You have just obtained your ‘P’ (Probationary) driving license and looking forward to a meet up with friends. You are behind the steering wheel, cruising into an exciting new world of driving.
But in today’s crowded cities, it can be a dangerous world, too. Traffic is hectic, drivers are all stressed up, distractions are all around and other drivers and pedestrians can behave unpredictably (read: dangerously!). While being in a car can feel safer than riding on a motorcycle, you’re only as safe as your actions.
A recent Ford survey found an alarming number of young drivers who admitted to carrying out risky behaviours while driving – such as speeding and even watching videos. While some things are out of your control, knowing road safety rules and following a few practical tips can help protect you on the road – no matter how far or near you go.
These tips are not just for the new driver, but every driver should also apply them, each time one is behind the steering wheel.
Put on your seat belt, especially those seated at the rear seats. The dangers of not buckling up are apparent when in a crash involving a vehicle travelling at just 50km/h, the weight of unbuckled rear passengers can be as much as 30-60 times of their original weight.
The momentum of the unbuckled rear passenger can impact the front seats, causing it to collapse inwards and could potentially severely injure both occupants.
Request that your passengers to buckle up, even if it is a short travelling time and distance.
Know your car. This may seem obvious, but every car is different, so be very familiar with the car you are driving to avoid being distracted or feeling confused. Understand how to use your head lights and proper usage of rear fog lamps, wipers and temperature controls before darkness falls, before the monsoon rains hit, before you’re scrambling to change the air-conditioner settings.
Many cars today are equipped with driver-assist technologies to help keep you safe on busy roads. Get familiar with this technology before you set out. For example, the Ford Ranger Wildtrak that is equipped with Forward Collision Alert & Mitigation by Brakes, warns you on an obstacle ahead while the Lane Departure Warning System vibrates the steering to alert the driver that he or she is drifting out of the lane.
Don’t be distracted. Phone alerts. Social media. Noisy children. Eating food. Applying makeup. Lack of sleep. Loud music. The list of distractions is endless. But distracted driving is linked to a growing number of accidents and fatalities and puts you in danger.
According to a Ford survey on distracted driving, 54 percent of drivers in the Asia Pacific say they try not to use their phones while driving – but they do anyway. Finish what you’re doing before you drive – your life and the lives of those around you are more important than answering that text.
Interestingly, a high percentage of young drivers in the UK admitted to crashing after being distracted by an attractive pedestrian!
Drive defensively. Always use your turn signals. Be alert and anticipate oncoming traffic entering your path, especially at junctions and merging lanes. Buses might make a sudden stop for the passenger, so keep a safe distance to allow plenty of space to slow down. Always be aware of your surroundings.
Do not engage with aggressive drivers. It is not a race. The only finish line is getting home safely, so follow all speed limits and drive defensively.
Watch the weather. Practice driving in bad weather in a safe, secluded location to see how your traction, braking and steering are impacted at various speeds – if possible, have an experienced driver join you. Practising will help you remain “calm in the storm” during a road trip or when it’s time to go to work or school.
Unexpected heavy rainfall can cause flash floods. Strong winds can make it difficult to stay in your lane, and sudden gusts can cause tall trucks to veer out of their lanes. Driving on flooded roads should be avoided, but here are a few strategies for cruising through the rainy season:
- Replace windshield wipers regularly
- Check your tires to be sure they have adequate tread and are properly inflated
- Turn on your headlights
Take it slow. Driving at high speeds can cause your car to hydroplane (lose traction and skid) on slippery pavement and may cause you to lose control.
Following these tips and taking a safe driving training course will help you avoid becoming a statistic and contribute positively towards responsible driving.
Now in its eleventh year, Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) offers free training for people across the Asia Pacific, including young drivers, expectant mothers, Uber drivers and farmers. The program covers hazard recognition, vehicle handling, speed and space management, distracted driving and much more.