Tue | Jul 7, 2020

Helping drivers beat COVID-19 blues

Published:Sunday | May 24, 2020 | 12:00 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Contributor
The Subaru WRX.
The Toyota Starlet of the late Daryl King.

It is so easy to feel depressed in a time like this when our minds are bombarded with death, social distancing, coronavirus, handwashing, masks, and general hygiene practices. It requires all drivers to be aware, alert, and awake. Although there may be fewer motor vehicles on our usually busy streets, drivers must adhere to the defensive driving techniques regardless of the situation.

These techniques involve avoiding accidents in spite of the incorrect actions of others and adverse driving conditions. They represent an approach to the driving task that, when applied, can lessen one’s chances of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

The defensive driver is a trained, competent driver who is certified and possesses a valid driver’s licence. He knows and practises the road code. He is in control of himself, is balanced, and has sound judgement. A driver can reduce the chances of an accident by knowing and using the APT strategy.

1. The driver should be ALERT and believe that the other driver will make an error.

2. The driver should be PREPARED and learn what to do in case he has to act quickly.

3. The driver should respond in a TIMELY manner. He should try not to panic and know what to do if something happens suddenly.

COVID-19 or not, motorists should ensure that every time they drive, both hands are on the steering wheel. They should communicate their intentions; yield the right of way; slow down before entering a curve; and adjust speed in stopping, starting, turning, and adhering to traffic rules, signs, and symbols.

Lt Commander John McFarlane, a former managing director of the Transport Authority, once said that the principles of defensive driving are to make drivers aware of the possible hazards. “Also, being patient, using the horn appropriately, and having good judgement while reading the road ahead,” he added.

Before he hits the road, the driver must do a pre-inspection or a walkaround check of his vehicle’s tyres, headlights, door handles, mirrors, gasolene, etc. He should be in the right frame of mind to drive. After, he should sanitise his hands, ensure his mask is in place, and adhere to the road code.

Other pointers to consider:

1. Get exercise. “Exercise produces chemical and psychological changes that can improve one’s mental health,” says Dr Valerie Freckleton, consultant psychologist. Exercise changes the level of hormones in the blood and produces a heightened sense of well-being.

2. Doctors are of the view that what we eat has a great effect on our emotional health. “Even a single nutritional deficiency can cause depression in susceptible persons,” says Dr H. Persaud.

3. Think positive, be positive. A positive mind can help protect your immune system. Listen to pleasant music.

4. Be sociable. Research indicates that people who maintain personal relationships, especially in times of change and crisis, are much more likely to be in good mental shape.