Mon | Nov 18, 2019

Speed kills amid the thrill... no joke!

Published:Sunday | October 6, 2019 | 12:17 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Automotives Writer

Whether rain or shine, hurricane, storm, sunshine, or calm, speed kills. The sign on our roads that reads ‘SPEED KILLS... KILL YOUR SPEED’ should never be taken lightly.

An erratic pace, punctuated by bursts of great speed and periods of creeping, can result in a fatal crash. When they hear of and read about the many road fatalities that occur because of speeding, some motorist, shiver.

“Speed is quite comparative, and what might be thought a crawling pace on a clear, straight, open road might well be a dangerous speed in a congested, built-up area such as in our major towns and cities,” says L. Hanson, an accredited driver-instructor, Gryphon International-trained. “Safe driving speeds also depend upon the degree of skill and concentration achieved by the driver and, surely, the mechanical condition of the motor vehicle.

“Many drivers may not realise that their driving ability varies day by day in accordance with their general outlook on the outside global world. For example, take the prince who has a little spat with his princess or his spouse before he drives off to work, or the person who is on his way to the funeral of a loved one. Certainly, neither of these persons could be described as being in a settled frame of mind. Therefore, this change from their normal attitude will undoubtedly affect their driving and other areas of their lives.

“The gentleman who had the quarrel may release his anger and frustration, unfortunately, by driving more aggressively. The mourner may find that his grief has distracted him completely from his driving,” says Shevelle Wright, guidance counsellor.

According to Wright, on these occasions, when a driver feels different, either physically or mentally, they should simply adjust their driving accordingly. Generally speaking, the adjustment should come in terms of extra caution and reduced speed.

“Always maintain what seems like a comfortable speed, never forcing yourself to go faster. If you have a headache or a bad cold, make a rule of slowing down because you are not as sharp as you think you are,” advises Kanute Haire, director of road safety in the Ministry of Transport. Haire reminds drivers that finding a comfortable and safe speed should be the first duty of every driver when he begins a highway trip. “Stay within the speed limit,” Haire emphasises. “The mental strain and distraction on the driver who is travelling above the legal speed limit can greatly increase the danger of an accident, which we can all do without.”

The Advanced Driver Training Centre usually reminds drivers that it is necessary to consider five factors with regard to speeding.

FACTOR 1: The reaction time: This has to do with the time required for the brain to register the need to take action and to convey commands to the hands or feet. It may vary with the driver’s physical capabilities, state of health and mind, and, consequently, his or her degree of concentration.

FACTOR 2: The condition of the motor vehicle, particularly the brakes. For example, at 30mph, a motor vehicle will travel 45 feet from the point where the brakes have been applied. The distance increases rapidly at greater speeds.

FACTOR 3: The state of the weather, which includes visibility, high winds, and the rain.

FACTOR 4: The state and condition of the roads. This means the structure, texture, and surface condition.

FACTOR 5: Traffic density.

“A defensive driver will automatically take these factors into consideration, day or night, and adjust his speeds as the situation requires,” Haire advises.

“Drivers continue to speed because they get away with it,” says Dr Orville Taylor, sociologist. “When punishment is swift and certain, it will make a big difference,” he adds. According to Taylor, making more technology available to the police should assist greatly.

A word of caution and a word to the wise are sufficient: NEVER DRIVE AT A SPEED THAT WILL PREVENT YOU FROM STOPPING WELL WITHIN YOUR RANGE OF VISION.