It is not wise to drive when you are tired or sleepy, particularly if you are driving along a straight road where the chances of falling asleep are high.
An early warning sign of fatigue is noticing you are not looking as far ahead as you should, or not moving your eyes in the proper search pattern. Rather, you tend to stare straight ahead.
What can you do about it?
- Recognize and admit that you are becoming tired. Some highways have rumble strips along the shoulder line and, in a few places, on the centre lines to alert drivers when they drift out of their lane.
- Stop and rest.
- Change drivers when you start to feel tired.
If you can't stay awake, then for your safety and the safety of others, get off the road!
Personal stress and illness
By now, it should be clear to you that driving places heavy demands on your ability to think clearly. Emotional and physical stress - worry, grief, anger, joy, a toothache, a headache - anything that is really bothering you, will distract you from the thinking part of your driving. If you know you are under stress, either emotional or physical, do not drive. Arrange to be driven by someone else who is not involved in the emotional situation and who is physically well.
Slow moving traffic, a motorist who doesn't signal, a seemingly endless stream of pedestrians - they can all frustrate the average driver. Aggressive driving, more commonly known as road rage, occurs when a motorist becomes angry, hostile or furious behind the wheel. And it's not only yelling obscenities or running other drivers off the road that are signs of road rage. The slightest variation in driving behaviour, no matter how minimal, is still considered road rage.
To ensure a safe trip, it's recommended that drivers:
- don't take traffic problems personally
- avoid eye contact with an aggressive driver
- don't make obscene gestures
- don't tailgate
- use your horn sparingly
- don't block the passing lane
- don't block the right turn lane
If you notice someone on the road who is driving aggressively, the best thing you can do to ensure your safety is to pull over and let that person pass by you.
Fog, dust, heavy rain and poor visibility
These factors may impair your vision:
- Make sure that your headlights and tail lights are on and clean so that other people can see you.
- Adjust your speed to the number of seconds you can see ahead.
- If you can't see 12 seconds ahead, slow down until you can.
- In fog, blowing snow or heavy rain you will see better if you drive with your lights on low beam.
- Be aware that during the first 10 minutes of a rain storm, the roads are the most slippery.
- The solution to driving in heavy rain is to slow down, making only small and gentle movements with your brake, accelerator and steering wheel.
- The smear that windshield wipers sometimes create may be removed by using a good windshield wiper fluid or a sprinkle of ordinary detergent.
- If you have already slowed down and still cannot see 12 seconds ahead, find a safe place as soon as you can and get off the road.
Many collisions are the result of driver distraction. Many people talk or text on cellphones while driving, which can have dangerous consequences. As a result, there is legislation that prohibits the use of a cellphone without a hands-free headset while driving. See Distracted driving for more information.
The following are key tips to remember when using a cellphone in your vehicle to ensure a safe ride:
- put your cellphone in a place where it won't tempt you, such as the back seat, or switch it off or to airplane mode while you drive
- always use a hands-free unit (experienced drivers only)
- become familiar with your phone and its features - before you try to use the hands-free unit while driving
- don't dial while driving - instead, pull off the road
- be a good Samaritan by reporting emergencies and road hazards
- never take notes or look up phone numbers while driving - avoid stressful or emotional conversations while on the road; you can always pull over or end the conversation
- do not use a cellphone when refueling your vehicle
- most importantly, whenever possible, pull over to a safe spot on the roadside to use the phone
Cigarette smoke will gradually cause a film on the inside of your windshield and windows. If people who smoke use your vehicle, clean the inside of your windows with window cleaner as soon as you notice the start of a build up.