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Many thanks to all 31 attendees for joining us to our 55-Alive Defensive Driving Class.  The Washington Oakes provided a beautiful setting and a delicious meal, and instructor Joey Amposta tought us many safety tips and interesting tidbits that are important to know for all of us:

– Do you remember the common instruction to place your hands in the “10 o’clock and 2 o’clock” position on the steering wheel?  Well, that is no longer recommended. “4 and 8” is the new “10 and 2”.  Why?  Because the “4 o’clock and 8 o’clock” hand position keeps your wrists and arms out of harm’s way if the airbag deploys.

– Tires have an expiration date, and regardless of the tread, they should be replaced if they are 6 years or older.  Tires are now may out of neoprene, not rubber, and they are subject to sudden failure if they are too old.

The key to safety is that every tire has a date on it…..look on the side wall for a series of numbers beginning with ‘DOT’.  The last three digits represent the week and the year the tire was manufactured.  So, a number like DOT 9F9 270 would mean that the tire was manufactured in the 27th week of 2000.   

Also, never buy a tire that’s more than a year old.  Often, retailers have old tires in stock, so make the seller show you the age of the tire.   Also, check the age of the tire even when buying a new car, as the tire could be old.

– Speaking of tires – do you know what the correct tire pressure is on your car?  (Hint: There is a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door.)  Keep in mind:  ALWAYS check the tire pressure when the tire is COLD.   Don’t drive long distances without checking your tire pressure and refilling air if necessary.

The Insurance Journal recently published a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which caught our attention:

The study found that many drivers aged 70 and up naturally drive more carefully as they notice a decrease in their reaction time. The study also notes that thanks to this natural self-regulation, drivers in the 70-89 year age group have less head-on, rear-end, single-car, and car-pedestrian accidents.  That’ great!

The problem, the study notes, is danger coming from the left or right.

With age, it becomes harder for the human brain to process visual information, especially in the periphery, and most older drivers don’t naturally compensate:  The study counted head-movements of  older drivers and observed that virtually none of them use enough side-to-side and over-the-shoulder glances.

In fact, once they cross into an intersection, older driver consider themselves committed and focus only in the direction of the turn, without inserting additional sideways glances at all.  Therefore, they often miss previously unseen vehicles (compared to younger drivers, who usually insert a quick over-the-shoulder check during the turn).  Consequently, side-impact crashes increase significantly for drivers in the over-70 age group.

The good news: With some active training, side-to-side check performance for older drivers in the study group improved significantly – and so did their safety on the road!

It’s probably a good idea for drivers of all ages to remember the old rule: “Look left – Look right – Look left again” before making a turn.  We promise that we will be more conscious!

Please be safe!

The study was conducted by Matthew Romoser from the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and was published in the Insurance Journal, August 2009.

Got ICE?

Do you have ICE’s number on your cell phone?

You should add him (or her) to your contacts. ICE is a good person to know. ICE is your “In Case of Emergency” contact. If ever something happens to you, your cell phone is one of the places that paramedics will check.

They will be looking for ICE. ICE can be your spouse, your sister, your best friend – anyone you’d want to be called in case of an emergency.

It’s just one more step toward making your world a safer place.

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