STAYING SAFE ON THE ROADS

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I think we’re all exasperated by the traffic accidents that have been occurring on a daily basis. Anyone who’s been involved in or has witnessed a road accident can vouch that it shakes you to the core, be it a minor or grievous incident. Yet, despite all these frequent crashes, we still come across some maniac who thinks he’s on the set of Fast and Furious, and I think we’re all guilty of committing a few no-nos ourselves every once in a while.

Since we do tend to let one or two rules from the Highway Code slip our mind, here are a few major dos and don’ts that can help ease traffic and, more importantly, maintain everyone’s safety when travelling.

Do use your indicator – Any driver will tell you that it’s exceedingly helpful to be surrounded by other drivers who are showing you their next move. It makes the flow of traffic and everyone’s journey so much more reassuring. Knowing that there are sensible people who use indicators makes everyone feel safer. Using indicators is sexy.

Don’t drink and drive – I’ve started out with two very obvious points, but they really cannot be stressed enough, especially this one. Moreover, you should prohibit anyone from getting behind the wheel after a night out on the lash. If they object, sit on them or hold them down. Restrain them in any way you can from driving. By not allowing someone who’s intoxicated to drive, you’re doing your bit in ensuring road safety.

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Do use your mirrors… Even the left one. Especially the left one. Actually, use all of them equally. Before driving off, check who’s behind you or who’s to your left and right. Be aware of your surroundings and who’s in your vicinity. Motorcyclists can creep up on you, and since new laws have been introduced to encourage people to opt for bikes in order to reduce traffic, it’s our responsibility to respect their presence on the road. So do watch out for every single life.

Do be cautious – If you’re a motorcyclist and you’d like to snake through stationary cars, please do so with caution. Maintain a speed that allows other drivers to anticipate your arrival. Car drivers are entitled to seethe with jealousy as you skip the entire queue, but they should nonetheless do their utmost to keep you safe.

Do maintain a reasonable and legal speed – I don’t care if your Porsche can do 130Km/hr in under 10 seconds. No, I don’t find it attractive when you rev your engine and drift in the middle of Ħamrun. Most fatal car accidents occur because someone was getting happy with the accelerator. The speed limit is not for you to undermine. Maintain a pace of 40Km/hr or less in built-up areas, and the national speed limit of 80Km/hr on highways or only if indicated. If you want an adrenaline rush, book a holiday on the German Autobahn.

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Do maintain a safe distance – At any given moment, a pedestrian may end up jumping out of nowhere for whatever reason. We’ve all got to have our reflexes in check to execute the best emergency stops whenever the need arises. However, in order to create a safe and effective environment for emergency stops, a distance of around 5 to 10 metres between each car must be maintained. By sticking to this distance, you’re avoiding probably bumper to bumper and car pile-up scenarios. Tailgating can be incredibly unnerving for other drivers, so give everyone the space that they need on the roads.

Do check your wheels – Under-inflated tyres can be a death trap. Give them a quick look once a week, and keep a battery operated tyre inflating pump in the boot. The lack of friction can make you more susceptible to skidding, and it also reduces braking power.

Do maintain your helmet – Motorcyclists should make it a point to replace their helmet over a period of time, since these do actually deteriorate due to weather exposure and internal erosion caused by scalp and hair oils. It is recommended that you change your helmet every 5 years, even if it seems to be in good condition.

Do keep a weather eye on the horizon –  Avoid driving in stormy weather, or at least, wait for heavy downpours to subside. Also remember that after a while, oils found on tarmac will rise to the surface of wet roads, rendering them more slippery than you’d assume. If you do get caught up in areas prone to flooding, and you have no choice but to literally sail your car through the water, wait for the area to be clear, keep it on first gear with your foot lightly on the brake, and glide through the water as quickly as you can, in order not to let water enter the vehicle. Once you’ve done this, opt for a route that keeps you on higher ground.

I’m sure you’re all wonderful drivers who cried with joy when you passed your driving tests. However, let us keep ourselves in check and not get overconfident once we’re on the road. If you think you’re a reckless driver, try to remember that you’re sharing the road with someone’s son, daughter, mother, father, or loved one. Keep them safe as you would your own.

 

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