Nervous Drivers

October 17, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Posted in GHS | 3 Comments
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Driving to me means freedom and independence but it can also mean tension and anxiety. This is especially true if your driving on a freeway and you have no idea where to exit which has happened to me numerous times.

This brings me to the topic of this post which is nervous drivers and how to overcome those anxious feelings that you can experience when your driving. I think this is an important topic because nervous drivers are likely to make more mistakes on the road which can lead to fatal road accidents.

Below are some tips that can help you keep calm even if you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you have no control over the car:

  • Plan your trip: before you go anywhere make sure that you have had a look at a map so that you are able to navigate yourself to your destination. Google Maps is a good way to do this especially because your able to get a street view of the location your going to which means that you can see where your able to park and what important intersections there are in the area
  • Set yourself easy goals, this means that if your terrified of driving on the freeway then start off by going to your local shops and then next time you can drive to a different location
  • Get help from a driving instructor: if your a really nervous driver then you might want to get a couple of lessons with a professional driving instructor. This is a great way to regain control on the road as you have someone next to you who is able to deal with different driving situations and can put you at ease when you feel frightened or uncomfortable
  • Take regular breaks: every two hours take a fifteen minute break
  • Keep your distance, ensure that there is a two second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you
  • Be mindful of all road signs, this is especially true when your on the freeway as road conditions can change at a faster rate compared to ordinary roads

Remember that slow and steady wins the race. This might sound like a big cliche but its a good motto to follow when it comes to overcoming driving anxiety. There is no shame in starting off slow by getting in the car and just familiarizing yourself with the driver’s seat, turning the engine on, adjusting mirrors and so on.

Lastly, if you need help and support don’t be afraid to ask for it, you never know what a huge difference this could make to your driving abilities.

Keep in mind that driving can be an exhilarating and empowering experience that everyone should be able to take part in.

Sources

Drive & Stay Alive, INC. (2004) Advice for Nervous Drivers [online]. Available at: http://www.driveandstayalive.com/info%20section/news/individual%20news%20articles/x_040820_advice-for-nervous-drivers_%28lancs-uk%29.htm [Accessed 14 October 2012].

witterings of the overtired (2012) Tips for Nervous Drivers [online]. Available at: http://podgypixiejo.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/tips-for-nervous-drivers.html [Accessed 14 October 2012].

Queensland’s share the road campaign

October 14, 2012 at 11:32 am | Posted in GHS | 5 Comments
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In the previous post we’ve focused on things that drivers can do to prevent getting into accidents with cyclists. However, this does not mean that we place the blame and responsibility just on the driver, we are aware that there are cyclists out there who don’t follow the road rules or think they don’t apply to them. A way to change the attitudes and behaviors of both drivers and cyclists is by making them equally accountable for their actions.

This is an approach that has been adopted by the Queensland government’s Department of Transport and Main Roads. They have created the Share the road campaign which seeks to educate the public about how cyclists and motorists can share the road responsibly. By doing this they hope to improve road safety for cyclists and increase the number of cyclists in Queensland.

Below are two posters that have been used widely in the campaign:

Campaign poster aimed at cyclists about the importance of following road rules

Another campaign poster, this time directed at drivers so that they give cyclists enough space on the road

As you can tell from the posters above, the Safe the road campaign is not trying to shift all the blame on to one group of road users and I think this is what makes it effective as it acknowledges that cyclists and motorists both have a part to play in keeping our roads safe.

I think this represents what we are trying to achieve with our campaign which is to make road safety everybody’s responsibility rather than making it about one group or individual. I think viewing it this way will mean that more people can feel empowered and motivated to change the way they think and act on the road.

Survey on sharing the road with cyclists

October 14, 2012 at 7:09 am | Posted in GHS | Leave a comment
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Following from my previous post about how to safely share the road with cyclist, I have created a survey so that you can share your views about this important road safety issue.

Click on this link and get started it’s as simple as that 🙂

Comment below if you want us to create more surveys for future posts and if you have any suggestions on what topics you want us to cover.

Sharing the road with cyclists

October 14, 2012 at 12:21 am | Posted in GHS | 2 Comments
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Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the road that drivers do.

In particular, drivers need to be aware that cyclists are more vulnerable on the road compared to them so they need to do everything in their power to keep the roads safe.

Below are some valuable tips that will make it easier to share the road with cyclists:

  • When your passing a cyclist give them enough space, at least half a car’s width
  • When you overtake a cyclist make sure you give them lost of room. Only overtake if your sure that it’s safe
  • Check your rear and side view mirrors before turning right our left and opening your car door
  • Cyclist are like any other road user so give them way when necessary and travel at a safe following distance
  • Try to avoid overtaking a cyclist, wait until it is safe to overtake or if a cyclist is ahead of you and you wish to turn left then turn behind the cyclist
  • Keep a look out for cyclists at night time, early in the morning or at dusk. If your approaching a cyclist under these conditions then make sure you dip your headlights
  • Be very careful around cyclists if it has been raining as they have to contend with oily, slippery roads and poor visibility
  • Don’t drive or park in a cycle lane
  • Don’t forget to indicate so that the cyclist knows upfront when you want to change lanes or turn a corner
  • If your driving near a school or a place where children may be riding their bike then be extra vigilant. This is because young riders can be unpredictable and not aware of the road rules so you need to anticipate their movements by giving them extra space and slowing down around schools
  • Treat cyclists with respect and courtesy
  • Cyclists can make sudden maneuvers so that they avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles like drain covers, wet or icy patches on the road. This is why you need to give them plenty of room
  • When your heading towards a roundabout be aware that a cyclist may signal right when they are in the left lane so that they can continue round the roundabout
  • If your passing a cyclist make sure you pass them at a cautious speed
  • Remember to keep a three feet minimum distance when passing a cyclist. By doing this you can prevent a rear-end accident which could prove fatal for the cyclist

Remember that we should hold cyclists in high regard as by choosing not to drive they are benefiting everyone as they are reducing traffic congestion, pollution and road wear.

For more tips on sharing the road with cyclists then check out Safe Cycling in Sydney’s blog post on 6 things drivers can do to improve relations with cyclists.

Sources

1) Department of Transport and Main Roads (2012) Sharing the road with cyclists [online]. Available at: http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Driver-guide/Driving-safely/Sharing-the-road-with-cyclists.aspx  [Accessed 13 September 2012].

2) Torbay Council (2012) Ten Steps to Considerate Driving For Cyclist Safety [online]. Available at: http://www.torbay.gov.uk/index/yourbay/sports/cycling/ten-steps-to-considerate-driving-for-cyclist-safety.htm [Accessed 13 September 2012].

3) Ulrich, L (2012) How to Drive around Cyclists [online]. Available at: PDF Link [Accessed 14 September 2012].

Keeping safe on the road this bushfire season

October 10, 2012 at 8:30 am | Posted in GHS, GloriaSantillana | 2 Comments
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Summer is just around the corner which means getting more time in the sun with friends. However, the hot weather can also create road hazards such as a bushfire.

If your planning to take a road trip this summer or you just want to be prepared for any emergencies you may encounter whilst driving then you need to know what to do if your driving in a bushfire affected area.

First of all before you travel anywhere this summer make sure you listen to ABC Radio or your local radio station so that your aware of any fires that are burning near your destination. If you are driving in a high risk bushfire area and a Code Red is forecast then the best option is either to leave the night before or early the next day.

Having said that, don’t leave if there are already signs of a bushfire in the area your in. This is because the thick, dark smoke will make it hard for you to see while driving. There is also a danger of falling tress and power lines which could leave you trapped in the path of a fire.

Below are some tips that you need to follow if you see a bushfire in the distance while driving:

  • You need to pull over to the side of the road preferably behind a solid structure so that you block the radiant heat of the fire
  • Keep your car away from dense bush
  • Stay inside your car unless there’s a nearby building, this will keep you protected from the radiant heat
  • Make the car visible by turning on the hazard and headlights
  • Close windows and doors
  • Turn the air conditioning on to full and recirculate
  • Get down below the window level and shelter under a woolen blanket
  • Drink lots of water so that you don’t get dehydrated
  • Stay in the car until the fire front has passed and the temperature outside has dropped
  • Once outside the car, move into a safe area such as a strip of land that has already burnt
  • Stay covered in a woolen blanket, drink plenty of water and wait for assistance

(Tasmania Fire Service, 2012)

These tips will ensure that your protected from the radiant heat of the bushfire which is the biggest killer in a fire.

The best way to protect yourself from the radiant heat is by keeping your distance.

Have fun and keep safe this summer by being aware of the dangers that a bushfire can cause motorists on the road and the steps you need to take to avoid these dangers.

If you want more information about bushfire safety then check out this link from Tourism Victoria.

Speeding in New South Wales

October 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Posted in GHS | 1 Comment
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Source:

Roads and Maritime Services (2012) Speeding [online]. Available at: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadsafety/speedandspeedcameras/index.html [Accessed 02 October 2012].

Safe driving tips when it comes to mobile phones

October 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Posted in GHS | 4 Comments
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Here are some safety driving tips to do with mobile phones and driving. Perhaps you can apply some of these recommendations to your daily driving routine and do your bit to make the road a safer place for everyone:

  • Don’t read or send text messages while driving
  • Use voicemail rather than answering your phone while driving
  • Pull over or park if you need to make or receive a call
  • Plan breaks in your journey for phone calls
  • Let your family and friends know that they shouldn’t call you when your driving
  • Don’t look up phone numbers while driving

(DPTI, 2009)

Source:

Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (2009) Road Safety: Mobile Phone Use [online]. Available at: http://www.dpti.sa.gov.au/roadsafety/Safer_behaviours/inattention/mobile_phone_use [Accessed 26 September 2012].

Driving and mobile phones don’t mix!

October 1, 2012 at 11:17 am | Posted in GHS | 4 Comments
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There are many distractions that we face when we drive whether it is having a conversation with our passengers or trying to change the song on our car stereo. These distractions can have a huge affect on our driving ability, one main distraction that has gained popularity as technology has evolved is mobile phones. Although we may think that this is not a big deal and that we can cope with doing two things at once, the reality is that it can directly impeded our ability to drive safely and can lead to fatal road accidents. Below is some information that sheds light on the dangers of driving whilst using a mobile phone.

Physical distraction

When you drive while using a hand held or hands free mobile phone it can distract you both physically and mentally.

It can physically distract you as you have to take one hand off the steering wheel while using your mobile phone. Also, you have to take your eyes off the road to pick up and put down the phone so that you can dial a number (ROSPA, 2012). This means that basically you have to operate your car using just one hand. Even if you use a hands-free phone you are still distracted as you need to take your eyes off the road in order to find the phone and press the button that allows you to call (ROSPA, 2012).

Mental Distraction

When your using a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone you have to perform two different mental, cognitive tasks at the same time. Therefore, you have to devote your attention to using the phone and maintaining a telephone conversation whilst also operating the car and responding to road and traffic conditions (ROSPA, 2012).

The three types of distraction you can experience while driving using a mobile phone

Using a mobile phone while driving can lead to…

  • Riskier decision making: you may not be able to choose a safe gap between you and other cars as your judgement and concentration are affected
  • Slower reaction: you reaction time is slower when your using a phone and you may not be able to respond to traffic signals
  • Slower braking: break reaction time is slower, you break with more force and less control which means that your stopping distances are shorter
  • Tendency to wander off from your lane
  • Less likely to be alert to your surroundings: you don’t check mirrors as often as before and your less likely to know what’s going on around you

(DPTI, 2009)

Text messaging is also dangerous

When you send a text message while driving you are physically, visually and mentally distracted. In addition, when you send a text message your eyes are taken off the road for up to four times longer compared to when you are not text messaging.

Text messaging can cause you to…

  • Make wrong lane changes
  • wander off from your lane
  • fail to see road signs and hazards such as other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists e.t.c.

(DPTI, 2009)

Text messaging and driving

Important Statistics

  • You are four times more likely to be involved in a car crash if you use a mobile phone while driving (DPTI, 2009)
  • According to an American Health Day Poll conducted in 2011, 37% of drivers have sent or received text messages while driving, 13% have surfed the net while driving
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered that more than three quarters of drivers were likely to answer calls on all, most, or some trips while driving. These drivers didn’t take into account traffic conditions when they decided to use their phones
  • In America there were 3,092 deaths due to distraction related accidents in 2012
  • 6000 deaths and half-a-million injuries are caused by distracted drivers every year in the US
  • The 30 to 39-year-old age group had the highest percentage of mobile phone use in fatal crashes
  • Fatalities associated with distracted drivers increased from 10% in 2005 to 16% in 2009
  • Talking on a mobile phone caused 25% of car accidents in the US
  • One-fifth of adult drivers in the US send text messages while driving
  • The Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. did a study on dangerous driver behavior in 2007. The found that out of the 1,200 drivers surveyed 73% talk on mobile phones while driving and 19% text while driving. They also uncovered that motorists who use mobile phones while driving are four times more likely to get into car crashes
  • Texting while driving causes a 400% increase in time spent with eyes off the road
  • A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that a driver dialing a mobile phone is 2.8 times more likely to get into a crash, a driver reaching for a mobile or any electronic device is 1.4 times more likely to get into a car crash and a driver talking on their mobile is 1.3 times more likely to get into an accident

(Edgar Snyder, 2012)

Older drivers at higher risk

“There is evidence that older drivers require more glances to instrument panels to retrieve necessary information, require more time to complete instrument tasks and require more time to move their eyes between the road and an instrument display. Therefore, using a mobile phone while driving may cause more problems for older drivers than younger ones (ROSPA, 2012, p. 3).”

Important studies on the use of mobile phones while driving

In one study 15 people were asked to drive on a driving simulation which was on a single carriageway rural road. There was traffic in front of and behind them and on-coming vehicles. While they were driving they were asked a series of questions on a hands-free phone. The result of the study showed that when they were using a mobile phone the drivers took an average of 200 meters longer to respond to a change in the speed limit. Also, using the mobile phone significantly decreased the driver’s awareness which resulted in them having very little awareness of what was going on around them (ROSPA, 2012).

A study conducted in the US found that the risk of being in a collision was four times higher when using a hand-held or hands-free phone. They came to this conclusion after examining the mobile phone records of drivers who were involved in a damage-only road accident (ROSPA, 2012).

Another study in America looked at 223 traffic accidents between 1992 and 1995 in the US. It came to the conclusion that the drivers who were using a mobile phone were nine times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. Additionally, the report states that using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of fatal accidents three times more than being drunk (ROSPA, 2012).

Over a four-month period accident reports in Taiwan recorded whether the driver had a mobile phone in their car at the time of the accident and whether it was being used. Out of the 3,000 road accidents 22% involved drivers who had a mobile phone in the car and 4% involved drivers who were using a mobile phone at the time of the accident. The same study also found that between August 2000 and March 2001, 2,407 traffic accidents were caused by drivers using mobile phones, these resulted in 14 deaths and 443 injuries. Nine deaths and 354 injuries occurred in accidents were the driver was using a hand-held phone and four deaths and 89 injuries happened in accidents where the driver was using a hands-free phone (ROSPA, 2012).

Fatal accidents involving mobile phones

  • March 1999: A driver died when his car swerved off the road and into a tree while talking on a mobile
  • March 1999, Scotland: Truck driver crashed into a car which led to the death of the occupant. The truck driver was speeding while using a hands free mobile phone
  • March 2000, UK: The driver was talking on a mobile phone while reading a map. His car hit the back of a lorry carrying gas cylinders. The driver died in the fire
  • June 2000: A truck driver hit a man standing by his parked car because he was writing a text message
  • November 2000, UK: A driver died when he pulled out in front of a police car that had its lights and sirens on. The driver was sending and receiving text messages minutes before the crash
  • August 2001: A driver died when she drove head-on into a truck. She was sending a text message before she lost control of her car

(ROSPA, 2012)

The reason why I based this blog post on driving while using a mobile phone is because I think this is a major issue when it comes to road safety. I also think the more awareness this issue is given, the better chance there is in changing the attitude and behavior of all drivers which may ultimately lead to less fatalities on the roads.

Sources

1) Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (2009) Road Safety: Mobile Phone Use [online]. Available at: http://www.dpti.sa.gov.au/roadsafety/Safer_behaviours/inattention/mobile_phone_use [Accessed 26 September 2012].

2) Snyder, E. (2012) Cell Phone & Texting Accident Statistics [online]. Available at: http://www.edgarsnyder.com/car-accident/cell-phone/cell-phone-statistics.html [Accessed 25 September 2012].

3) The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (2012) The Risk of Using a Mobile Phone While Driving [online]. Available at: http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/info/mobile_phone_report.pdf – 2010-01-22 [Accessed 25 September 2012].

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