Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Tailgating
June 10, 2014
Question: How can I get someone to stop tailgating me?
Answer: Tailgaters are frustrating and dangerous but there is really nothing a driver can do to make them stop tailgating! We can’t control another driver’s behavior, we can only take actions to remove ourselves from the dangerous situation.
First off, don’t “brake check” them; hitting your brakes could cause a crash! If someone is tailgating you, the best and quickest action to take is to change lanes and let the tailgater pass. It’s frustrating that the tailgater can’t figure that out himself but the safe, responsible driver is usually the one that has to move over.
If, for any reason, you can’t move over, slow down, not by hitting the brakes but by simply taking your foot off the gas and letting the car gradually slow on its own. This will do one of two things, it will either cause the tailgater to move over into another lane or it can put you in a position relative to other traffic where you can move over.
If you are on a narrow, two lane road with no chance for changing lanes and no safe passing zones for the tailgater to pass, you may have to consider turning off the road at the earliest opportunity and then reentering after the tailgater has passed. Again, it’s frustrating to have to do that but taking the time to remove yourself from the dangerous situation is the safest thing to do, even if you have to leave the roadway to do it.
Remember that the left lane is the passing lane and you should only use the left lane if you are passing another vehicle or preparing to make a left turn. Several states have laws now that can result in a ticket for obstructing traffic for a driver who continues to occupy the left lane when traffic is building up behind.
Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Are Airbags Enough Protection?
May 20, 2014
Question: If my car is equipped with airbags, do I still need to wear a seat belt?
Answer: The technical term for airbags (and you’ll see this embossed on your steering wheel) is the Secondary Restraint System or SRS. Airbags aren’t meant to be the primary restraint system, they are only meant as a backup system. They won’t work effectively if you aren’t wearing your seat belt. In fact, traffic deaths have been attributed to airbags because the driver was either sitting too close to the airbag or, as in the great majority of cases, not wearing their seat belt. In a crash, your body will continue traveling forward at the speed the car was going before the crash until it is stopped by something else (Newton’s laws of motion). If you’re wearing your seat belt, the seat belt will restrain you and, if the airbag deploys, it will act as an extra cushion to keep your face from smashing into the steering column or dashboard. The airbag deploys at 200 mph in one-tenth of a second. If you aren’t wearing your seat belt, your body will fly forward as the airbag is traveling toward you at 200 mph. In that case, the crash forces will be tremendous and can easily be fatal. Remember also that the airbag doesn’t deploy in every crash. If the angle of the crash is such that the airbag sensors aren’t actuated, the airbags won’t deploy. Airbags are a great life saving device when used properly and that means using them in conjunction with the seat belt. Seat belts are the most important, first, and primary safety device in the vehicle.