Whether you’re making your way through busy city streets or navigating long, rural roads, driving can be dangerous, even for the most experienced motorists. To ensure your safety and that of other road users, it’s so important to be aware of the most common driving hazards and know how to take proactive measures to reduce them. What are some of the practical ways you can minimise driving hazards and make every journey on the road a safer one? Read on to find out.
Regular Vehicle Maintenance is the Foundation of Safe Driving
A well-maintained car reduces the risk of unexpected breakdowns and accidents. Here’s what you should do:
- Check your tyres – Ensure they are properly inflated and have good tread. Bald, damaged, or improperly inflated tyres can lead to poor traction, and blow outs. A tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is a simple and effective way to ensure your tyres stay in good shape. Consider investing in a TPMS if your car didn’t come fitted with one.
- Keep brakes in good condition – Every vehicle needs brakes that respond efficiently as this is critical to avoiding collisions.
- Change the oil – Regular oil changes keep your engine running smoothly, reducing the risk of engine failure.
- Inspect lights – Ensure all lights, including headlights, taillights, and turn signals, are working correctly for visibility.
Stay Alert and Avoid Distractions!
Did you know, research has shown that distraction is the main contributing factor in approximately 16% of serious casualty road crashes? It is also suggested that driving while distracted is just as dangerous, if not more, than drink driving! Stay focused on the road by:
- Never texting, calling, or scrolling your socials while driving. Use hands-free systems if it’s absolutely necessary to make a call, or else wait until you have arrived at your destination or can safely pull over.
- Avoid eating or drinking while you’re driving.
- Make GPS adjustments, set the radio, or address any issues before you take off.
Always Obey Speed Limits
Speed limits are set to ensure safe driving for everyone on the road. Excessive speed reduces reaction time and can lead to severe, and even deadly, accidents. Follow posted speed limits and adjust your speed to match road and weather conditions.
Don’t Tailgate – Keep a Safe Following Distance
Tailgating, where a vehicle follows too closely behind another vehicle, is a common driving hazard.
It significantly increases the chances of a rear-end collision and increases the chances of chain-reaction rear-end accidents, where multiple vehicles are involved. Tailgating can also trigger a road-rage incident as it is an example of highly aggressive driving.
Always maintain a safe following distance to allow time to react in case the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly. A general rule of thumb is three seconds, but that can vary depending on your speed, the weather, and road conditions.
Always Be on the Lookout for Pedestrians and Cyclists
Especially in built-up urban areas, near pedestrian crossings and bike lanes, and in streets alongside schools. Be patient and give them the right of way when required.
Before embarking on any journey, plan your route and check for weather and traffic updates. Knowing where you’re going and any being aware of any potential challenges along the way can reduce stress and prevent impulsive decisions – both of which will help to keep you safer on the road.
Impaired driving due to alcohol, drugs, or medication is one of the most significant driving hazards. Around 1 in 5 Australian drivers and riders killed have a Blood Alcohol Concentration over the legal limit of 0.05. How can you reduce the risk?
- Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol! If you’re planning to drink, leave the car at home.
- Arrange to have a designated driver or to plan to stay the night if possible.
- Make use of public transport, or book a taxi, uber or other rideshare option.
Reducing driving hazards is a shared responsibility that requires care and attention by all motorists on the road. We all have to do our bit to minimise risks and help make our roads safer for everyone – all it takes is a proactive mindset and a little vigilance.