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The Vehicle


Safety Belts
The best way to protect yourself in a car crash is to use your seatbelt. It can save your life and prevent severe injuries. Oregon law requires that all drivers and passengers “buckle up” with a seatbelt or safety harness.

Driver and passenger airbags protect people in the front seat during a front-end crash. Side or “curtain” airbags give protection in side impact crashes. A driver should place the seat at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel to keep a safe distance from the airbag. This will help you avoid injury if it deploys. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a publication called About Your Airbags with more details.

Side Mirrors
It is important to have a good view of the front, side and back of the vehicle. Mirrors on both sides of the car help the driver make lane changes. 
Note: The Oregon Driver Manual has more information about required features.

Newer Vehicle Safety Equipment

Anti-Lock Brakes
Anti-lock brakes work with a vehicle's normal brake system to improve the control and stability of the vehicle during hard braking, especially on slippery and uneven roads. Unlike traditional brakes that many older drivers are familiar with, you should not pump anti-lock brakes. Instead, you should apply steady pressure. A computer uses the correct brake pressure to stop the vehicle.

Electronic Stability Control
Electronic Stability Control is a technology that improves the safety of a vehicle's handling by preventing skids. When Electronic Stability Control detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies individual brakes to help "steer" the vehicle where the driver wants to go.

Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive cruise control is an in-vehicle feature that adjusts the speed to keep a certain distance from another vehicle. To learn more about Adaptive cruise control and other in-vehicle technologies, review the study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety on the Use of Advanced In-Vehicle Technology by Younger and Older Early Adopters.

Motor Homes

Driving a motor home is like driving a car but involves harder driving conditions, such as:

  • Special maneuvering;
  • Smaller turning radius;
  • Height clearance;
  • Weight restrictions;
  • Fewer parking options;
  • Less visibility; and
  • Longer times to speed up or slow down.

It also involves special safety factors like:

  • Propane use and storage;
  • Tires;
  • Towing;
  • Electrical system;
  • Fire prevention; and
  • Fuel options.

Golf Carts

Golf carts are a popular way for people to get around on and off the golf course, especially in gated or retirement communities. While these carts do not travel at high speeds, they can be dangerous.

When driving a golf cart, follow these simple rules:

  • Make sure you have locked the brake into place, and then put the key in the ignition and turn it to the “on” position (most golf carts are electric so you may not hear it start).
  • Always assume that the cart is running when in the “on” position.
  • Apply the brake while putting the cart in gear to avoid lurching forward or backward (most carts have two gears: “F” for forward and “R” for reverse).
  • To move, gently press on the gas and release the brake until you hear the brake come out of the locked position (some carts start at their full horsepower so expect a jolt).
    Slow down when making sharp turns because carts can topple over easily.
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel when making turns because power steering is not a standard feature.
    Apply the brake and remove the keys when you are not using the cart.

Note: Someday you may no longer qualify for a driver license, but you could still qualify for a disability golf cart permit. This allows you to drive a golf cart or similar device on streets with a speed limit of 25 mph or less.

Other modes of transportation:

Power-assisted devices for mobility such as wheelchairs, scooters, and more recent innovations like the Segway™ Human Transporter, are all ways to assist with mobility. These devices make life easier for some people.

You should follow the rules of the road when using these devices on public roads, just as you would if riding a bicycle. This means going in the same direction as traffic, wearing reflective clothing at night, and making sure to use hand signals if turning. You may also use sidewalks and crosswalks.

​To help you choose a vehicle to fit your needs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Automobile Association put together a publication called Purchasing with Safety in Mind. It has safety features and rollover ratings for many vehicles.