Breakdown at the Roadside? Where Should you Wait, for Greatest Safety?

Many people are killed or seriously injured while waiting for a repair or a tow after breaking down on the side of the road, so how should you protect yourself?

Waiting in a broken-down vehicle or standing beside it like this could cost you your life if it is hit by another vehicle. (Wikimedia Commons)

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Myths and Bad Advice in Road Safety (USA) — A Quiz!

Find out which advice you’ve been given is either inaccurate or even potentially dangerous, and why!

Here are ten questions which we hope that American drivers and any people involved in any aspect of U.S. highway safety will participate in.  We are looking to see how many have been given the safest advice and how common any inaccurate beliefs may be.

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The 2-second Rule for ‘Safe’ Following Distances has Long Been WRONG

About 40 percent of all crashes in the USA involve one or more vehicles ramming into another vehicle from behind, and this is a major cause of bad injuries and deaths.

This photo was taken no more than 2 seconds after the collision that triggered the airbags, which are now in the process of deflating. The driver and his passenger are still in the car, stunned. Possibly through distraction, the car driver had just collided with the back of a truck — not an “accident,” an act of negligence; a collision. (Copyright image, 2012.)
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Another state increases safety rules for Amish buggies

In a country where the horse has played such an important role, it is surprising to find that most state drivers’ manuals contain little if any information about drivers safely approaching and passing horses or other animals that are under human control or being herded.

Because of the number of collisions and other bad incidents, Ohio is one of several states to increase the safety legislation.

(Wikimedia Commons)

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How the Fear of Guns Makes Road Safety Worse in the USA

I don’t use my horn, in case the other guy’s got a gun!”

This is only one way in which American road safety culture is adversely affected by the fear of violent retribution, but let’s deal with this aspect first.

It is actually dangerous to yourself to use the horn in this way, but more about that in another article!

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Passengers Putting Their Feet on the Dash then Being Injured or Killed by the Airbags

This is something that many people have neither heard of nor even thought about. When the front airbags are triggered, which can happen because of a mere bump to the vehicle at speeds as low as 12mph, those airbags [explode outwards] at between 165 and 200mph. They are most certainly not nice fluffy cushions, and if you have one or both of your feet up on the dashboard at the time, the results will be serious and can even kill you.

Many people ride as passengers with their feet up on the vehicle’s dash. Do you? Sadly, it’s a very common sight on America’s highways, but even just a 12mph bump to the front of your vehicle can trigger the airbags and if they go off, you WILL be badly hurt or killed. (Copyright image, 2016.)

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Move Over Or Slow Down (the wording is important)

Around the USA, most states have legislation for which the name is typically shortened to the ‘Move Over Law,’ but some states then go on to give advice that is inaccurate and potentially unsafe.

An almost perfect sign in New York State.  The safest advice is ‘Move Over or Slow Down.’ See the article for a full explanation.   (Copyright image, 2019.)

For example “slow down and move over” is inviting extra danger yet some states do use that wording in the advice they give.

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Scenic Drive – Green Mountains, Vermont (with safety tips)

Our scenic drive across the southern end of Vermont had started with a family apple picking weekend in Brattleboro.  Once that was over, the chance of seeing wonderful scenery along with stunning fall foliage was far more tempting than yet another homeward journey via the I-90.

Kipling Road, Dummerston VT — a wonderful little country lane.  But on a safety note, imagine a motorcycle coming the other way, unseen, and then veering out to pass the pedestrians as you approach in your car.  By anticipating potential risks you could protect several individuals.  (Copyright image, 2019.)

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Unless You Want to Risk Killing People, USE the Parking Brake… Every Time!

Every few months there is a recall here in the USA because the ‘P’ (Park) setting in automatic gearboxes has been failing.  Those affected vehicles that haven’t also had the parking brake properly set will then inevitably roll away down any hills or even the gentlest of slopes they happen to be on, and then they build up momentum. This frequently results only in damage but all too often this can maim or kill pedestrians…. especially children playing on driveways or in nearby yards!

Here’s just one example: Another half-a-million vehicles recalled in the USA

The commonest parking brakes are foot operated. (Copyright image, 2018.)

Vehicles can even cause harm if left on totally flat ground at the roadside, without a parking brake in use, if they are hit by another vehicle. Think of billiard balls. Your car’s “P” setting will be smashed by any hard impact and your car will then careen away until it runs out of momentum or it hits something.

The humble parking brake is one of the most undervalued and most abused safety controls found in modern vehicles, and this failure to understand and the resultant failure to actually use parking brakes leads to many pointless and preventable crashes, some of which cost lives.

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