Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Posts Tagged ‘nhtsa’

The driver’s error factor to Toyota’s acceleration problem

Posted by lapearce on March 9, 2010

This Prius driver called 911 when his car accelerated up to 90mph, a police officer yelled at him to hit the brakes before stopping the car with his bumper

No one wants to be behind the wheel of a runaway car that accelerates on its own. Toyota’s brand is going to be damaged for years to come by this problem and their response to it. But there is an even bigger problem here than sticky accelerators: the drivers who lack the common sense to stop the cars themselves.

To clear the air on the point I’m trying to make: cars shouldn’t accelerate on their own. This problem shouldn’t exist in the first place and it is inexcusable that Toyota allowed so many cars to be made with this problem. But that doesn’t excuse the absolutely clueless drivers who can’t figure out how to put a car in neutral or slam on the brakes. The problem isn’t just with a worn pedal or a misplaced floor mats, it’s with how we are training our drivers and the amount of skills the average driver possesses.

As drivers we are becoming increasingly dependent on our cars to do things for us. We have anti-lock brakes to keep our brakes from locking up. Traction control to keep us from spinning out. Lane departure warnings to tell us when we are leaving our lane. Blind spot indicators to tell us when a car is next to us. Tire pressure monitors that tell us when our tires need air. Automatic transmissions that shift themselves and cruise control that lets the engine accelerate on its own. Plus hundreds of other little computers doing tasks that humans used to do. Not all technology is bad, ABS for example is great, but many of these features are dumbing down the driving population and leading to a generation of drivers who can’t even find neutral on a gear selector.

Now the National Highway Traffic Safety Institution is thinking about solving the problem by adding in yet another computer to do the job for us. The agency is considering mandating that all new cars have an override system where when you hit the brakes it overrides the gas. This technology will be the fatal shot to the already dying manual transmission. Goodbye downshifting, good bye fun, goodbye the last standout of drivers’ input in a world of cars that do everything for you. It is ridiculous and unnecessary too because hitting the brakes in a runaway Toyota will already stop the car.

We need to step up as a society and not just demand Toyota make safer cars, but demand that drivers be given the education they need to solve these problems without the addition of new nanny systems and government oversight. We need to raise voices in concern about all of the electronics that are in control of cars today and ask how necessary they are. Do they really help or are they hurting us by giving us an illusion of safety and reducing our skills to take control when the systems give it up?

No one should have died because of Toyota’s unintended acceleration problem. Everyone should have been able to put the car into neutral and hit the brakes. And if Toyota has some computer that doesn’t allow the driver of the car to do that—then that’s another problem all together.


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Michigan puts activism before safety in drivers training

Posted by lapearce on November 30, 2009

Michigan is not in good financial state right now. Most states aren’t, but as far as financial woes go, Michigan is at the forefront with many of its bread-winning companies (GM, Chrysler) struggling to survive, corruption in its government and other serious problems. The state is running in the red and has the highest unemployment rate in the nation– 15.1% as of 11/20. Michigan has issues, but one of those issues is not a lack of environmental awareness among new drivers. However, some representatives in Michigan seem to think this problem is pressing enough to pursue when entire towns are being boarded up and abandoned due to the economic crisis.

Driver’s education should be the place where teens learn how to drive. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case in America. Our standards for licensing are incredibly poor and this is reflected in the high number of fatal teen crashes in the nation’s roads. Teens learn more about how to pass the drivers test and how a yield sign works than how to actually drive. They are not taught how to avoid crashes and they are not taught safe driving practices to help ensure they are never in the place where they need to avoid a crash. Michigan also lacks solid graduated drivers license laws. So not only is the state not teaching teens how to drive, its not offering them adequate protection once they get their license. But instead of fixing these problems two legislatures would rather cultivate new tree huggers in an education model that will only cause more crashes and more deaths.

Now, let me get something straight. I’m not anti-environment. I’m not for raping the earth just for our consumption. I don’t go out and hug many trees, but I do my part. I buy local and organic, I use reusable shopping bags, I drive a car that gets pretty good fuel economy, I take public transportation. Oh, and I vote Republican. But I’m a moderate. So I’m not against things like carpool or public transportation, I’m just against using the precious few hours teens spend in drivers education talking about these things instead of talking about, oh, you know– driving.

Michigan lawmakers  Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, and Dan Scripps, D-Leland have put forth a bill that would require drivers education to teach about buying fuel efficient cars and the benefits of carpooling and using public transportation. On its surface this may seem rather benign, but it is far from that.

First off: fuel efficient cars. Ok, whats wrong with that? Well, many fuel efficient cars sacrifice handling, braking and safety for the sake of a few miles per gallon. We’ve had a tug of war battle between safety and fuel economy in this nation since both environmentalism and Nader’s car safety campaign began in the 1970s. The sad fact is that these two agendas conflict with each other.

The Untied State’s CAFE standards kill people every year. CAFE is the US standards on fuel economy that started in the 1970s.  Manufactures are fined for not meeting standards, pushing them to make more fuel efficient cars. But fuel efficiency doesn’t always equal safety. Simply physics is that more weight protects you in a crash. Safety systems such as airbags, ABS brakes, traction control, and crumple zones are all heavy. So are powerful motors, navigation control, and heated motorized leather seats that the consumer demands. Throw all of these things into a car and you have one heavy vehicle… and that weight decreases fuel economy. So to increase fuel economy, manufacturers started to use lighter materials to make cars. The effect: 46,000 fatalities since CAFE was inacted that would have been avoided with better made cars. That’s 7,700 deaths for every mpg gained.

Prius are heavy and narrow, they handle and stop poorly which can lead to crashes

I’m not advocating that everyone drives Excurions guzzling gallons of gas a minute, but I also don’t think that the Prius and other fuel efficient cars are good choices for most people. Michigan has pretty bad weather, by focusing on fuel efficiency you may put kids who should be driving higher clearance AWD cars for the conditions in FWD cars that can’t handle snow as well, increasing crashes. What if you play sports? A little hatch back may not be the best option to haul around your gear. By emphasizing fuel efficiency only you are ignoring the different needs of different drivers. You are also ignoring other points of consideration for new cars such as safety, price and maintenance needs. This is before you even consider the fact that the average 16 year old isn’t the one going out and buying their first car, it is usually mom or dad.

Second problem: carpooling. There is a very good reason why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that teens not be allowed to carry passengers until they’ve had their license for a year. Teen drivers with ONE passenger in the car are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a teen driver driving along. Twice as likely. They are distracting and the lead to peer pressure. Teens are more likely to show off when they have other teens in the car in order to look cool for their friends– a trait that has lead to many crashes. Michigan does not include passenger restrictions in their graduated drivers laws. Instead of asking why not, these two legislature are taking advantage in the flaws in the system to further their agendas. By encouraging carpooling they will kill kids.

Yes, carpooling saves gas, it keeps miles of the car, it makes Mother Nature sing a loving song right out of a Disney movie, but it is also dangerous. Ask any parent what is more important to them: saving a few bucks a month on fuel economy or having their child reach 17. I think we all know how that one is going to end.

Well what about public transportation? I think public transportation is great. I use the train myself quite a bit instead of driving. I don’t have any objection to teaching teens about public transportation… in another venue. Why teach drivers about not driving? Isn’t that like teaching math in history class? It doesn’t make sense to be in driver’s education at all. There is also probably a safety aspect here to teenage girls taking public transportation late at night too that I’m sure many parents would have issue with.

Our teens get precious little education when it comes to driving. It is a big problem that should be addressed. It has been said that if teen driving was a disease that killed 5,000 teens each year the nation would be in an uproar. Everyone would be trying to find a cure, there would be walks, donation drives, etc, but the fatal teen driving epidemic cannot be cured by a pill, it can only be cured by more and higher quality education. I feel there is a huge flaw in our system of government when it comes to setting laws. We entrust people without actual knowledge in issues to create laws for them. If either Bert Johnson or Dan Scripps of Michigan had any worthwhile drivers education and experience, or if either of them had just bothered to look at the NHTSA teen driving page, they would realize their law was a bad idea.

Stop taking driving out of drivers training! We need more in car education not less. Take your environmental agenda to a place that is more approrpaite and leave drivers training for drivers training!

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Worst driving invention ever?

Posted by lapearce on November 23, 2009

Worst idea ever?

Have you ever been driving in your car and think, “wow, this trip would be so much better if I had a desk where I could read or write while I drive?” Apparently some guy with half a brain and enough money to make this a reality did. The result is the laptop steering wheel desk, quite possibly the worst driving aid ever invented.

Is it just some elaborate joke? No, it’s not. First it takes money to put something on Amazon, secondly, the makers, Mobile Gear, have an actual Web site where you can buy it as well.

I’m going to take this out of the hoax category and firmly in the bad-ideas-that-actually-exist category right next to the Snuggie and the the Big Top Cupcake Maker (easily worst problem-solution commerical on TV right now). The big difference is that you don’t risk your life by wearing an over sized backwards robe or by making ridiculously big cupcakes. Unless, of course, you trip on the robe or get heart disease from the cholesterol in the cupcakes, but you would be risking your life every time you used the laptop steering wheel desk.

I cannot imagine why anyone would think this was a good idea. Distracted driving killed about 6,000 people in 2008. This is more than all of the teen driving deaths in the United States that same year. Distracted driving, or inattention, is one of the major causes of crashes in the United States.

So lets put a desk on people’s steering wheel that allows them to multitask while they drive… brilliant!

Luckily, many of the people who found the Laptop Steering Wheel Desk on Amazon realized it was a bad idea. They blanketed the site with false reviews and photos that pointed out the inherent danger of the device. Here are some of my favorites:

"Even works in super luxury GT cars. Desk floats to keep your expensive electronics dry."

"I gave these out as gifts to people in the office. The best part was we could all browse the web while waiting for the emergency crews to arrive."

"Makes driving and working a breeze"

"Enhances social networking"

“Wow is this thing great! I use it as a “mini-bar” when the friends and I go out to the bars. I can quickly fix multiple shots of tequila for myself and the friends as we drive from one bar to the next.!”

“One cautionary note be careful of those jerks that stop at yellow lights, my poor mother rear ended one and the airbag drove the desk back into her stomach which ruptured her spleen, well after a short down time I’m glad to say she is back on the road and cranking out those NY Times crosswords once again. Thanks Laptop Steering Wheel Desk you have made my mothers life more complete.”

“This product is so awesome for freeway driving and makes reloading your handgun while changing lanes a breeze. The only thing missing is a cupholder for my tequila. I attached a pen on a string to mine to mark my hits and misses.”

If you would like to tell the manufacturer of this product that they are complete morons, please call:

Mobile Gear


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Ford admits that costly blind spot system are pointless

Posted by lapearce on August 21, 2009

Volvo and Ford offers this. I think Mercedes does too. It drives me up the wall. In case you haven’t seen the ad it looks like this:

“Alex is about to collide with a motorcycle that is squarely in his blind spot…” but because his Volvo has the nifty Blind Spot Information System (BLIS because BSIS isn’t as catchy) system, he’ll be alerted to it and not kill the dumb motorcycle driver who is trying to pass him on the right when he has his turn blinker on. However, Alex wouldn’t need to rely on his fancy $700-$1,600 (cheaper on the Volvo than on a Ford believe it or not) dollar BLIS system  if he just adjusted his mirrors properly.

I can hear you getting mad already. But all cars have a blind spot, you are thinking. No, they don’t. In a New York Time’s interview Ford’s chief safety engineer, Steve Kozak, says that proper adjustment of the side mirrors illuminates blind spots. But adds, most drivers don’t adjust their mirrors that way so BLIS is a valuable safety aid.

Steve Kozak, Ford’s chief safety engineer, acknowledged that side mirrors can be set to eliminate the blind zone. But most drivers don’t adjust their mirrors that way so BLIS is a valuable safety aid, he said.

Que the head banging.

The problem starts when we are 15 1/2 and we are sitting in driver’s ed. And the instructor, who we all assume knows what he’s talking about because someone said he could  teach us all how to drive, teaches us SMOG: signal, mirror, over the shoulder, go, as the proper way to change lanes. Why look over your shoulder trusty driving instructor? One may ask. Why, he says, to check your blind spot. But why is there a blind spot trusty driving instructor? Because the DMV says so.

On page 12 of the handbook designed to help parents teach their teens how to drive in California it clearly says that to change lanes you need to “check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder” In the section on page 5 about preparing to drive it has one line about mirrors, and that is, “adjust the mirrors” but how? The DMV doesn’t say. The DMV doesn’t tell teens the proper way to adjust their mirrors so that they don’t have a blind spot, because the DMV in all its infinite wisdom doesn’t believe it is possible. All they’d have to do is adjust the mirrors as columnist Christopher Jensen explains in the article and see that the blind spot is gone. But that would probably mean getting a multi-million dollar grant to confirm. Gotta love bureaucracy.

Drivers think that blind spots exist because they were taught they exist when they were learning how to drive. Better information from licensing organizations would solve this problem.

Steve is right. There is no blind spot if the mirrors are properly adjusted. Ford (who owns Volvo in case you didn’t know) could have saved millions in research and development if instead of developing a camera that flashes a red light when ever a car is next to you instead they produced a small pamphlet on how to adjust the mirrors and distributed it to all their dealerships. The salespeople could be taught how to adjust mirrors and as they teach the buyer all the features of their new car help them adjust their mirrors. Problem solved for the cost of 2 minutes of a salesperson’s time.

Of course, if you still don’t believe me that blind spots are myths (I would love to come adjust your mirrors and prove you wrong and highly suggest you try the method mentioned in the article for yourself) I offer you the less expensive option to solve them. The two dollar blind spot mirror. Now go take that 700 you saved on your BLIS system and send it at on a quality driving school.

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NHTSA knew risks about cell phones but did not act!

Posted by lapearce on July 21, 2009

What would cause a public agency that was formed to protect you, the consumer, to sit on hundreds of pages of research that said driving while talking on the phone was dangerous? Why would provoke an agency that’s mission is to: “save lives, prevent injuries and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes, through education, research, safety standards and enforcement activity.” to not do what it was formed to do?


Or at least, the fear of Congress. That is what provoked the NHTSA to not act on undeniable proof that cell phones lead to crashes. The agency worried that if it was to start promoting this research to the states it would come off as lobbying. It worried that if Congress thought it was lobbying, it would pull billions of transportation funds from the agency.

The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen used the public information act to access this information, uncovering quite the scandal in the NHTSA, the Transportation Department, and potentially the House Appropriations Committee. The documents can be views here. In one of the memos uncovered these quotes:

“We nevertheless have concluded that the use of cellphones while driving has contributed to an increasing number of crashes, injuries and fatalities.”

“We therefore recommend that the drivers not use wireless communication devices, including text messaging systems, when driving, except in an emergency.”

NHTSAs mission is to save lives... by hiding information that can save lives?

NHTSA's mission is to save lives... by hiding information that can save lives?

In total, cell phones have been blamed for 955 fatalities and 240,000 accidents  in 2002. These numbers have most likely increased since cell phone use has increased from 77 percent of adults to 89 percent of adults from 2006.

The rational behind the decision of the Transportation Department is mind boggling. Here is an organization designed to save lives, and yet they are sitting on information that could save lives because they don’t want to lose funding?

Director of the Center for Auto Safety, Clarence Ditlow put it this way: “We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up.”

So what will come of this? A slap on the hand? Or worse? Perhaps lawsuits from those injured or by the family members of people who were killed? I think it is common sense that talking on the phone and driving is dangerous. I don’t think we need a government agency to spend millions of dollars to confirm that cell phone use while driving is dangerous. But the reasoning for not confirming this is completely unacceptable.

Ditmore says it well: “No public health and safety agency should allow its research to be suppressed for political reasons,” and doing so “will cause deaths and injuries on the highways.”

We need to see where else this is happening. What other agencies aren’t doing potentially life saving research for fear of losing funding? And why would Congress pull funding when an agency does its job? Changes obviously need to be made.

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Why the gov’s new tire label is dangerous

Posted by lapearce on June 19, 2009

We pride ourselves on being a ‘car culture’ in this country, but this is a misnomer. Most of us don’t care at all about cars. We don’t care about handling or the dynamics of the car. Most of us just want something that is either big and comfortable, or reliable and fuel efficient that gets us where we need to go. We aren’t a car culture at all, we’re a driving culture.

It makes sense then that that in this driving culture masquarading as a car culture that the government can do something so stupid as waste money to provide people with information that is already provided and put fuel efficiency over safety.

Here is the sticker that the National Traffic Highway Saftey Administration spent your tax dollars researching and designing:

The label by law will need to be attached to all new tires so motorists can see (in order of importance, I guess) efficiency/green house rating, safety and longevity.

My first problem with this system is TIRES ALREADY HAVE ALL OF THIS INFORMATION ON THEM! The only thing is that the average consumer is too apathetic to learn how to decipher what the information on a tire means. With all the 4 for $100 tire deals that people take part in it is obvious that safety is not the most important thing to many people when it comes to buying tires: its price and how long the tire will last.

No one is told about how important tires are to your safety when they get their license, or even later on in life, which brings me to my second problem about this rating system: it puts fuel economy above safety.

Your tires are the ONLY thing connecting you to the ground, and their ONLY job is to keep you connected to the ground.

What tires are on your car, proper inflation, and wear are almost important as having working brakes. I get a lot of odd looks for this statement, but it is true. If you do not have grip, if your tire is not keeping you connected to the ground and you are sliding, it doesn’t matter what brakes you have: you will not stop. A “low rolling resistance” tire may be more fuel efficient, but it won’t stick to the ground like a high rolling resistance tire will. That resistance, that stickiness is what is keeping you connected to mother earth. And if you have ever been in a car that has lost traction and slid, you will know first hand how important that rolling resistance, that grip, is.

The Prius handles so poorly that we dont allow them to go faster than 30mph on our course fo the safety of the student

In the class I teach we have the students drive the car they will drive when they get their license. We get quite the ecletcic mix of vehicles, but my favorite are the Priuses (Prix) because of how absolutely horrible they are.

The Prius is a perfect point and case to my argument that people care more about fuel economy and reliability than they do safety. The car is very heavy because of the batteries, very narrow for fuel economy, and Toyota put these heavy, narrow cars on the skinniest, hardest, “lowest roll resistant” Goodyear tire they could have possibly found. The result? A vehicle that can’t keep up with an SUV in a turn. But hey, it gets good fuel economy right?

Well, that good fuel economy could be the difference between avoiding a crash and being in one. This isn’t just about Prix now, this is about all cars with rock hard, 85,000 mile tires that are good for the environment, but bad for consumers. According to Continental Tires these eco-friendly low emission tires have less grip and take longer to stop:

“extremely low rolling resistance and high mileage [tires] are 10-percent worse at wet braking than those with good all-round properties.” In one example, the eco friendly tires increased braking distance by more than 24 feet.

You want to talk about harm to the environment? How about getting new body parts manufactured out of plastic and metal, shipped to your body shop, painted and installed, then the old parts thrown in a junk yard. Or having your whole car sit in a junk yard because it was totalled. Or all of the harm the pharmacuticals you may be given after your crash do to the aquatic ecosystem, or all the plastics involved in medicine.

Why? All because you wanted to get .1 mpg more?

You may say, “But Lauren, they show the tire’s safety on the label!” No, they show the tire’s wet traction on the label, which in my educated opinion is not the same as safety. Many tires that do well in the wet do not do well in the dry. That information may be great for you in Seattle, but if you live in a place where it is sunnier more days than it is rainy then buying a tire based on its wet traction may not be the best idea for you, as you will be forfitting safety on dry days. Wet traction is important, but it is not the be all and end all of safety when it comes to chosing a tire. Tirerack has a great tire buying guide that shows both wet and dry traction.

It’s just not worth it people. If you want to get better fuel economy then follow these tips on how to drive. You’ll save a lot more money, and by not tailgating, leaving more room to stop and accelerating slower you’ll also reduce your crash risk. Take it from me. My car is rated 18/26 for fuel economy, but following those tips I was able to get 34mpg with wide, high rolling resistance, un-eco-friendly tires and freeway driving. That is a 35 percent mileage improvent compared to the 10 percent improvement they boast with these dangerous tires. You’ll get the same mpg gain by just keeping your tires properly inflated as you would by switching to an eco-friendly tire.

Skimping on tires just isn’t worth it. It isn’t safe and it could mean the difference between life and death. Trust me, the minuet differences in emmissions from a low rolling resistance tire and a high rolling resistance tire isn’t going to save the world, but it might save your life.

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Most deadly time for new drivers is here

Posted by lapearce on May 29, 2009

Jonathan Schulte and Gillian Sabet

Prom, graduation, late summer nights… put all those things together and you get a deadly combination for teen drivers. Each year there is an increase in crashes among teen drivers during this time.  I can remember deadly crashes happening in the area every year, each one just as tragic as the last. Young lives cut tragically short while celebrating the end of another school year, the passage of another milestone, or just a Tuesday night with no school on Wednesday.

The crash that I remember the most, the crash that many people in Orange County can’t forget, happened four years ago this past Tuesday on May 26, 2005.

It was prom night at Servite High School.  Jonathan Schulte and Gillian (Jill) Sabet were passangers of their friend’s SUV as their rode to the dance.  On the way the driver became distracted and the car started to drift. She over corrected causing the vehicle to roll killing both Jonathan and Gillian.

What distracted the driver? She was looking for a piece of gum.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jill’s parents at a recent AAA Teen Driving Safety Fair. They, like so many other parents, were moved to act after the death of their daughter, forming Journey Safe, which teaches teens about the danger of distractions. Their site has a beautiful memorial to both Jill and Jonathan, and says so elequently what should have happened to Jill and Jonathan instead of the fate they were met with:

Jill and Jonathan should have lived long and happy lives. They should have experienced the joy of their senior year in high school, graduation and college. They should have traveled around the world with their friends the way they wanted to. Whether to each other or to someone else, they should have married one day; they should have had children to love as they were loved so deeply by their own parents.

There are 6,000 stories that happen every year that are similar to Jonathan’s and Jill’s. For those that have been lost, their stories need to be remembered, and their legacies need to live on. For those still with us, there are steps that can be taken to help ensure that they make it to see another school year.

Three ways to protect your teen driver this summer:

  1. If you have a teen driver, enroll them in a supplemental car control clinic. Getting them behind the wheel teaching them safe driving practices is the best way to ensure their safety. These classes can cost a few hundred dollars, however, the cost is usually less than the insurance deductible if your child is in a crash. Here is a list of some upcoming classes I have found.
  2. Talk to your child about the dangers on the road. Believe it or not, they will listen to you. A survey of teens by NHTSA found that when it comes to driving, teens listen to their parents more than any other authority. So sit them down and talk to them about driving safely. I have links to AAA and NHTSA on the side that have good information on what to talk about.
  3. Set up a parent-teen driving contract. Teens with parents who set restrictions are 7x less likely to be involved in a crash. Don’t be afraid to set restrictions. Remind your child that driving is a privilege, not a right, and that they can lose that privilege if they do not respect it. The AAA Parent-Teen Driving Contract is very good.

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Mock DUI crashes aim to influence teens

Posted by lapearce on March 24, 2009

Even though the drinking age in the US is 21, and the under aged drinking and driving laws tend to be incredibly strict, 2,000 teens die each year in alcohol related crashes nation-wide.

So, once again, it is a private organization, and not the DMV, trying to do something about it. MADD is doing drunk driving crash simulations in Orange and Villa Park high schools this week to demonstrate to teens what can happen when you mix alcohol with driving.

The simulations are powerful. People lying “dead” in pools of blood, fire fighters cutting people out of cars with Jaws of Life. The hope is that this fear factor will influence teens to not drink and drive.

While I respect and truly admire the DMV’s strong stance on under aged drunk driving, they could do more. Like many other driving laws, they work based on punishment for bad actions, instead of education of what not to do. They hope that the punishment will deter the crime, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way with many new drivers.

According to a 2006 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens need to get this message. To quote: “The teen participants do not see anything wrong with underage drinking and very little wrong with driving after having consumed just a beer or two. Many believe they can tell when they are too drunk to drive.” Even though they felt they could tell when someone was too drunk too drive, none of them could list the symptoms.

Many of the kids in the focus group said that they had driven after drinking. One of the main reasons why they did was because they were afraid to tell their parents or had no other way home. Again, time to get the parents involved! A teen driver calling their parents when they’ve had something to drink will result in far less punishment than the same teen driving drunk and getting pulled over or involved in a crash.

Symptoms are easy to teach. It is something they should be able to identify. However, I  feel that .08 or .02 are really arbitrary, what does that mean to anyone who has never used a Breathalyzer? There needs to be another way to describe having too much to drink. There needs to be more in-school education like what MADD is doing, as well as use of beer goggles to show how much skills are impaired when drunk. Until you really show kids what can happen, I don’t think they will get it. There are also a number of safe ride organizations out there that can get a drunk kid home safely without involving the parents. These things should be spoken about. We can’t treat under aged drinking like we teach sex in school. If we pretend it doesn’t happen and hope it won’t happen we are doing a great disservice to these children. We need to acknowledge that teenagers drink and address the problem. That is the only way it will go away.

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NHTSA to force technology to remove “blind spots”

Posted by lapearce on February 14, 2009

The economy is the biggest thing on every one’s mind right now. Up to the top is also the fate of the car companies, and how they will survive when many of them are seeing double-digit profit declines. It is a head-smacking, what are they thinking, time when you learn that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is wasting ours, and the car companies’ money, by fixing yet another problem that doesn’t really exist.

According to Autoblog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is going to start mandating blind spot removal devices on all cars. These devices include: “additional mirrors, cameras or sensors, as well as brake interlock systems that won’t allow cars to shift out of park without the application of the brakes.” I have a question for the NHTSA, why don’t you just teach people how to use their mirrors?

The fact is that there is no such thing of a blind spot unless you are in a large vehicle, in which case there is a blind spot behind the back window. Blind spots are created by the driver, and are easily solved by proper mirror placement. Most people have their mirrors adjusted so that they can see the side of their car. Why? It’s going the same place the front of the car is. This causes a large overlap in view between the side mirrors and back mirrors, and completely eliminates any view ahead of the rear quarter panel.

To remove your blind spot, you don’t need a computer to beep at you when a vehicle is beside you, or another mirror to look at the blind spot, or a camera, all you need to do is push your mirror out a little. Press your head against the glass of the driver’s side window and adjust your mirror so you can barily see the side of it. Then, move your body so that your head is in the middle of the car (in front of the rear view mirror) and adjust the passanger mirror so that you can see a small part of the car. Now, when you look in your mirrors you won’t have any blind spot! It will take a little bit of time to get used to, but it works.

There, I just saved the US Government and the car markers millions of dollars.

This illustration shows how properly adjusted mirrors remove blind spots:

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