On Tuesday, the 20th of December,2016 I stumbled on a catchy road safety awareness message that triggered my thoughts again on the risk involved in driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It simply read thus,’’ life goes on after you are gone’’…and then displayed the picture of a man and woman clicking glasses with broad smiles depicting deep affection and joy. It captured the picture this way; ‘your wife with her new man! It then signed off with the warning;’’ don’t drink and drive this festive season’’.This is why I have chosen to review select driving behaviors such as driving under the influence dangerous driving, tyre burst and loss of control among others often responsible for prevalent crashes during this festive season.
I refer to these as the demons of the season even though I do not believe demons are responsible for the crashes which are avoidable. The choice you make is crucial because human behavior makes a direct contribution to crash risk, through the knowledge and understanding of traffic systems, driver experience and skill and the relationship between risk and factors such as speed choice and alcohol consumptions .The road, the weather and the vehicle will no doubt play their roles too even though human error will dominate reasons for these crashes.
Tyre blowouts are among the major causes of road crashes that has claimed the lives of some prominent Nigerians. Incidentally, motorists exhibit a high level of ignorance which explains why you will see people travelling with their families with fairly used tyres or tyres not properly cared for. What really causes tyre blowout? The major cause of tyre blowout is incorrect tyre inflation especially under-inflationt.Tyres are the most vital part of a car. It determines stability. That is why tyre manufacturers specify the correct tyre gauge and the expiry date which is usually stamped on the side of the tyre. It is very easy to find out the expiry date. Just check the side and you will find a 4-digit number stamped on it. This number indicates the week and year of manufacture and the expiry date will be four years after. Manufacturers also indicate the maximum allowable inflating pressure for specific tyre. Different tyres are designed for different pressures. Unfortunately most of us careless about this vital information and have become victims of quacks marauding as vulcanizes. Under inflation causes two things that ultimately lead to blowouts. First,it causes undue flexing of the tyres as the vehicle speeds along the undulating surface of the road. This causes a separation between the internal materials used in making the tyres and the rubber flesh that holds the materials. This separation weakens the tyre. Secondly it causes an increase in what is known as rolling resistance as the vehicle moves..The increases rolling resistance generates a tremendous amount of heat which together with the separation of the internal materials leads to an explosion.
Incorrect tyre inflation could also cause crash in other ways-When a tyre is incorrectly inflated, it makes a partial contact with the road surface and so does not have a firm grip on the surface. With over inflation, the edges of the contact patch(the part of the tyre that should be in contact with the road surface)does not touch the ground In the case of under inflation, the crown(the middle portion of the tyre)of the contact patch does not touch the ground. Either way, you have an impartial contact of the tyre on the road surface and so less grip. The impartial contact could cause crash thus; since the tyres don’t have a firm grip on the road surface, it prolongs the stopping distance when the brakes are applied in an emergency and this could make the vehicle crash into the object it wants to avoid. It could also lead to loss of control of the vehicle when speeding..This is more with over-inflated tyres. High vehicles like trailers could lose their balance when they hit a bump.pot hole or while descending a sharp bend. The situation can be likened to someone with one leg shorter than the other.
Shockingly, the tyre problem is compounded by the grim picture painted by vulcanizer as they use the worst type of gauge-the pencil gauge that malfunctions easily when subjects to heavy usage. Besides using the pencil type of gauge they use one gauge for all tyre pressures and this is a big blunder..This is why we advice we own personal gauge and get conversant with the right pressure for our tyres.
Reflect on these prevalent behavioral pattern in previous years : Excessive speed, driving and phoning, non use of seat belt, overloading, lapped children, squeezed, some standing, dangerous overtaking, indulgence in night travels, use of worn out tyres, over/under inflated tyres,
mechanical deficient vehicles, under aged driving, arrogance/impatience, fatigue, driving under the influence of alcohol and impaired driving. The following are some vital safety hints as you prepare for another round of travelling. Speed-speed is at the core of the traffic injury problem. It is the major determinant of the extent of injury .It influences both crash risk and crash consequences.
The physical layout of the road and its surrounding can both
encourage and discourage speed. However, crash risk increases as speed increases especially at junctions and while overtaking.