Do you ever think “What if?”
Every day I hear about drivers who have crashed their vehicle into a tree, another vehicle or pedestrians. The follow up to the crash often explains how someone ran a red light, a stop sign or that road conditions affected the crash. Learning how to make good driving decisions takes time, proper training and a positive attitude. As drivers, we need to eliminate the “it won’t happen to me” attitude. We need to always think “what if…” each time we drive.
What if you’re driving on a multiple lane road and another driver pulls out from the side road from your right and stops partially in your lane? Would you know what to do? Would you stare at them? Would you suddenly swerve around them? Driving in such a way that lets you keep space beside your vehicle will give you an escape route beside your vehicle. If you have this space, you’ll know you can change lanes quickly if needed.
What if a child fell off a snow bank or a bicycle in front of your vehicle? Would you be able to respond to them in time? Reducing speed on roads that have pedestrians or cyclists close to you will give you more time to respond. Moving away from the potential problem will also give you more time to respond to them. Anticipate danger so you’ll be ready to respond. If you think they won’t fall and they do fall into your path, it may catch you off guard.
What if you’re stopped in traffic and the driver behind appears to be approaching your vehicle to fast to stop? Would you even notice them? Would you be able to avoid them? While we’re stopped in traffic the highest risk comes from behind us. Drivers who get distracted may not realize your vehicle is stopped ahead of them. Leaving space to move into is an important part of avoiding a rear crash. Knowing where you can go helps you stay ahead of the most commonly reported crash in North America. Monitoring the rear view mirror will let you know if the driver behind is slowing enough. If you’re not sure, use the space to be safe.
What if you’re following another vehicle in traffic and they suddenly stop? Would you have enough time to respond to them? Would it catch you by surprise? Most drivers make the mistake of following too closely. If you rear end another driver in a scenario like this, you’ll receive a hefty fine, plus four demerit points. Since speed is judged in time, we must allow for a minimum amount of time between our vehicle and the vehicle in front of us. Leaving a two second following distance between you and the driver in front will give you time to respond to quick braking. Looking ahead of those drivers can also help you anticipate their problems so you can respond early.
What if you actively tried to prepare for the worst? Would that improve your survival rate? I’m sure it would.