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Outdated Driving Advice: 9 Safety Tips That No Longer Apply

Orange cat with glasses reading a book.

The rule of life is that everything is always changing. It applies to cars and driving as much as any other aspect of our lives.

The rules of the road that you learned in driver’s ed or from your parents may have changed in the last couple of decades. Some driving tips are no longer efficient or safe to practice.

We scoured the internet for the most common outdated driving tips and myths, and what you should be doing instead. Here are some of the surprising things we learned.

10 and 2

Chances are you’ve heard of the “10 and 2” rule. It describes the driving style of placing the left hand in the 10 o’clock position and the right hand in the 2 o’clock position on the steering wheel.

This rule is no longer considered to be the safest option. Instead, experts recommend positioning your hands on opposite sides in the middle of the wheel. In other words, the left hand should be at 9 o’clock and the right hand at 3 o’clock.

Why does this slight position shift matter?

The hand placement of “9 and 3” was made due to airbag injury concerns. The 10 and 2 rule was implemented before airbags were introduced. Keeping the hands and arms farther down on the steering wheel reduces the risk of injury from airbag deployment.

Two-Second Rule

Back in the day, many drivers were taught to allow two seconds of following distance between them and the car in front of them. This has been updated to the three-second-plus rule.

To measure the distance between a vehicle in front of you, choose a fixed point (like a sign or a pole). Start counting once the car in front passes by the point. If you reach the same fixed point before reaching three, you are driving too close and need to fall back.

Three seconds is the minimum drivers should maintain between another vehicle. This time difference should increase the faster one is going. Teen drivers and senior drivers should adhere to the four-second rule because one group is inexperienced, and the latter group often has hearing and vision issues.

Hand Over Hand

This one used to be a common driving tip that doesn’t make much sense in hindsight. Drivers used to be told to turn the steering wheel by placing “hand over hand.”

The problem with the hand-over-hand technique is that it puts the arms over the middle of the steering wheel. Doing so places the person at risk of serious injuries if the airbag deploys.

Instead, it is recommended drivers use the “push-pull” method when making a turn. As you turn the wheel, use one hand to pull the wheel down while the other pushes up. This works well if your hands are in the 9 and 3 positions.

Press the Gas Pedal While Starting

Maybe you’ve heard that the best way to start your car is to press down on the accelerator as you crank the engine. This is good advice, but only if your vehicle contains an engine part called a carburetor.

A carburetor is used to mix the right amount of fuel and air in an internal combustion engine. By pressing the accelerator while turning the ignition key, fuel is pushed into the empty combustion chamber.

Modern-day vehicles don’t have carburetors anymore. They use automatic fuel-injection technology, making carburetors obsolete.

All of this means that pressing the gas pedal while cranking the car is unnecessary, making it one less step you have to worry about when operating your vehicle.

Letting the Engine Heat Up

Back in the day, it was sometimes necessary to let a vehicle idle to warm up the engine. Today, this practice is not only unnecessary, it’s incredibly wasteful. Your time and gas mean too much to just be sitting still. Besides, an engine actually gets warm faster by driving around. Electronic fuel injectors also ensure that engines continue to run effectively even when cold.

Pumping the Brakes

This out-of-date driving tip was invented before the creation of anti-lock brakes. Older cars didn’t have an automatic braking system (ABS). Before automatic brakes, drivers had to rapidly press the brakes multiple times to quickly stop if they lost traction.

Thankfully, ABS is included in all modern vehicles. This system pumps the brakes for drivers. This is much more reliable and efficient than a driver trying to manually pump the brakes themselves.

Speeding = More Than 10 mph Over the Limit

If you don’t know this from personal experience, we’re here to set the record straight. You may have heard that you can’t get pulled over for speeding unless you go more than 10 mph over the speed limit (some people say 5 mph).

This is simply not true. Even going 1 to 2 mph over the posted speed limit is enough to get pulled over and ticketed. Speed limits are posted for safety reasons, and any violation can get you in trouble.

All Wheel Drive and Snow

Contrary to popular belief, all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles are not safer than rear or front-wheel-drive cars on ice and snow. AWD vehicles have about the same amount of traction on slippery roads.

Black ice, sleet, and iced-over roads do not care if a vehicle is AWD, RWD, or FWD. Do not make the mistake of thinking that just because your vehicle has AWD that you can take greater risks on an icy street.

The only real difference between the vehicle systems is acceleration and efficiency when stopping or going up an incline. If you want a better grip on an icy road, get snow tires.

Big Vehicles Are Safer

This is a common misconception and one of the reasons SUVs and mid-sized SUVs are so popular. Larger vehicles may offer slightly more protection, but the downside is they are harder to control when things go wrong, and all that mass can make a serious impact that much more intense.

Larger vehicles also put pedestrians (people out walking, bicycling, or doing construction work) at a higher risk of injury and death if they are hit. A bigger, higher front end means people are harder to see, and more mass makes it harder to slow down.

Bonus: You Don’t Need to Call a Lawyer After a Crash

You may receive this “well-meaning” advice from your insurance adjuster after a serious accident. Oftentimes, they’ll claim that you’re covered and all they need is for you to give a recorded statement or to sign some documents. This is a trap.

They may twist your words around to pin the fault for the accident on you. Or you accept a small check for your injuries but sign away your right to pursue any further compensation. Even if you find out your injuries are more severe than you thought and require months of treatment, there’s often very little that can be done to salvage your claim.

That’s why you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a wreck has left you or a loved one with painful injuries. A good accident lawyer can protect you from the insurance company and make sure you are compensated for all of your losses.

We’ve been in business for more than 25 years and helped thousands of injured victims recover, so we know what we’re talking about. Contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates today for expert legal advice you can trust.

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