As the Independence celebration fast approaches, road users can expect more traffic on the roads and therefore an increased risk of accidents.
According to the Road Safety Unit, 484 persons lost their lives due to car accidents on Jamaican roads in 2021. Here are ten (10) helpful car accident prevention tips that you can use to keep you safe.
If you are multitasking or distracted while driving, it will take your focus off the road. The new Road Traffic Act regulations now make it an offence to have a cell phone in your hand while driving, so never text or answer your phone unless hands-free is installed in your vehicle. Even eating can be distracting. If you are not paying attention, you are much more likely to respond slowly to an unexpected obstacle, such as a stray animal, pedestrian or another vehicle in your path.
Do not speed
Speeding is both illegal and dangerous. Obey posted speed limits which inform you of the maximum safe speed on a particular road. The faster you drive, the slower your reaction time will be if you need to stop suddenly.
Do not drink and drive
Driving under the influence of alcohol puts your life and the lives of others at risk. Your judgment and reaction time is impaired, and you are less likely to see traffic signs, people, and other motorists approaching. Organize a designated driver or arrange for a taxi to take you home if you intend to consume alcohol at an event.
Always wear your seatbelt
Contrary to popular belief, airbags do not replace seatbelts. Seatbelts are put in place to prevent ejection during collisions and reduce the severity of injuries. Wearing a seat belt places you in the ideal position to benefit from airbag deployment. If you’re not wearing your seatbelt, you are in danger of sliding underneath the airbag, and colliding with the dashboard.
Know where your blind spots are
A blind spot is an area of the road that cannot be seen in the rear-view mirrors. Therefore, you should look over your shoulders to view the lanes next to you to avoid missing something your mirrors did not show before changing lanes. Also, be aware of other drivers’ blind spots on the road. Semi-trucks have significant blind spots; never assume they can see you.
Do not drive when you are tired
Drowsy driving tends to occur late at night or in the early morning and can result in a driver falling asleep at the wheel and causing an accident. If you feel sleepy on the journey, pull over to a safe spot and have a nap. You can also take someone with you who can share driving duties and make sure you remain alert.
Maintain your vehicle
When your car is in excellent condition, it performs better and you are less likely to meet in an accident due to mechanical issues, such as brake failure. Be sure to do regular maintenance checks that will determine whether you need new brakes installed or fluids changed. Change your tyres when they are worn.
According to the Mona Geoinformatics Institute, improper overtaking is Jamaica’s third leading cause of road accidents. Avoid overtaking at a corner or if you cannot see that the road ahead is clear. Check your rearview mirror as well. Drivers should ensure that the road has at least two lanes and a broken centre line before overtaking and they should signal that they are pulling out.
Signal your intentions
Accidents can happen if you don’t signal to other vehicles what you are doing. Proper signalling gives other motorists time to slow down, halt, or move out of the way.
Don’t follow too closely
When a driver tailgates and the vehicle ahead stops suddenly, the car in the rear cannot stop in time. Keep enough space between you and the car in front of you.