Stories by Bennett Oghifo

A first consideration any driver should have is to keep themselves and their families safe, but a lot of the time people drive for themselves only.

“When someone jumps onto the road while we are driving and he is hit, it hardly concerns us because he is a ‘pedestrian’. But your life will change if you were to kill a pedestrian. People need to be more courteous because it is an attitude issue. We should be as courteous on the road as we are in the work place.”

This talk and some tips were given by the Training Director, Driving Skills for Life (DSFL), Ford Motor Company of South Africa, Derek Kirkby at a special training for members of Nigeria Auto Journalists Association, which held at the facility of Coscharis Motors in Awoyaya, Lagos, recently.

Kirkby said most people do not optimise the use of the safety features in their vehicles, adding that some people do not wear their seat belts and most do not insist that passengers in the rear seat where belts. “Why don’t we care about our passengers? It’s the same thing like not caring about ourselves. An interesting fact is that when the vehicle has a collision at, say, 80 kilometres per hour, the person at the back then weighs triple his weight. If the person weighs 60 kilograms, then it means a person weighing 180kg is coming to hit you; it is enough to kill you. The vehicles come with rear seat belt, why are we not using them. Seat belts save lives. We work in the industry and there is one per cent chance that the seat belt might kill you but 99 per cent chance that you will survive.”

The headrest, he said is also a safety feature and not just something to rest the head on in traffic. Another feature is the ABS and how quick it can bring the vehicle to a stop, particularly in wet weather. “Motors take some time to stop but what is important is your reaction time. A person’s reaction time affects the ability of the car stopping. Some people are quick others are not so quick. It is the time it takes to get my foot of the petrol pedal and hit the brakes and that is, for an average person .75 seconds. But we are all working, stressed, on medication and so the reaction time has changed with less reaction time, which is now about a second. This means that in a second and at 60km/hr the car has covered almost 20 metres before you applied the brakes; it is absolutely frightening.”

An important aspect of driving, he said is pre-trip inspection; something you need to do every day before driving. “Before you enter the vehicle, you take a long way round the vehicle to check if there is damage, flat tire or any other thing; it will take you only 15 seconds to do that. Fifteen seconds will tell you whether you’ll have a flat tire ahead. At least once a week, we should check the tyres. There are five tyres in the car and the one in the booth loses pressure faster that the four on the ground. This is because the four tyres’ A-molecules are moving and the environment is acting on them. The oil and water should be checked in the morning.”