Classic driver's education advice is to place your hands at "10" and "2" on the wheel, but this and other nuggets of wisdom are actually outdated and potentially dangerous. Mac Demere, a teacher at B.R.A.K.E., a nonprofit advanced teen driving nonprofit created by drag racing superstar Doug Herbert after his two teenage sons were killed in an unavoidable accident, has the following updated driving advice.
- Use the full power of the anti-lock brake system (ABS). Demere teaches his students the "stomp, stay, steer" technique when using the ABS. He says that most drivers are afraid of unleashing the full power of the ABS, but that it can help drivers avoid crashing into easily avoidable obstacles. To use Demere's technique, first stomp hard on the brakes, then stay on the pedal. Ignore the nasty sounds and pulses of the pedal beneath your foot; you are not hurting the car. Finally, steer around the obstacle since ABS also allows you to steer while you stomp.
- Remain calm. One of the easiest thing for inexperienced drivers to do is to freak out when they find themselves in a less than desirable situation. For example, overcorrecting is a common reaction when a driver accidentally veers into a lane. Instead of gently guiding the car back into the lane, drivers may jerk the wheel, leading to accidents or deaths. When you find yourself getting out of your lane, ease off the accelerator, allow the car to slow down on its own, look ahead for a safe place to get back on the road, and gently steer back into the lane.
- Use "thumb hangers". Forget the old 10 and 2 rule of where to place your hands on the steering wheel. Most modern steering wheels have natural "thumb hangers" to help you place your hands in the appropriate position so that when the airbag goes off in an accident, it won't injure your hands.
- Train yourself to react. Even the most experienced driver can be involved in an accident and if you aren't prepared for it, you will fail. Demere gives his teenage drivers a test where they are to imagine that a driver has stopped abruptly in the middle of a three-lane road. Two cars are tailgating her and quickly veer to the right and left to avoid rear-ending her car but reveal her stopped vehicle just as the teen driver is approaching. However, the teen still has two seconds to react (if they have properly prepared) and they can also veer into a side lane without hitting her car.
Keep these driving tips in mind the next time you hit the road; they aren't just good for teenage drivers.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.