Before embarking on the curriculum entailed in its extensive range of driving courses, the folks at the Toyota Advanced Driving academy ensure that all participants undergoing training understand the very basics of safe driving practices before they hit the skidpan, says TAD’s VON KRAUSE.
How often do we hear sports coaches being interviewed after a particular match game saying, “We lost because we didn’t get the basics right”.
The same applies to driving practices, because the primary cause of accidents are driver error on the part of those who ignored the most basic rules of safe driving, both in their actions and their vehicle fitness.
The summer months bring with it flash downpours in the northern parts of the country. Wet roads are a particular factor in many accidents as most motorists do not adapt their driving style in dry periods to allow for the change in conditions. Everywhere in the country summer generally allows for better overall visibility because of longer daylights hours and hotter conditions. Because motorists drive a little faster, with it should come greater following distances, and especially so in the wet.
Speed plays a major role in a driver’s observation, recognition, decision and reaction time. In the case of a driver in a medium size car travelling at a speed of 120km/ who has to make an emergency stop, in ideal conditions he or she needs a distance of about 225 metres from the point of observation until the vehicle comes to a safe standstill.
What exactly are the basics we need to consider whilst driving? Here are a few pointers:
- Adjust our speed according to the prevailing weather conditions.
- Avoid harsh acceleration and braking; it could upset the balance and even weight distribution of your car.
- For the same reason, avoid erratic or sudden changes of direction.
- Safety belts for all passengers, and baby seats for toddlers and young children – safety is a just click away and it takes only a second to secure the belt.
- Headlights on at all hours of the day and night. Most Toyota and Lexus vehicles come with DRLs (daytime driving lights), but if your car is not equipped with it, switch on the main beams.
- Assume the correct driving position, ensure you are seated comfortably, and that mirrors and all other controls are adjusted accordingly.
- Indicate your intentions to change direction timeously.
- Never drive tired, under the influence, or allow yourself to be distracted.Vehicle readiness is equally as important as a qualified and safe driver.
- Ensure that the tyre pressures are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Check that windshield wipers are in good condition.
- All lights should be in full working order, otherwise the car is deemed unroadworthy.
- For maximum visibility, windows should be clean inside and out, and scratch and crack free.
- Drivers generally only put on the headlights in adverse conditions only, but we recommend it should be switched on at all hours to make your car more visible to other drivers and pedestrians. A car’s lighting system is used as a form of communication with other road users. During the hours of darkness, be especially considerate to oncoming traffic, and ensure that when your car is heavily laden or towing that your lights are adjusted accordingly so as not to blind oncoming traffic.