Ask The Driving School Instructor: Failure To Yield
June 3, 2015
Question: What exactly does failure to yield mean and when does it apply?
Answer: Failure to yield can apply in several different situations but basically, if another driver has to swerve or slam on the brakes to avoid hitting you, you’re guilty of failure to yield. Let’s look at some different situations where failure to yield can come into play.
The 18 year old German girl driving the car in the photo below tried to turn onto a street that is heavily used by military vehicles at a nearby British army base. A military convoy was passing by when she tried to enter the road and, for some mysterious reason, probably involving the laws of physics, the driver of a 68 ton Challenger tank was unable to stop in time. The front half of her car was crushed under the tank. She was guilty of failure to yield.
One mistake people make, especially where large vehicles are concerned, is judging their speed. Large vehicles like buses, trucks, and Challenger tanks appear to be going much slower than they actually are. This is especially true for trains. The passengers of the car in the video below were lucky that no one died when the speeding driver tried to beat a train at a railroad crossing. The car was cut in half and the rear seat passenger was thrown out of the vehicle.
A vehicle entering an interstate highway must yield to the traffic already on the main road. That means matching the speed of the traffic on the main part of the road and looking for an opening large enough that will allow you to enter safely. To do that, you should look for an opening of at least four seconds between vehicles so that there’s at least a two second distance between you and the car behind.
Remember that no one has the right of way. The law only determines who should give up the right of way in any given situation. If you aren’t sure whether you have room to enter traffic safely, wait!
Airbag Recall Expands To Include 34 Million Vehicles In US
May 21, 2015
The Takata airbag recall was expanded this week to include 34 million vehicles in the US. The announcement was made by Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on May 19th.
Previously, Takata had refused to admit that a defect was present in its airbags but allowed that vehicles in areas with high humidity might experience problems. The initial recall of vehicles with Takata airbags installed, was limited to vehicles in Florida, the Gulf states and Hawaii. Now Takata has admitted that there is a defect with the inflators and specifically with the propellant used to inflate the airbags.
The propellants in the inflators use a chemical that can degrade over time. If moisture is introduced into the chemical, it can lead to “over-aggressive combustion” leading to higher internal pressures that can rupture the body of the inflator. The defective airbags are responsible for six deaths and more than 100 injuries.
The airbag recall covers driver side airbags in at least 17 million vehicles and passenger side airbags in an additional 17 million vehicles.
With the admission that there is a defect in the airbag inflators, the airbag recall will now include more vehicle manufacturers than previously thought. Vehicles now subject to the recall are made by the following manufacturers:
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), it will take vehicle manufacturers about a week to determine which of their vehicles are affected by the airbag recall order. Takata will create a plan to find and replace the affected vehicles as soon as possible with priority going to vehicles located in states with high humidity.
For vehicle owners who want more information about the airbag recall, NHTSA has created a “recalls spotlight” page on their SaferCar.gov website. Follow the link to VIN lookup.
The VIN is your vehicle’s identification number. The VIN can be found either on an inspection plate on the driver side door jamb or under the windshield on the driver’s side of the vehicle. The VIN can also be found on your auto insurance policy and your insurance ID card.
Vehicle owners affected by the airbag recall should expect to receive a letter in the mail from the manufacturer of your vehicle. The recall notice from your manufacturer will give details about how to comply with the recall. Owners who receive an airbag recall notice shouldn’t ignore it and should attempt to get their vehicle repaired as quickly as possible.
Read more: Department of Transportation announces steps to address Takata air bag defects
Smartphone Users Go Beyond Texting To Web Surfing, Video Chats While Driving
May 20, 2015
Smartphone users admit to going beyond texting while driving to a wide variety of smartphone activities according to a new study by AT&T. While cellphone use and texting are still the most common activity that drivers engage in, the AT&T study revealed that 70 percent of drivers engage in other smartphone activities such as taking selfies and even video chatting.
According to the AT&T news website, smartphone activities people say they do while driving include:
- Text (61%)
- Email (33%)
- Surf the net (28%)
- Facebook (27%)
- Snap a selfie/photo (17%)
- Twitter (14%)
- Instagram (14%)
- Shoot a video (12%)
- Snapchat (11%)
- Video chat (10%)
Other unsettling findings include:
- 62% keep their smartphones within easy reach while driving.
- 30% of people who post to Twitter while driving do it “all the time.”
- 22% who access social networks while driving cite addiction as a reason.
- Of those who shoot videos behind the wheel, 27% think they can do it safely while driving.
While AT&T is one of the major cellphone and smartphone marketers in the US, they recognized the dangers of cellphone use and texting while driving years ago. To educate drivers on the dangers of these activities, they launched the “It Can Wait” program in 2010. Their videos present a powerful message on the dangers of texting while driving and the impact those decisions can have on the cellphone user and their family.
As a result of this study, AT&T says it will expand the It Can Wait program to go beyond texting and warn drivers about the dangers of engaging in other types of smartphone activities while driving.
Other studies show that drivers are starting to realize the dangers of texting but, in spite of that awareness, they still seem to think that they are more skilled in the practice and the dangers only apply to other, less skilled drivers. Now it seems that the very dangerous issue of driver distraction is moving beyond texting into even more dangerous distracting activities.
Read more: Smartphone Use While Driving Grows Beyond Texting to Social Media, Web Surfing, Selfies, Video Chatting
The Apple Watch And Driving
May 4, 2015
Apple has recently introduced its Apple Watch with a lot of hoopla about all of its capabilities including email and phone. What they aren’t saying much about are the dangers the new Apple Watch can pose for drivers who try to use it.
Distracted driving is a major problem in the US with 3,154 deaths and 424,000 injuries blamed on distracted driving in 2013. If that’s not a big enough problem, it seems that electronics manufacturers are trying to add more and more devices to distract drivers every month.
The Apple Watch is advertised as a device to keep you connected at any time, wherever you may be. That may be true but that connectivity could come at a great cost if you try to use it while driving.
The main distraction in an Apple Watch is its size. The Apple Watch comes in two sizes measuring only 1.4 to 1.6 inches from top to bottom. Making a selection on a screen size that small is going to take a bit of concentration. Scrolling through selections on an Apple Watch is accomplished by use of a small hand wheel on the side and using it will require a user to both look at the watch on one hand while using the other hand to scroll and select options.
Even if users try to use the voice activated Siri, studies have shown that using Siri or other voice activated systems is more distracting than using a hand-held phone.
While the Apple Watch may be a wonderful device in other situations, using it while driving is obviously going to be cumbersome and very distracting. A lot of states have either passed or are considering bans on the use of cell phones while driving. Now they may have to consider bans on the use of the Apple Watch and other similar Android devices. However, laws like that are going to be hard to enforce.
Read more: Smartwatches Reported To Be Less Safe While Driving Than Smartphones
Is Voice Activated Texting While Driving Safer?
April 23, 2015
Automakers and cell phone companies are pushing voice activated texting as a safe alternative to manual texting but is really safer? Not according to researchers at Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute (TTI).
While most studies of this kind involve observing study participants on computerized virtual driving courses, Christine Yager, an associate transportation researcher at TTI conducted a study in actual cars on a closed driving course; the first study of its kind.
Forty-three participants were observed under several different driving scenarios. They first drove the course without the use of cell phones and their reaction times were measured to create a baseline. They were then observed three more times, texting manually and using two different voice activated texting programs (Siri and Vlingo). Test subject reaction times to lights that came on at random times on the course were measured in each of the driving scenarios.
The study showed that, if the driver chose to visually verify the contents of the text, the voice activated texting systems offered no safety advantage over manual texting.
According to the TTI website, other findings from the study showed:
- Driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used. In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting. With slower reaction times, drivers are less able to take action in response to sudden roadway hazards, such as a swerving vehicle or a pedestrian in the street.
- The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
- For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.
- Drivers felt less safe when they were texting, but felt safer when using a voice-to-text application than when texting manually, even though driving performance suffered equally with both methods.