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Better GM cars plus better driver’s ed equal safe roads



Published: Wed, May 14, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Better GM cars plus better driver’s ed equal safe roads

As of the last few weeks, we have heard many comments about the General Motors ignition switch that can inadvertently turn off the engine ignition and cause the engine to stop.

I can remember autos that had a mechanical lock on the steering wheel when the ignition switch was in the off position. In that position, nothing could turn the steering wheel. As I understand the current GM autos, the engine stops when the ignition switch is off, but the steering and brakes are still functioning. The difficulty of the steering is greater and, within a few braking cycles, the braking becomes more difficult. But both functions still operate and an experienced driver could bring the car to a reasonable stop.

I believe that GM should have done a better and much quicker job of improving its ignition switch. However, I don’t believe that GM can guarantee that the engine will not stop running while being driven on the road. Just a simple matter of letting the gas tank go empty is enough to stop the engine in the middle of a highway. Any careless driver could do this in spite of any safeguards GM might introduce.

It is a shame that Driver’s Education in most places does not include responses to emergency situations.

My two sons took the driver’s ed at our local high school and then drove with me so that I could determine if they really knew how to drive. They learned some basics from the high school class, but they, in no way, had a feel for where the car was tracking down the road. They had not covered emergency situations at all.

Drivers need to expect emergencies at some point in their driving life. They will happen. To be surprised by the emergency is the worst thing that could happen. To say, “I remember what I did last time this happened. I’ll do the same thing this time” would be the response of an experienced driver or one who has been properly trained to drive.

If an inexperienced driver has an accident in a GM car, it may not be GM that is to blame. It is time for the trainers of these drivers to step up and admit that they approved drivers who do not really know how to drive.

If GM starts building better autos and the rest of us do a better job training the next generation to drive them, we may all be driving on safer roads.

Donald Butler, Warren


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