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Mississippi Lawyer Blog

Stop! You’re Driving All Wrong

If you believe you are a good, conscientious driver who drives exactly the way you were taught to do in driver’s education, well, you may be driving all wrong. As an example, most of us remember being taught that we should hold our steering wheel at 10 and 2 as you would see those numbers on a clock.

Man holding a door open in a car dealership

In fact, with today’s airbags, the 10 and 2 position is not only wrong, but downright dangerous, and could lead to severe injuries of the hands and arms in the event of an accident. Most state transportation agencies, as well as Triple A now say you should lightly grip the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 positions. Some even suggest going a bit further, to the 8 and 4 position, as a method of avoiding the airbag as much as possible.

The downside to a position as extreme as the 8 and 4, can give you much less control of your vehicle. Since airbags essentially deploy upward, as a method of protecting the driver’s chest and head, the hand position must change from how many of us were taught, even if you make only a minor adjustment. Having your hands and arms directly over the plastic steering wheel cover when you have an accident can result in them being in close proximity to a super-hot, nitrogen gas flash which causes the airbag to inflate at a speed between 150 and 250 mph. The NHTSA has received reports of steering wheel airbag deployments resulting in finger and hand amputation, fractures, and even an injury known as “degloving.”

In some instances, a deployed airbag can slam the driver’s hand directly into their head, leading to a head or brain injury, an eye injury, or a broken nose. The final consensus among most experts is that the 9 and 3 position is much safer, while still allowing the driver to easily turn the vehicle 180 degrees both ways, changing lanes safely. Other ways you may be driving all wrong include the following:

  • The hand-over-hand way you may have been taught to turn has also changed because of airbags in cars. Instead of hand-over-hand, experts now say that using a “push-pull” motion is much safer—“pushing” the steering wheel up with one hand, and “pulling” it down with the other hand, without making a crossover motion. Just like the 10 and 2 steering wheel position, if your hands and arms are directly in front of an airbag which is in the process of deploying, serious injuries could result.
  • If you are typically looking only at the vehicle in front of you, you could be setting yourself up for an accident. After all, relative to your own vehicle, the car in front of you is effectively standing still, so if you are basing all your driving decisions on that car, you could be putting your own life and the lives of others at risk. You are determining how you drive based on how the person in front of you is driving. What if he or she is a terrible driver? What if that driver is texting while driving, or simply not paying attention to the car in front of him or her? A better strategy is to look through the car in front of you (through their windshield or over the top of their vehicle, depending on height) to the car in front of them, thus giving you a handle on what both drivers are doing.
  • While this next tip is fairly controversial, some experts say that if you drive a car with an automatic transmission, right-foot braking is not the most efficient and that you should actually consider braking with your left foot instead of with your right. Engineers have shown that the transition from moving the right foot from the gas pedal to the brake takes more time than simply braking with your left foot, plus if you are taking a corner at a high rate of speed, using your left foot to brake can “set” the front during acceleration out of a long turn. The controversy is in the fact that we were all taught to brake with our right foot, therefore it is somewhat ingrained, and may feel unnatural to brake with the left—at least at first. If you decide to begin braking with your left foot, make sure you practice a lot in a safe area.
  • Having badly adjusted mirrors. Adjusting your side mirrors so there are no blind spots can make a difference between having an accident…and not. If your mirrors are properly adjusted, you should not see your car in them. To ensure proper adjustment of your side mirrors, place your head all the way to your window, then adjust the mirror so you can only barely see your car. Then place your head by your center console—or the center of your car seat and adjust the passenger mirror in the same manner.
  • Using your bright lights when it is foggy outside can actually make your vision worse. The light from the brighter high-beams reflects off the water molecules in the air, so drive carefully in fog…with your low-beams on.
  • Forgetting you could be in another person’s blind spot, particularly a large truck. Large tractor-trailers have serious blind spots where the truck driver cannot see a driver in a smaller passenger car. These spots are generally directly behind the truck, directly in front of the truck, and about in the middle of the truck on either side. Even when you are surrounded by passenger vehicles, if you are lined up with the rear tire of another vehicle, they may not be able to see you, and could unexpectedly change lanes.

While there are other ways you may be “driving all wrong,” those listed above are the most common. It can be difficult to change the way you have driven for years, or even decades, but, in the end, it can potentially save your life.

Contact Our Jackson Car Accident Lawyers

If you are involved in a car accident in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Mississippi car accident attorney who will protect your rights and assist you in receiving a fair settlement for your injuries.

At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for injured Mississippi car accident victims – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. We can help you obtain the money you need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at 1-601-948-1600 or 1-877-231-1600.

If you have been involved in an accident, before you speak to your insurance company here's a free guide to explain what to avoid when dealing with your insurance company.

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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