NASCAR announced a new rule on Friday in an attempt to prevent future accidents like the one we saw last week resulting in the death of Kevin Ward Jr. The rule requires drivers who have been involved in an accident to remain in their vehicle when it is safe to do so.
According to USA Today Sports, drivers who are unable to make forward progress after being involved in an incident are required to shut the engine off and lower their window net if uninjured. At that point, the driver must wait for instructions from safety personnel or NASCAR officials before loosening safety equipment. Finally, when directed, the driver must walk directly toward an ambulance or other safety vehicle without approaching the racing surface or another driver’s car.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said many versions of these rules are already in place but have now been formalized. Drivers have always been told to remain in their vehicles after a crash when it is safe to do so.
[Graphic Video: Kevin Ward Jr. hit and killed by Tony Stewart]
While no specific punishment has been outlined for drivers who violate the rules, Pemberton said each case will be handled individually and penalties could be assessed.
Of course, if a driver really wanted to exit the vehicle he or she could always claim to have smelled gas and felt unsafe. But you’d like to think more drivers would be inclined to remain in their vehicles after seeing what happened to Ward.
It’s a shame it takes such a tragedy to reinforce rules and guidelines that should really be common sense.