Dos and don’ts for the road
Being the holder of a driver’s permit for the past nine years and traversing the nation’s road from my home to Chaguanas and beyond for the past eight years, I am bewildered to still be alive after some of the experiences I have had on the road, especially the highways. I can safely conclude that a lot of people who sit behind steering wheels definitely do not deserve to be there.
The highway is not like a minor road or trace, the drive is totally different and the slightest mistake can cause multi-vehicular carnage and the loss of lives and/or damage to limbs. Driving at 20 to 40 kilometres per hour (km/h) under tutorship is not enough to prepare one for speeds in excess of 80 km/h on the nation’s highways, or 50 km/h on the other roads.
Driving on a single lane in one direction under training does not prepare one for executing an overtaking move on the said road or driving on a highway with two or three lanes in one direction that demands driving in a sort of zigzag motion from time to time.
It irks me at times to see drivers who immediately move from a stationary position on the highway shoulder into the left lane, without first driving along the shoulder for a bit to develop ample acceleration before merging into the active lane. Such errant driving practices can cause unwarranted chaos.
Although the regulations prohibit reversing for excessive distances, many still do it, not fully appreciating the purpose to which rear-view and side mirrors have been fitted to each vehicle, and it is often cited that “excessive distance” has not been clearly defined or delineated.
At roundabouts, while I await the vehicles proceeding from the right, drivers behind me would pop their horns, failing to understand that where I sit and what I see are totally different to where they sit and what they see. I refuse to let a honking horn intimidate me, as some have and caused accidents. I encourage drivers to do the right thing and not be bullied by impatient/incompetent drivers.
Speed has often been noted as a factor in most collisions and many would agree with me when I say in order to be a good driver one has to drive firstly for self and also for others. At high speed, it has become my practice to focus more on the brake lights of the vehicle two places ahead rather than the one directly in front of me, hence giving me enough time to react.
When driving in unfamiliar areas, I drive slowly because I do not know the gradient of the hills, the acuteness of the turns, the potholes and their depths and the narrowness of the roads, etc. Being familiar with such details can positively affect your driving.
At high speeds, I have realised it is easy to veer off the roadways/highway, particularly in areas on the highway where there are heavy crosswinds and sharp corners with big bumps and deep depressions. Yet again, familiarity with your driving area helps tremendously.
Although “right of way” is an integral criteria used by police investigators and insurance companies in determining who is right or wrong in a road traffic accident, whether you have the “right of way” or not if someone loses their life they cannot be brought back. Sometimes it is wise to forfeit one’s rights if it means life, limb and property would be preserved in the long run.
All in all, the consent by the State to allow one to operate a vehicle—be it a truck, car, maxi-taxi or even a motorcycle—is a big risk because one would now have the potential to take one’s own life and the lives of other people.
It is on this note that I implore my fellow drivers to be extra careful while driving because road safety begins with us. I also encourage the Government of the day to continue putting things in place to ensure the safety of both drivers and the pedestrians.