers to leave only three feet of space when passing a bicyclist. However, there are many circumstances, typically involving speed and/or the size of the vehicle, when passing that closely would at the very least be frightening for the person on the bicycle and at worst be downright dangerous.
The first bit of advice and legislation needs to be: If it’s not safe to pass a bicyclist because you can’t leave enough space for genuine safety then be patient and wait behind until it is safe. Remember, a driver’s convenience and selfish desire not to be delayed must never take priority over other people’s safety, ever!
Secondly, as implied above, the minimum safe passing distance needs to be significantly more than a mere three feet. As an example, Britain is now formalizing its guidelines, which have always unofficially been around six feet, and is now saying that the absolute minimum gap should be 1.5 meters, but larger where safely possible.
Compare the recommended 36 inches in the USA to the 59 inches in the UK — effectively three feet versus five feet — and then compare the vast difference between actual road safety results between the two countries. Britain for at least 30 years has typically vied with Sweden each year for who would have the safest roads in any developed country. The U.S., on the other hand, has always been in the bottom three of the ~30 member nations of the OECD — the group of developed nations that are checked against this standard every year — and has a road death rate over four times greater than the UK and Sweden. So which countries’ example do you think it might be better to follow?
Buying a safe second-hand car at a reasonable price is always a challenge; the very fact that they aren’t the latest models immediately mitigates against them, and of course the older a car is, the more this typically counts against it.
In Britain, safety experts Thatcham Research have collated the results for cars which cost under £15,000to buy second hand, have a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and CO2 emissions below 120g/km.
One thing of great interest is how much safety can be added by means of extra ‘packages’ at the time the car is first purchased. See Nos. 1 and 10, below.
In all countries, it is immensely wise to consult the relevant NCAP safety ratings, which in Britain is Euro-NCAP. Here in the USA, check these links, and make sure to check the correct year of manufacture for any used-car purchase you might be interested in: