More tips on being a conscientious driverBy Botchi Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The column I wrote on being a conscientious driver elicited good number of responses, shares on various websites and some private messages so I felt it might be a good idea to follow it up with more tips.
On the topic of turning or changing lanes, remember to turn on your signal lights a good 3-5 seconds before you actually make the turn or lane change. In fact, the moment you think about changing lanes or turning, you should turn on your signal lights, look at your side view and rear view mirrors, and only when the coast is clear should you actually proceed to make a turn or lane change. All this happens in a span of 5-7 seconds. And don’t switch off your signal lights until you’ve made your maneuver as this alerts people ahead and behind you that you are in the process of completing a lane change.
Now, if you happen to see an ambulance, fire truck, police or military convoy coming up from behind, what should you do? The simplest answer is to let them pass immediately. Move over to the outermost lane, slow down, let these vehicles pass, and please, do not piggy-back behind them and follow the ambulance/fire truck/police or military convoy as that is quite frankly dangerous, encourages other motorists to do the same, and is in fact a traffic violation. In some cases, it can be misconstrued as a criminal offense if the vehicle you are following is a government official that requires protection and the bodyguards/back-up vehicles think you are a terrorist. Stay clear of these vehicles, make space for them immediately by moving over to the outermost lane and slowing down until they pass you. And don’t speed up immediately, leave a few seconds gap until they’ve passed you before you accelerate once again.
Coming up to an intersection, regardless of whether you have the right of way or not, slow down. You never know when an idiot is trying to beat the red light, or is oblivious to other cars. Tap your brakes lightly, ride them right until the intersection gently to load up the tires and front suspension and be ready to make a full stop if necessary. But once you can see either side of the intersection, speed up quickly and immediately to clear the intersection.
Here’s a favorite of mine. Passing/overtaking and being passed or overtaken. If you plan to overtake a vehicle ahead of you, pick the safest, widest portion of road to do so, and overtake on their left/driver’s side as much as possible. Flash your lights or honk a warning toot to inform the car ahead that you’re moving up from behind to overtake them. And when the car ahead acknowledges your presence, overtake at full speed and always at full speed. Cars running side by side is actually very dangerous. It is disorienting for a number of reasons: proximity of the cars together, the slight difference of speeds between the two cars, and concentration required to move safely and steadily and sometimes, when the road isn’t arrow straight and the two cars turn at different rates. That’s why actual wheel-to-wheel racing is considered very dangerous and requires lots of safety equipment in real race cars. That’s why you should avoid being beside another car for more than a few seconds, and that’s why you should overtake quickly and positively. Now, if you are being overtaken, slow down to let the other vehicle pass you. Do not, at all costs, speed up because this creates a dangerous situation for both you and the car coming up behind you. Allow the car behind you to pass you first and if you don’t want him or her to pass you anyway, overtake that car again once the road ahead is safe and clear. And avoid as much as you can, overtaking on corners, as this is dangerous as well precisely because your turning rate might be different from the car you are overtaking.
With regard to pedestrians and motorcycles on the road, I know many motorists feel that these are the bane of driving as a lot of newbie motorcycle riders, uneducated about the etiquette of driving/riding and traffic flow, as well as jaywalkers who cross wherever they see fit, the truth is, it’s not worth getting tangled up with them. My advice? You are the bigger, heavier mass, so slow down, let them pass and avoid them whenever possible. Get tangled up with them and it’s almost a surety that they will end up dead, or seriously injured. When you see pedestrians on the road, slow down, even if they are attempting to jaywalk. If you see motorcyclists weaving through traffic at break-neck kamikaze fashion, slow down, leave them space and let them pass. This isn’t a perfect logic to how you should go about with pedestrians and crazy motorcyclists, but it keeps both you and them (motorcyclists and jaywalkers) free from accidents.
And should you happen to see an accident or a stalled vehicle on the road, speed up because it is none of your business anyway, and more importantly, you contribute to the traffic jam the accident or stalled vehicle is causing.
Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, check your car and its key components regularly. Breaking down or getting a flat because you were too cheap or lazy to have your car serviced, fixed up or repaired is most inconsiderate. You create a traffic jam, and wreak havoc on most people’s everyday lives.
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