NASCAR has taken the lead in the racing industry by announcing new rules governing when drivers can exit a car in any of their series. The move comes following an incident that resulted in a drivers death.
The tragic event occurred in a completely different series and style of racing but many felt that if NASCAR set a rules example that it would trickle down to other racing sanctioning bodies. At the same time time it will help protect the safety of drivers in all of the NASCAR racing series.
Robin Pemberton made the announcement in which he said that drivers are reminded to stay in their vehicles during the drivers' meeting held before every NASCAR national series race, a practice that Pemberton called "informal, but just an understanding over the years."
Now new rules state that drivers are to remain in their cars until safety officials clear them. The rules apply to wrecked cars that can't make forward progress. The drivers should shut the car down, and drop the window net. They should remain in the car until told to by officials. New rules apply to crew members and others approaching wrecked vehicles.
"This rule is really put in place for the safety of all of our competitors," Pemberton said. "It's safety first right now."
Pemberton said that Exceptions to the rule would be made for instances of fire, smoke in the cockpit or other emergency situations that would require expedited egress. The rule also cautions both drivers and crew members from approaching any part of the racing surface, apron or any moving vehicles. If a driver leaves a car and breaks the procedure the penalties would then be considered.
Pemberton said that the new addition to the rulebook outlines and expands upon the reminder that drivers hear before every NASCAR sanctioned event. He added that potential penalties for violations of the new rule would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
"It's a behavioral penalty," Pemberton said responding to Lang. "We'll acknowledge it when it happens."
The announcement came Friday Morning prior to weekend NASCAR racing events. It should be made clear that the new rules would have not applied to the race, or track, in which Kevin Ward Jr. was killed. The driver was killed as he exited his wrecked car and walked into oncoming cars in an apparent effort to let Tony Stewart know that he was mad about the wreck. He was struck by the dirt track sprint style race car driven by Stewart.
The Full NASCAR Announcement and story complete with Video can be seen on NASCAR.com.