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In part 2 of our 4-part series on debunking car myths, we explore what’s true and what’s false when it comes to protecting yourself and your family.
Myth: Talking on a hands-free headset is safer than holding a cell phone.
TRUTH: The fact is neither is safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the U.S. estimates one-quarter of all police-reported accidents are caused by driver distraction, with cell phones playing a significant role. In Canada, a 2002 study by Transport Canada found that even when drivers used hands-free devices, there were significant changes in the drivers’ behaviour that may have been due to distraction. The best advice - just don’t do it.
Myth: You don't have to wear a seat belt in the back seat.
TRUTH: Yes you do. There are three reasons. First, you aren't taking full advantage of the vehicle's safety features. Accidents, especially rollovers, can put you at high risk for injury. Second, in the event of a collision you could become a projectile towards others in the vehicle. This increases the likelihood of injuring fellow occupants. And third, it's the law - so always remember to buckle up!
Myth: Keep extra weight in the trunk for traction.
TRUTH: If you have a rear-drive car, some weight in the back can help. But most cars these days are either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, so this advice won’t help much. In fact, the extra weight could negatively affect braking, handling and mileage.
Myth: Keep your doors unlocked so that rescuers can get you out after an accident.
TRUTH: Unlocked doors are more likely to open during a collision which could result in occupants being tossed out. This could be fatal. Always lock your doors!
Myth: When it comes to air bag protection, your driving position doesn’t matter.
TRUTH: It does matter. Air bags are an effective way to reduce the risks associated with collisions; however, your driving position is also important. The NHTSA suggests that the steering wheel be aimed at your breastbone positioned at least 25 cm (10 inches) away and tilted away from your head. It’s also important that you keep your hands on the wheel at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions.
Myth: Car seats always protect children from injury.
TRUTH: When installed and used correctly, car seats save children’s lives 71% of the time. Unfortunately, according to the NHTSA, the percentage of car seats installed incorrectly is 82%. But there are a few things parents can do to protect their child. First, choose the right car seat for your child’s age and weight. For example, infants should remain in rear-facing car seats until they are a year old and weigh at least 10 kg (22 lb). Second, ensure the car seat is installed correctly by having it checked at a local car seat clinic. If you do need to install the car seat on your own, consult both the car seat manual and your vehicle’s owner manual. One final piece of advice, keep up to date with product recalls and be aware of second-hand seats that do not meet Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards(CMVSS). For more information on child passenger safety, please visit Safe Kids Canada.
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