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We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Convention offers a wealth of information

October 27, 2018

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, October 26th 2018

Drivers are advised to hold the wheel at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions, above, not 10 and 2. The advent of airbags necessitated the change, as they can cause injury when they inflate.

 

I returned from the Driving Schools Association of the Americas convention in Baltimore, Maryland, last week. Here is what I learned.
• There is a startling statistic associated with pedestrian deaths in recent years.
Pedestrian deaths represent 20 per cent of all vehicle-associated deaths in several states south of the border.

In fact, pedestrian deaths are on the rise across North America.
• Who is buying motor vehicles? 76 per cent of all people over 50 will buy a new vehicle in the next three years in the U.S.
• Teen drivers make up seven per cent of the driving public, but account for 11 per cent of the blameable crashes.
They are three times more likely to have a crash than those over 20.
For this reason, many jurisdictions have provided incentives to take driver education programs.

British Columbia is not alone in this policy incentive.
B.C. gives two high school credits and six months’ reduction of the two-year N phase of the graduated licensing program.
It is a leader among states and provinces in this type of driver education incentive.
Recent assessments of various pilot programs in Manitoba and Oregon have shown a reduction of between four and five per cent in the crash rate of new teen drivers. B.C. has seen the greatest reduction in blamable crashes for teens, as much as 13 per cent.

There is a 19 per cent greater pass rate on the provincial road test, and a four per cent reduction in traffic tickets. B.C. is clearly doing something right.
Parent-taught new drivers in a 2007 study got more tickets and had more crashes in the U.S. than professionally taught students.
• The CEO of a British driving school company that operates 1,500 driving school vehicles gave a very interesting presentation. (Yes, 1,500 cars, not a misprint!)

The British road test has a 47 per cent pass rate.
It is very difficult. All new drivers in Britain do at least 45 hours of professional practical driver education.
This test includes highway testing.
Reverse steps, such as backing around an intersection, are no longer part of the road test.

B.C. does not do a mandatory highway segment on the first road test.
Perhaps we should take a page from the British road test.
The B.C. driving test is the most difficult in North America, with a 62 per cent pass rate on the first try.
• Many parents are telling their kids to hold the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 position.
It is what parents learned decades ago. The 9 and 3 o’clock hand position is preferred today, as it will guard against injury from an airbag activation.
It is also acceptable to hold the wheel at 8 and 4, for reasons of steering-wheel configuration.
Many professional driving courses teach a shuffle steering method, rather than hand-overhand.

It is the same way many race-car drivers steer, but for a different reason.
There is a fear of the airbag opening when a driver is in the vulnerable arms crossed position.
• One of the presenters emphasised the foot position of the average driver.
The heel should be in contact with the floor of the vehicle.
The ball of the foot should be in contact with the gas and brake pedal as the driver pivots from one to the other.

Many drivers are not using this method.

Drivers, with their foot suspended in midair, are braking in a much less efficient and controlled manner.

All instructors were reminded to take a good look at the student’s feet, as well as the other important aspects of body position while driving.
Left-foot braking, with an automatic transmission, is more effective when done by an experienced driver.

 

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