In the modern world, the age of the car has changed the way we live our lives perhaps forever. We can drive to and from our workplaces, take our families away on holidays and visit far-off friends and relatives without having to rely on the vagaries of a public transport network. It all seems so easy and convenient, but there are always serious issues to consider.
In a bid to raise awareness of the potential dangers on our roads, August was declared National Road Victim Month, and it served to highlight just what can happen when a driver, passenger or pedestrian becomes the victim of negligence or criminality. Although the streets and highways enable us to travel quickly and easily from one place to another, they can also play host to tragic events, so every road user needs to take as much care as possible when on the move.
For car drivers, there is far more to responsible motoring than simply driving carefully. Any vehicle owner who ventures out in a dangerous car is running the risk of serious injury or even death, so there should be regular checks taken before leaving. One of the most important factors is the condition of the tyres; it’s worth remembering that these provide the only point of contact between the vehicle and the surface of the road, so be sure to keep them properly inflated and with, at the very least, the minimum required level of tread.
Safety starts before you leave home
Before setting out, you need to make sure you have a working cellphone with you, just in case you get lost or break down somewhere along the way. If you have a satellite navigation system, be sure to have it with you, even if you know where you are supposed to be going – you never know when it might come in handy. If you are embarking on a long journey in inclement weather, it’s a good idea to put a warm coat, a blanket, some chocolate and a snow shovel in the trunk, just in case the worst should happen. As the old saying goes: if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail.
For many road users, a sudden breakdown in an unfamiliar area can be a traumatic experience, but if you know what do in such an event you don’t need to panic. You need to make sure your car is in as safe a position as possible, preferably away from the main road itself or on the hard shoulder of a motorway, before contacting one of the emergency breakdown services. Make sure that you and your passengers are away from the vehicle while you wait for help, because accidents involving parked cars are common.
If you are travelling abroad on a holiday and you plan to hire a car while you’re there, be sure to find out some details about the local rules of the road. Every country is different, so it makes sense to be as well-prepared as you can possibly be. The hire company will often be able to provide you with a leaflet or perhaps a handbook explaining some of the major differences, and it’s a good idea to read and understand them before you even think of driving away. To be on the safe side, you should perhaps find out this information on the Internet before you leave home.
It’s not just about car drivers
Needless to say, those individuals who take to the road on two wheels need be extra careful. They must make sure they are clearly visible to car users, especially at night, and they need to be aware that overtaking parked cars can represent a particular problem. As always, it’s a good idea to assume car drivers cannot see you at times, and to expect the unexpected!
It’s a sad fact that many pedestrians lose their lives in any given year, and although in most cases the drivers are at fault there are occasions when it was because of the pedestrian not taking enough care. If possible, those on foot should always cross at appropriate crossings, and should be aware of the road situation around them at all times. Walking out between parked cars is a common reason for accidents, so this should be avoided at all costs.