Road Safety Tips for Drivers in the Festive Season

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Road Safety Tips for Drivers in the Festive Season


It is that time of the year when the majority of Kenyans get on the road on their way to shags. Sadly, it is also the time of the year when most accidents are prone to happen with resultant loss of lives. This December has been particularly bad with over 150 people who have died due to road crashes. There are many factors that lead to road accidents including road design, but the biggest culprit is human error.

Road accidents usually result in devastation to family and friends, however, these accidents are avoidable. They can be avoided by preparing well for the journey and using low-risk driving techniques. 

One of the causes of accidents, according to NTSA, is bad driving habits, inexperienced drivers, and drunk driving. It is then clear that if there has to be any headway in reducing road accidents in Kenya, the focus needs to be on drivers. Driver retraining with a focus on safety is one way of helping reduce accidents.

Ford and CMC brought in a team from South Africa to train Kenyan drivers on safe driving under the Ford Driving Skills for Life program. The training focused on safe driving and also economic driving that saves fuel and also the environment.

The trainers shared the following tips for safe driving

1. Use of safety belts at all times

It is important that both the driver and the other occupants of the car have their seat belts on at all times when the car is in motion.

A passenger without a seat belt is a danger to the driver. In the event that one is involved in an accident and the passenger doesn’t have a seat belt they can be thrown towards the driver and both could die.

Seat belts also reduce chances of injury or death in case of an accident.

2. Adjust rear view and side mirrors

Always endeavor to make sure that your side and rear view mirrors are in the correct position to maximise your vision of other cars on the road. As such you should adjust the side mirrors so that you can only be able to see your rear door handles. To know if your rear view mirror is great, you should be able to see the tip of left ear clearly.

It is important to understand where your car’s blind spot is. This is the point at which you cannot be able to see a car which is overtaking you. Therefore as you switch lanes other than looking at the side and rear view mirrors, look over your shoulder to see whether there could be a car which is in your blind spot.

If you are the one overtaking and all that you can see of the driver in front of you is his/her hands on the steering wheel then you are in their blind spot. This simply means that they cannot be able to see you and can swerve towards you lane at any moment. As such the logical thing to do is speed up and overtake them while being wary of the other driver swerving towards you. However, if you can see the face of the driver on their side mirror then you are not in a blind spot.

3. Relax and anticipate traffic situations

Be courteous, avoid constant acceleration and braking. Give way to other drivers.

4. Avoid distractions while driving

Driving needs your full attention to minimize the risk of a crash.

Don’t do anything else while driving including eating, using mobile phones or adjusting the radio. Those few seconds of distraction can cause an accident for example a situation whereby you have taken your eyes off the road to change the station on your radio and then the car in front of you suddenly brakes. By the time you realise what is happening and try to brake it might be too late leading to a collision.

You should also not drive while under the influence of alchohol.

5. Maintain a safe distance between yourself and the car in front

You should always keep a safe distance between yourself and the car in front you so that you give yourself space and time to brake in case something happens. Increase the distance at night, when it’s raining and when visibility is poor. I learned this the hard way when one morning I happened to be following a car too closely and the driver suddenly braked, due to the short distance between my car and vehicle in front I rammed into it. Fortunately no one got injured but needless to say my whole day got messed up not to mention the costly repairs.

6. Switch off engine selectively.

If you are expecting to stop for more than 20 seconds then you should turn off the engine. This could be in traffic , traffic lights and at closed gates. By doing this you will be able to save alot of fuel that could have been needlessly wasted.

7. Adequate tyre pressure

You should check your tyre pressure at least once a week. Correct tyre pressure saves fuel and increases safety. You should also check your spare tyre pressure and condition every week as well. This is to avoid a situation whereby you have gotten a flat tire only to realise that your spare tire is also flat. This happened to me once and i can tell you it wasn’t funny.

8. Remove unnecessary weight from the car

Extra weight means that the engine will be under more pressure to perform hence more fuel will be used unnecessarily. Always ensure to remove all unnecessary luggage from your car.

9. Being comfortable

When you get into a car, always adjust the seat and headrest to fit you. By adjusting your seat it one ensures that at any one time you are able to reach the pedals without straining. Once you adjust your seat, your knees should be bent while resting on the pedals. The elbows should also be bent as you hold the steering wheel. The reason why the elbows and knees should be bent is that in case of a collision, they can be able to absorb the shock waves from the impact. If they are straight, it could result elbows popping out and serious back injuries.

An adjusted head rest enables one to avoid whiplash after one is restrained by the seat belt during a collision.

10. Braking Distance

As you drive, one should always be wary of the braking distance of their car. This is the distance that the car travels after you hit emergency brakes. You will find that a heavier car will move for a longer distance before stopping. As such always endeavor to look at the car behind you to check whether they are able to stop in good time in case you brake suddenly. If not increase your speed to give them a good braking distance.

11. Driver Fatigue

During this festive period, most people will likely stay up late as they hang out with their friends. This being the case, some people are most likely to come straight from the club, freshen up and embark on a journey. In other cases, due to a hectic schedule, one might not be able to get adequate sleep. Lack of enough sleep leads driver fatigue which is one of the leading causes of accidents. Driving requires that one is focused and aware of what is happening on the road at all times. Fatigue leads to one losing concentration hence leading to accidents. Sleeping on the wheel especially at night is also a result of driver fatigue. So, this holiday season always ensure that you get adequate sleep before setting out.

12. Vehicle Maintenance

A vehicle just like any other machine needs to be well maintained in order to give you good service. A badly maintained vehicle will lead to breakdowns and failure of the engine. During this period, we often find ourselves pushing our cars to the limit as we embark on long journeys. It is important that before your start your journey, always that the car service is up to date and also perform the following checks;

  • Tires are at the correct pressure and have adequate tread – safer to replace than take chances. Don’t forget to check the spare tire, jack, wheel brace and safety equipment
  • Engine cooling system is functioning – remember to check coolant level as a loaded vehicle is more likely to overheat.
  • Windscreen – keep it clean for best vision and check that the windscreen wipers are not worn out, replace wiper blades if necessary.
  • Engine and transmission oil – check the levels of the engine and transmission oil and  ensure that it is not due for oil change.
  • Brake and clutch fluids – check the little reservoir to ensure the level is at the upper level mark. If there are brake fluid leaks have the vehicle checked by a mechanic.  Ensure there are no squeaks coming from the wheel areas that could indicate brake pads are due to be replaced.
  • Ensure that you do not overload your vehicle and that you secure items in that car well. Loose objects in the passenger cabin could become missiles in a sudden stop situation.

13. Rain

It appears that the rains are back with us this festive period. Whenever it rains, the roads get slippery and one has to be extra careful when driving. Avoid speeding in rainy weather as your car is most likely to spin out of control and skid while braking.

14. Drunk Driving

This is the season to be merry and as others call it, Decembar. As we hang out with friends and family, we are wont to drink one too many and end up drunk. It is not safe to drive while inebriated as your senses are dulled and can affect the reaction times of the best drivers. Other than the fact that it is a criminal offense, driving while drunk makes your life and other road users at risk. If you know that you are going out to drink, have a designated driver or just call a cab.

 Others

Active park assist

We were also shown how to use the park assist on the Ford Everest which is a handy feature that assists the driver to park the car. First you need to activate the parking assist once you see a free parking. You will then need to then slowly pass the parking and then stop after which car will the park itself with you controlling the brakes.

Anti Lock Braking System (ABS)

This system prevents locking of the wheels when you hit the brakes. In a car which doesn’t have ABS when you hit the brakes hard, the wheels lock which means that you cannot be able to turn the steering wheel to avoid the obstacle which can cause a crash. ABS generally offers improved vehicle control and decreases stopping distances on dry and slippery surfaces.

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