While Australia has made significant progress in reducing its road toll over recent decades, thousands of people still die or suffer serious injury and extensive vehicle damage in accidents every year. The vast majority of these accidents could be avoided through more attentive driving and a better understanding of which driving behaviours are the riskiest on the road.
Here are seven practical steps you can take to improve your safety on the roads.
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1. Put your phone on silent mode
Even better, place your phone out of reach while you are driving. Phone distraction kills, and there is an increasing number of accidents being caused by drivers looking at their phones instead of the road. Even the act of digging in a pocket to pull out and silence a vibrating phone can be distracting and dangerous. Stick to interacting with your phone when you’re not driving.
2. Reduce night driving
Roads are less safe at night, and you are approximately twice as likely to perish in a night time or evening accident than you are during the day. This is because you are more likely to encounter several behaviours and factors that increase accident risk during the night, including:
- reduced visibility
- fatigued drivers
- drunk drivers
- violation of traffic signals and other reckless driving behaviours.
These various factors often occur in combination, massively increasing the risk of a serious accident. So avoid night driving unless it is necessary.
3. Don’t speed
This isn’t ground-breaking advice, but millions of people are still unaware of how important speed is in determining accident risk and severity. The facts according to physics are simple: the energy of a collision is proportional to the square of the speed the vehicle is travelling at the moment of impact. In layman’s terms, this means that even slight increases in speed result in disproportionate increases in accident severity at that speed. Always stick to speed limits and reduce speed where visibility, weather or road conditions are poor.
4. Avoid tailgating
Tailgating collisions are the most common accident type on Australian roads, and the vast majority of these would be avoided if drivers simply observed appropriate following distances. If you drive a typical family car and want to ensure you have enough time to brake no matter what happens to the car in front of you, observe a four-second following distance. Three will suffice, two is the absolute minimum, and anything less than that could easily see your car parked in another person’s bumper.
5. Don’t drive when you are tired
Fatigued driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. However, it is hard to know when ‘tired’ becomes ‘too tired to drive’.
To avoid driving while fatigued, don’t drive if:
- you have gone 24 hours or more without sleep
- you have experienced several days of inadequate sleep
- your eyes are droopy, your head is nodding, you are struggling to stay awake, or you feel yourself experiencing momentary lapses in attention.
6. Respect your tyres and brakes
In an accident scenario, your tyres and brakes will play arguably the most important role in either preventing an accident or reducing its severity. With that in mind, you want them to be in excellent shape at all times.
To keep your tyres and brakes in good condition:
- service your vehicle according to manufacturer specifications
- inflate your tyres to manufacturer specifications
- monitor your tread depth and replace your tyres when required
- do not engage in reckless cornering, hard braking or harsh acceleration, all of which are not only dangerous, but also affect the integrity of your tyres and braking systems.
7. Buckle up if you’re in the rear of a car
Failure to wear a seatbelt is a major cause of avoidable death in accidents, with around a third of accident deaths in Australia involving individuals who were not restrained. Wear your seatbelt wherever you are sitting in a car. Not only are rear passengers who don’t wear seatbelts at as much risk of injury and death as front seat occupants, but they can also be turned into several tonne flesh and bone projectiles by the force of an accident.
UbiCar is an app that tracks and scores how you drive, focusing on key driving behaviours that affect driver safety. We also reward good drivers with various incentives. To find out more, download our app now.