Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Putting the brakes on recklessness for 2021

Published:Sunday | January 17, 2021 | 12:08 AMPaul Messam - Contributor
Wreckage from a Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus remains jammed into the bonnet of a parked wrecker in Temple Hall, St Andrew, after the driver reportedly lost control on Thursday. The bus ended up in a ditch.
Wreckage from a Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus remains jammed into the bonnet of a parked wrecker in Temple Hall, St Andrew, after the driver reportedly lost control on Thursday. The bus ended up in a ditch.
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As conscious drivers, let us make a concerted effort to put the brakes on reckless driving for 2021. Even the most cautious and talented drivers are faced with the possibility of an accident. “The accident may be caused by the actions of another motor vehicle, by a mechanical failure or possibly by a momentary lapse of judgement or attention,” says Dr Andrew Burton. However, because of the driver’s defensive-driving skills, he may be able to minimise the damage.

The motto of the Advanced Driver Training Centre speaks of “driving to save lives times and money”. Couched in that motto is the concept of the driver being alert and thinking of the other driver with the possibility of making an error. The driver being prepared and aware of what to do on the ‘spur of the moment’.

The driver acting in time. This is where the driver tries his best not to panic, but knows what to do if something happens suddenly.

“To avoid a collision, a driver needs as much time as possible to react,” says Lurkent Hanson, driver instructor. “He should try to maintain adequate space between his car and others on all sides,” he says. According to Hanson, motorists should ensure that there is enough space ahead to stop or pass safely. “The space between you and other vehicles gives you time to react in emergencies.” Hanson offers some simple-but-important reminders:

1. Talk to the other drivers with all the signals at your disposal. Be in the lane that shows where you intend to turn.

2. Use your turn or hand signals to tell the other driver what you are going to do.

3. Pump your brakes so that your tail lights show you are slowing or stopping.

4. Get into the good habit of catching the other driver’s eye. Use your horn to warn the other drivers where you are.

5. At nights, a quick flick of your lights from low to high and back can be helpful.

6. Be patient and calm and try not to change your mind or rush and cut across quickly in the lane of the other driver.

7. Rely on your alertness and good judgement in stopping, starting and turning. Knowing the road code, signs and signals helps. Try to develop the habit of looking at least 12 seconds ahead.

8. Even at slow speeds, heavy traffic requires more things to watch for. In city traffic, try to cooperate with other drivers. Observe the movements of other drivers. Be careful of pedestrians and less visible vehicles such as bicycles, motorcycles.

9. When approaching or nearing an intersection, reduce speed, glance left then right, keep foot on the brake. Also watch for uncontrolled intersections where there are no lights or signs.

For 2021, it is wise for drivers to place in their minds a few extra pointers.

1. Avoid a head-on collision at all costs. Nothing in the arena of motoring is more lethal. A head-on crash is almost guaranteed to take lives and produce stress and added distress.

2. Do not give up if you lose control. Battle for control with all you have. Hold on to the steering and fight for control. You will never regain control if you are not behind the steering wheel.

3. Ensure your seat belt is operating. A seat belt does double duty by keeping the driver where he belongs both before and during the moment of impact.

Avoid the recklessness. Look, listen and think.