10 tips for safe driving
1 – Expect the unexpected
Processing all the visual information around us on the road and prioritizing it, is the answer to safe driving. We must be able to ask and answer the “what if” scenario, making allowances for the huge variety of possible situations. By expecting the unexpected and having a plan or course of action we can avoid almost any possible eventuality.
2 – Communicate
Communication centers around sending a clear signal about your intentions at the proper time, and recognizing signals sent by other road users. Timing and clarity are significant to both parties. As the sender, the driver must select the best method and time to do so. As a receiver, you must be able to see and recognize or understand the message.
3 – One Second Rule
Most driver training programs use the one-second rule, which says that if you had one additional second to deal with a traffic situation you could avoid a crash. At 100 km/hr we travel about 32 metres every second. If we had one second more warning we’d have an additional 32 metres in which to turn or stop.
4 – Age
Failure to look far enough ahead or to use our peripheral vision are the most likely cause of crashes. As we age our peripheral vision deteriorates because the muscle controlling the eye start to atrophy. After more than an hour on the road we start to tire and our line of vision drops – in both cases we are susceptible to missing things that would otherwise allow us to take corrective action.
5 – Circadian Rhythm
We all have our own individual circadian rhythm – the cycle our internal body clock goes through. There are periods of the day when we are most alert and times when we are drowsy. Be aware of your personal circadian rhythm’s low point and avoid driving at that time if possible.
6 – Visual
Our eyes identify situations and pass that information to the brain for interpretation. The brain, if necessary, sends a message to our limbs to steer, brake etc. This all happens in mere portions of a second.
7 – Cyclists
One step that would prevent the majority of conflicts between motor vehicles and bicycles or motorcycles would be the proper setting and use of mirrors – side mirrors to see to the side and the rear view mirror to see what’s behind. The mere presence of motion should trigger an alert mechanism within the brain.
8 – Look around
There is no sense having the visual acuity of a hawk and the vehicle-handling skills of a Formula One driver if we don’t identify potential problems in time to take action. The traffic environment surrounding our vehicle is dynamic – constantly changing, every millisecond. To stay on top of this situation we must look at the entire scene – ahead, to the side and behind.
9 – Bottoms up
The first step in setting your car seat is to adjust the fore/aft direction. Put your bottom as far back in the seat as possible. Adjust the seat until you can comfortably place your right foot on the floorboards BEHIND the brake pedal with your knee slightly bent.
10 – Wet steering
Wet roads may affect your steering. If the steering becomes “light” the tires have lost contact with the road and are aquaplaning or skimming over the surface of the water standing on the road. Ease off the accelerator and reduce speed until the tires regain their grip. Avoid sudden inputs of the steering wheel, brake or accelerator.