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Astraist
Master Driver



Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:17 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Hey there, long time no read, eh?

So here's a little thing to punder on: Is your passengers' compartment safe? Wait! Before you answer, read this. I bet you would find several hazards inside your own passenger compartment.

The passengers' compartment is part of the driver's environment, which in turn effects the driver's safety. Part of this safety is determind by the driver's driving posture, mirror alignment and use of the seatbelt, headrestraint and airbags, but there are other elements to be considered.

Free Objects
Free objects in the passengers' compartment are an outright hazard. They rattle, they often damage important parts in the car, they distract, hide your line of sight to the road, and in a collision the lightest of them turn into heavy projectiles.

The solution is to keep all of the heavy luggage in the trunk, while keeping the heaviest packages right behind the back seats, preferably to the sides and on the floor, while harnessing it all with straps or a net.

Additional luggage can be stored on a roofrack. However, the roof rack must be securely fastened. Otherwise, even a sudden brake might suddenly send it flying! Even a properly harnesses rack can only carry a relatively small amount of weight: Watch the weight limit, and never stack weight high.

The compartment should be clear of almost all objects. Phones and papers can be held in storage compartments inside the car, while cups can be kept in cup holders. Soft, light bags can be placed behind the front seats. The front and rear shelfs should idealy be clear of ANY kind of object, including paper sheets.

Note that most stoage compartments in the car have a purpose. Some are specifically suitable for your cellphone. Some - for change. Some - for A4 paper sheets. Others - for bigger documents and files. Use them accordingly.

For instance, some trucks have upper storage compartments above the driver's head which should be kept clear unless you have no other choice. In which case, use them for paper sheets alone.

Cup holders are also not made for just any kind of cup. For starters, they are obviously not meant to hold a 1.5 litre bottle. They are also not supposed to hold glass cups which would break under sudden duress. Nor are they supposed to hold an open cup. They are meant specifically for small, closed foam cups.

The front windshield isn't a hanging area either. Even small patches can create a big intervantion with your field of vision. A GPS mounted on the center of the windshield with a vacuum-adhesive does not just obstruct your view, it'll get blown into your face by the passenger's side airbag.

However, place it in the low-left corner and it will cause little disturbance, and be partitioned from you in a collision by the airbag inside the steering wheel.

In particular, the areas in which the airbags deploy are not to be tampered with. Curtains or shades on the windows of a car with "curtain airbags" are unsafe, as are hanging clothes with a metal cloth hanger or with a pen in the pocket is likewise hazardous. Even without the airbag, the thrust of a collision is enough to cause injury.

Using instruments in the car
We all know we need to keep our hands on the wheel, but what about tunning the radio or drinking from the cup in the cup holder? Well, the manufacturer has an answer for that too.

Many of the instruments in the passengers' compartment are specifically designed NOT to be used while driving. For instance, many cars with built-in GPS navigators, cannot be adjusted while the car is in motion.

However, the radio, for instance, is usually placed in easy reach for the driver, and in newer cars some of the adjustments can be made from controls around the wheel itself. These controls can be used while driving, if needed, with caution.

Cup holders are usually not in such an easy reach for the driver and for a purpose. They too should only be used when at a stop, and preferably not at a short stop like at a red light. Dailing is likewise to be kept to when the car is stationary alone.

As for the internal lights in the car: The light above the interior mirror has the specific purpose of helping to read maps. Therby it shouldn't be used while moving. Some cars have splitted lights so that the passenger can light it up on his side with little interference to the driver.

The dimmer the passengers' compartment, the better is the driver's night vision during nighttime. Therefore, when driving in night, dim all internal lights, and set all systems like a GPS or phone to nighttime mode. The dashboard lights, along with the lights on all switches, can be dimmed for this very purpse, too.

In daylight, the visors are used to improve vision. They can also be turned sideways. However, do ensure that you open them until they touch the windshield. Otherwise, they will hide too much of your own field of vision and might even be dangerously aimed at your forehead.

Don't hang too much objects on the visor, especially not sharp pens or microphones that might interpere with deploying it. A microphone is better placed on the front A-beam.

Also note: Whenever you open the visor, you field of vision is somewhat compromised. The solution is to drive a bit slower after opening it, to make up for the shorter field of vision.

The windows of the car should always not be kept half-open. The upper edge can give you quite a nasty blow. You can keep it open at the top, or wind it further down.

Add-ons?
As you have understood be now, the manufacturer usually puts lots of thought into the design of the driver's environment. Therefore, aftermarket add-ons are usually unnessecary, not to say dangerous.

Seat covers are none fire-retardant like the original padding and are particularly problematic in cars with side airbags. Rear-window curtains intervene with vision and mask the upper rear brake light.

Steering wheel covers tend to slipp at just those critical moments where you brake and swerve to avoid an obstacle; aftermarket mirrors usually distort the image, cause dazzle in night-time and break into shards in a collision. Aftermarket head restraints with screens, often get disconnected in a crash.

Almost any kind of ornament that hangs off the interior mirror rattles in your peripheral vision and causes a serious distraction in a direction from whehence cyclists and pedestrians often appear on the road ahead.

The only additive I've found effective is a SMALL auxiliary SIDE mirror that hanges on top of the original mirror (not the kind the kind that sticks over the original glass), which can be usefull when carrying a trailer or when the rear window is obstructed by the passengers in the back, as well as in some very big vehicles (trucks, vans, etc...) and in parking manuevers.

Things you might need
If you wear glasses, keep another pair in the gloove compartment.

Also, keep a small rag in your reach, so that if you enter the car with soles that are muddy or slippery in any way, you can wipe them clean before driving.

A small bottle of water on summer drivers longer than a quarter of an hour is a nessecity, as are shades.
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Misha
Site Owner



Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 704
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:32 am Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks Astraist, quite an extensive write-up on the topic, as usual. Glad you are back Smile
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sgtrock21
Seasoned Driver



Joined: Jul 15, 2012
Posts: 120

PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:25 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Astraist wrote:
Hey there, long time no read, eh?

So here's a little thing to punder on: Is your passengers' compartment safe? Wait! Before you answer, read this. I bet you would find several hazards inside your own passenger compartment.

The passengers' compartment is part of the driver's environment, which in turn effects the driver's safety. Part of this safety is determind by the driver's driving posture, mirror alignment and use of the seatbelt, headrestraint and airbags, but there are other elements to be considered.

Free Objects
Free objects in the passengers' compartment are an outright hazard. They rattle, they often damage important parts in the car, they distract, hide your line of sight to the road, and in a collision the lightest of them turn into heavy projectiles.

The solution is to keep all of the heavy luggage in the trunk, while keeping the heaviest packages right behind the back seats, preferably to the sides and on the floor, while harnessing it all with straps or a net.

Additional luggage can be stored on a roofrack. However, the roof rack must be securely fastened. Otherwise, even a sudden brake might suddenly send it flying! Even a properly harnesses rack can only carry a relatively small amount of weight: Watch the weight limit, and never stack weight high.

The compartment should be clear of almost all objects. Phones and papers can be held in storage compartments inside the car, while cups can be kept in cup holders. Soft, light bags can be placed behind the front seats. The front and rear shelfs should idealy be clear of ANY kind of object, including paper sheets.

Note that most stoage compartments in the car have a purpose. Some are specifically suitable for your cellphone. Some - for change. Some - for A4 paper sheets. Others - for bigger documents and files. Use them accordingly.

For instance, some trucks have upper storage compartments above the driver's head which should be kept clear unless you have no other choice. In which case, use them for paper sheets alone.

Cup holders are also not made for just any kind of cup. For starters, they are obviously not meant to hold a 1.5 litre bottle. They are also not supposed to hold glass cups which would break under sudden duress. Nor are they supposed to hold an open cup. They are meant specifically for small, closed foam cups.

The front windshield isn't a hanging area either. Even small patches can create a big intervantion with your field of vision. A GPS mounted on the center of the windshield with a vacuum-adhesive does not just obstruct your view, it'll get blown into your face by the passenger's side airbag.

However, place it in the low-left corner and it will cause little disturbance, and be partitioned from you in a collision by the airbag inside the steering wheel.

In particular, the areas in which the airbags deploy are not to be tampered with. Curtains or shades on the windows of a car with "curtain airbags" are unsafe, as are hanging clothes with a metal cloth hanger or with a pen in the pocket is likewise hazardous. Even without the airbag, the thrust of a collision is enough to cause injury.

Using instruments in the car
We all know we need to keep our hands on the wheel, but what about tunning the radio or drinking from the cup in the cup holder? Well, the manufacturer has an answer for that too.

Many of the instruments in the passengers' compartment are specifically designed NOT to be used while driving. For instance, many cars with built-in GPS navigators, cannot be adjusted while the car is in motion.

However, the radio, for instance, is usually placed in easy reach for the driver, and in newer cars some of the adjustments can be made from controls around the wheel itself. These controls can be used while driving, if needed, with caution.

Cup holders are usually not in such an easy reach for the driver and for a purpose. They too should only be used when at a stop, and preferably not at a short stop like at a red light. Dailing is likewise to be kept to when the car is stationary alone.

As for the internal lights in the car: The light above the interior mirror has the specific purpose of helping to read maps. Therby it shouldn't be used while moving. Some cars have splitted lights so that the passenger can light it up on his side with little interference to the driver.

The dimmer the passengers' compartment, the better is the driver's night vision during nighttime. Therefore, when driving in night, dim all internal lights, and set all systems like a GPS or phone to nighttime mode. The dashboard lights, along with the lights on all switches, can be dimmed for this very purpse, too.

In daylight, the visors are used to improve vision. They can also be turned sideways. However, do ensure that you open them until they touch the windshield. Otherwise, they will hide too much of your own field of vision and might even be dangerously aimed at your forehead.

Don't hang too much objects on the visor, especially not sharp pens or microphones that might interpere with deploying it. A microphone is better placed on the front A-beam.

Also note: Whenever you open the visor, you field of vision is somewhat compromised. The solution is to drive a bit slower after opening it, to make up for the shorter field of vision.

The windows of the car should always not be kept half-open. The upper edge can give you quite a nasty blow. You can keep it open at the top, or wind it further down.

Add-ons?
As you have understood be now, the manufacturer usually puts lots of thought into the design of the driver's environment. Therefore, aftermarket add-ons are usually unnessecary, not to say dangerous.

Seat covers are none fire-retardant like the original padding and are particularly problematic in cars with side airbags. Rear-window curtains intervene with vision and mask the upper rear brake light.

Steering wheel covers tend to slipp at just those critical moments where you brake and swerve to avoid an obstacle; aftermarket mirrors usually distort the image, cause dazzle in night-time and break into shards in a collision. Aftermarket head restraints with screens, often get disconnected in a crash.

Almost any kind of ornament that hangs off the interior mirror rattles in your peripheral vision and causes a serious distraction in a direction from whehence cyclists and pedestrians often appear on the road ahead.

The only additive I've found effective is a SMALL auxiliary SIDE mirror that hanges on top of the original mirror (not the kind the kind that sticks over the original glass), which can be usefull when carrying a trailer or when the rear window is obstructed by the passengers in the back, as well as in some very big vehicles (trucks, vans, etc...) and in parking manuevers.

Things you might need
If you wear glasses, keep another pair in the gloove compartment.

Also, keep a small rag in your reach, so that if you enter the car with soles that are muddy or slippery in any way, you can wipe them clean before driving.

A small bottle of water on summer drivers longer than a quarter of an hour is a nessecity, as are shades.

I spent many years and miles as a commercial driver. My cargo was always behind a screen which protected me. I also spent many hours in a (military aircraft)which could be upside down or in a positive or negative G situation. Nothing could be loose in the cockpit. It is the same in a motor vehicle. Even an ink pen or pencil can become a deadly missile.
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