Following on from what was discussed yesterday, here are three more pieces of advice that, if followed by everyone, would dramatically lower their chances of being involved in what is the most dangerous of all car crash types – the single vehicle accident. Naturally, these safety measures also apply to driving generally, no matter how many people are in the car.
Possibly the most obvious piece of advice of them all. Recently we published an article arguing that, before long, some draconian measures will have to be introduced to curb vehicle speeds, possibly even as heavy-handed as physical speed limiters being fitted to cars.
The problem with speeding, and why it will continue to be a problem, is that just too many drivers enjoy doing it. It provides an adrenaline rush, especially if an accident is narrowly avoided, and some road users are more concerned with their own entertainment than interested in the safety of the millions of people with whom they share Britain’s road network.
Another contributory factor is undoubtedly the pace of modern life. A walk through the streets of any UK city, especially London, will emphasise in just how much of a rush nearly everyone seems to be these days. This applies to the roads as well. Someone late for a meeting may be tempted to press the accelerator a little more than usual and save themselves a few minutes.
Many of these drivers believe they are invincible, adopting the ‘it’ll never happen to me’ mindset. What they fail to grasp is that it only takes one mistake to cause a huge car crash at speed, whether it occurs three weeks or forty years into a driver’s motoring career.
The faster a vehicle is travelling, the less time a driver gives himself to react if something goes wrong, even if that ‘something’ is due to external factors.
We see this quite frequently in motor racing; professionally trained and phenomenally talented drivers nearly getting wiped out when a deer ambles on to the track in front of them while they approach at 190mph. If it can happen to them, it can happen to us.
Speeding, it has to be said, is largely the preserve of male drivers, and especially young male drivers at that. Although giant strides have been taken, with the UK now one of the safest places in Europe to be a driver, more can still be done. Educating young drivers about the consequences of their actions needs to be backed up with more concrete measures.
When a motorcyclist passes his or her test for the first time, they are restricted to riding a bike with a restricted power output by law, for two years. Perhaps this measure could be replicated for the four-wheeled equivalent.
This goes without saying. When a motorist is in control of a ton of metal travelling at speeds that could destroy a building if something goes wrong, they have a duty not only to themselves but to other drivers to make sure they give the road ahead their full attention.
Car manufacturers have, in recent years, given drivers a helping hand with innovations such as the ‘heads up’ display, a device that avoids a driver having to constantly glance down at his speedometer by projecting an image of the car’s instruments on to the inside of the windscreen, right in their field of vision.
Ford is also understood to be working on a system whereby a car’s functions are controlled via a series of touch screens and voice commands, to eliminate the need for a driver to fiddle with dials and switches when they are supposed to be concentrating.
This, of course, is where the hands-free mobile phone came from. Despite laws being passed to outlaw driving whilst using a hand-held phone, many drivers still do it quite flagrantly. Even those who switch their mobiles on to speakerphone and drive with them on their lap are breaking the law. Many new cars now come with a Bluetooth hands-free kit available. Simply put, it is illegal to use the phone while driving otherwise.
The same applies to eating, drinking, putting on make-up etc.
Many roll-over accidents are caused by drivers over-correcting if they drift off the road. The ability to keep calm behind the wheel is a valuable skill and is something that can be honed by advanced motoring classes.
If a driver experiences a sudden tyre blow, the first instinct as they feel the car escaping their control is to apply the brakes, which is actually one of the worst things they can do. Instead, they should steer into the slide/apply opposite lock until the car is once again under control. Nervousness and lack of confidence behind the wheel can lead to panic getting the better of drivers and result in a potential accident becoming even worse.
Date Published: September 28, 2010
Author: David Brown