Friday, 24 April 2015
NO, NO, NO,
double yellow lines
It is a promising start that the first thing on this blackboard is SEAT BELT as putting one on is the first thing one should do when getting into a car. Seatbelts have been a major contribution to road safety – they reduce the risk of fatal or serious injury in a collision by as much as 50%. Risk compensation theory, where drivers who feel safer in one way instead take risks in other ways, does muddy the statistics somewhat, but there is no doubt that it is better to wear one. Volvo’s decision to make the patent for their three-point system open and let other car manufacturers copy it for free should be applauded. (Drug companies, please take note.)
Anecdotes about car users who died terrible deaths because they were trapped by their seatbelts, or who miraculously survived a collision specifically by not wearing one abound, but whilst it is true that seatbelts may cause serious injury or death (or their non-use save lives) in particular accidents, these incidents are much rarer than those in which the use of seatbelts saves lives. The occurrence of these rare incidents is also usually much overstated, like referring to a 100-year-old who smokes 20 a day, but not mentioning the thousands who die young of lung cancer.
Cries of civil liberties regarding the mandatory use of seat belts should also be ignored – not wearing a seatbelt is not a victimless crime when an unrestrained body becomes a lethal missile for other car occupants. Even for accidents involving just a single driver the cost to society of more serious injury or death cannot be discounted. Clunk click every trip.
As a side note, another safety issue to note before even getting into a car is that bare or stockinged feet are not recommended behind the wheel. They are also unacceptable in a classroom situation and the teacher should enforce this for both theory and practical driving lessons.
It is also good that the dangers of U-turns over double yellow lines (the road marking indicating the division between oncoming lanes in this jurisdiction) are being highlighted. The chalk marks around ‘U-turn’ indicate a thorough demonstration of what a U-turn is with several such manoeuvres clearly shown. This kind of diagram, combined with the repetition of the drawing action can particularly help visual learners who might be struggling with the concept of ‘U’. There might indeed be another such demonstration below the words ‘double yellow lines’ to give extra reinforcement to the point, unless those are meant to be double yellow lines, in which case they are a rather poor effort, being neither yellow nor entirely double.
Whilst at one time ‘10 and 2’ was indeed the preferred position for hands on a steering wheel (although this diagram actually shows something closer to 10:30 and 1:30), the advent of power steering means that the extra leverage gained by beginning a turn with a larger downward movement is no longer necessary. Indeed, the advent of airbags means that ‘10 and 2’ is actually dangerous, with the airbag explosion turning the driver’s hands and forearms into face-seeking projectiles. ‘8 and 4’ or ‘9 and 3’ is now the recommended configuration – it is clearly time to update curriculum materials and send this teacher on a refresher course. Indeed the entire concept of using an analogue clock as a reference is rather outdated – perhaps iPod controls would be more relevant to this cohort, so instead of ‘hands at 9 and 3’ they would be taught ‘hands at skip back and skip forward’.
In the overtaking manoeuvre diagram, the curved arrows showing the overtaking vehicle’s path show that it approaches dangerously close to car B before swerving sharply into the oncoming lane, possibly even clipping the rear bumper. Such manoeuvres should be planned further in advance, executed more smoothly and not bring vehicles into dangerous proximity with each other.
The left signal (or ‘LeFT Signal’) also comes far too late to give other road users warning of the driver’s intentions. Remember: mirror, signal, manoeuvre, not manoeuvre, signal, learn how to use lower case letters.
It is also worth noting that 32% of jurisdictions drive on the left (and rising – the last right-to-left switch was in 2009, whilst the most recent left-to-right change was over 30 years before that), so in those parts of the world this last diagram would show an undertaker rather than an overtaker – something that the learner driver might need if she follows those arrows.
5/10 Good work on buckling up, but the rest of the ideas need bucking up.