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Ultimate Guide For Safe Driving

Written: 12/27/2007


During this period of festivity, many people are rushing to meet their families, friends and near ones to celebrate the end of year with them. Even if you are in a hurry to get to meet your family, a few rules of caution is needed before and during your trip. Panorama of a few safety tips to stay in shape behind your steering wheel and to take the road in your best condition!

Note: This article will not consider gadgets like GPS, etc but will focus on the driver him/herself because if the driver is completely drunk, no matter how many gadgets the car has, the chance of having an accident will be the same.

Pay attention to the first signs of drowsiness and fatigue

To begin with, a figure: a road accident on three is due to drowsiness. Too often neglected or reduced, the consequences of sleepiness on the conduct are very real. Drowsiness causes similar effects on the conduct and behavior like alcohol. For proof, that other data: 17 hours of non-sleep is equivalent to 0.5 g of alcohol in your blood…

But what actually is that drowsiness? No fatigue in any case as it has too often been thought to be. Though different from one another, both have a significant impact on alertness and concentration of the driver, and hence its security.

According to road safety:

"The sleepiness or drowsiness is the difficulty to stay awake, with a risk of falling asleep. A sleepy person can go from standby to sleep without being aware of it, which is especially dangerous driving."

"Fatigue is the difficulty to do a particular task properly like staying focused at the wheel."

Drowsiness

Now that you know how to differentiate between drowsiness and fatigue, learn the signs that distinguish them.

To locate the first signs of drowsiness, learn the following points:
  • Heavy eyelids, eyes which tingle.

  • Difficulty concentrating on driving.

  • Repeated yawnings.

  • Incessant needs to change positions.

At the appearance of these signs, it is time for you to release the pedal and go rest.

Fatigue

We all know what fatigue is for having experienced it so many times. Nonetheless, it is important to distinguish its signs to adopt a proper attitude because the solutions will not be the same as for sleepiness or tiredness.

  • Stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

  • Back pains.

  • Fixed glance, difficulty to concentrate.

If you are tired, it's an active break you need.

Stop and indulge yourself in some relaxing activities. Reading, stretching, playing cards or chess will get you back upright without burdening you.

We appreciate it after a hard day's work, after a heavy studying or simply on returning work. Yet on the road, most drivers do not seem to appreciate a break. Too often associated with loss of time, it helps a lot though to replenish your batteries so that you can drive safely.

Here are some tips to practise a healthy and safe driving on the road:
  • On many motorways, you can find a rest area approximately every 10 minutes. Sometimes, you can eat there and your children will enjoy the respite when there is a playground. In short, everything is being done to be able to relax and have fun while driving.

  • Respect times of pause: that is to say approximately 15 minutes every 2 hours.

  • Taking one or two coffees before making a short nap can rest and energize you without making you feel tired afterwards. It is one of the concept underlying a power nap. Caffeine putting 15 to 30 minutes to act, it is alright to drink a cup before falling asleep and you'll find yourself recover all your capabilities on awakening. For people whose physical condition prohibits coffee, wait at least 30 minutes after a nap to resume driving.

  • Avoid driving over 6 to 8 hours for every 24 hours.

  • Avoid driving during hours when the risk of drowsiness increases, that is between 13h and 16h and between 2 am and 5 am.

  • Respecting speed limits means taking less risks and avoid posing a strain on yourself. Indeed, a quick driving forces the driver to handle a wider range of information in the shortest time possible and to adapt his vision permanently.


Driving at night

To avoid traffic jams and not to suffer the overwhelming heat of the asphalt, there are many who choose to leave under the soft light of the moon. But this is very dangerous for many people who are not accustomed to driving at night.

How to drive better at night

  • Sleep at least 5 hours before you go: a period of sleep less than 5 hours multiply by 5 the risk of a fatal accident.

  • Do not leave directly after a hard day's work without some rest first. Go back home, take a shower, eat a piece and a nap can only be good for a safe driving.

  • Avoid heavy meals before leaving. Prefer meals where you can replenish your reserve of energy (fruit and vegetables, poultry, starch, etc..). Avoid sweets and foods rich in fat.


Alcohol: Danger at the turn

Despite all the prevention campaigns and information, constant reminders, a more active enforcement and increased penalties, alcohol is the cause of a fatal accident in three. In 2006, alcohol has become the leading cause of fatal accidents on the roads before speed. Nevertheless, it is insufficient and much work still need to be done. Yet the solution is so simple: Never drink before driving!

Effects of Alcohol

  • Decrease in the visual field: the perception of the lateral side of the environment is altered.

  • Increased visual reaction time. In a second in normal times, the response time increases to 2 seconds when you are drunk. Just one second longer? An example would be most telling: a vehicle at 90 km / h would cover 25 meters in 1 second, 37 meters per second and a half. These 12 meters, the distance over this extra reaction time, can save a life.

  • Decreased alertness and resistance to fatigue.

  • Perturbation of the coordination of movements.

  • Poor evaluation of risks.

Again, this has been repeatedly heard time and time, but for road safety, do not skimp this issue: the amount of alcohol in a glass of beer, a glass of wine or in a mixture of whiskey and coca type are equivalent.

Each glass consumed raises the alcohol content by 0.2 to 0.25 g/L of blood, these figures vary depending on the person. You must be cautious though because this relationship is true only for glasses served in bars and restaurants. At home, the glasses may be different, therefore keep an eye on the amount of alcohol served.

Visibility

The biggest problem when driving at night is the reduced visibility. You must be twice as careful at night, which poses an even greater strain on yourself. A few simple adjustments to your vehicle will help to maximize your visibility and avoid any inconveniences along the way, day and night:
  • Check and correct the lightings in your car.
  • Clean the windshield, windows, mirrors, both inside and outside.
  • Beware of elements that impede visibility, and avoid clutter iin your car, especially the back seat of your car.
  • Always keep a pair of sunglasses within your reach so as not to be bothered with sunlight.

Other Practical Tips
  • If it's been several years that you have got your driving license and even if you travel regularly, a small revision of the highway code can not hurt. The laws are constantly changing, follow them.

  • Seat belts are mandatory at the front and rear.

  • Up to the age of 10 years, children must be equipped with a seat adapted to their age, their weight and morphology.

  • Do not call while driving, even if your phone is equipped with a handsfree kit. The fact of talking on the phone is a great distraction and your attention is not focused on the road. If you want to make a call, stop the car and make the call, else let your answering message do the talking for you.

  • Obey the speed limits. Therefore regularly refer to the indicators, they are usually fairly accurate measures. In addition to being exposed to a fine and a possible withdrawal of points, you expose yourself primarily, as well as other people on your way to real risks.

  • Keep a bottle of water next to you, for you to drink regularly.

  • Speak with the other passengers to keep you awake while remaining vigilant. Otherwise, a good tape or CD can be a very good traveling companion.

  • Never fix arrival time or driving time limit. This will force you to drive faster and will tire you more. The most important point is to arrive safely at your destination.

If you are not in a condition for driving, you should not drive. As said so the tortoise, there is no point in running to win the race, just leave in time for your destination... And in shape.


Reference: La sécurité routière en France: bilan de l'année 2007 (13 juillet 2007).


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