Road Safety Rules
It's not something happy-go-lucky road trippers like to dwell upon, but about 50,000 people die each year in collisions on the roadways. By most estimates, over twenty-two million are injured. The costs associated with such collisions are staggering - often quoted at more than $80 billion. This carnage is unnecessary since nearly all collisions are preventable.
Driving at a higher than reasonable speed increases your risk in two ways: it cuts your reaction time and results in more "stored" energy (that must be dissipated in any collision). Is the risk worth it?
This is the science of math and physics - you cannot bend these rules. Each incremental increase in speed reduces your ability to react in time to hazards, because you may be covering distance in less time than it takes to react.
Normal reaction time is between .75 second and 1.5 second. Average reaction time distance at 80 km/h would be approximately 83 feet. At 112 km/h, it is over 115 feet. These numbers do not include braking distance, just reaction time. If you were relying solely on braking, any hazard you encounter within the reaction distance is already a problem; you can't react quickly enough to miss it. This is particularly important at night, when darkness restricts your visibility. Do you know at what distance your headlights will illuminate a hazard? How is your night vision these days? When headlights finally light up a road hazard, it is often too late to avoid it.
When we assume our driving "duties," one of the most important is that we be responsible for our actions and the results of those actions. In almost every case, a driver involved in a collision had an opportunity to avoid the collision - even when the other driver was responsible for the errors that led to the collision. Officers will tell you that a very common "excuse" heard after a collision is "I never saw him!"
Some of the most common driving distractions are: eating, drinking, applying make-up, talking on cell phones, adjusting the radio or changing CDs, dealing with misbehaving kids, or even just talking to passengers. Some drivers focus on single tasks (looking for an address, for example) and neglect all others.
You can help make the road much safer for yourself, your passengers, and the others around you if you make a habit of keeping the driving task as JOB ONE, and let someone else do the map reading or change the radio station! It's important to recognize your distractions - and make conscious efforts to minimize or avoid them.
3.Know Your Blind Spots:-
It should make you uncomfortable if you are driving in other drivers' blind spots! Virtually all vehicles have blind areas - even motorcycles. Yet, some drivers habitually change lanes without checking their blind areas for other vehicles.
Where are your blind spots? That depends on the vehicle. A car typically has blind areas at the sides near the rear of the vehicle, meaning you cannot see anything in these areas by looking in your correctly-adjusted mirrors. Other vehicles may be blind to anything that is directly behind.
It is important to check your mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds while driving. At the same time, it's not enough just to check the mirrors. If you've been driving long, you already know the blind areas on most vehicles are large enough to hide other vehicles. Mirrors also will not reveal a vehicle that is changing lanes from two lanes away.
Finally, remember that even parked vehicles have blind areas. Kids often play around cars. Before you start up and back out of your driveway, take a quick turn around the vehicle to make sure nothing, living or inanimate, is under or behind your wheels.
4.Create Space - Use the "Two-Second-Plus Rule" :-
Guard your safety by actively creating space around your vehicle, never allowing yourself to get "boxed in." Adequate space creates time and helps you avoid collisions. Maintain at LEAST two seconds of following distance, more if you can. Adjust your position in traffic as necessary to avoid driving in others' blind areas. Don't allow yourself to be tailgated—change lanes or adjust your speed to encourage tailgaters to pass you.
Motorcycles can often stop faster than you, and trucks (or trailers) impede your vision, which can cause you not to see hazards until too late. Ice can increase your stopping distance many times over, so leave lots of extra space if it might be present. Eight or ten seconds is not unreasonable around ice.
It is important to leave space even when stopped for a traffic light.
5.Look Down the Road:-
This means keep your eyes UP and looking down the road. Many drivers focus on the road only 5 or 8 seconds ahead. You should be looking about 15-20 seconds ahead of your vehicle, farther if you can. This gives you the time to recognize and avoid most potential hazards before they become a problem. You'll see lane restrictions or construction areas, traffic congestion, truck entrances, mishaps, etc. This technique is also useful for new drivers when learning how to steer.
There are other important ways to use your vision as a key tool for safe driving. Drivers should see, and be mindful of, everything around them on both sides and for several hundred feet ahead. Do this and you'll be able to avoid the immediate hazards like: balls rolling into the street followed by children, cars about to pull out from parallel parking, pedestrians hidden between vehicles, runaway trucks bearing down on you from behind, etc.
Your vision is perhaps the most important tool you have while driving. Use it effectively! Look as far down the road as possible, and use a scanning motion to take in and analyse everything that is happening around you or close enough to be a hazard.
Talk about helmets always incites vehement disagreement between folks that believe in their value and those that don't. You can suffer fatal head injuries in an impact as low as 4 mph.
7.Buy and use safety devices:-
In addition to seat belts, people recommend size-appropriate child safety restraints, ABS brakes, and air bags.
Child Safety Seats:-
As a defensive driving practice, children under age five should be restrained in approved child safety seats, buckled properly into the vehicle, even when they seem "big" enough to use regular belts. Also, don’t put your child in the front seat!
ABS brakes prevent uncontrolled skids during hard braking, by sensing wheel lock-up and releasing brake pressure (many times per minute), and just long enough to prevent a skid. As a result, you can still steer the vehicle, since the wheels can't lock up. Experts say that steering is faster than braking, but with ABS you can do both.
8.Wear your seat belt:-
Without a doubt, seat belts are the most significant safety device ever invented. Seat belts do several things for you. They provide impact protection, they absorb crash forces, and they keep you from being thrown out of the vehicle. Modern vehicles are built with "crumple zones," and seat belts are an integral part of the system. The belts hold you in place while the vehicle collapses around your "safe" zone. Belts help keep you in your place, in control, and better able to avoid a crash. Yet for all these benefits, people have lots of "reasons" why they don't wear them.
1. "They wrinkle my clothes." Absolutely, they do.
2. "They're uncomfortable." Maybe so, but you can adjust them so they fit better. If you need to have your belts adjusted to fit, see your dealer.
3. "I want to be thrown clear of the vehicle in a crash." Why would you want to land on your head?
4. "I don't want to be trapped if there's a collision, or my vehicle ends up in the water, or on fire." Wearing belts increases the likelihood you will be conscious after impact, less injured, and more able to get out. Seat belt failure or jamming isn't common.
Here's one last argument. If you are involved in a crash without belts, you may be held partially responsible for your own injuries, even if the other guy is mostly at fault in the crash.
9.Don't Trust Anybody:-
You can never rely on what the other driver will do. Think back to all the mistakes you've made while driving over the years. All the other drivers are just like us! Don't trust them! While you are driving, keep a wary eye on the other guy and leave yourself plenty of room. Anticipate the mistakes he might make and be ready for them. Eventually, he will! Because he's just like us!
If you accept that everyone makes driving errors, the next step is to drive with a wary attitude. Be careful of approaching red lights, because you know a light by itself never stopped anyone. Watch out for folks getting ready to pull out from parking beside the road. Look for gaps in lines of traffic which might be the result of someone pausing to let another vehicle cross in front of them. Be alert to the possibilities and have a strategy in mind for dealing with them.
10.Don't Drive Impaired:-
First, let's define "impairment." Webster's New World Dictionary defines impairment as "making something worse, less, weaker, or damaged." Applied to driving, impairment means there is a factor present that decreases your ability to operate your vehicle safely.
The first thing that comes to most folks' minds is impairment through alcohol or other drugs. There are others as well: impairment through fatigue, or as a result of disabling injuries or illness.
Alcohol is a prime cause of impairment. Since it acts as a depressant, it begins to diminish a person's abilities with the first sip. Since alcohol slows your mind and your motor skills, it has a dramatic effect on your reaction time and distance.
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