5 Tips For Staying Safe On The Road

5 Tips For Staying Safe On The Road

The festive season is upon us again and this time it’s a long one; taking 3 days’ leave effectively gets you a 9-day break. So with the expected high number of travelers this season, we have compiled a list of safety driving tips. And while this is by no means an exhaustive list, these few easy tips aim to keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.

1. Look ahead – Sounds simple enough. When you drive you’re supposed to be looking ahead anyway. But how far ahead should you look? You’ll probably do alright by looking at the pavement directly in front of you when you’re walking but when you’re driving at highway speeds you need to look beyond the car in front of you.

The faster you go, the further ahead you need to see because your reaction time shortens drastically. The further ahead you can see, the more reaction time you will have. I make it a point to see at least 3 – 4 cars ahead of me whenever possible. That way when any car in front brakes suddenly, I’m already slowing down before the car directly in front of me does. Also, when going into a turn, look as far into the turn as you can for any vehicles or obstacles.

For long distance driving, try to do what the Red Indians used to do. Do not focus on any particular spot at any one time, but scan the road ahead using your peripheral vision. That way, you will be able to note anything out of the ordinary.

At night, lights, especially red ones, usually indicate there is some activity ahead that may require you to slow down or stop.

2. Look around you – This sounds contradictory to #1 but unless you’re the only life on the road, you need to have situational awareness. It’s equally as important to know what is beside and behind you as in front.

Other than increasing manufacturing cost, the rear view and side mirrors serve a more important purpose. Keeping them clean and looking at them every so often could ensure your well-being. Just imagine you driving at 100km/h and all lanes of the highway are occupied. An express bus is in your lane behind you approaching at 120km/h. Every passing minute, the bus cuts its distance to you by 333 meters. The bus has faulty brakes and horn. Can you guess what happens if you only look in front?

A good driver looks in his or her rear view mirror on an average, once every 5 to 7 seconds. Before turning into junctions, make it a point to signal your intention way before the turn. Given the number of reckless drivers and riders who think nothing of overtaking you on the left or using the emergency lane to do so, this precaution may save you unnecessary pain.


3. Be well-rested – A tired driver is a dangerous driver. You will endanger not just yourself and your loved ones but other road users as well.

Researchers at Virginia Tech found that sleepiness was a contributing factor to 20% of all road accidents. When you’re sleepy or drowsy, your alertness level is low and your reaction time goes out the window.

Not all cars are equipped with driver alert and lane departure warning systems so take frequent breaks if you must. But take these breaks at proper rest areas and NEVER on the emergency lanes.

4. Avoid distractions – In today’s world, that’s almost impossible with all the gizmos and gadgets connected to the entire world. It’s very tempting to read a message or status update when you hear the beep so the best thing to have is discipline. Focus on the driving, the road and the cars, bikes, trucks and buses around you instead. That message can wait.

Likewise with navigation systems. Set your course before you move off or should there be a change, get to a rest stop to do it or have one of your passengers handle it. Taking your eyes off the road for just 1 second changes things drastically. Many drivers fiddle with the entertainment unit, hold their phones, tablets or even a child while driving; the strangest I’ve seen was a driver cutting his fingernails. DON’T! At 110km/h, it will take you 1 second to move almost 31 meters. Are you sure you’re more than 31 meters away from the car in front in case he decides to stop? And can you be sure you can stop immediately? You might not drive 110km/h in holiday traffic but it doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

Kids in the car can be a distraction as well. They are precious cargo, so ensure that they are properly belted in or are in proper child seats. It is a definite no no to have kids on the loose inside a car.

5. Buckle up – Sometimes boo-boos happen whether you want it or not so the best thing to do is to buckle up. You’ve probably read many stories of road fatalities where the victims were thrown out of the vehicle and I can wager a carton of drinks that these victims didn’t wear their seat belts.

Just like the mirrors, the seat belts have a purpose and since you’ve already paid for them you should get your money’s worth by using them. Seat belts are the primary life saver in many accidents. Airbags, on the other hand, are what they technically are – SUPPLEMENTARY restraint systems. Introducing your face to an exploding plastic bag without a seat belt holding you back isn’t a fun experience. Airbags also do not prevent you from being tossed out the window if the car flips.

But seat belts aren’t just for the front passengers anymore. By law, all occupants must be buckled up and we can’t stress enough how important this is. An unbuckled rear passenger flying forward in a collision can cause a lot of harm to the front passenger. I personally knew 2 rear middle passengers who broke the windshield with their heads. Unfortunately they can’t tell you their story. It’s also important that children under 12 be on booster seats for proper positioning of the seat belt and younger children, in child seats; not an adult’s lap.

Booster Seat

So until such time that all cars are filled with sensors and radar hooked up to a speedy computer that communicates with other vehicles on the road, we human beings have to stay vigilant. Autoworld.com.my takes this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Holidays. Have a safe journey.

Safety First


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