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Safe driving guide – What is C.O.A.S.T?

The more years you spend driving on the roads, the more experience you will gain. It’s said that once you pass your driving test, the process of learning how to drive begins in earnest. No matter how many lessons you have or which manoeuvres you must complete on your test, it can only begin to prepare you for the reality of driving daily. You never know what you might encounter.

This is one of the reasons why it’s worth remembering the acronym C.O.A.S.T. This stands for five crucial elements that contribute to safer driving:

  1. Concentration
  2. Observation
  3. Anticipation
  4. Space
  5. Time

The idea of C.O.A.S.T. is built into the National Speed Awareness Course designed to help drivers who have been caught speeding to understand the potential consequences of their actions.

How can a simple acronym like C.O.A.S.T make you a better driver?

It’s easy to become complacent behind the wheel, especially if you complete the same journey twice a day every day while going to and from work. No one expects an accident to happen to them, and we’ve all seen drivers taking risks on the roads. This could relate to going through a traffic light just as it turns to red, or speeding excessively when there is no need to do so.

Let’s look at each of the points mentioned above, so we can see how they can make you a better driver.

  • Concentration – even the smallest lapse in concentration could mean you go through a red light, drive into another vehicle or even hit a cyclist or pedestrian. Don’t be distracted by your mobile phone, the radio or anything else in the car, either.
  • Observation – pay close attention to what is going on around you. Use your mirrors regularly, and make sure you observe all speed limits as maximums. Observe what people in other lanes are doing and indicate your intention if you are going to perform any manoeuvre.
  • Anticipation – we cannot always anticipate what other people are going to do. However, it can help reduce the chances of an accident. Junctions can be particularly challenging. For example, 75% of accidents involving a vehicle and a bicycle happen at junctions. Allow cyclists more room and be aware of sudden manoeuvres you may not have been expecting.
  • Space – the fourth aspect of C.O.A.S.T. has been touched on already. Giving all road users more room allows you more time to take evasive action to avoid an accident if need be.
  • Time – once again, we’ve already touched on this. Allow more time to brake and stop in wet weather, and more still in ice and snow. Allow plenty of time to pull out at junctions and at roundabouts, and don’t risk a collision by trying to get ahead when a few extra seconds can keep everyone much safer.

Reducing your speed

Some drivers habitually speed, and yet it can contribute to serious accidents that cause injury and even loss of life. Speed awareness courses are regularly offered to those who have been caught speeding. It seems to be helping, too – one survey of 1,311 motorists found 80% of them would take the course again because they would learn something by doing so.

Reducing your speed makes following the C.O.A.S.T. acronym much easier. You’ll have more time to observe and anticipate the actions of others, and there’s likely to be more space between you and others as well. You’ll also have more time to react if anything happens that you’re not expecting. Excessive speed is a contributory factor in 24% of road accident collisions that result in a death. This relates not just to exceeding the speed limit, but to driving at a speed that is too fast for the conditions the driver is presented with.

Typical injuries that may occur when you are involved in a road accident

Even if you follow the C.O.A.S.T. advice every time you go out driving, you can never guarantee you won’t encounter someone who doesn’t adhere to C.O.A.S.T. This means you could be involved in an accident that leads to injuries, even if those injuries were not your fault.

Injuries can vary by a huge amount, depending on the speed involved in the collision. If you are wearing a seat belt, you stand a greater chance of escaping without serious injury; however, it does depend on what happens to the car you are in. Modern cars are built with airbags and other protective features in case they are needed, but serious injuries do still occasionally occur. If we all followed the C.O.A.S.T. advice, we could reduce the instance of injuries and accidents significantly.

Injuries can range from soft tissue injuries, perhaps from being held in the car by your seat belt, to whiplash. Other more serious injuries can include internal bleeding, broken bones and concussion, not to mention other head and spinal injuries.

Be alert on all roads, not just motorways and those in built-up areas

C.O.A.S.T. is important no matter where you are driving. Country roads can be more dangerous than you think, even though you may not come across many cars. Statistics reveal A-roads in rural areas are four times as likely to be the site of a fatal accident when compared to A-roads in built-up areas.

As you can see, taking care and following the C.O.A.S.T. acronym could save your life, no matter where you are on the roads.

Contact us today if you believe you have a chance to claim compensation

We know now that not all drivers follow the C.O.A.S.T. advice. If you’ve been injured in a recent car accident and you believe the other driver was the one at fault, it might be worth contacting our team at Accident Advice Helpline.

We provide no-obligation advice every day to drivers who have been in similar situations. Call now to benefit from that same advice on 0800 689 5659. Don’t wait to see if our solicitors could help you claim – call now.