In the past few months a number of my close friends were involved in road accidents. Losing our loved ones in road accidents is very painful. As the holidays approaches I thought of putting together a collection of ideas from expert drivers on how we can be safer on the roads.
Because of the seriousness of this matter I will use stronger than usual language in order to emphases the points, and this post is longer. Road safety is a life and death issue. It may cost your life, your limb or your pocket. Always be careful.
Do not drive based on how things are now, rather drive based on how things could be in the future
It’s all about time and distance. Consider the car on the side street ahead, angled as if preparing to merge with traffic in your lane. Maybe they have not seen you or have misjudged you distance or speed. If they pull in front of you, will you have the time and distance needed to slow down? If not, can you take advantage of an opening in the lane next to you, even if it means speeding up or slowing down? What do you need to do to handle anything that might crop up in the next few seconds or beyond you visible distance?
Driving in the rural roads at night is a different ball game altogether
Why, because of animals, pot holes and broken down vehicles in the road. If the road is not fence you will be assured that either a wild animal will jump across the road or a domestic animal will stray into the road. What makes the situation dangerous is that you vision is limited to the distance lit by your head lights. So you have no idea what is happening beyond the brightness until it’s too late. Drive slow enough to be able to see and stop safely. It’s being stupid to drive faster than your reaction time. What if a huge pothole or stationary vehicle just pop out in from of you in you lane. Will you be able to stop? Or there is the huge pot hole or animal or stationary vehicle, and there is another vehicle coming right in front of you. The first thing is you can’t see, and the second thing is by the time you see the danger you cannot avoid it due to approaching vehicle. Do not take rural roads for granted.
Always maintain a ‘bird’s eye’ awareness of your surroundings
Five seconds ago, you saw a blue sports coupe in your passenger-side mirror – now you can’t see it at all. Where is it? Did they turn off? Are they in your blind spot? If you remember where it has been and where you know it isn’t, it’s pretty easy to deduce where that car is. You can’t watch everything constantly, and some areas you can’t see well anyways. Keep your mind alert. With practice and experience, you’ll learn to see potential accidents before they even happen.
Headlights are also to let other drivers see you
A good rule of thumb is that if you need your wipers you need your lights on. I can’t begin to tell you how many times the only thing to save an idiot driving a grey-silver car was a high-contrast front license plate. If it’s near dusk or dawn, in a dusty road, or even on a winding mountain road, you need your headlights on so others can see you. When in doubt, turn them on.
Golden rule is that never assume the other guy has noticed you. What if he hasn’t? Avoiding him is your responsibility.
Acceleration and deceleration lanes are there for a reason, use them
Especially in freeways, as you enter or exit, adjust your speed to the prevailing speed of traffic. This makes it smooth to merge with existing traffic flow. Do no cause unnecessary conflicts and heat up emotions of other drivers. Maintain peace!
There is no shame in parking
A lot of drivers tend to get macho and will try everything from caffeine drinks to slapping themselves in the face to try to make ‘just a few more kilometres.’ Stop every 250km or 2 hours driving. Hit up a rest area for a pee break. Something as simple as a two-minute break from driving and a quick spot of activity can do wonders for your alertness. If that’s not enough just sleep.
Any time you think you’d be embarrassed for taking a rest break, think how embarrassed you’d be for having an accident because you didn’t! If you are tired and sleepy I don’t want your car driving near mine. Stay off the road.
Avoid distraction when driving
When driving fast if something in your car needs your attention more than 1 second, ignore it until you have stopped. Avoid talking on the phone or turn back to your kids at the back seat. Be careful with cigarettes and lighters while driving. If either of them falls, get off the road and stop the car safely, and then take care of the cigarette or lighter. It is better if you get a slight burn on you or the car than to crash and lose your leg because of it. Have you ever driven near a person texting, coming hair whilst driving. I stay away from that car because the driver wants to kill you.
Each car is unique, be careful when driving a car for the first time
Remember, if you are used to driving a particular car never convince yourself you can drive them all the same way even if you get two cars exactly the same brand or model, they always have different behaviour than yours. Their shock absorbers may be different, their tires may be different, even if the absorbers are the same or the tires, they could be in worst condition or better. Also, if you drive a car on a daily basis with no other occupants, the car will have a complete different behaviour when full. So be careful during the holiday when you drive your car full of your cousins, uncles, aunties etc.
If you drink alcohol leave your car after the party
Don’t drive if you have had any alcohol. When you go on a night out it is better to leave the car at home altogether (unless you are not a drinker). Arrange your after party transport beforehand when you are still sober. Be wise.
Develop good driving habits
Whatever you do by habit is what you will do in an emergency, at least at first. So develop good habits. If you always rolling stop, you will eventually hit someone. If you always stop first, you will always see them and not hit them.
Road signs are not for display but for your own safety, obey them
Always actually stop at stop signs, yield/give way, traffic lights etc. Beware of the ‘red: stop, green: go, orange: go faster’ habit. When you turn use your indicators and use hazard lights were necessary.
Do not tailgate the car ahead in the freeway
Following too closely on the freeway is a problem for most drivers. At freeway speeds, keep enough distance between you and the car ahead. When merging onto the freeway, don’t tailgate the car ahead. Leave plenty of room between you and the lead car. That makes it easier for your car to merge with freeway traffic.
Never drive too close to the vehicle in front of you and never let any vehicle drive too close to the back of your car. You may endanger yourselves.
Your emotions spills into your driving
Road rage provides an instant release of emotions but in actual fact they do more harm than good. Some people make genuine mistake and your rage put fear in them. Find somewhere else to vent not on other drivers. Being over excited can get you killed and on the other hand if you are depressed, stay off the road.
More things to be aware of
- Have a valid driver’s licence. The fact that you did not pass the driving test means that you do not meet the minimum standards. Hence driving without a licence means you are endangering yourself and other innocent people.
- If you just got your driving licence, never show off. You may even be an excellent driver but once you start trying to show off, that is when terrible things tend to go wrong.
- Better to hit the small unknown object at high speeds than to try to swerve abruptly to avoid it and end up sideways and in a ditch or shiny side down.
- Seat belts are safer worn than not. You’re gonna get hurt anyway, but better to be inside the car than outside in an accident.
- Keep mental records of every car on the road all the time that are close to you or you are or they are closing in on you.
- Respect the police. They have your best interest at heart, I guess. Their aim is not to make your journey horrible.
- Just because the speed limit is 65 and the min speed is 40 doesn’t mean it is safe doing 40. Any speed can kill!
- Don’t drive if you have taken drugs or meds that say not to drive.
- Always look in your blind spot before you move.
- Don’t drive faster than your headlights can see.
- Don’t drive if you eyesight is bad.
- Speed thrills but kill.
Enjoy your safe holidays.
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