Driving Habits That Kill

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ROAD SAFETY  By Jonas Agwu

I do not know whether to be excited that we have crossed over to the second month in this year’s EMBER months. Please do not get me wrong as I am excited and grateful to God for crossing over. But while we regale over this wonder which can only be through the mercies of God Almighty, there are a handful who perished last month while some couldn’t even make it through the first week of October, 2021.As we navigate through with prayers, fasting and guidance from God, there is need for us to remember that no matter how powerful God is, he may own the universe but he is not licensed to drive cars on earth because he is bound by His own laws which allows that pastime for us humans. This week, I am compelled to remind us of some of the habits that claim lives and cause severe injuries, as a guide to staying alive. Before I dwell on these habits, I don’t know whether you believe in God because there are those who don’t.

A good friend of mine recently told me that irrespective of our belief, everyone has his appointed time on earth, but must we be irresponsible and drive dangerously because we feel so? I don’t know what you think about my questions but I must confess that it worries me each time I monitor traffic, especially on Fridays and Sundays when the faithful of the two major religions worship God. The case is not different during periods such as Christmas and other festivities such as Sallah when we throw decency to the wind all in the name of celebration without a thought for our safety and the safety of our loved ones.

What kind of impatience would cause a parent to drive a vehicle, that has practically every member of his family, against traffic, creating multiple lanes whether in the city centres or on major highways? What values do such parents think they inculcate in their children? With few days to the end of 2021, and as we all prepare for a return leg, I believe that we need to help commuter drivers stay safe on the road and maintain safe driving practice by avoiding hazardous behavior, adopting defensive driving techniques to ensure that they keep their eyes and minds on the road and their hands on the wheel. “Many drivers on our nation’s roads and highways pose safety threat to themselves and others and so you must be extra careful.

The list of the seven most hazardous driving offenders and their bad driving habits was surfed on the net and I wish to share it with you while wishing you the best of the season The Beauty Queen: Some drivers have been known to apply makeup (e.g, lipstick, mascara) while driving.

But, it is very easy to lose control of a vehicle if both hands are on the steering wheel and eyes are not on the road. Drivers should put away all makeup products and keep them out of reach while driving. The Hungry Commuter: eating while driving is another habit that results in driving without both hands on the wheel. Drivers who are eating cannot react as quickly to sharp curves or properly handle lane changes because their hands are full. Drivers should take extra time to eat before they leave or plan a roadside stop to eat.

The Tech-Obsessed: Even with state laws that prohibit sending text message or talking on cell phones while driving, people still use their technology gadgets while driving, Cintas says, “CDC reports that 25% of drivers in the U.S admitted to regularly or fairly often talking on cell phones while behind the wheel”. Drivers should refrain from this, as it slows down reflexes and takes attention off the road. The Sleepy Travelers: Commuters sometimes refuse to pull over when they feel tired. An AAA foundation poll found nearly a third of people admitted to driving when they had trouble keeping their eyes open.

Sleepy drivers should find a rest stop and poll over if they feel unable to keep their eyes open and concentrate. The Daydreamer: These drivers get lost in their thoughts and do not think about what they are doing. Drivers should focus on the road, rather than personal problems or to do lists. The Road Rager: These drivers tailgate, cut off other drivers and anger easily while driving. Those prone to such behaviors should plan for sufficient time to reach a destination and work on having patience.

If driving is too stressful, consider alternative modes of transportation. The Rule Breaker: Speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and disregarding traffic signs and signals are habits of rule breakers. Drivers must take proper precaution and obey the rules of the road to ensure safety and to avoid costly tickets. Speed is another commandment. The Traffic regulations specify different speeds for different vehicles. This is because speed is one of the critical factors identified by the World Health Organization and World Bank as responsible for increased fatalities. What this simply means is that your chances of survival while driving should you be involved in a crash are dependent on your speed.

So if you are a speed freak, watch that speed. Don’t forget that as you speed, anything can happen such as tyre burst, brake failure or even a pedestrian crossing the road. Whenever you speed, remember that at 100km/ph a vehicle moves at 28 meters per second on a road. The speed limit for private cars on an expressway is 100km/ph. Taxis and buses are allowed to maintain speed limit of 90km/ph on an expressway while articulated vehicles like tankers and trailers are to maintain speed limits of 60km/ph on the expressway and 50km/ph on the highway. Within built-up areas, taxis and buses are to maintain speed limits of 50km/ph. However, you must note that common sense often dictates lower speed limits.

Common sense speed should therefore be lower in bad weather, or bad roads. The same should apply when the roads are busier. Globally, defensive driving is the ‘voodoo’ to safety on the road. It is therefore an all-round medication. A defensive driver assumes he is the only sane person on the road. Since crashes are caused by individual errors, he is always cautious, obeys all rules, and develops the right attitude such as patience, care, skill and consideration for other road users.

A defensive driver never allows his safety to depend on the response of others, anticipates wrong actions of others, and always gives correct, prompt, adequate and clear signals.