How to improve safety
What is safe driving?
Thailand’s roads and highways are shared by drivers with widely differing abilities and perceptions; they are driving various types of vehicles. Where there is plenty of room for all, driving is relatively easy, but high traffic volume and physical road layout limitations create stress and frustration. Experienced drivers usually adopt a comfort zone that they feel balances risk, safety, and the law. This zone may seriously underestimate the dangers involved. Perception of one’s own driving ability and our attitude towards other road users has a big influence on everyone's road safety. Involvement in an automobile accident is not, by itself, an indication of unsafe driving. However, if drivers adopt safer driving practices they will be involved in fewer accidents. It is the goal of Safe Driver Education Company limited to teach safe driving methods to our students.
Is legal driving the same as safe driving? - The definition of legal driving is a simple one; driving within the limits of the law. Safe driving, on the other hand, is driving so as to substantially reduce the risk of accidents and near-accidents. However, some "legal" behavior is clearly not safe behavior. For example:
Is illegal driving unsafe? - Unsafe or risky driving can be defined as any action or lack of action on the part of the driver that increases their risk of a collision. Exceeding the legal speed limit is not necessarily unsafe, because safe speeds must be judged with reference to prevailing traffic and weather conditions. The problem is that those who regularly drive too fast do not perceive themselves as being unsafe. They're happy with the way they drive and see no need to change. One often sees motorists on Thailand’s express-ways driving faster than the posted speed limit. It may even be unsafe to drive the legal speed limit in face of others driving faster.
Let's examine a few of the common illegal driving behaviors that many drivers admit to:
What is safe driving? - Safe driving is the act of maintaining adequate margins of safety around a vehicle at all times and in all circumstances. Safe driving focuses on reducing the risks and avoiding hazards.
When confronted with a potential road hazard coming into sight, safe drivers respond by covering their brake pedal with the right foot, applying only enough pressure to turn on their brake lights. The benefits are three-fold. The right foot is ideally situated to commence a panic stop, the stop-lamps alert other drivers to potential danger, and the gradual slowing of the vehicle allows more time for emergency maneuvers.
Driver attitude determines how knowledge and skills will be used. It shapes the driver’s style towards being cooperative or competitive. It determines how safely and well we drive. Our behavior on the road is first influenced at a young age by watching how our parents and other road users drive, then by the people we mix with socially and at work. Many Thai drivers shape their attitudes while driving a motorcycle. Smart motoring is achieved through the habitual use of safety protocols by drivers who understand the limits of driver-car-roadway interactions.
Safety protocols are needed - 95% of road collisions result solely or partly from human error. Regardless of the numerous uncontrollable variables in each situation, a safe driver always consciously drives within a safety margin that is largely under his control. The driver is consciously adjusting safety margins to protect himself from negative consequences of his own or others' errors.
Collision occurrence in relation to increasing speed and speed variability strongly suggests that drivers overestimate their skills and underestimate the safety margins appropriate to the situation.
Safety protocols stress that all drivers and pedestrians are equally at risk when they neglect the basic rules of road safety. A minimal amount of skill is required to learn them and once acquired, they are habitual and don't require the conscious participation of the driver. Safe Driver Education’s training programs focus on the best safety protocols: the correct driver responses to each potential collision situation, and not on driver error. There are a limited number of common collision situations, so the protocol guidelines need not be complicated to be fairly exhaustive. Both collisions and near-collisions can be studied from the perspective of these protocols in order to refine and update the safety rules, especially as new car technologies are implemented.
A valid set of safety protocols are superior to the official rules of the road in that they do not ask drivers to assume that other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, animals, etc will behave predictably.
The levels of driving ability
Perception of ability - Advanced driver training is about improving our perception of what is happening on the road. Better perception increases awareness and should therefore improve our judgments; decisions and ability to cope, so reducing accident risk. Vision for Safety if the theme of Safe Driver Education’s advanced driver training programs.
Some drivers argue that an increased level of skill removes the fear or respect for danger, creating more competent risk taking. However if you look at race car drivers, you'll find that the opposite is true. The more risks professional drivers take on the racecourse, the more accidents they experience. Racing drivers are known to have an above average number of traffic violations and collisions off the racecourse as well.
Reckless driving behavior may also be a result of personality, observation (learning from a parent), or uncorrected dangerous habits picked up along the way. Perhaps risky drivers were not shown safe driving skills at critical periods in the learning stages and may never develop safe driving habits. The only way an expert driver's performance can be measured against their perception is by enrolling in a professional driving school and passing top level driving skills tests. However, many of us, having passed the driving test see ourselves as motoring experts. Our accreditation is our driver's license.
New drivers need to practice perceptive driving - Perceptive driving is about being prepared for every eventuality. A clear road ahead is never empty! In order to respond to a problem, we have to see it. The frequency of the comment 'I just didn't see it…….' at the scene of a road traffic accident suggests a poor perception of the hazard because of weak observation. Experienced drivers adopt a certain comfort zone that they feel balances risk, safety, and the law. Perception of our own driving ability and our attitude towards other road users has a big influence on everyone's road safety.
Driving and observational skills needed to cope with everyday driving:
Visual capability - Uncorrected defective eyesight restricts the ability for drivers to make satisfactory distance judgments. Darkness and inclement weather can aggravate poor vision capabilities as well. Excellent reflexes and good driving skills are of little use if our eyesight is poor. Equally important is the glass area of your car. Any obstruction to your vision increases your risk of an accident significantly. Do not place stickers, advertising materials, toys and other artifacts, dark films and other opaque materials on or near your window areas. Make sure the glass is clean and well maintained for clear vision.