The festive season was upon us, and see road accidents peak during such periods. Perusing the local media, I saw that a dozen had been killed and over five times as many injured in road accidents, all over a 12-hour period (14th April 6.00pm – 15th April 6.00am). Here are just three basic areas that drivers lack these days: AWARENESS, COMMONSENSICAL DRIVING, DISCIPLINE. For example…
>>>Before someone starts a journey of say, 200 km it is assumed that he/she would check on tyre pressure of all four tyres including that of the spare tyre at least a day before the journey when tyres are cold. Under-inflated tyres – or tyres with irregular amounts of air within each tyre could result in a totally avoidable accident when speeding on Expressway for instance. Similarly tyres with worn out treads or uneven wear on some wheels mean trouble ahead! In short awareness of ‘tyre health’/wheel alignment etc., and taking corrective action could prevent accidents.
>>>The driver should be aware that he/she should have adequate rest before driving long distances.
>>>One should be aware when coming along a side road to STOP before entering a main road.
>>>A driver [even of a small car!] must be aware to dip his/her Main Beam lights when facing on-coming traffic. Failure to do so would dazzle on-coming vehicles leading to serious accidents
>>>A driver should be aware that ‘overtaking blind’ [meaning: not checking for on-coming traffic and ‘hoping’ no vehicle emerges from ‘beyond the bend] is a No, NO – Yet some do – with fatal consequences at times. This is not rocket science but some appear to have a death-wish!
>>>It starts to rain when you are driving at 100km/hr on Expressway. It’s common sense to immediately drop your speed to say 60km/hr – if not await a skid sooner or later – with tragic consequences!
>>>You stop at road side for whatever reason; it is common sense to switch on your Hazard Warning lights and if compelled to open driver’s door, it is common sense that you carefully check your rear view mirrors before getting off; failure to do so may result in a cyclist/motor-cyclist/another car being hit!
>>>You are driving on unfamiliar narrow up-country roads when the area is engulfed in a thick mist and you cannot see more than a few feet ahead. It’s common sense to pull over to a side switch on Hazard Warning lights and remain until the weather clears or join/follow another vehicle, moving cautiously.
>>>It’s holiday time! Friends and family together pile into your D/Cab – nine in all with kids; the luggage area is brimming with suitcases and all types of paraphernalia for that extended trip to the hills. Unaccustomed weight means that it is common sense to drive that much slower, especially when approaching corners as the extra mass means longer time needed for slowing down.
>>>One needs bags of patience with a disciplined mind to follow a slow moving vehicle along a relatively narrow road that makes overtaking a challenge – sometimes one needs to ‘wait’ for perhaps 30 minutes before ‘an all clear’ situation comes along; your patience and discipline then pays off!
>>>Red or Orange at Traffic Signal lights mean: STOP! You need to be disciplined to do so!
>>>One needs to be disciplined to conform to all facets of the Highway Code; so discipline yourself and invest time and focus to study the Highway Code and visualize traffic situations vis-a-vis your driving!
>>>A disciplined driver would not overtake on left hand side unless due to unavoidable situation.
>>>A disciplined driver approaches a Pedestrian Crossing with caution and stops when seeing a pedestrian setting foot on the Pedestrian Crossing and will switch on Hazard Switch if first in line.
>>>One needs to be disciplined never to take the wheel if he/she is intoxicated, period!
AN ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN
Here’s an interesting anecdote from a reader: “My wife works for a renowned Newspaper & Publishing House. Every Tuesday she does the Night Shift (finishes at 10pm) and the company provides transport to ensure that all such night-shift employees return home safely. The vans in ‘office-pool’ are rickety old ones that are poorly maintained and no doubt would fail an MOT many times over!
This particular Tuesday, she phoned me at around 10:30pm. The van had broken down (NO BRAKES!) and the group of five from that shift were stranded on Kynsey road (near the General Hospital, ironically). Desolate area at that time, no buses, no trishaws, not even a cat around! They had promised another van would come, but I told her there was no way in hell I would let her be by the side of the road waiting for another death-trap, and went to pick her up.
This takes the cake: apparently the driver had discovered that there were no brakes when he had to avoid an on-coming vehicle - no handbrake either! Luckily he was able to stop the van without crashing. On checking the brake system, he had told the passengers that there was not a drop of brake fluid in the reservoir! As the vans are from a pool, a driver may get any van - thus it's not like where one driver is allocated one van and can, if so inclined, be aware of the mechanical condition. They are allocated a van, given the destination and off they go, often at break-neck speed!
The whole point of this is, Companies have a responsibility to ensure that their employees get home safely when doing night shift - doubly so when the company is providing the transport.” The reader in question now refuses to let her take the vans home, and drives to her office every Tuesday night to pick her up, as the life of a loved one is more precious than anything else.
What a shocking lack of Health & Safety! Don’t such companies respect and value their staff?
A suggestion from ‘Snippets’: a safer and hassle-free option is for such corporate entities to tie up with a reliable Taxi Service Co. that provide cars/vans at particular times or to report when called. Taxi Charges can be entered in apt ‘Coupon’ booklet with tear-off page – one to retained by Taxi Co. and other retained by the staff officer concerned who will enter relevant figures – km done/times etc.
Driving is NOT child’s play; do be responsible for all your actions; learn to be a ‘defensive driver’ as a defensive driver hardly gets involved in ‘avoidable accidents’. Think about it! Cheers! Dyan