Most of us drive every day, so it’s easy to forget how complex driving actually is. When you’re behind the wheel you need good coordination, total concentration, rapid reflexes and the ability to make the correct judgments and choices.
So it isn’t a surprise that drinking alcohol diminishes that…
If you drink alcohol and drive, you’re likely to find it difficult to:
If you know you are going to be drinking, you should make other plans for getting home. Arrange a lift with a friend who isn’t drinking, get public transport or a taxi.
A little over the limit? You are twice as likely to crash…
Speeding is a major factor in critical and lethal car crashes. Most people are surprised to learn exceeding the speed limit even by a small margin can have destructive consequences. Even small decreases in travel speed can reduce crash and injury severity and save lives – this can mean the difference between a close call and a fatality.
If you speed:
It is estimated that 20-30% of all fatal crashes on Australian roads are due to fatigue. Drowsy driving is dangerous and potentially fatal. Fatigue affects most people in a similar way. It can decrease reaction time and ability to concentrate, impair performance and judgement and reduce vital attention. The result is poorer performance, followed by an increased probability of falling asleep behind the wheel.
Signs of fatigue include:
If you recognise any of these signs while driving, you should take a break, either by stopping completely in a safe location off the road and having a 15 minute powernap or by changing drivers. Research has shown that fatigue can be as dangerous as other road safety issues, such as drink driving. But unlike drink driving, there are no laws regulating driver fatigue.
Remember, fatigue-related crashes can happen on any trip no matter how long or short or what time of day. It’s important to think about how tired you are before driving, recognise the early warning signs when driving and know what to do to avoid driving tired. The only remedy for drowsiness is sleep.
Defensive driving courses provide knowledge and hands-on-skills training to help keep you safe on the road. They tend to focus on skills and knowledge relevant to crash situations, that is, what to do to avoid crashes or how to reduce the severity of a crash situation. This in turn will help you understand your car and improve your skills so that you can keep yourself, your family and other road users safe.
Topics such as steering techniques and correct seating, vision, seatbelts, drugs and alcohol, fatigue and trip planning, tyres and basic vehicle checks, as well as braking systems, traction, airbags and stability control, and skid recognition are discussed in most defensive driving courses. They are designed in a way so that drivers can safely explore the effects of speed, road surface and different braking systems when faced with an emergency.
Defensive driving saves lives and makes the roads safer.
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