Steer your way to safer driving with these top tips
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.”
DRIVE ON: Being aware of your surroundings and keeping up to date on the road rules can help make you a safer driver.