Road Safety 101

By Yasir Malak
In the absence of a universal assessment of driving skills criterion, the definition of a good driver remains fluid and depends largely on the group questioned. Right now, you probably feel that you are a better driver than most on the road, and you would not be alone, as research shows that most people rate their driving skills as above average, while admitting that others might not share their definition of good driving.

With Jeddah being a melting pot of nationalities, understanding this mildly egoist inclination pushes the responsibility for road safety on to the individual driver. So here are a few tips to reduce chaos:

1- Focus
Many of us succumb to the temptation of multitasking while behind the wheel, with the most common being cell phone usage. An experiment in US confirmed that an average driver can apply the brakes in an emergency situation in approximately half a second. For those reading emails, an additional 11 meters were required to stop the car and an additional 23 meters were necessary if the driver is texting.
2- Lane Discipline
Although leaving much to be desired, the installation of traffic light and highway cameras has significantly contributed towards improving our lane discipline. At a traffic light, make sure you are in the correct lane for your intended direction.

If on the highway you are being constantly overtaken from the right, you are probably blocking faster traffic behind you. Shift right one lane and let the faster drivers have the right of way.

3- Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Look as far as you can see, in all directions. Being aware of your surroundings keeps you prepared to respond to any emergency situation such as an errant driver or sudden halting traffic. For this, you should adjust your side view mirrors for maximum visibility and when looking forward, try to see through the windscreens of the cars in front. Also, check your rear view mirror not only when fixing your hair, but at least every 10 seconds when driving.
4- Common Courtesy and Law Abidance
It is unclear why we are in a perpetual state of rush, even with nowhere to go. Jeddawis consistently fail to recognize the legal right of way at roundabouts, or yielding the right of way at intersections. Also, extend patience towards a confused motorist; honking does not cure puzzlement.
 In conclusion, let us recall the illustrious words of John E. Lewis, “If not us, then who?” Drive safe. 

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