Motoring corner: Defensive Driving

As a motorist (driver), you must know that, the way you drive determines how you and other road users behave on the road.  If each and every motorist had the same driving pattern (good or bad), then driving would have been quite predictable. I know how cool it feels when you have a car.

As a motorist (driver), you must know that, the way you drive determines how you and other road users behave on the road.  If each and every motorist had the same driving pattern (good or bad), then driving would have been quite predictable. I know how cool it feels when you have a car.

And I know how exciting driving can be.  But remember, today or tonight is just one small day in your long exciting life. Don’t race, be smart, - and stay alive. 

Never be afraid if someone will call you a “loser” for refusing to race, it’s your life - and you are not a blind kitten (are you?) to let anyone lead you in the wrong direction. YOU will be a winner if you are strong enough to prevent yourself from doing stupid things.

What I mean is the factor that, one driver would have known what is on the mind of an approaching drive and hence, the road would have been gotten rid of the carnages we experience in for of road accidents. 

There are a number of factors that combine to contribute to the dreaded road accidents and these are: - road condition (technical, climatic, topological and congestion), mechanical condition of vehicles, load factors, experience and judgment of the drivers, concentration of the drivers.  
Most of the time, we tend to ignore other road users and only assume that we are the only ones entitled to using the road.  This is a rather selfish phenomena to the extent that, some drivers drive in the middle of the road to the extent that, they knowingly or unknowingly refuse to give way to others driving behind them. 
Defensive driving is that kind of driving where every driver on the road drives in such a manner that, he is always on the lookout for other road users that he assumes to be amateurs or unskilled. 

This way, you avoid putting your vehicle and its occupants at risk.  The World Health Organization estimated that almost 1.2million people around the world died and as many as 50 million were injured in road crashes in 2002  and forecast that, unless effective action were taken, these figures would double by 2020.

With defensive driving, we assume that, “road priorities” do not exist and that, all other drivers do not know what they are doing and that, only you, are the expert!  These simple theories could make a very big difference on our roads. 

The majority of carnage is caused by some drivers misjudging the actions of other drivers, e.g. you assume the other guy is about to turn left and when he turns right, and you are caught off guard. 

Alternatively, you see a vehicle approaching in the middle of the road, you assume that, the other driver is seeing you and you do not bother to alert him of your presence, what follows is a head on collision; this could have been averted by you merely flashing on your headlamps!  
Whenever driving, make sure that you are in the right form to drive.  Avoid driving when drunk as this could greatly impair your ability to drive as well as make rational decision while on the road. 

Always keep your attention on the road. If you want to take off your coat, re-adjust your seat, look for something in the glove box, or anything alike, never do that while driving, for Christ sake, pull aside and take that jacket off, or answer that phone or do this or that, not when driving. 

This can make a difference if you live or die, if you remain normal or get maimed!
If you are the type that drives long distances, make sure that, you get ample rest before setting off on a long journey.  It is recommended to have a night stop after driving for 8 hours nonstop. 

This relaxes you and sets both your body and mind ready for another long day on the road.  Before you start off, make sure the radiator is full of the water or coolant liquid, check the engine oil level and make sure the oil is at the recommended level and has not lost its viscosity. 

Check your brake clutch fluids as well, low levels of which would affect your braking as well as the rate at which your vehicle’s gearbox works. 

Move around the vehicle to observe any other things that might not look normal, e.g. tyre pressure, tail lights, etc.  For your car and your own sake, start the vehicle and allow the engine to idle for at least 5 minutes before you begin driving. 

This helps to warm the engine up (for cold areas) and the engine oil to circulate through the engine so that the engine is well lubricated (this gives you better engine oil levels). 

During idling, you could notice defects that would have otherwise been difficult to notice while driving.   Before driving off, first rev (accelerate fast) your engine a few times, this tends to clear the fuel inlets and gives your vehicle a good start.
Once you have left the parking lot, into the public driveway, always obey all the road signs, traffic rules and regulations as well as driving in a manner that is considerate to other road users. 

Remember, roads are public utilities that are shared by all sorts of users; for that matter, respect other road users as much as they should respect you.

The cardinal rule is that, we all contribute towards making the roads safe; likewise, it is us who are responsible for the road carnages due to our own actions that would have otherwise been controlled. 

Always think twice before you use your mobile phone, it is the number one cause of driver obstruction.  Even when using the so called “hands free” sets, remember, they too bog down your mind and reduce your concentration on the road. 

If you must take a call, please make it as brief as possible, you could inform the caller that you are driving and ask him or her to call you later.

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