By Mark Long, Special for USDR.
Dangerous driving is one of the major causes of fatalities and injuries on our roads. This is despite the fact that most of the people who are driving on these roads have received comprehensive driving lessons from some of the best driving schools in the country. Knowing all the driving rules and regulations is great, but it is not enough if you want to be safe on the road. There are a number of tips and tricks that could save your life and the lives of other people who will cross your path while you are driving.
Adjust the mirrors properly
The mirrors of your car should be adjusted in a way that no part of your car is visible on them. This will help you to eliminate any blind spots and to avoid any mishaps when driving and changing lanes. The blind spot is the area that is invisible to the wing mirrors on both sides of the vehicle. Blind spots are a very frequent cause of accidents, and a lot of manufacturers have come up with cameras and gizmos that will alert drivers in case there is a vehicle on their blind spot. However, this technology is not necessary if you know how to adjust all the mirrors correctly. Angle the mirror away from you until you can no longer see the car, and then let them stay there. This way, there will be no overlap between any of the mirrors, and any vehicle that is trying to pass you from either side will be visible on at least one of the mirrors.
Pay more attention to the traffic than to traffic signs
Traffic signs are not as important as the traffic itself, as most of them do not take into consideration the present condition on a particular day. Furthermore, traffic signs do not consider the unpredictability of other drivers as well as other poor driving behaviours. As a driver, you are likely to experience sudden stops, tailgating, unsignalled turns, swerving and unpredictable lane changes from other drivers. If drivers would pay more attention to traffic, they would be more cautious, and they are less likely to get into an accident. In fact, there are people who argue that traffic signs should be eliminated altogether. This is because doing so will put more responsibility in the heads and hands of drivers who will be forced to interact with each other and with their pedestrians in order to reduce accidents. We are not imploring you to ignore all the road signs. Instead, we are asking you not to over-rely on them when making traffic decisions. Just because the traffic lights have allowed you to continue driving does not mean that you should ignore the pedestrian who is still crossing the road. In short, always assume that you are the only good driver on the road, and that everybody else is reckless. This will help you to be more cautious and to pay attention to what other drivers and road users are doing so as to avoid crashes.
Radios and other entertainment equipment in a car can make you a bad driver
Most cars have entertainment equipment, including radios, speakers, and sometimes even televisions. However, studies show that listening to music while driving can make your driving worse. This research showed that people who drive without any music are likely to react faster when something else crosses their path. However, individuals who are listening to music may not react at all because they are so relaxed. Drivers who listen to music are calm and less focused on the driving. The study also shows that drivers who listen to high-tempo beats are more likely to drive through red lights. Such drivers are also more likely to be involved in accidents compared to drivers who listen to slow songs or drivers who do not listen to songs at all while driving.
Always turn on your headlights
A lot of people believe that the headlights should only be on during the night or during extreme weather conditions such as rain, fog or snow. However, studies have shown that accidents can be reduced by up to 32% if all drivers have their headlights on at all times. This is because the human eye always seeks out the light. Therefore, pedestrians and other road users are more likely to see a vehicle if its headlights are on, and they will avoid it in order to prevent an accident from happening.
Do not brake the car after a tyre blowout
The most instinctual step during a driving crisis is to hit the brakes, and this works for most situations. However, after a tyre has bust, hitting the brakes could be detrimental, and it could cause a very serious accident. This is because you will lose control of the car, and you could end up flipping into other cars. This is especially the case if the rear tyre is the one that has blown out. Therefore, when the tyre blows out, hit the gas very steadily for a few seconds in order to regain control of the vehicle. Try to keep the vehicle as straight as possible. A tyre that is completely flat will drag onto the road. Ensure that the car has just enough speed for you to regain control of it, and then gently let go of the gas pedal and turn your car towards the direction of the blown out tyre. The blown out tyre will eventually cause the car to stop on its own. This is one of the most important driving lessons, and most accredited driving schools instruct their students on how to react in such situations.
Scan ahead while driving
Most drivers usually concentrate on the bumper that is right in front of them. However, a good driver should try ‘high eyes’ driving and scan the horizons. This is a tactic that the most experienced race car drivers use in order to anticipate any conditions that are ahead of them. Scanning ahead can help the driver to know if there is heavy traffic ahead so that they can prepare to slow down, or if there is a sharp bend, or any other conditions that they can avoid in order to prevent an accident.
Mark Long is an experienced driver and a driving instructor who has worked in a number of driving schools. His driving lessons and tips try to help young drivers to avoid accidents and to stay safe at all times.