Don’t crash. Pay attention!

I’m currently a MiDAS (Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme) DAT (Driver Assessor/Trainer) and I must say, it’s been a very interesting thing to take on. I’ve certainly seen benefits in my own driving and I hope that’s also true of the people I’ve taught.

Now, everyone thinks they’re a good driver, something which is not backed up by fact. Consider that according to my training material, 95% of road collisions are caused by human error. It really doesn’t take much – just a moment’s inattention and it can all go wrong. See this video for some good examples.

Now, it’s all rather tame compared to some of the horrific Russian/Asian dash cam compilations. Do note how many motorcyclists were taken out though – none of them hooning around at stupid speeds either. There are some examples of what looks like brake testing – possibly the most stupid thing you can do on the roads. I learnt my lesson at a very young age after brake testing a truck that was tailgating me (I was doing 30 in a 30 zone). I’m still not sure how he missed me, but 18-year old me decided that was a stupid way to behave. In short, this is where you stab the brake pedal to ‘teach the driver a lesson.’ Believe me. Driving is much more pleasant if you just take a deep breath and let the idiots get on with being idiots without getting involved.

But inattention is the biggest problem. It’s how you end up saying “I just didn’t see you.” It’s how the car can drift out of lane, forcing you to make a swift correction – which vastly increases the chance of a skid, especially in the wet. Think about a single-carriageway road. If you drift more than a foot or so in either direction, you’re going to have a MASSIVE accident. Put down that sodding phone and concentrate on what’s going on!

I blame modern cars, and the way they insulate you against the feeling of speed. 60mph in a 2CV FEELS like you’re covering the ground at a speed sufficient to get you 60 miles in just an hour. It’s like cycling. 60mph in most moderns feels like you’re barely moving. You have no idea how quickly you’re travelling until you want to stop, and suddenly find yourself being educated about stopping distances.

Observation is all-important too, and something I drill into people during training. Spot incidents BEFORE they become incidents. Make sure you check your mirror before crossing a lane – that includes turning right from a main road into a junction. Is some idiot trying to overtake you? A family got killed at a reservoir not a million miles from where I’m sitting because of a Grade A idiot who overtook two cars – the lead car turned right into a parking space. However, if the driver of the unfortunate car had checked her mirror before cutting across the path of aforementioned idiot, she would have ended the day swearing at an idiot rather than being part of a terrible tragedy.

You have to expect the unexpected. You have to pay attention. Safe driving is not pottering along at 40mph – safe driving can be done perfectly fine at the legal limit if road conditions allow. But you must have in the back of your mind some consideration for what could go wrong, and what’ll happen if it does. In 2013 in the UK, 785 car occupants lost their life. Gone. Ended. That compares with 398 pedestrians (pedestrians certainly don’t tend to come with airbags) and 331 motorcyclists. 265 people died in air-related disasters that year. In the entire world.

So, drive safe and don’t let yourself become immune to the danger. You don’t want to end up on someone’s compilation video.


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