Posted by: safedriver | May 17, 2016

Let the countdown begin

IMG_20160517_081009Think back to when you were a kid. You were taught over and over again how to safely cross the street. As we got older and had kids of our own, we taught them the same things. We wanted to be good pedestrians and for that matter, safe pedestrians. Once we began to drive we used the same knowledge from being a pedestrian to become a driver, but was that really a good idea?

For years many drivers often relied upon the crosswalk lights to let them as drivers know if the traffic light was about to change. Not really a good idea. The pedestrian crosswalk light is for the pedestrians; not the drivers of vehicles. I would often see drivers I’m training reducing their speed just because the “don’t walk” hand was flashing. Umm, that light is letting pedestrians know they shouldn’t attempt to cross the road if they haven’t already started. Oh, and by the way, while the “don’t walk” light is flashing, the traffic light is still green. So in reality you’re slowing down for a green light. Sounds silly now doesn’t it?

With many jurisdictions now using “countdown lights” to let pedestrians know how much time they have to clear the crosswalk and perhaps even letting pedestrians decide not to enter the crosswalk at all. These countdown lights are helping reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities in many jurisdictions. However, many drivers are using that same technology to help them determine if they have time to clear the intersection. But that may be a whole other wrong.

IMG_20160517_081016To avoid getting a ticket for running a red light, many drivers are hitting the gas to help them clear the intersection before the traffic light changes from green to yellow (amber). However those actions can affect other drivers who may be turning left across their path. It can create a collision or close call to say the least because the gap they thought was large enough to turn through has gotten smaller much quicker. Besides, speeding up to “make the light” is never worth it as the time you would save is never enough. If drivers are accelerating toward an intersection because of what the numbers show them, they will have less time to take corrective action to avoid a pedestrian, and have less control of their vehicle.

The other problem that I’ve seen are when drivers slow down thinking they don’t have enough time to get through the intersection. Again; slowing down for a green light for no apparent reason is never a good idea. It confuses the drivers in the opposite direction who may want to turn across your path. It can also frustrate the drivers behind. Here’s a few other thoughts; http://www.ctvnews.ca/autos/countdown-crosswalk-signals-leading-to-more-crashes-study-1.1233782

So here’s the plan; let pedestrians use the crosswalk symbols and countdown numbers for their purpose and you as a driver use the traffic lights for your purpose. Look ahead and make the decision whether to stop or proceed if the light changes from green before it changes. If you need a little more help to determine if you should stop or not if the green light changes, this will help you http://bit.ly/9mdwbB instead of a few numbers in the crosswalk.

Posted by: safedriver | May 11, 2016

If the unexpected is expected is it really unexpected?

procrastinating2Let’s face facts, there are a lot of things we trust in our lives, especially when it comes to driving. We trust drivers will stop at red lights and not blow through the intersection, we expect drivers will check to see if it’s clear before changing lanes and we never expect to get into a collision. However, the reality of life is we can’t really trust too many things…except yourself. Trusting other people while driving can often put you at risk.

For the decades that I’ve been involved with road safety I’ve seen a lot; maybe too much and maybe not enough yet. Time will tell. What I do see every day is trust – blind trust. The trust I’m referring to is trust with the drivers around us. With so much happening in our lives these days it’s very common to lose track of what’s happening around us that serious mistakes tend to happen.

Over these many years I’ve taken out countless licensed drivers to assess their driving ability. Like most people, they get sucked into what’s happening around them that doesn’t pertain to their own driving. This takes their eyes – and thoughts – away from their own driving. They lose track of what may be coming from behind or the sides. Next thing you know their turn is coming up and they aren’t in the proper lane. This happened around me recently.

While I was in the left lane preparing to make a left turn up the road, the driver to my right suddenly turned left, just ahead of me. Was I startled? Nope. Was I annoyed? Not really. I was expecting it. I also know how to judge the movement of vehicles very early; which can be explained here http://bit.ly/1TBqv9W However, many drivers aren’t expecting it and they position their vehicle in the wrong place.

Letting another vehicle stay immediately beside you or slightly ahead of your fender while in traffic can lead to problems. When those drivers suddenly realize they have to make their turn and you just happen to be in their way, it spells trouble. To avoid this type of trouble, adjust speed when another vehicle occupies the space directly beside your vehicle. Either speeding up or slightly dropping speed will create a gap between your vehicle and their vehicle. This will place that vehicle slightly ahead or behind you and give those drivers room to make those unexpected lane changes or turns. Granted, in heavier traffic this means you’re going to have to work harder to keep that space, but I think it’s worth it.

We need to learn to position our vehicle in traffic to avoid being involved in the mistakes of others. We also have to avoid making so many of those same mistakes. Driving is a task that takes concentration and commitment. Put everything else aside and do the job of a driver. This keeps you ready for the unexpected, which makes me ask this question; if the unexpected is expected is it really unexpected?

Posted by: safedriver | April 28, 2016

Head on collisions can be avoided…

head onEvery now and then we’re faced with a surprise; and not a good kind of surprise like a birthday party, or tickets to the big game. Surprises that can put us into a panic are never a good thing. One of the worst kinds of surprises is the potential head on crash. Would you know what to do if you’re faced with someone coming directly at you in your lane?

Head on collisions can be avoided, but the driver has to be prepared. What I mean by that is to be ready at all times and plan ahead. The first thing each driver should do is to constantly keep looking ahead and moving their eyes from side to side. Glancing well ahead toward the oncoming traffic is always a good idea. Never expect the traffic to stay in their own lane. Constant glances toward their wheels and the lane markings will give you advanced notification if they may be drifting across the line and into your lane. This early notification can give you the added time needed to move safely out of their way. (Judging wheel movement is explained more HERE)

Being able to avoid a head on collision starts well before you need to avoid the crash. Constantly planning where you can move to is a good habit to get into. On many highways and rural roads there is a shoulder, mostly gravel, which can be used. In many cases drivers panic and hit the brakes, but braking just delays the oncoming driver from hitting you. Knowing the shoulder is available is a good thing.

Once you realize you need to avoid this crash, look well ahead along the edge of the shoulder, maintain your speed, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and move slightly onto the gravel shoulder. Leaving your left side tires on the pavement will allow you to keep traction while the other two wheels are on a loose surface with less traction. Move over far enough to allow for enough space for the oncoming driver to pass. Making this move early allows for the driver who made the mistake of entering your lane time to see what you’re doing to help the situation so they can pass safely. Moving over later may mean a head on collision on the shoulder. Once it’s safe, look well ahead into the middle of your lane and gently ease back onto the pavement.

Years ago I was teaching one of my students how to avoid a head on collision. We had just practiced the move a couple of times without any traffic near us when up ahead an oncoming driver pulled out from behind a large truck and was coming directly at us. With my hand on the steering wheel for guidance, my student moved the vehicle onto the shoulder to allow the oncoming vehicle to pass.

Everything worked out as it should. However, my student had thought I had “set it up” to have someone come directly at us in our lane. Think about it; we had just practiced the exercise when we had to do it for real. I laughed and explained it was just luck that we had to do it with a real vehicle. I’m still not sure they believed me. However, they now knew head on collisions can be avoided.

Posted by: safedriver | April 12, 2016

Is spring vehicle maintenance really worth it?

repair-1189161_960_720Technically spring is here. I just confirmed with the calendar. In many places I don’t think Mother Nature checks the calendar. However, we do know milder weather will be upon us before we know it. This is a good time for some spring vehicle maintenance after a cold winter has passed through. Proper maintenance now will help your vehicle run at its best during the spring and summer months. Here’s a top five list of basic spring maintenance tips.

  1. Check all of the fluids, not just the oil. When you change the oil and oil filter during regularly scheduled maintenance, you should also check the power steering, brake, and transmission fluids; your windshield washer fluid; and your engine coolant. If these fluid levels are low, you should top them up. You may need to flush these systems or replace them as recommended in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. In some cases, the power steering, brake and coolant systems are closed, so low fluid levels may indicate a leak.
  1. Freezing rain, snow and ice can really do a number on our wiper blades. Scraping the snow and ice from the windshield may have left tears in the rubber which really won’t help your visibility while it rains. Spring is a good time to replace them. Typically windshield wiper blades may last anywhere from 6 months to a year as it is. There’s no better time to replace them than early spring; before those spring showers begin to fall.
  1. Spring is also a good time to have the vehicle’s charging system tested. Cold temperatures can put a strain on the vehicle battery. It’s also a good time to ensure the battery is properly mounted and the connections are clean, tight, and free of corrosion. A wire brush can help clean those terminals and posts. If the battery is older than five years, you want to consider replacing it. If not, check it monthly to ensure it can keep up to the charging system demands.
  1. Driving through deep snow and ice can do some damage to the exhaust system. Ensure you have the exhaust system checked for any leaks, damage and any possible broken supports or hangers. Catching these issues early can save you a bunch of cash.
  1. If you live in a cold weather climate, you’re no stranger to winter and spring potholes. Driving through these potholes can do a number to your tires and rims but also the shocks and struts on the vehicle. During your spring maintenance check, look for cracks, leaks, uneven wear and sidewall bruising on the tires and also bent rims. Bent rims can affect vehicle control plus it may also lead to tire leaks. Damaged shocks and struts can really make a difference for vehicle control during emergency braking. These issues need to be addressed immediately.

These are just the basics of a spring maintenance check which should be done once you know spring has finally arrived. It really is worth it. Not only will a properly maintained vehicle add life to your vehicle, it can allow you to do your job effectively as the driver.

If you like this article, please help support the effort of a new website for safer roads. Support HERE

Posted by: safedriver | April 6, 2016

Do you promote open dialogue?

IMG-20111117-00157I’m a communicator. It’s what I do for a living. I get paid to talk, whether it’s verbally or in print. It’s kind of a nice gig, but I often wonder who is really listening. Are you? As parents we know our kids listen…sometimes. I prompt open dialogue with my kids, especially as they get older and begin driving. It’s important to ensure they know there are rules associated to driving the family vehicle.

When my son wants to borrow the vehicle we ask where he’s going and who he’s going with. It’s not that we’re prying, it’s because we care. Although he’s licenced to drive alone, we always ensure he knows there are times he doesn’t have to drive or need to drive. We’ve often let our kids know if there are any times they feel either they aren’t suitable to drive or they feel the person who IS driving them isn’t suitable to drive they should call us. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, we’ll come and get them. No questions asked. We just want them home safe. This was tested a few months ago.

Just before 3 a.m. my cell phone rang. My son had locked the car keys in the car and noticed after he was finished work in the early morning. Instead of trying to break into the vehicle trying to get the keys or to use up one of his road safety club opportunities, he called me instead. I was there within 15 minutes with the spare key, unlocked the car and went right back home to continue to get my beauty sleep, to which I still need a lot of it. I wasn’t angry or upset. He did what we wanted him to do. He knew to do this because we have open dialogue. He now knows we mean what we said.

We also have open dialogue about driving conditions and responsibility. We discuss the powers of nature such as when the road conditions aren’t ideal and when to drive, how to drive and why. Ensuring they know ‘why’ they must change their driving habits and techniques is important. They’re still young and inexperienced as drivers, but these discussions are a good refresher for them. We also talk about the future with regards to driving decisions made. The questions we want them to ask themselves is “What would happen…?”

What would happen to their insurance if they were caught speeding? What would happen if they had alcohol in their system while driving? What would happen if they crashed? We discussed things that would greatly affect their future and the safety of themselves and other road users. It wasn’t a lecture. It was a discussion. I’m hoping more parents have open dialogue with their kids, especially when it comes to driving. I wonder if open dialogue happened in this family and if not, will it happen now. http://www.citynews.ca/2013/01/03/stunt-driving-speeding-charges-for-driver-clocked-doing-175kmh-on-qew/

My kids and I have open dialogue many times on a variety of topics. Driving just happens to be very close to my heart. I would suggest all parents have these open discussions with their kids. Let them know what appropriate driving conduct is and isn’t for driving the vehicle and what rules you’re imposing on using the family vehicle. Remind them it’s still a privilege and not a right. There should be consequences if the rules get broken. Remember, it’s better to get an early more call from your kid saying they need your help to unlock the vehicle as opposed to an early morning call from the police saying your kid is injured, killed or has been arrested.

Posted by: safedriver | March 27, 2016

If you want to improve road safety, drop the attitude

592088ad4ea19710aa470d6feacfAs a sports fan I enjoy seeing the talented players show how good they really are. The unselfish players who help make those around them even better are the most impressive to me. It shows how much they want to succeed and how much they want others to succeed. When the talented players are being dealt to other teams with very little compensation I often wonder why. These players were their own worst enemy. Their attitude wasn’t helping the team and was hurting those around them; especially themselves. Could this also be similar with drivers?

Let’s face facts; the attitude of drivers is what can make or break whether or not there are road injuries or fatalities. Millions of drivers hurt themselves and those around them each year because of attitude. The “fatal 4” in road safety come to mind here. What are the “fatal 4”? Speeding, distracted driving, lack of seatbelt use and alcohol/drugs are commonly referred to as the “fatal 4” with regard to road safety.

These are all preventable if the driver really cared. Since it’s mostly about attitude, these can be reduced if the driver changed their driving attitude. Drivers who involve themselves with these “fatal 4” believe the bad things won’t happen to them. They belong to the “it won’t happen to me” club. Well, sorry to inform you but it can and will happen to you…and your passengers…and other road users near you…if you don’t change this attitude.

Stubborn, naïve, careless all come to mind here. But there is a solution. Plan ahead. When it comes to speeding, leave early enough so you’re not tempted to speed. Many drivers who speed are often late for their appointment. The reality is, those who speed will often speed toward a red light or stopped traffic. So in reality, speeding may have gained them just a few seconds. Leave sooner so you’re not tempted to speed. And if you know you’ll be late, accept it and learn for the next time. For more on speeding, check HERE.

We’ve heard so much about distracted driving over the years but it still happens. When it happens it’s not because the driver didn’t know the law or how it could affect them or anyone else, it’s because they didn’t think they would be caught, maybe because they thought they were above the law or because they thought “it would only take a few seconds – what’s the harm?”. When distracted driving is causing almost as many injuries and fatalities as impaired driving, it has to stop. It can stop when the driver begins to take ownership of their own actions. Let the passenger make the call or text. Put your phone away until you reach your destination. Install an app on your phone that stops you from using it while driving. There are many more things you can do to avoid distracted driving, but it’s you that has to stop. Distracted driving is more than just a phone. Find out more about distracted driving HERE.

Our vehicles have been designed to become safer each year, but if you’ve noticed, seatbelts are still included in safety devices. Seatbelts keep the driver in an upright position which allows them to maintain control of the vehicle. Without a seatbelt on, the driver can be thrown around the seating compartment. Not only would that create injuries to the driver, but it has a high chance of the driver losing complete control of the vehicle, which would cause passengers or other road users to be injured… or worse. It only takes a few seconds to put on a seatbelt. Even a short trip can lead into an action where the driver has to suddenly brake or swerve to avoid a collision. Sudden braking can also cause unbelted passengers to go flying through the windshield – even from the backseat. Ensure your passengers have their seatbelt on as well. No exceptions. For more information on seatbelts, look HERE.

What can I say about impaired driving that hasn’t already been said over past half century? Drinking doesn’t happen suddenly. Make a plan to avoid driving after, but make this plan before you drink. If you end up having a few drinks when you weren’t planning it, there are things you can do to avoid driving afterwards. Take a cab, stay the night, call a service which will drive you and your vehicle home. These are all the responsible things to do, but it’s better to make these decisions before you’re impaired. More thoughts regarding drinking and driving can be found HERE.

So the plan to avoid road safety injuries and fatalities is easy. Plan ahead and remember that it really could happen to you and the ones you love. Drop the attitude. Lives depend on it.

If you like this article, please help support the effort of a new website for safer roads. Support HERE

learning-to-drive_2I’m reminded of an old joke. Teenager one to teenager two; “My grandfather died in his sleep.” Teenager two; “That sounds peaceful.” Teenager one; “It was for him, but not for his screaming passengers since he was driving at the time.” No one really wants to have their passengers begin screaming, but it does happen. Let’s take a look at a few driving emergencies and what you can do to control the situation…before your passengers begin to scream.

If you’re driving along and your steering fails, it can be pretty scary. The first thing is to recognize when it’s happening. If you attempt to steer to either turn a corner or change lanes and there’s no response from the steering wheel, you know you have steering failure. If this happens, apply the brakes immediately. If you’re in a forced turn such as a sharp curve, brake firmly to avoid going off the road. If it’s a matter of changing lanes, brake in a controlled fashion and call for help once you’re safely stopped.

If you’re driving and the hood flies up, besides screaming, here’s what to do. Although this may not happen very often it can be startling. Gently brake and ease to the side of the road. In many cases you’ll be able to under the hood enough to safely guide you to the curb. Braking hard may cause the hood to slam down again. That could damage the locking mechanism and even cause the windshield to crack through the vibration.

Years ago I was heading out with my 4 kids in the family van. Since the van was left unattended for a while I checked it thoroughly before entering it. I noticed the hood was unlocked and sitting loosely. Someone had added washer fluid and didn’t ensure the hood was closed when they were done. Since I was heading out onto the expressway, there was a good chance the hood would fly up with the force of air coming under the hood. Another reason why I believe in doing a walk around before entering my vehicle. (Explained HERE)

Here’s a good one. What if you’re driving along and your brakes fail? That will sure to get passengers screaming, but it won’t stop your vehicle. Here’s what to do. The moment you hit the brake pedal and it goes to the floor, you know it’s not working. Begin pumping the brakes to see if you can build pressure into the brake system. This also lets drivers behind know you’re trying to stop.

If that doesn’t stop you, apply the parking brake. This may also be known as the emergency brake. Engage the parking brake as firmly as possible without locking it up. If it locks up you can release some pressure slightly and then reapply. Parking brakes can only help you if they’ve been used regularly. (Parking brakes are explained HERE)

If that doesn’t stop you, downshift to the lowest gear immediately; including in an automatic transmission vehicle; not just manual. This pressure will slow the vehicle down significantly, but it won’t stop you. These few steps take only a matter of a few seconds to do, which shows the need to slow down early for routine stops. This gives you extra time to stop in case of emergencies. (Full explanation found HERE)

At slower speeds, if you still can’t stop find something to drive into to absorb your energy. This may include bushes, a garden, the front lawn and perhaps into an empty parked vehicle. No one wants to hit a parked vehicle, but if the only other option is to hit a pedestrian, cyclist or other driver causing injury or worse, it’s not that bad of an option.

Ensuring your vehicle is always properly maintained and checked regularly before driving away can help ensure these emergencies won’t happen. However, being prepared if they do happen can help stop your passengers from screaming.

Posted by: safedriver | March 3, 2016

It’s time to play nice with others…while driving

busI remember as a kid my mom and dad giving back to the community through volunteering. They still do that, especially my dad. I learned from them and have gotten involved in my community as well. If you do the same, doesn’t it feel good knowing your actions are helping someone else? I recommend each of you do the same, but maybe not as you may think.

Giving back to your community can happen in a variety of ways. Since this is The Safe Driver, let’s look at giving back while driving. When I say to give back, I don’t mean to offer your vehicle to some stranger you come across or offer rides to the people who live down the street. I’m talking more about making your drive within your community more pleasant for you and everyone else you meet. We seem to be in a go-go-go mentality these days. We always seem to be in a hurry. It’s time to take a deep breath and relax.

Speeding toward a red light and blocking another driver who wants to change lanes ahead of you just gets you frustrated and perhaps angry at them. It also makes the driver next to you feel the same. Since it’s just a red light, why not let that other driver change lanes and come over? It’s not really going to slow you down from reaching your destination in a timely manner. Besides, there’s no prize for getting to the red light first now is there? Sure, that driver should have changed lanes sooner, but it’s time for you to be the bigger person. Show them how smart and courteous a driver you are. Maybe it will rub off on them.

We need to build, as a community, a cooperative driving culture. Lose the “me-me” attitude. At the intersection, give the right of way to those who need it instead of rushing through ahead of everyone else cutting them off. Not only does it show you understand the law, it shows driving manners. Speaking of manners, let’s not forget to say thank you when another driver lets you into their lane when you have nowhere else to go. Provided you don’t have dark tinted windows, wave with your right hand after you’ve completed the change. This allows the driver behind to see your polite gesture. This action not only allows you to feel good that someone did helped you out, but it also lets the driver behind know you appreciated their act of kindness.

For many who read my work here, you know tailgating really annoys me. It’s a very selfish action to tailgate another driver; whatever the reason. To those who purposely tailgate, why not stay back to avoid putting pressure on the driver ahead of you? You’ll still get to your destination. It may be less than 2 seconds later, but you’ll still get there. Yes, I said 2 seconds. Since following distance is measured in seconds, you should stay at least 2 seconds behind the driver ahead of you. If you’re tailgating, you’ve cut that time to maybe half a second. What is that really saving you? Becoming a cooperative driver means you’re allowing the driver ahead to drive their vehicle without pressure from you. (More about tailgating here)

It doesn’t matter what season we’re in, you’ll find cyclists on the road. Share the road with cyclists and give them a full lane to cycle in. If you come across a cyclist ahead of you in the same lane, change lanes early enough to allow the driver behind you to see them early as well. This is so they can change lanes early as well. Avoid cutting off the cyclist at all costs. If you need to go through the cycling lane, do so as near the intersection as possible, without interfering with the cyclist.

Driving is a journey, not a race. Take the time to enjoy it and cooperate with other road users. Didn’t your mom ever teach you to play nice with others? This would include while driving. When we’re happy, we do nice things. When we’re grumpy or annoyed, we retaliate. Building a cooperative driving culture will benefit everyone, including you.

Posted by: safedriver | February 24, 2016

Can experience be taught?

IMG-20130430-00302I enjoy statistics…sometimes. I enjoy looking at statistics while watching sports on TV. It doesn’t matter whether it’s football, hockey, basketball or baseball. I enjoy seeing how well players and teams are doing during that game, season or over their career. Even though I enjoy looking over statistics when it comes to sports, there are also other statistics I’m interested in – injury and fatalities related to driving. When it comes to these statistics, they can get better.

Despite the year we’re looking at, teenage drivers are the lowest percentages of drivers in each age bracket. In Canada for example, teenage drivers represent roughly 5% of all drivers, yet they represent almost 15% of all fatalities. In reality, the percentage of drivers should be comparable to the percentage of fatalities, but they aren’t balanced in this age bracket. When I’m training teenage drivers, I ask why this is the case. They’re the ones who tell me it’s from lack of knowledge and experience.

The age bracket of 20-24 year olds are also risks. Drivers in this age bracket represent close to 10% of the drivers across Canada, but close to 20% of all auto related fatalities. Wouldn’t drivers at this age group be safer? Shouldn’t this also be balanced with 10% of the driver’s licensed and 10% of the fatalities?

{Added stats from Transport Canada https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/tp-tp3322-2004-page11-701.htm and https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/tp-1317.htm#3 }

Although people 20-24 may seem to be more mature than teens aged 16-19, not everyone learns to drive when they’re teens. Maturity isn’t the main factor here. Lack of experience weighs a big part when it comes to collisions, injury and death with new drivers. The combined age groups of 16 to 24 represents almost a quarter of all fatalities across Canada. Although these are statistics from Canada, many other jurisdictions have similar statistics. With most of this contributed to lack of experience is there anything we can do to speed up experience?

Educating yourself with proactive responses can mentally prepare you to make better driving choices when the time comes. For example, knowing what your options are if a driver is approaching from behind you too fast to stop in time will be helpful before a rear crash happens. The same thing can be said if you knew how to determine if another vehicle was about to run a red light before you entered the green light. It mentally prepares you to do something before it happens. This is something I’m trying to do with this site – provide you with experience with thinking as a driver.

Think of it like first aid training. You do all that training just in case someone needs your help. It’s proactive training. There are many things you’re mentally ready for, even though it may never happen. Maybe drivers aged between 16 and 24 could do this and help reduce injury and fatalities. Maybe.

When I was a judge on Canada’s Worst Driver I found many of the drivers were simply reacting to situations without really giving it much thought ahead of time. They weren’t mentally prepared to drive and handle any potential problems they could face. That was a large reason to why they crashed. I was just glad they weren’t injured or worse.

Driving is more than pressing the gas and going. Driving safely is far more mental than it is physical for most drivers. For any driver, learning how to mentally prepare yourself as a driver will not only allow you to gain experience thinking like a driver, but it will give you an edge and allow you to make better choices when and if the time comes. It may even allow you to avoid collisions and not become a statistic.

Posted by: safedriver | February 17, 2016

What is Automatic Emergency Braking and how does it help?

246459_10151294133837391_1048474911_nSo many people claim to know a lot about how to drive, but do they really know the technological changes with their vehicles that help them drive? Do you? There have been so many changes to our vehicles over the last few years that we really need to keep up-to-date with these changes each time we purchase or lease a new vehicle. One such technological change is Automatic Emergency Braking systems (AEB) or Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).

Either system is a great move forward to reduce major injuries and possible fatalities. Here’s what it does and how it works. The AEB systems use sensors, radar, laser or cameras at the front of the vehicle to monitor for risk and detect potential collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians or hazards. It also has the potential to reduce the impact speed of a rear crash. If a crash happens at a lower speed, it can help avoid serious injury…or worse.

Although AEB systems may vary, most systems provide some type of a warning to alert the driver, whether it’s audible or flashing light to the driver. This warning can be helpful to alert the driver of impending danger ahead in time to allow them to brake in time to safely stop the vehicle.

The best part is the AEB system will also take over and apply the brakes of the vehicle automatically if the driver does not respond to the warnings in time.  The specific brake pressure may not be enough to prevent a collision, depending on the AEB system the vehicle has, but at the very least, it will lessen the severity of the crash. Occupants of a vehicle have a much higher chance of surviving a collision at lower speeds versus higher speeds. This technology can compensate for the mistakes drivers make. The AEB systems are always on alert, watching the road ahead and never getting tired or distracted. Something drivers tend to do periodically.

So, now you’re asking if your vehicle has such a device, right? Not so fast. Some do and some don’t. In the very near future, you’ll be able to find such advances in most everyday vehicles. Currently Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo have all committed to having some form of AEB as a standard feature in each of their new vehicles. It’s currently available, either as an option or as standard equipment, on mostly of their luxury cars and high end models.

Having this system in your vehicle will certainly help protect you and your passengers from a severe frontal crash where airbags may deploy, but it doesn’t give you permission to tailgate or to not pay attention to the driving task. Remember, you’re still in charge.

**The best safety feature of your vehicle is YOU. Read HERE

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