Brought to you by ISU Public Safety and the ISU Safety Committee December, 2003
Some of us lack the training or experience to prepare for a sudden emergency behind the wheel. When we don’t know how to react, our conscious mind checks out, leaving the driving to the sub-conscious. Often, panic sets in and we freeze and that’s when it happens - the crash!
Here is what happens during a typical crash, occurring in just 0.8 seconds.
- Recognition - Driving along with the stereo playing or thinking about all that needs to be done that day and suddenly something unexpected happens in front of you. The car ahead has stopped dead in its tracks.
- Reaction - Without even knowing it, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode. The heart rate goes up because the body needs more oxygen. Capillaries contract to hold blood near the core where it will be needed to protect vital organs. Breathing increases. Just before any action is taken, the adrenal gland opens and fires a shot of adrenaline throughout the body. Now the body is five times stronger than it was a millisecond ago.
- Response - With that heightened state of strength and readiness, the driver reaches for the biggest muscle in the body, the gluteus maximus, to lock down on the brake pedal, causing the tires to lock up. Everything else is locked up as well. Our hands and elbows lock on the steering wheel, and our eyes lock on the vehicle ahead, increasing the chances of hitting it.
- Weight Transfer - Upon slamming on the brakes, the weight in the chassis starts to shift to the front. Front springs collapse with the rear springs extending, causing the rear tires to have no weight on them.; the burden is now on the front tires. Ultimately however, the front tires will begin to give up and start to slide.
- Co-efficient of Friction - Because the front tires are locked up and sliding, their temperature has risen to approximately 2000 degrees. The effect is similar to sliding along on molten rubber. That is what causes the two parallel black marks you see on the highway all the time. In this case, turning the wheel would not be a benefit because with the tires melting, you might as well be on ice.
- The Crash! Then The Silence. . . Next comes the crash and the realization of the preceding events, followed by a deafening silence. . .
(Excerpt from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety)
Winter Driving Tips
Driving in the winter means snow, sleet, and ice that can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions, hot tempers, and unforeseen dangers. The leading cause of death during winter storms is transportation incidents. Winter driving conditions can turn small mistakes into serious problems. Accelerating, braking, and cornering all call for extra control on snow and ice. Your most important responsibility as a winter driver is your ability to anticipate problems, so that you don’t lose control in the first place. To help you make it safely through the winter, here are some suggestions to make your trips on the road this winter much safer.
- Always buckle up
- Respect dangerous weather conditions
- Prepare your car before the first snowstorm
- Prepare for emergency situations
- Listen to weather reports before you leave
- Keep your gas tank at least half full
- Follow the rules of the road
- Keep a safe distance of at least 5 seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road
- Do not drive when you are tired or if you have been drinking
Prepare your car for winter starting with these:
- Check the ignition, brakes, hoses and fan belts
- Change and adjust spark plugs
- Check air, fuel and emission filters
- Inspect the distributor
- Check the battery
- Make sure tires are properly inflated
You must keep a survival kit in the car, to include:
- Flashlight and batteries
- Flares and/or reflective triangles
- First Aid Kit
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Wooden stick matches in water-proof container
- Non-perishable foods like nuts or hard candy
- A shovel
- Jumper cables
- A bag of salt or kitty litter
Researchers installed video cameras in cars & observed these distracting activities while the cars were in motion:
|Activities||Percentage of Drivers||Percentage of Total Time|
|Adjusting radio, music||91%||1.4%|
|Dealing With Passengers||44%||0.9%|
|Using Cell Phone||30%||1.3%|
Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Study
Did you know?
In 2002, an estimated 17,419 people died in alcohol–related traffic crashes—an average of one every 30 minutes. These deaths constitute 41 percent of the 42,815 total traffic fatalities. (NHTSA, 2003)
In 2001, more than half a million people were injured in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present , an average of one person injured approximately every 2 minutes. (Blincoe, Seay et al., 2002)
The highest prevalence of both binge and heavy drinking in 2000 was for young adults aged 18 to 25, with the peak rate occurring at age 21. (SAMHSA, 2000)
Those drivers 21 to 24 years old were most likely to be intoxicated (BAC of 0.08 g/dl or greater) in fatal crashes in 2002. Thirty-three percent of drivers 21 to 24 years old involved in fatal crashes were intoxicated, followed by ages 25 to 34 (28 percent) and 35 to 44 (26 percent). (NHTSA, 2003)
Beer is the drink most commonly consumed by people stopped for alcohol-impaired driving or involved in alcohol-related crashes. (IIHS, 2003)
Alcohol-related fatalities are caused primarily by the consumption of beer (80 percent) followed by liquor/wine at 20 percent. (Runge, 2002)
For fatal crashes occurring from midnight to 3:00 a.m., 79 percent involved alcohol. (NHTSA, 2001)
In 2002, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for people from 2 to 33 years old.
Drunk driving is the nation’s most frequently committed violent crime, killing someone every 30 minutes.