We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Little things make big difference in safety

May 14, 2021

Vehicles are parked along the Oak Bay avenue, a flat road that requires no safety precautions for parking. When parking on a steep hill, however, drivers must turn the wheels the appropriate way before exiting the vehicle, write Steve Wallace. TIMES COLONIST


Every driver should be paying attention to the little things. Sadly, many are not thinking of the less-than-obvious safety behaviours.

One example is a safe street parking plan on hills. Turning the vehicle wheels the appropriate way, should be second nature. Drivers should turn them away from the street, except when parking uphill with an obstructive curb. If a parked vehicle is bumped or has a brake failure, the turn of the wheels should take it away from moving traffic. The uphill park with a right-angle significant curb height, is enough to stop a bumped or runaway vehicle. This execution is required on an initial driving test in most every province in our country. Why do so many drivers fail to follow this simple safety behaviour, even on steep hills? Your guess is as good as mine. Do this simple observation when witnessing parked cars, particularly in hilly terrain, on any city street. Count the number of parked vehicles with their wheels turned properly, as recommended in any safe driving handbook. You will be surprised and sadly disappointed by your rudimentary observations.

The most common crash is the rear-end collision. Many drivers and their passengers are victims of whiplash neck and upper torso injuries, because of improperly positioned headrests. People should have their ears even with the middle of the headrest. There should be a small distance of about three finger widths from the back of the head to the headrest. Some drivers have the back of their head contact the headrest while they drive. This is not a recommended practice. It does matter what type of headrest is employed. Some are upright and can be not only adjusted up and down, but also tilted forward and backward. It is best to read the owner’s manual for advice concerning the positioning of the vehicle headrests.

Seatbelts, when properly worn, are the single greatest protection in a crash. They should be worn across the hip pointer bones and across the collar bone and centre chest area. Once the belt is properly placed, it should be given a short tug and cinch action, to draw it closer to the driver and passenger body bone structure. Airbags are an additional advantage to vehicle occupants in a crash. Drivers gain a greater chance of reduced injury, or no injury, when forcefully held in the seating position in vehicle crashes.

This time of year, we witness all sorts of bike racks on the back of vehicles. This is a good sign of a healthy population. Drivers must remember the rule mandating a visible front and rear licence plate. There is no exception to displaying licence plates. Bike riders should take care to buy a bike rack which allows for identification by authorities. There is an obligation to have the back, signal and brake lights clearly visible as well.

Truck drivers do some seemingly odd, but worthwhile things behind the wheel. They like to travel in unofficial convoys. This allows for the lead driver to do most of the work behind the wheel. They change positions every logical time interval to share the lead responsibilities. If one looks closely, there is often a situation where certain combinations of wheels are not touching the road but instead are elevated. This practice is used by those truckers running without a load. This action saves rubber and extends the life of tires not needed for the unloaded capacity. There are reverse aimed lights on many highway big rig trucks. They warn drivers behind to dim their headlights. Many motor vehicle drivers use their four-way flashers in the same way. Ninety-five per cent of everything we buy is delivered by truckers. We all should appreciate their primary position in our communities.

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