Driving tips that can save your life
Over the past few days, I’ve seen so much accidents recorded on dash cams and CCTVs going viral on social media so I thought I’d write some simple tips to help you keep safe when driving on the road.
It’s very timely as we’re right in the thick of the rainy season. Remember, an ounce of prevention is far better than a pound of cure.
1. In an intersection, yield the right of way.
A lot of accidents occur at intersections because motorists feel they always have the right of way. This empowers them to be aggressive and plough through an intersection.
So be magnanimous and yield your right of way. It’s just an intersection, not a life-changing situation.
2. Turn on your headlights when necessary.
When is it actually necessary to turn on your headlights?
You should always turn them on when going through covered areas. These include covered parking, tunnels and underpasses, when it’s raining, foggy and of course when it is dark.
Turning on your headlights are not only for your benefit. They won’t necessarily help you see better, but it allows other motorists (and pedestrians) to better see and avoid you.
Additionally, on a long highway drive on a deserted road, when the sun is high up and the glare is prominent on the road, you should also turn on your headlights to help other motorists see you as glare and the ensuing mirage can somewhat blur other motorists’ vision.
3. When you see a camel-back road, slow down.
A camelback road, or basically a road with undulations is dangerous in many ways.
Firstly, if you cannot see beyond the crest or summit, you might be too late to react when there is an accident, a parked vehicle, road work or construction, stopped traffic or flood-water which you can crash into.
So when you see undulations on the road that prevent you from seeing beyond 50 meters (about 10 car lengths), slow down, get your foot off the throttle, and be ready to brake.
Additionally, never ever make a turn at or near a camel-back or undulating roads. Oncoming cars driving up to the crest might not be able to react quickly enough and slow down to avoid you.
4. When you see a puddles on the road, avoid them and be careful.
Puddles often hide nasty potholes that can damage your vehicle if you run through them at speed.
You can also slide and hydroplane, thus losing control when you drive over them.
Or they might be covering sharp objects that can pierce your tires, which can leave you stranded and possibly lose control due to a flat tire.
5. When going up or down a steep incline, keep it in a low gear.
Whether you’re going up or down a steep incline, remember to keep the transmission at low gear so that you can keep the engine operating at or near maximum torque output.
For gasoline engines, this means roughly between 2,500-5,000 rpm.
For diesel engines, this means between 2,000-3,000 rpm.
The reason is simple. Going uphill, if the engine is operating at or near its peak torque output, it will have the most power to ascend, and crucially prevent your engine from bogging down or stalling, which might cause you to roll backwards and that sure isn’t any fun.
Going downhill, a lower gear will push the rpm higher, and the engine’s compression ratio will naturally slow down engine rotation, which slows down how quickly your transmission spins, which ultimately slows down the vehicle without relying on your brakes too much.
If you ride or step on the brakes all the way while going down, they can fade, causing loss in braking performance, which can see you fly off the road, literally!
If you drive an automatic, keep it in 2 or 3. If you have paddle shifters or any manual override control for your automatic, play with the paddles to keep it at a low gear as well.
Remember also that the bigger and heavier your car is, and the more laden it is, the more your brakes can be prone to fading.
6. If you get into any car-related trouble, try your best to move your car to a safe area, away from the flow of traffic.
Let’s face it, minor accidents and breakdowns are a reality. But just because the car broke down doesn’t mean we are entitled to leave our car on the middle of the road.
If the car can still move, bring it to a safe location on the outermost side of the road, away from traffic.
Not only will you allow the flow of traffic to move smoothly, you also put yourself far from harm’s way.
The most common issue I see is people getting a flat tire. Most opt to change their tire in the middle of the road, disregarding their own safety.
Move it to a shoulder or lay-by if possible, even if it means damaging your tire beyond repair.
Remember, one piece of tire is cheap versus getting hospitalized, or losing a life, not just your own, but other motorists’ as well.
Many motorists disregard safety because they are oblivious to it.
Do yourself a favor, keep safety as your highest priority always, and remember to regularly check your car to be in tip-top shape especially before driving long distances through adverse road and weather conditions.
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