“Now You’re in The Car”
You have successfully done a circle check of your vehicle, ensured your tires, body, engine and glass are all in place and proper. Now you are one step closer to being a safe road user…almost ready to drive. The next few steps in the process are actually simple and won’t take very long, but they all have to be done.
Documents – Don’t leave home without them
There are three things you absolutely have to have with you when you are on the road. A valid driver’s licence, the permit (ownership) of the vehicle you are operating and proof of valid insurance.
I can hear it now, “But the car isn’t mine!!” Doesn’t matter; If you are driving it, you are responsible for it. That includes the expiration on the permit and the validation sticker on the licence plate. If you are operating it, you have to ensure that it can be operated within the law and that your licence is proper to do so.
Owners Manual – Has lots of hidden secrets
Are you 100% certain you know what each and every control in the vehicle you are about to drive is for? If your answer is no; grab the owners manual, get out of the car and go back in the house to study.
How do you know what to do if a warning light comes on, or what that light even means? Can you operate the windows, wipers, transmission gear selector or turn signals without looking? You have to be able to identify and operate all the controls and know what each warning light means before you move.
Storage/Garbage/Stuff – Clutter causes problems
Before you sit down make sure that there isn’t anything that is loose that could roll under your feet, across the dashboard or fall onto your lap. Any thing that is loose should be secured safely in a compartment or in the trunk. Anything that is heavy or has sharp edges should also be secured. You wouldn’t want grandma’s sterling silver picture frame flying loose inside the vehicle if you were in a collision. If you wouldn’t want it to hit you, then you don’t want it with you.
Seating Position – Sitting right for the road
To control the vehicle you need to sit properly. Sit up straight! You’re not driving a Lazyboy recliner, so don’t sit like it. Laying back makes the seatbelt ineffective and only provides a launch pad through the rear window if you are hit from behind. The higher your head is without being in the roof line the more you can see.
Your feet should be able to press the brake pedal to the floor leaving a slight bend at the knees. You can plant your left foot into the firewall or floor and push yourself back into the seat.
Place your hands on the steering wheel with your left hand at the 9 o’clock position and your right hand at the 3 o’clock position. This conveniently allows you to use your fingers to operate the turn signals, wipers, lights, etc with minimal movement. Your arms when holding the steering wheel should have a slight bend at the elbows.
Mirrors – How to see around you
According to Doug Annett of Skid Control School, “One way to describe setting the inside rear-view mirror is to “frame the rear window” If the sides, top and bottom of the mirror frame the rear window, the middle will likely be correct.”
Hopefully you have power mirrors for the sides, otherwise get someone to help you with this part. Each mirror should be set so that when using only your eyes you can see just the edge of the rear sides of your car. Anymore than that, you will be losing valuable information in the rest of the field of view. The majority of what you need to see is what is beside you in the “blind spots”.
This will minimize the size of your blind spots, and when done properly, what is not in your mirrors will be in your peripheral view.
Seatbelt – What its purpose really is
A seatbelt is designed to keep you in your seated position within the motor vehicle. As a driver, this is very important because it allows you to stay behind the controls. For passengers the importance lies in keeping you away from the driver and other occupants.
A seatbelt is not intended to save your life or prevent injuries. Those are just excellent benefits from using it.
The seatbelt should be worn in such a manner that the lap portion is across your pelvis (hip bones) and the shoulder portion should rest firmly against your chest.
Note: Special thanks to Doug Annett for his technical assistance with this part.
For more information about Doug and the “Skid Control School – Traffic safety solutions for business”, check out the website: http://www.skidcontrolschool.com/
Next Week, Part III
"Get out your keys!!"
Part I - "Kicking the tires"