1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

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Six Driving Safety Myths That Aren’t True

by Steve Dearborn

Don’t believe everything you read or hear about safe driving. Driving safely is an active pursuit. You have to work at developing safe driving habits and avoid reckless behavior to increase your chances of not getting into a car accident.

Here are six common myths about safe driving that are simply not true:

Car accidents happen randomly. Nothing can prevent bad luck. In fact, multiple studies by organizations like the National Highway Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify why car accidents happen. The NHSA and CDC say motor vehicle accidents are preventable since most car accidents are caused by driver error or negligence. Drivers can avoid accidents by not engaging in risky behavior, such as speeding, driving after drinking, distracted driving or drowsy driving.

If it’s a short trip, there’s no need to wear a seat belt. An accident can happen anywhere, anytime. Drivers and passengers should always wear safety belts. A Progressive Insurance study found that about 52 percent of all accidents occur within five miles of the driver's home and 77 percent of car accidents happen within 15 miles of home. Esurance (an Allstate company) suggests this happens because drivers feel safer on familiar roads near home and relax their driving skills and vigilance.

Using a hands-free cell phone while driving is safe. Hands-free cellphones may be slightly safer but still create a substantial distracted driving risk. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute says in its highly regarded study that even portable hands-free and vehicle-integrated hands-free cell phone use involves visual and manual tasks at least half of the time, which distract the driver and are associated with a greater crash risk. A study published by the University of Utah says that, when controlling for driving difficulty and time on task, drivers using even hands-free cell phones exhibited greater impairment than intoxicated drivers.

Older drivers are more dangerous than younger drivers. In terms of involvement in crashes per mile driven, the very safest drivers on the road are drivers in their 40s, 50s and 60s, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says. Drivers in their 70s have higher crash rates, but they’re virtually identical to the crash rates of drivers in their 30s. Even drivers in their mid-80s have lower crash rates per mile driven than drivers in their early 20s, and roughly half the crash rates of teenagers.

For drivers in the northern and mountainous areas of Arizona, below are two winter-driving myths debunked by Weather.com.

All-wheel drive is the answer to driving in snow. Having four-wheel drive does provide more traction compared to two-wheel drive, but it does not totally negate the slippery effects of snow and ice. Mark Cox, director of Bridgestone Winter Driving School, tells the Weather Channel that all-wheel or four-wheel drive can create a “false sense of confidence.” Four-wheel drive has no effect on turning and stopping in snow, he says.

Under-inflate your tires for better traction. Under-inflating tires does not help your car grip the road. Low inflation takes away from tire performance, effectiveness and safety. Tires should be inflated to the car manufacturer’s recommended inflation rate, which is listed on the inside of the car door. Keep an eye on your tire pressure in cold weather, Cox says. Tires lose one pound of pressure for every 10-degree drop in temperature.

About the Author:
Steve Dearborn lives in a rural community and loves to listen to Elvis Presley tunes.

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