Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Defensive driving, the new mantra

Defensive driving, the new mantra
The Hindu

BANGALORE, JAN. 24. The city has more than 21 lakh vehicles registered as on December 2004. Last year saw 9,101 road accidents involving the death of 903 people.

The traffic police now recommend an approach of "defensive driving" to prevent accidents, and, possibly more deaths and injuries from accidents.

Vehicles hitting with the ones ahead of them is common on many roads. Though the impact may be minor in most cases — one really cannot speed on most city roads — there could also be serious effects. "You have to be alert and even expect the driver ahead of you to apply brakes without warning. You should also watch out for trouble ahead like another vehicle suddenly swerving or a pedestrian attempting to cross the road and the vehicle ahead of you being forced to stop," the police say.

Stopping the vehicle

Even with good brakes and equally good reflexes, it takes a lot of room and time to stop the vehicle and this may not be possible in steadily moving traffic, especially on one-way stretches where one is tempted to step a bit on the accelerator. Maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front helps; at least two metres if that is possible. When you know you just have to stop, slow down gradually, show a hand signal to alert the vehicles behind you and do not wait till the last moment. Stopping smoothly like this may prevent multiple accidents. If the vehicle behind you belongs to the "bumper chaser" category, allow it pass you; you will be safer. Same with the drivers who keep honking behind you, such impatient drivers may easily cause an accident.

Stay left

The best way to steer clear of a two-car crash is to stay left and not crowd the central diving lane. If an oncoming driver appears to be crossing the yellow line, warn him with your horn or headlights.

When approaching an intersection, slow down and have your right foot poised over the brake pedal.

Look both ways at every intersection. The police also suggest slowing down at every curve, irrespective of the volume of traffic.

It helps to take the turn always on the left side. While making a right turn at any turning off a main road, you are advised to signal, wait for other vehicles and check your rear view mirror.

Overtaking on roads leads to accidents, the police caution. Even when you are being overtaken by another vehicle, it helps to slow down and make sure it passes you safely before resuming normal speed.

Even on relatively less crowded roads, drivers are advised to keep watching out for cyclists or pedestrians suddenly darting across. They may not be careful but you have to be.


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