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Caring for other road users

Published:Sunday | April 11, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Paul Messam, Contributor

Driving at an erratic pace, punctuated by bursts of great speed, is a recipe for disaster. Open-road motoring, accompanied by its high speeds and constantly changing topography, can be a challenge for drivers. All the skills of handling a motor vehicle are called upon and proper driving care is needed to protect other road users from fatality. Remember other road users such as children and elderly persons, cyclists, handcart men, slow-moving vehicles, horseback riders and large vehicles. Finding a comfortable speed should be the first duty of every driver whenever he or she hits the highway or on an open road. Here are a few pointers to consider:

1.Drive with the aim of prevention instead of repairing.

2.Drive at the speed at which the driver and the motor vehicle function best. This speed should fall somewhere within the legal limit.

3.Stay within the speed limit, as the mental strain and distraction on the driver, who is travelling above the legal speed, can greatly increase the danger of an accident.

4. A passing position should not be entered impulsively. The roadway should be absolutely clear before pulling out. Much of the danger in highway driving, for example, would be eliminated if a driver simply did not overtake at all. It's best to overtake a car only when the lane for oncoming traffic is completely clear.

5. Look out for pedestrians and joggers. They should always walk or jog off the roadway, and facing traffic. It is also not safe for them to wear headphones while walking or jogging.

6. The driver should always yield to pedestrians. Also, be extra careful at intersections, crosswalks and on roads that are lined with parked motor vehicles.

7.Remember to stop or proceed with great care whenever you see anyone holding a white cane.

8.Drivers should be extra careful near areas such as school zones, bus stops, transport centres, courthouses, churches, playgrounds and parks.

Whenever you are following or passing a cyclist, it is wise to leave plenty of space. You could also, on approaching a cyclist, give a short 'beep' with your horn to warn the rider you are near.