Friday, September 25, 2009

Driving mantra Part 3 - Your arms, airbags and steering wheels.

Think about this for a second. Your airbag in your steering wheel can inflate quicker than you can blink. That's a tremendous amount of force involved during the inflation and if your arms are crossed on the steering wheel when this happens, they will be propelled into your face at about 250km/h or 150mph. That means broken arms and a fractured skull. The same is true with side airbags - if you drive in the summer with the window down and your arm out to the side, expect it to be broken or dislocated if the airbag goes off. So what to do? Well you just need to keep this in the back of your mind when you're driving and pick hand positions on the steering wheel that are most appropriate to your situation. Forget that ten-to-two crap - that's old-school mantra for back in the days when cars didn't have power steering. In fact, in a modern car, that's probably the last place you want your hands in the event of an emergency, because it gives you the most leverage on the steering wheel. The last thing you need when you're panicking is to yank down hard on one side of the steering wheel in a car with power steering - it will change direction very abruptly, and in the worst case, induce the car to flip and roll. With the airbag being in the middle of the wheel, you really should avoid resting the palm of your hand on the horn pad, or even your thumbs for that matter. Pick hand positions which are comfortable to you and try not to cross your arms when turning the wheel. It's difficult to do - a habit you typically got into early on and will be hard to break. I still find myself crossing my arms when turning even though I write articles like this all the time.

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