It bothers me to inform you that road accident deaths in India are still on the rise, despite fewer accidents in 2018. Yes, that’s unfortunately correct! Road deaths in India increased to 1.49 lakhs last year as compared to 1.48 lakhs in 2017. However, road accidents during the same period seem to have declined from 4.65 lakhs in 2017 to 4.61 lakhs in 2018. This spike in fatalities not only raises a question on the emergency services but also on how important road safety is to each one of us. I believe it is of paramount importance. But do we genuinely consider road safety that important while driving the vehicle too? If yes, then let’s have a sense of responsibility while driving the vehicles by following the 7Ds of road safety to prevent accidents:
#1. Defensive Driving:
I believe everyone on the road has the right of way, and common sense is in practising it whenever you find a vehicle in a hurry. This fundamental habit or quality is Defensive Driving. It is safe and a smart way to prevent road accidents. By being obstinate, blocking the path, or impeding the passage of a vehicle, you might end up increasing the risk of an accident. So, I would suggest you steer clear aggressive and reckless drivers instead of getting into road rage. Also, be considerate to heavy-duty vehicle drivers and tailgaters. Make way for them to operate safely by switching to a different lane to overtake you. Remember to watch out for other vehicles and use turn indicators as a signal while doing so.
#2. Distance Between the Vehicles:
Avoid being a tailgater by driving too close to the vehicle in front of you.
Driving too close deprives you of the adequate space needed to decelerate during a sudden stop, especially if the vehicle ahead hit brakes abruptly. If you are a driver of a truck or trailer, then take more precaution in maintaining the distance because it takes almost 40% longer for a trailer to stop as compared to a car.
Therefore, I recommend you to follow “Three Second Rule” to maintain a safe distance between the vehicles ahead or else you may rear-end them. Wondering what’s “Three Second Rule”? It is a simple phenomenon that allows you to keep your vehicle 3 seconds away from a permanent object alongside the road through which the vehicle ahead of you has passed. You can also double the seconds in case of trailers or lousy weather.
#3. Distraction-Free Driving:
I don’t want you to trap yourself in a situation where you aren’t aware of how someone or something “popped out of nowhere”. This excuse is what most of us give after a car crash. It testifies that we weren’t attentive on the road, which resulted in a slow reaction to critical or potentially dangerous conditions. So, don’t listen to loud music, eat food, smoke, apply makeup, text on a mobile phone or do anything else that distracts you while driving. Distracted driving leads to severe road accidents. It delays your reaction causing 90% of rear-end accidents.
Interestingly, a study published in the quarterly journal Human Factors by psychology professor David Strayer from the University of Utah states that the reaction times of a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone are the same as a 70-year-old driver without a cell phone. So, stop texting on the phone and be careful of the traffic signals, hasty motorists and cars pulling out from parking or service roads.
#4. Don’t Speed:
Drive within the specified speed limit because speeding can be fatal. Faster vehicles take longer to stop even after applying brakes and tend to skid. Also, the collision of a faster vehicle causes horrific injuries. It is one of the leading causes of around 70% of severe crashes.
In case of bad weather or dense fog, the visibility is hampered significantly. So, driving slowly along the road markers is the safest option. Also, avoid high speed during heavy rain as it may lead to car aquaplaning.
#5. Deal with Blind Spots:
Overall visibility is essential in preventing road accidents. With certain blind spots around the vehicle, it becomes a necessity to familiarise yourself with them. Once you know how to deal with blind spots, you become cautious enough to check your rearview mirror and side mirrors for better visibility while driving. Checking your blind spot every 10 seconds is a good practice while-
- Changing lanes
- Backing out of the parking
- Merging with other traffic
- Before turning or pulling out your car from the kerb
#6. Don’t Drive While Drunk or Drowsy:
Driving under the influence of alcohol causes reduced coordination and reaction ability, blurred vision and loss of consciousness. These physical impairments lead to car accidents. Therefore, it is a punishable offense to drive inebriated and can result in cancellation of your license or yourself behind bars.
Besides this, I wouldn’t recommend you to drive while you are feeling drowsy, stressed, fatigued or tired. It may cause you to sleep while driving or reduce your reaction time to respond to a sudden situation on the road. I would also advise you to please take good sleep before driving for a long journey and take breaks whenever necessary.
#7. Drive with Safety:
Always remember the basics of driving like wearing a seat belt or helmet, keeping a set of extra tyres and checking your vehicle thoroughly before starting your journey. These basic rules save lives. It is to be noted that over 70% of fatal crash victims are the ones who do not wear seat belts and helmets.
Sometimes, the technical mistakes in the vehicle may also lead to severe accidents. So, you must always check for the break and engine oil, tire pressure, clutch and other parts of your vehicle to avoid accidents.
Unfortunately, even after following the above 7Ds while driving some of you or people around you may end up in a crash. In such an emergency, I recommend you to follow the 8th ‘D’ to save yourself and people around you, i.e., Dial 108 Ambulance Emergency Number. This emergency number is operated by Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd. with a hope to bring down the number of road accident deaths through its emergency services.