New NASCAR rule restricts drivers from leaving cars

By Michelle Kapusta,

In wake of the tragedy in which driver Kevin Ward Jr. was struck and killed by Tony Stewart’s car after exiting his vehicle, NASCAR implemented a rule to hopefully prevent future accidents.

According to ESPN, NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton announced Friday that the new rule prohibits drivers from exiting their cars after on-track incidents. The only time a racer will be permitted to leave their vehicle is if "extenuating circumstances exist."

The new rule outlined by Pemberton states that if a driver's car is involved in an incident and they cannot make forward progress, he or she must shut off the car and lower the window net if uninjured. They must then wait for directions from safety personnel or NASCAR officials to loosen safety equipment.

After they receive direction to exit their vehicle, they must then proceed directly to an ambulance or other vehicle without approaching the racing surface.

Pemberton said all teams were notified of the new rule before Sprint Cup practice Friday morning at the Michigan International Speedway.

On Saturday, at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York, video footage captured Ward exit his vehicle after an apparent incident with Stewart. The 20-year-old appeared to walk into the racing lane and was hit by Stewart’s car. He later died of his injuries.

After the accident, Stewart chose not to drive in last weekend’s race. The three-time NASCAR champion also decided not compete in Sunday’s upcoming Sprint Cup race.

image courtesy of R. O'Neil/INFphoto.com

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