Local News

New car safety features make some driving techniques unsafe

Posted May 14, 2012

— The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, a national group of driving instructors, is issuing new guidelines that change some age-old driving techniques and take into account safer vehicles that have new safety features.

Improved air bags have prompted changes in the "10-and-2 o'clock" hand position on the steering wheel.

"If there's a collision and an air bag deploys, that puts your fingers and hands in the way," William Powell, a driver education instructor in Garner, said. Safer cars change driving rules Safer cars change driving rules

Hands and arms obstructing the air bag during deployment could fly back and hit the driver, resulting in a broken nose or concussion. To avoid injury, experts recommend placing hands in a lower position, at 8-and-4 or 9-and-3.

Hand placement is important when turning as well. Instead of crossing arms over the air bag, experts recommend pushing and pulling the wheel around.

Powell also reminds drivers to sit back far enough from the steering wheel.

"You want the air bag to be able to do its job if it's ever deployed," Powell said. "That means it comes out at 250 mph, and it won't hit you in the face."


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  • Let-it-be-said May 15, 2012

    TeenDad2electricboogaloo Thsts the most ignorant comment today.

  • 3779LRRP May 14, 2012

    Occasionally. I catch myself driving with the left hand at the 12 O'Clock position. I wear a pretty big watch on my left arm and gaze at it momentarily and wonder where that watch would impact if the airbag deployed. Right between my eyes. That's when I move my arm down on the wheel.

  • TeenDad2electricboogaloo May 14, 2012

    Some people know how to drive, and also have cars that dont need to slow down around corners.

  • nomorethanthat May 14, 2012

    It is a joke telling people where to put BOTH HANDS. The majority of drivers that I see on the road are only minimally using one hand that seems to only be draped over the steering wheel. Straight arm driving using both arms and hands just isn't used and generally the one handed drivers cut corners to reduce how much they have to turn the steering wheel and SLOW DOWN to safely negotiate the curve.

  • GravyPig May 14, 2012

    "Let's see,more people get trapped and die in accidents when wearing a seat belt,seat belts do not prevent windshield smashes...they still are pretty loose,if you lean forward in your seat belt you will see...." - uhavenoclu

    I hate to say it, but uhavenoclu..... you have no clue. If worn properly, you should not hit the windshield. Seat belts have an automatic lock that engages in a hard or abrupt stop. Try yanking your seat belt out as fast as you can and you'll notice this feature in action.

  • sinenomine May 14, 2012

    The "pretensioner" was called an inertia reel, I think. The mechanical ones did sometimes lock up prematurely in normal use and that was frustrating. Or sometimes the opposite happened and they didn't stop you at all and you hit part of the inside of the car in an accident.

    The earliest shoulder harnesses in American cars seemed to be designed to make them useless. In the late '60s they had to be separately attached to the lap belt and often couldn't be adjusted for comfort or so as to allow you to reach some of the controls. You could, of course, use the lap belt sans the shoulder belt. I used to use the lapbelt around town but only deploy the shoulder harness if I was on the highway.

  • not my real name May 14, 2012

    Funny, my son took drivers ED last year and they told him to "pump the brakes" Which you do NOT do with anti lock brakes, which most cars have unless your driving an old beater from the 80's. Seems like they need to update their instructors!

  • boolittlek May 14, 2012

    "When you are under 5 foot tall you do not have much choice but to sit close to the airbag if you want to reach the gas pedal and brake and see over the dash"--sunshine1040

    You got that right. I'm 5 even. If my airbag ever deploys, I'll be picking bits of it out of my lungs.

  • baracus May 14, 2012

    If seatbelts, airbags, crumple zones, and other safety features don't work, how does one explain the fact that fatalities rates per mile driven are at their lowest rates ever? Because people are driving more safely? Ha!

  • KnoxOverstreet III May 14, 2012

    Actually I usually steer with my knees so I can text and play chess online.