Don't Let Obsolete Driving Techniques Put You in Harm's Way

It can be hard to hear your kids call your beloved television show reruns, choice of music, hairstyle, and/or clothes old school, but you'll have to remember that you probably didn't exactly jive with your parent's choices either. While Elvis's Rubbernecking may forever play in your head and never become dated in your eyes, you should realize that your driving techniques may be one dated area truly in need of an update. The advances made to automotive technology and in safety research have likely made most of what you learned as a new driver not only dated, but dangerous.

Here are six tips to bring your driving skills up-to-date and avoid jeopardizing your safety, as well as those around you.

1. Seat position - airbags have made seat positioning an important safety issue for drivers and passengers. When airbags were first placed in vehicles, they caused some serious injuries to drivers seated too close during a deployment. Even modern de-powered airbags can deploy at 150 mph and cause serious injuries if the driver isn't seated at a safe distance. Position your seat 10-12 inches from the steering wheel.

2. Hand position - you probably learned to keep your hands palm-side down at 10 o'clock and 12 o'clock as you grip the steering wheel. Today, it's recommended that your left hand be at 8 o'clock and your right hand be at 4 o'clock to help prevent your arms from tiring during prolonged driving. It's also recommended to place your thumbs atop the steering wheel and wrap your fingers underneath the wheel.

3. Wheel turns - you probably learned the hand-over-hand method of turning the steering wheel. It's now recommended to use a push-pull-slide method where one hand pushes the wheel up as the other hand pulls it down. Neither forearm will cross the steering wheel hub, and neither hand will leave the steering wheel. The upward pushing hand continues to push as it slides back to it's original positioning. Meanwhile, the other hand is sliding back as it continues to pull. The driving technique is aimed at reducing the risk of hitting yourself in the face if your airbag were to deploy.

4. Normal breaking - it's been discovered that you have the greatest control over breaking when you keep your heel on the floorboard and normally break with the toes. Ensure that you judge stopping distances accurately in order to use the same degree of braking pressure from the time you first break until the vehicle actually comes to a complete stop.

5. Breaking on slick surfaces - leave the transmission in drive and remove your foot from the accelerator if you're breaking on a slick surface area. The drag of engine compression will help the vehicle to slow down quicker.

6. Emergency breaking - anti-lock breaking systems, or ABS, mean that you no longer need to pump the breaks. During emergency breaking, just maintain a firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. Remember to steer in the direction you need the vehicle to go.

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