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Driving Safety: Today's New Rules
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Driving Safety: Today's New Rules
Drowsy Driving
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driving-safety-sum07In Ashburn, Ga., you’ll find the world’s largest peanut. Bryant Pond, Maine, has a three-story outhouse. And Ashville, Ohio, is home to the world’s oldest traffic light.

These are the kinds of things you miss on a plane ride.

If you’re heading out on a road-tripping adventure this summer (or just navigating your own zany city streets) William E. Van Tassel, Ph.D., manager of driver draining operations with AAA, has a few tips to keep you safe and sound. And you may be surprised by some of them.


For example, no longer does AAA recommend gripping the steering wheel at 10 and 2. Try 8 and 4, says Van Tassel. “There are a variety of reasons that factor in there, including air bags.”

And the old rule of thumb, steer into a skid? “Forget that,” he says. “Just continue to look and steer where you want to go.”

Good to know. We picked Van Tassel’s brain for a bit more info.

MFD: Tell us about speeding. What’s the big deal?
Driving could be boiled down to three basic elements. First would be perception--seeing what’s going on in your environment. Second, decision--making a decision on what’s going on in your environment. And then taking action, if you need to, based on your decision.

Each one of those takes time, and the faster you go, the less time you have for each one.

MFD: How far should I stay behind the car in front of me?
The current recommendation from AAA is three to four seconds. … The old rule of thumb that we don’t use anymore was one car length for every 10 miles an hour. But people have a hard time judging car lengths ….

You always want to make sure you have an out. You want to have at least one or two places that you can move your car …. So that’s adequate space in the front and to your sides. …

If you’re driving along and there’s another vehicle right next to you driving at the same speed, it’s far better to ease off the gas a little bit and let them move one or two positions ahead of you so that that space to the side opens up ….

Drivers should realize that it’s OK to change lanes in emergency situations if it’s clear. That can actually be accomplished in some cases faster than braking. Most drivers probably underutilize the space to their sides.

MFD: How does all this change in rain?
Generally, in rain, the traction available for most cars decreases by approximately 30 percent …. So drivers would want to reduce their speed by approximately a third. So we start moving toward maybe a six- or even an eight-second following distance in the rain. …

Sometimes in the media you’ll see phrases like, “The vehicle lost control,” or, “These crashes are blamed on the weather.” No, no, no, no. … Weather doesn’t cause crashes. Failure to adapt to weather conditions do.

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