Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:04 am
Traffic behind poses a hazard. One can be driving on his own, free of any significant frontal or lateral hazard, only to be rear-ended by another inattentive driver. These crashes vary from minor in damage, to hard in speed of above 60km/h. However, instead of throwing guilt, take responsibility. You drivers have the abilities to either prevent these collision from occuring, or reduce their effect expontentially to damage to the tin alone.
A relativelly upright seating position to all passengers, a properly snugged seatbelt and an adjusted head restraint would make a hugh difference in being rear-ended. Pay particular attention to the head restraint. It MUST be up to the height of your eyebrows or a bit above that, and as close as possible to your own head, less than 7cm, which are typically presented as a clamped fist. If you can fit such a fist between your forehead and the restraint, it will be inefficient. These rules apply to all passengers.
The seatbelt, to remind you, need be placed on the acromion. Not on the collar bone (calvicle) and not the shoulder. The acromion is a socket in the end of the calvicle where it meets the scapula (shoulder) bone. This makes the belt run over the stiff should bone and down on the sternum. Don't let the passenger besides you sleep. Not only will he not be able to avail you in driving, but he wil also suffer more gravelly from a collision.
Open the mirrors, like I once taught you in another thread, so that you achieve a much more board field of vision.
Being rear-ended on the side of the road
First rule, never stop on highway shoulders. I find it important to repeat this because this the most dangerous type of rearward collision, and it occurs in speeds which the car was not made to sustain from behind, unlike slower rear-end collisions, that are relativelly very unharfull. Highway shoulders should NOT be used in the following instances:
- Nature's calling
- Children crying
- Phone calls
- Map navigations
- Loose cargo
It's also HIGHLY advised not to stop in the following cases of malfunction:
1. Tire blowout. It is possible to keep on driving SLOWELY on the shoulder itself to a reasonable, safe place for repairs.
2. Engine heat: If the engine heat seems to increase suspeciously, it's always possible to stop in the closest place, or reach a further place while using the heater to dispearse the heat.
3. Oil warning: A sudden drop in lubricant levels in the engine or gearbox can also be handled by driving smoothly towards a safe stopping place.
Safe stopping places include: A protected road-side repair bay, gas stations, side roads, open areas that can get you about 20 meters away from the road, parking lots, etc...
Cases that require stopping and dealing with them:
1. The engine shuts down: Try coasting with the car towards a safe stopping place, or -- if not possible, towards the right shoulder and as far away from the road as possible, even over to the gravel beyond the hard shoulder, where possible. Get away from the car and well beyond the armco. Don't ever try to diagnose or repair mechanical malfunctions on the side of the road, no matter how simple it might be.
2. Accident: When you have been to an accident or are amongst the first to witness a collision with injured people, stop far from the road, or place your car well before the crashed vehicle and in a defensive position. Try to help the injured persons, and if you must -- move them to a safe place.
3. When ordered by an officer: Stop close to the armco, and stay buckled or, if you are ordered out of the car, move beyond the armco.
Dealing with tailgaters
Besides the moral of not stopping in dangerous places, there are other moves to avoid being rear ended. The first countermeasure is to shake off tailgaters. If you barely see the headlights of the car behind, it's too close for sure. In residential speeds of about 30mph on the dry, you need to see the headlights fully, while in higher speeds/slippery conditions you need to either see his tires or even a bit of road betwen you two.
I have compared the different methods of dealing with tailgaters and designed a way to deal with them:
1. The best method, where possible, is to move right and let him pass you.
2. If moving right is not possible, using the hazard lights and other warning signals usually helps in pushing him back.
3. If this does not work, it's possible to "block" him. You might see the tailgater stick to the left corner of your car (or maybe the right), trying to see beyond you. If you move a bit to the left to "block" him, he would be pushed back.
4. If all of these countermeasures don't work, you should do anything possible to let him pass, including moving left and allowing him to pass you from the right, or moving right and dropping one side of the car to the near hard shoulder to allow him to pass. This should only be done where it is safe for you to do these moves, and it's safe for him to overtake.
5. If there is no way to move him back or get him around you, just slow down gently and increase your following distance from the car ahead. In a dry road, when you are concentrated in driving, you should maintain a following distance of two FULL seconds ahead. By keeping a distance of about FOUR full seconds instead, you keep a following distance both for and for the driver behind. Additionally, slow down a lot before crosswalks and intersections, to avoid the need of hard braking. Repeat the other options to encourage him to pass you and occupy the space in front of you.
Look in the mirrors periodically, even in a straight road. The frequency should be between seven to ten seconds. You need to take "quick peeks" rather than sustained looked. Look in the interior mirror whenever slowing down/braking and well before oncoming intersections and crosswalks.
With a defensive driving instructor, it's possible to work on identifying objects in the interior mirror even during a full-force emergency stop. The usual patent is for the trainer to draw cards behind you and ask you to identify them in the mirror while performing such a stop. It's possible to do this with a friend too.
Besides planning the line that you want your car to take on the road ahead, visualize a secondary line to use as an escape route while braking, should the stopping distance in any possible situation not suffice or if a vehicle behind will not manage to stop. The right-side is your typical default escape route.
When you stop for a red light, stop sign, etc...Keep your escape route in mind. Stop in a manner that allows to to keep a run-off area of a few feet ahead: Simply slow down very gradually and stop a few feet early while staying in gear. See that the car behind is slowing down sufficiently (and also worthwhile to see whether the driver inside the car behind is concentrated on driving or not. Once "covered" from behind, move forward to the right spot. In standing traffic, keep a following distance even from standing cars. You should see a tiny piece of tarmac between you and the car ahead. This is usually sufficient in avoiding a "chain" reaction when someone is rear-ended.
If, for any reason, a crash from behind (and likewise from the side) seems inevitable, it's best to brake very hard. This will keep the car as fixated as possible, making the tin take most of the damage, while the body of the driver and passengers will not suffer from a sudden jerk of the car. If you drive a small car with passengers in the rear seats, or if the velocity of a crash from behind or the side might be extraordinarly big, it might be better not to brake as hard.