Prepared for worst
SAFE driving is a mindset that encompasses many things, including a safe and responsible attitude to the law and other drivers and pedestrians, competence at the wheel and proper maintenance of your car to list just a few.
They all come together to keep us, and others, as safe as possible in what is a most dangerous place, the road.
Having a responsible attitude to the law and others around us should come before we hit the road. For most of us it normally comes from a well-rounded education on life from our parents, teachers, church elders, coaches and mentors at sporting organisations and the like, and taken with us when we hit the road.
Competence at the wheel comes from driver education and experience, both of which we should continue to acquire throughout our driving lives.
Getting a driver’s licence is just the beginning of the training. There are many organisations that offer advanced driver-education courses, which can add immeasurably to a driver’s skill level.
Advanced courses educate us in the correct driving techniques to assist us in avoiding the dangers that inevitably appear on the road.
They can also equip us with better knowledge of the cars we drive, how the multitude of systems built into today’s cars, like anti-skid brakes and electronic stability systems for instance, work and how we can use them to make us safer.
It’s crucial to understand that the real benefit of anti-skid brakes for instance, is they allow us to steer the car out of a dangerous situation, whereas as car without anti-skid technology is likely to simply skid straight into a collision with all four wheels locked up making it impossible to steer.
But it’s also necessary to know that unless we apply the brakes hard, even very hard, the anti-skid system won’t kick in and we won’t have the benefit of our car’s full braking potential when we most need it.
Armed with the knowledge it’s important to put it to work every time we take the wheel.
While our newer cars are equipped with many safety systems designed to assist us to get out of trouble, or help protect us in a crash, we need to be aware older cars aren’t equipped with those same systems.
Australia was one of the first countries in the world to make wearing seat belts compulsory. That was in the 1970s, and even today, seat belts are a primary protection we rely on in a crash.
While most modern cars have airbags, it’s still the seat belts that provide the protection in most crashes. It’s only in more severe crashes that the airbags are deployed, and then they are employed as a supplementary restraint system over and above the seat belts.
Given the role of the seat belt in a crash it’s important to check them occasionally for signs of wear and tear, and replace them if they are frayed, cut, burned, or discoloured.
It’s even more important to re- place the seat belts after a crash. They will probably have been subjected to very high forces in the crash and could be damaged without showing any visible signs of it.
It’s also worth checking they work as they are intended and that can be done by tugging sharply on the belts and making sure they lock. Also check that the tongue engages firmly in the buckle and releases freely when the button is pressed.
With a responsible attitude, proper training and experience, and a wellmaintained car it’s possible to enjoy motoring in the safest environment.