This Tip Thursday is all about road safety.
No one gets behind the wheel expecting to be involved in an accident, but nicks and scratches, fender benders and fatal crashes have become commonplace due to human error or downright recklessness on the road. The best way to reduce the risk of being in an accident is to practice safe driving behaviours. Whether you’re just learning to drive or you’re a road veteran, bear these safe driving tips in mind.
- Ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy. No matter the age of your car, it is important to keep it in good shape. For instance, you should routinely check your tyres to maintain the correct pressure and rotate them to promote even wear, and ensure that your braking system is in tip top shape. If you notice pulling, a vibrating brake pedal or a high pitched squealing sound when you bring your vehicle to halt, head to the mechanic as soon as possible.
- Practise defensive driving. Driving defensively means that you always question the actions of other road users, expecting the unexpected so you are not taken by surprise. It incorporates practices such as maintaining a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you; not speeding; yielding to other vehicles, even if you technically have the right of way, and remaining calm in the face of frustrating traffic issues.
- Be extra careful in bad weather. No one likes to get caught in a downpour and it seems drivers lose their minds whenever it starts to rain, causing traffic jams that go on forever, splashing pedestrians from head to toe as they speed through puddles and getting into fender-benders due to reckless driving on slick road surfaces. If you’re driving through fog or heavy rain, the simplest thing to do is cut your speed. Also, maintain extra space between you and the car ahead, and be especially careful around curves.
- Buckle up. Worn properly, seat belts prevent you from being thrown around the inside of your vehicle or being flung through the windshield in the event of a crash or sudden deceleration. Find out more about seat belt legislation here.
- Avoid distractions. It has become a common practice for people to be on their cell phones while behind the wheel, but this is incredibly dangerous – more than 2,600 deaths per years are attributed to driving while texting in the United States. Quite simply, your attention is compromised if you are texting, checking emails or on a call while driving, slowing down your reaction time considerably. Put your phone away while driving and check your messages when you get to your destination.
- Slow down. The faster you drive, the less control you have over your vehicle, so you may not be able to brake or swerve in time to avoid a collision or hitting a pedestrian. According to recent information from the Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI), speeding has been the major cause of fatal crashes in Jamaica (22.76 per cent) and ranking as the fifth contributor to all crashes on the nation’s roads over the last 10 years.
- Don’t drink and drive. If it is hard to remain steady on your feet when you are ‘tipsy,’ imagine trying to control a vehicle in the same state. Alcohol consumption impairs your reaction time and vision, which increases your chances of being involved in an accident. Drunk driving is an offence for which you can be arrested and your licence suspended.
For more information, visit the National Road Safety Council.