Wed | Apr 26, 2017

Fewer distractions, fewer accidents

Published:Sunday | July 19, 2015 | 7:00 AMKawain Fearon
A section of bad and then relatively smooth road, varying conditions which require drivers to stay alert.

Dodging potholes, looking out for pedestrians, using your cell phone, applying make-up and chatting with your passengers are some things that have made driving a task.

In addition, drivers who are running behind schedule are often forced to attempt to make up time by pushing their cars to the limit, which sometimes results in addition to the already rising road fatalities.

While many may boast that they know how to drive, they often do not account for other drivers, pedestrians and mechanical failures. Third-party factors could be the deciding factor in whether you make it to your destination or end up in a crash.

Knowing how to deal with these situations often depends on knowledge of driving technique, handling and, most of all, alertness. Quick responses are important for any driver and can make the difference between life and death. This means that it will require all your senses being engaged to ensure that the decision you make is a good one.

Here are five tips to help you out.

- There's a reason your car is special to you, and getting to know it is one way to build a good relationship. Ensuring that your mirrors and seats are well adjusted can make a big difference in how you drive and manoeuvre your vehicle. Checking your tyres and feeling your steering could be the deciding factor in whether it takes you home tonight.

- Observe your environment. By doing this, you are better able to respond in a timely manner to situations which may arise. The road conditions in Jamaica vary - you have the Obama roads and, well ... other roads. But whichever road you are on, you need to adjust your speed appropriately, always look out for pedestrians and work with the traffic flow and speed limit. Unless you are an emergency vehicle, there's no need to be going at 100 miles per hour while everyone is going 50 mph.

- Making yourself visible shouldn't be that hard. Automakers already gave you a headstart with headlamps, turn signals, horns and brake lights. Ensure that all these are working before hitting the road. Failure to check could see you being hit or hitting something other than the road.

- With the taxi, bus and inconsiderate drivers on our road, I can understand the lure of road rage. But ease up off the anger pedal and keep a cool head. Becoming too emotional may result in you losing your car or your life, or the situation costing you more than you had budgeted. We have all seen those YouTube videos with drivers overtaken by road rage. It usually doesn't end well for those involved.

- This is a 'duhhh' moment but many people, while they know it, often forget to apply the road code. If asked, they can tell you about it, but when it comes to application they lapse. Every move counts on the road. Getting in an accident in Jamaica usually means that one or both drivers have failed to observe the rules of the road. Should you genuinely forget, there's no shame in refreshing your memory. The books are sold in stores, or if you are not a paper between the fingers type of person, Google it.

Make driving safe for all. Be alert. There are a number of driving schools that teach defensive driving techniques. Check them out and make the roads safe for all users.

Kawain.fearon@gleanerjm.com