Lisa's Auto Safety Page

Ah, driving. The great American pasttime that 16 year olds look forward to with such anticipation. A quick course, a drive around the block, and *poof*, the person has a license that lasts for the rest of their life.

Amazing that this happens, or perhaps to be more clear, that the teenager grabs his or her license and then doesn't think about proper driving technique for the rest of his or her life! We've all seen them. People put on makeup in the car. People gawk at every accident they come across. One woman in Mass last year killed a number of people in a pileup because she was reading a magazine on her steering wheel as she drove! People don't practice winter driving, or wet driving, and then can't control the car when the car starts to slide. People simply don't take driving seriously, think "Heck, I know how to do this" and when an emergency situation comes up, they're caught off guard.
  • Hands at 9 and 3
    (NOT 10 and 2!)
  • Don't brake on a curve
  • Know your car's brakes!
  • Don't shift in an intersection
  • Adjust your seat properly
  • Kids and airbags don't mix
  • Never drink and drive

The responsibility of every driver is to keep that car out of an accident. There are many stupid drivers out there. You can't trust them to drive safely - you have to be able to get out of their way. Always pay attention, always know what is going around you. Period. Adjust your mirrors so there is no blind spot! It can be done. Buy a wider mirror, attach those circle-mirrors on your side mirrors, and never hang anything from your mirror or shades.

Take driving courses! They are incredibly helpful. Keep your car oiled and maintained. Each season, check out your tires and do practice runs in a mall parking lot. Know how your car handles in an emergency before that emergency hits.

Here are some tips I've learned over the years, through lessons and experience:

Wear a seat belt!
Yes, I personally know a person that was killed because the car flipped and he was trapped in the car by the seatbelt when the car exploded. This is VERY RARE and if he hadn't been wearing his seatbelt, he would have been dead in the first place. I personally had my life saved by a seatbelt, and I know many others who had their lives saved. I also know a few who died because they did not have the belt on.

If you can, get an airbag
Airbags have Pros and Cons. They should never be used with small children or even small adults. However, for the normal-sized adult, an airbag is an incredibly useful injury-preventing system. Check out the research.

Get a car that is powerful!
Remember, you are in charge of staying out of accidents. There have been many, many times that I have watched trucks start to pull in my lane because they were reacting to something on their other side quickly. It is my responsibility to get clear! Since I constantly watch my surroundings, I know where it's open and where to go - my car had better be fast enough to get me there in time.

Get a car that can withstand impact
I call this the "Uechi" style of car purchase. Sure, you go with something fast and quick so you can escape. Just In Case, though, you better be able to stand up to an impact! Don't get a rolly jeep or a tiny compact. My friend had a MG convertible and a strong gust of wind blew her under a moving semi. She's lucky she made it out alive.

Arrange your car in the 'System of Least Distractions'
This is part of why I've driven Mustangs for 10 years - I know EXACTLY where every control is without thinking of it. Over the years I've driven through snowstorms, hailstorms, you name it. If the car starts to slide, I react instinctively and move controls smoothly without looking. In the same manner, really think about where you place pets and kids in the car. Sure, you always must wear seat belts and follow guidelines for child seats. Seat belts by themself are too big for little bodies! And yes, while children and adults with belts can be in the front, all car seats should always be placed in the back seat. But for Heaven's Sake, don't put your infant in the back seat and then turn around to look at it every minute!! It sickens me to see parents doing this, which I see constantly. If you get into an accident, it won't really matter where the kid was sitting, the car is being crunched and spun around. Wouldn't it be better if the accident never occurred because you were paying attention to the road like you should have been?? Sorry to rant :)

Pay Attention
This may seem pretty obvious, but watch the road! You are responsible for keeping your car safe. If someone starts to swerve into you and you think "Now What?", it's too late. You should have been playing games the whole time - "If that car moved left, I can go here. If that truck pulls out in front of me, I can go there". If you're looking in your back seat to goo-goo at your kid, a bouncing ball could go into the road followed of course by a running child. Don't look at passengers who are talking to you! You have to watch the road, not their reaction. Don't look at accidents!! You're not planning on stopping to administer first aid, are you? Unless you really are the first person on the scene, IGNORE IT. Numerous accidents are caused by idiots gawking at accidents and causing a brand new one.

Know Your Brakes
Another pretty obvious one that many, many people completely ignore. What kind of brakes are in your car? Older brakes were not anti-lock. When you apply them, you need to slowly and gently pump them to full braking power. Newer brakes are anti-lock. You NEVER PUMP THEM. You have to slowly, gently PRESS them to gain maximum power. Studies of accidents showed that many people got into accidents with anti-lock brakes by pumping them, completely destroying the braking power! And many, many accidents are caused by people slamming on their brakes, which you should never do, period. Practice these things in a parking lot before you need to do them instinctively.


Lisa Shea Homepage