Thinking And Driving Safely Everyday Is Thinking Defensive Driving.

We have all seen these drivers rarely plan to stop as they approach an intersection, junction, traffic light, or roundabout. These drivers have driven aggressively for years and even decades. They never yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles, and soon these drivers may run out of luck. More vehicles will be on the road in Accra in 2022 than in 2021. Hence, it is one of the reasons there is more traffic on the roadways even when it’s not rush hour.

Why do these drivers take such risks by driving aggressively? We believe it’s because they have continuously operated this way, unless something terrible happens. Sadly, all categories of drivers in Accra go this way, including privately owned vehicles, taxis, and local commercial buses (tro tro). But it doesn’t have to be this way. The number of accidents I have avoided at intersections is alarming, thanks to the numerous defensive driving courses I have participated in over the years.

Generally, you will expect that drivers have a million and one reasons to slow down at intersections or junctions because of how busy it gets with so many variables. However, this isn’t enough to persuade many drivers. Is it because they are in a hurry (although that’s not an excuse to drive aggressively)? If that were the case, everyone on the road would be in a hurry. My team and I have tested this at several intersections with two-way stop signs with solid lines indicating that vehicles should come to a complete stop, but we’ve seen many drivers drive past these signs and lines like they didn’t exist.

This leads me to think they don’t understand road signs at all. Let’s put road signs aside; for now, common sense would indicate that when joining the main road, you need to slow down and yield right of way to those already on the main road. When it’s clear, you can join the road. But no, the vehicles entering the major road are so impatient that they’ll force the cars on the main road to slow down. There are times when this is necessary, especially when the police are controlling traffic, and at times like this, it is safe to move in when the police have stopped those on the major road.

Some others may have misjudged their timing and would have to slam their brakes due to poor anticipation. I guess this has happened to most of us. However, this article focuses on those who are chronically braking late, which has become a way of life. I want to believe we haven’t all lost our minds, and going back home safely to our families in one piece is still everyone’s goal. With that understanding, the new plan must actively do something about it.

The right way to approach junctions, traffic lights, and roundabouts

First things first, when you are approaching an intersection, roundabout, or traffic light, let that be your first cue to begin slowing down your vehicle. Your reaction time has significantly increased, and you are ready to avoid any hazards or collisions.

5 simple steps to brake safely

1.    Start braking slowly as you approach

2.    Reduce your speed some more by braking more firmly

3.    If at a traffic light and you notice the lights have been green for a while, prepare for a stop

4.    Start scanning around (front, left, right, and rear)

5.    By the time you reach the junction, you should brake until your vehicle comes to a complete stop

Even if you have the right of way and approach a T junction, watch the driver joining the road. You should be able to answer the following questions:

·     Has the driver noticed me (eye contact)?

·     Does the driver seem distracted?

·     Is the driver slowing down at all?

If you cannot answer these questions, a potential hazard is looming. Hopefully, you have already started slowing down for the vehicles behind you to expect to do the same.

Be honest. When was the last time your staff took a defensive driving course? Learn more about how we can help improve your fleet operations, save lives, and reduce costs. Send an email or call us.

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