Key to Road Safety is the Driver

The driver’s role is the apex point in road safety measures. It is well known that drivers are at higher risk of being involved in a crash. New drivers need to gain more experience since they are at a higher risk of being involved in a crash. They need to become skilled and safer drivers through continued practice and learning process. License must be issued to drivers after proper driving tests. Driver’s disability, medical factors, eyesight test, age etc must be considered. The key safe driving behaviours of drivers include good road observation, speed management and road positioning, the importance of crash avoidance space, eco driving, posture, braking and steering techniques.

Drivers must show the skills necessary to drive safely, obey the laws and drive responsibly. The Transport Authorities must ensure about the drivers have the required knowledge, skills and medical fitness and in case of any violation, penalties must be imposed on them who do not meet their responsibilities as road users. Another cause for accidents is the gradual and permanent loss of mental functions caused by dementia that reduce a driver’s ability to drive safely.

The involvement of speed, alcohol and fatigue among drivers too results in fatal crashes. Speeding (travelling at a speed greater than the speed limit) is the major cause of death and injury on our roads, where installing speed governors could largely help to control this situation. Safe speeding is an illusion where research has shown that even a small increase in speed can greatly increase the risk of a crash. Most drivers underestimate the distance needed to stop their vehicle. When you drive just 5 km over the speed limit you will need much further to stop even if you brake hard. Alcohol is a depressant and reduces the ability to drive safely. It slows brain functions so that the ability to judge how fast you and other vehicles are moving and your distance from other cars people or objects. It affects your sense of balance and coordination which makes the driver sleepy. As the driver’s blood alcohol level rises so does the risk of being involved in a crash. The blood alcohol level rise of 0.05 equals double the risk, 0.08 = 7 times the risk and 0.15 = 25 times the risk. Driver fatigue (tired or exhausted) is particularly dangerous because it affects everyone. The only way to treat driver fatigue once you have already started driving is to stop and rest until you are refreshed.

Distractions that divert attention from driving increase your risk of crashing. Crashes involve the driver being distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle. Driving is never risk free, but you should aim to drive ‘low risk’. A low risk driver has good observation, speed management and road positioning skills.

Hence, it the responsibility of every driver to be fit physically and mentally, and drive responsibly without causing damage to oneself and others.

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