Steer your way to safer driv­ing with these top tips

Western Times - - OLDER & WISER -

EVEN though you have prob­a­bly been driv­ing for years, learn­ing what you can do to be a safer driver could save a life, and that life could be yours. Uni­ver­sity of the Sun­shine Coast se­nior re­search fel­low Dr Bri­die Scott-Parker of­fers some top tips for bet­ter driv­ing. Keep your dis­tance by stay­ing at least four sec­onds be­hind the ve­hi­cle in front of you. “It gives us time to stop if the per­son in front sud­denly stops, and it gives you ex­tra space to stop if there is some­one right be­hind your car,” Dr Scott-Parker said. Re­tain the four-se­cond gap even when you are driv­ing around town. Recog­nise and be aware of the road haz­ards, such as round­abouts, weather con­di­tions, a va­ri­ety of road users such as motorcycles or trucks, and the rules around merg­ing, over­tak­ing and tail­gat­ing. Al­ways look be­hind be­fore you re­verse. If you strug­gle to see be­hind your car when re­vers­ing or when you are chang­ing lanes, find out what you can do to mod­ify your car so you can see clearly, such as hav­ing big­ger mir­rors in­stalled. Be con­spic­u­ous by en­sur­ing your driv­ing lights are on when driv­ing at night. Just be­cause your dash­board au­to­mat­i­cally lights up when you start your car doesn’t mean your head­lights have come on as well. If you have cataracts, don’t drive at night as head­lights can make it dif­fi­cult to see. Take the time to plan your day care­fully so you aren’t feel­ing pres­sured to speed to get to an ap­point­ment. Stay up to date on the road rules. If you pre­fer to walk some­where you still need to know the road rules. “Look left and right be­fore you cross the road,” Dr Scot­tParker said. “If you are a pedes­trian, never cross the road un­til you have made con­tact with the driver such as eye con­tact, smil­ing or a lit­tle wave. Don’t as­sume be­cause the driver has looked at you, that they have ac­tu­ally seen you. Their brain might be on some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent.” And when walk­ing at dusk or at night, con­sider wear­ing a re­flec­tive vest or top so driv­ers can see you. Seniors should del­e­gate some co-driv­ing tasks to their pas­sen­gers. “It’s not nag­ging, it’s co-driv­ing,” Dr Scott-Parker said. “Look left and right if the car is pulling up to a stop sign. Don’t just let the driver be re­spon­si­ble; they might miss some­thing.”

Photo: iStock

DRIVE ON: Be­ing aware of your sur­round­ings and keep­ing up to date on the road rules can help make you a safer driver.

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