Ignoring Your Own Safety

SeatbeltWhen I learned to drive more than 4 decades ago, seatbelts were becoming standard equipment on all vehicles. Fast forward to today and we have seatbelts, multiple airbags and a host of automatic systems designed to either avoid a crash or minimize the damage to us if we are in one. Why then do some of us ignore the systems that are there for our protection?

A decade ago seatbelt use rates were about 97% for drivers of cars or light trucks in B.C. according to Transport Canada. That said, one does not have to sit for very long today watching traffic pass in urban areas to find drivers who do not buckle up. Why ignore what is probably the simplest and most effective device in your vehicle that helps you avoid injury?

Have you read your vehicle's owners manual to learn about airbags and how they protect you in a collision? If you have you will realize that you must wear your seatbelt to avoid injury caused by being out of place if it deploys. You must also sit upright in your seat when the vehicle is being driven.

Yesterday I was filling my fuel tank and watching the passenger in the vehicle beside me. She had her feet up on the dash and remained that way when her friend finished fueling and drove away. I shudder to think of what would happen to her if that airbag deployed.

If you buy a new vehicle today you will find that it can be equipped with many safety systems such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. Remember that owners manual? There will be some study required to learn how they work, how you should use them and when they cannot protect you.

The sensors for these systems require regular maintenance by the driver to keep them functional. Be sure to read your owners manual or at least have the dealership demonstrate what needs to be done before you drive off the lot.

Vehicle computers store data about faults. If fault codes are stored for malfunctioning safety systems it is conceiveable that you could bear some responsibility for injuries sustained in a crash. Ignoring these new safety systems could also place you in a bad position post collision.

Ignoring your own safety as a driver today may have many unintended consequences that can also extend to your passengers. RTFM (Refer to Factory Manual) might be the smartest (and safest) thing that you can do!

All this technology, complicated, complex driving skills and the industry continues to permit Ma/Pop to teach new drivers.  What’s wrong with this picture?  

In reply to by Leisa

Ma/Pop teach kids to walk as well, seems to have been working so far, no need to invent new industry over teaching kids how to walk.

Driving skill is mostly picked-up by being on the road. Amount of experience hours directly correlates to ones ability to avoid accidents. People learn by watching others, and in-reverse everyone can teach new drivers simply by driving properly.

Time on the road is so closely related to how safe the drivers become, that the drivers who have completed their GPL early via the certified driving school fast-track (professionally trained), have been consistently 25% likelier to be involved in an accident in their first year, than the drivers who received no time-discount (those who have been taught by mom/pop).

No comparison, like apples and oranges.

If there’s a hint of truth to the stat figures of ma/pop vs professional taught, then it certainly depicts a flaw in “professional” teachings.  I wonder if the instructors in these courses would agree they are flawed in their teachings?  Your claim would also suggest that all those parents who text/drive (and there is a ton of them out there) teach their child-drivers the same violation, after all, if Ma/Pa do it, it’s must be ok for me.  That’s the way teenagers think.  Or have you forgotten you too processed that invincibility?  We have to remember, driving is still a privilege, not a right.  It needn’t be easy to obtain the privilege to drive, it should be challenging and serious.  The good “old days” of being taught by our parents should have sailed many years ago.  It is much more complicated then driving on the farm roads.  I myself took two advanced driving courses a few years back (put on by Canadian Direct Insurance) and the “professionals” taught me a few good maneuvers and tips that I’ve not been taught from driving for 50 years.  So, no, you’re never too young or experienced to be taught more.

I once heard it said that the least read book out there is the Owner's Manual of one's car. Most people never even crack it unless some warning light comes on the dash that they don't recognize. I work with new and experienced drivers and I now suggest that they go to a great website called www.mycardoeswhat.org as it has easy to understand dynamic information about all the new bells and whixtles that cars are coming with these days. There are info-graphics, videos and even some teaching lesson plans for educators to use. But definitely reading the manual and having all the proper maintenance done at the proper times is the order of the day.

Since bringing in Graduated Licensing ICBC has had two reports both of which are available on their website and if you look through previous postings on this site there is links. Both have shown that professional training has a higher accident rate. I have also seen reports from other areas which show a reduction. Going from memory I believe where accident rates have gone down it was compulsory to take professional training along with bringing in Graduated Licensing at the same time. So reports from other areas are supplying information before and after GL where the ICBC reports probably are more accurate as they show the effectiveness of professional training vs parents or peers.

Kids do learn from their parents and even giving a kid professional training does not take away from the years they have spent in a vehicle with parents and friends. Driver training schools only give them a few hours behind the wheel. Professional training focuses on passing the test. Depending on the parent the kid often becomes the family chauffeur. They spend a lot more time behind the wheel on all types of roads and conditions.

Professional training from what I have seen uses small or compact cars. The kid gets their licence then steps into the parents or their own pick-up, SUV, muscle car or whatever they own. They often are driving a couple of vehicles, mom and dad's. And this is how they learn from their parents driving a couple of vehicles. Not in a small underpowered vehicle that handles differently than what they are going to be driving after they get their licence.

There is pros and cons to both. One final thought for consideration. Some put forth that professional training is the best and should be only way one learns to drive. Go back through the posts on this site and see all the complaints regarding professional drivers. Thoughts?

The other day, I was working with three drivers from Whistler, seeking their Class 4 Unresticted license.

As I always try to so, I mentioned the potential danger from airbags, whether it be the arm-snapping, face-smaking bash in the face from the steering wheel - or the danger for the passenger with their feet on the dash at the time of the crash.

One of the guys, hearing this, mentioned that a high school teacher of his who had been a passenger with his feet on the dash is now quadraplegic. The driver crashed into something hard, and that was it.