Tips on Safer Driving

Neha Lalchandani shares some driving tips so you can plan ahead for a safer driving trip.

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With the release of the latest Fast & Furious movie, many of us have driven back home with intense exhilaration and satisfaction. Well, why not? It was a movie that started with a bang and ended with a bigger bang, in a way that left us with our jaws dropped. However, wouldn’t it be worth contemplating that while all the thrills and action made the movie amazing, it is actually important to practice safe driving?

A 2013 study from the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) found that intoxicated drivers caused 13.5 per cent of crashes, drivers falling asleep resulted in 11.8 per cent of crashes and 3.2 per cent of crashes were caused by failure to look and passenger interactions due to diverted attention or distraction.

In Australia, you are not permitted to drive a car if your blood alcohol level is 0.05 per cent or higher. Moreover, if you’re still on your Ps, your blood alcohol level must be zero at all times. Driving under the influence of drugs affects your ability to drive and is highly illegal incurring severe penalties.

Lack of sleep, tiredness and fatigue can result in drowsy driving. Hence, ensure you are well-rested by getting a good night’s sleep before commencing your journey to ensure you stay focused throughout your drive.

Before you leave home, make sure you’ve finish dressing and doing your make up. Even if you just need to apply a bit of lipstick or tie your pony tail, this is a bad idea while driving because anything can occur within a split second. Same goes for meals. If you are starving, then snack smartly and avoid foods that spill or make a mess as this will distract your attention from the road and your vehicle.

Be mindful of loose items that tend to fall off such as water bottles, drinks, handbags or guidebooks. Secure them safely in the seat pockets or holders so they do not irritate you and cause you pick it up, taking your eyes away from the street.

Although mobile phones were responsible for only 0.9% of crashes in 2013, it is still important to put your phone away while driving. Texting, emailing or social networking can be done before leaving or after you arrive at your destination. If you do need to attend to an emergency call, you can pull over to the side of the road and deal with it. This works the same for GPS users; input the address of your point of interest before you start driving.

Turn on your headlights – even in light rain – to help you see, and be seen. Keep your front and rear defoggers on to ensure your windows stay clear. Also, be sure your head lights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights can make it harder for you to see the road and can even blind other drivers.

Driving in rural and remote areas away from major highways requires special driving skills and awareness of different road conditions. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order, with a recent service and plenty of fuel. Ensure you are well supplied in terms of food and water and keep your family or friends informed of your intended route and expected arrival time.

Give yourself more travel time if necessary. This will allow you to drive at a slower, safe pace and cope with the probability of heavy traffic, especially during the wet weather. Remember, it’s better to be late, than to arrive ugly.

Devote your full attention to driving and remember to put on your seatbelts and secure the same for your children or pets before turning on the engine of the car. Might sound cliché, but keep calm and drive safely.

Picture courtesy Flickr kaysha

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