Road accident is the most unfortunate thing to happen to a road user, though they happen quite often. One traffic collision takes place every minute in the country and one person gets injured every four minutes. A National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) report revealed that every year over 1.4 million road accidents/collisions occur in India and shockingly, more than half of them are the fault of the driver. Speeding, rash and careless driving and bad overtaking are among the major causes of the accidents. It is very important to drive safely because one bad split second decision and you can maim yourself or someone else for life. The best way to reduce the risk of being involved in a road accident is to practice safe driving behaviors. Here are few tips that will help bring you and your loved ones home unharmed.
10. Keep Your Vehicle Safe
No matter how well you drive, you are not safe until your vehicle is in good condition. Vehicle maintenance is not only important to extend the life of your vehicle, it is also a major and sadly the most ignored safety issue. One of the most common maintenance problem that often leads to crash is improper tire pressure. Uneven tire pressure can lead to a blowout especially in heavy vehicles. You can yourself check the pressure of your vehicle’s tires using a cheap pressure gauge that is easily available at any auto parts store. You should also regularly check the tires for any uneven wear and tear. Another key area is the car’s brakes. The foot brake must be capable of stopping the vehicle within a distance of 25 feet at a speed of 20 miles per hour. Monitor your brake pad thickness and don’t let the pads wear down to metal.
9. Avoid Distractions
To be able to drive safely, you should keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Talking over the cell phone, texting, listening to loud music, eating while driving, applying makeup, handling the children are some of the common distractions that can take your focus away from the road and lead to severe accidents. It is extremely important that you do not use your phone while driving. This seemingly harmless activity is actually quite dangerous on road. If it is really important for you to attend the call, then either pull over the vehicle or use a hands free device. It is worth noting that in some countries it is now illegal to use mobile phone while driving due to the number of accidents that are related to cell phone use while driving. Other thing that you can do to avoid the distraction is to not exceed the number of passengers you are allowed to carry in your car. Also, make sure that your children are buckled in their seats so that they don’t end up jumping over you and disturbing you while you are driving.
8. Never Beat The Traffic Lights
It is a common site at road intersections in India that vehicles cross without caring for light. People have a common perception that by jumping the red lights they can save their time. Studies, however, reveal that traffic signals, if followed properly by all drivers, actually save a lot of time and help commuters reach their destination safely and timely. Think before jumping the red light again because accidents are a matter of seconds. By jumping the red light, you are not only putting your own life in danger but also jeopardizing the safety of other road users. Not only the lights, other road signs are equally important for safe driving and it is a fundamental responsibility of the drivers to learn the road signs and follow the appropriate road rules while driving.
7. Proceed With Caution While Changing Lanes
A major number of road accidents occur due to carelessness of drivers while changing lanes. Extra caution must be taken as accidents that occur during changing lanes and overtaking are often very severe and cause extensive damage. Don’t wander all over the road. White dashed lines are there for a reason. Stay in between them. Also watch out the other drivers on the road. Yes, sometimes no matter how safely you drive, chances that someone else can crash into you are not negligible. So be prepared for the unpredictable overtaking and reckless lane changes. Don’t focus only on the road in front of your car, keep your eyes on the side streets also and keep yourself alert and prepared for sudden stops, undertaking, tailgating, unsignaled turns and other bad driving behavior.
6. Be Extra Careful In Bad Weather
Bad weather can be especially dangerous for highway drivers. Needless to say, you need to be extra cautious if you are driving on a rainy or a foggy day. Drive at a slower pace to avoid skidding on a wet road. It is advisable to check the tread depth of your tires before you hit the road. Proper tread depth of the tire helps prevent skidding. Still if your car does skid, remember not to slam on the brakes. Similarly, fog is one of the scariest things to drive in. The best way to drive in fog is to use the fog lights or driving lights. In case your vehicles does not have the fog lights, use vehicle’s low beam lights instead.
5. Keep Your Distance From The Car Ahead
To avoid the sudden collisions, it becomes important to keep a safe gap between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Never follow a vehicle too closely because you need enough time to react in case the front vehicle stops suddenly or takes a sudden turn. It is advised to keep a minimum of 2 seconds gap between the vehicles, no matter at what speed you are driving. In foggy weather or while driving at night, the gap should be of at least 4 seconds.
4. Don’t Speed
It is a true saying that “speed thrills..but kills”. A shockingly high number of road accidents occur because drivers deliberately drive above the regulated speed limit either to showoff, meeting deadlines or just for fun. Over speeding multiplies the risk of accident and severity of injury during accident. At high speed, a motor vehicle needs greater distance to stop and skids fiercely on the road leading to traffic crash. High speed also reduces the judging ability of the driver causing an error in judgement. It is best to obey the speed limit to avoid unwanted collisions. If you urgently need to get somewhere in time, there is one foolproof solution: Leave earlier.
3. Drive Sober And Drug Free
It is strictly advised to not get behind the wheels if you have taken alcohol or drugs even if you feel certain that you are okay and capable of driving. Studies show that more than 30% of deaths could have been avoided if the drivers had been responsible enough to not take the risk of driving after getting drunk. Alcohol reduces the concentration and hampers vision due to dizziness. Certain drugs and medicines also cause drowsiness and affect the skills necessary for driving. Moreover, driving drunk is not just a bad idea, it is also a crime. In India, any motor vehicle driver found to have an alcohol level exceeding 30 mg per 100 ml of blood is liable to imprisonment for a term which may extend up to 6 months or a fine up to Rs. 2000/- or both.
2. Never Avoid Safety Gears
Wear your seat belt while driving and make sure your co-passengers also do the same. Wear helmet if you are driving a two wheeler. Practicing this would not help in avoiding the collisions/accidents, but it would surely reduce the severity of injury during accidents. In the overwhelming majority of car crashes, you have double the chance of surviving if you are wearing the seat belt because it keeps you intact and safe in your seat and prevents you from being thrown around the inside of crashing vehicle. In India, it is now mandatory to wear seat belts in four wheeler and helmets in case of two wheeler. Ignoring these invites penalty.
1. Be Responsible
Driving safety tips have been around since…well, since we started driving and most of the drivers are already well aware of the tips mentioned above. Still the number of road accidents is too high. This is mainly because of the laxity on the part of drivers. Most of us Indians have the attitude “accidents don’t happen to us” and tend to be careless while driving, endangering not only our own lives but also the lives of other people who are sharing road with us. Being a safe and responsible driver takes a combination of knowledge, skill and attitude. Don’t lose your calm in case of heavy traffic or road jams. Give way to others. Don’t overtake. Don’t jump the traffic lights. Don’t speed. But most importantly, don’t disregard any of these safety tips.