Sunday 27 November 2011

Christmas Driving

Last weekend a young man was killed driving home in the early hours of the morning.  It seems at the moment that it was more to do with inexperience than anything.  However, the consequences for his family are tragic and my heart goes out to them.  I truly hope that the family and friends of Jake Johnson find some peace in what is going to be, understandably, a very difficult time.  An unexpected death in the family is always a huge emotional upheaval but somehow at this time of year, it somehow seems more tragic and more distressing.

I understand that Christmas brings stress much greater than the rest of the year and the pressure to get organised and buy everything that makes the festive season such fun is enormous.  Everybody is in a rush and thoughts are dominated by other things.  It is so easy to allow that pressure and the distraction of Christmas to adversely affect our driving. 

I have noticed a general deterioration in the quality of driving over the last few weeks and most of it seems to be due to people just being in too much of a rush and driving without due care or consideration for other road users.  Some of the incidents have been downright dangerous and really beggar belief.  I have seen a number of near misses, some at high speed, and the driving around major shopping centres seems particularly bad.  Apart from the obvious risk of having an accident, driving badly causes other road users to become frustrated, building into agitation accompanied by blue air, enthusiastic hand gestures and blaring horns.  I understand the frustration but it is so important to maintain a balanced reaction so that we don't make a bad situation much worse.

We all have a duty to make sure that we continue to drive safely and responsilbly throughout the festive period and beyond.  I really do not want to hear that someone else has lost their life and another family is facing a Christmas destroyed by such a tragedy.  So please, amongst all the pressure and the distraction of Christmas, stay calm and safe on the roads.  Leave more time than usual for your journey, expect long delays, be extra courteous and don't allow your frustration to get the better of you. 

Finally, please remember that drinking is fun...and driving is fun...but together they cause accidents.  If you drink, don't drive - it's not worth it!

Stay safe this Christmas so that we can ALL have a good time!

Friday 18 November 2011

Don't be a lemming!

Lemmings have a reputation, wrongly as it happens, for following each other even into dangerous or deadly situations.  Astonishingly some drivers are like that too.  I was out with a pupil yesterday who I asked to turn right into the next road.  He didn't check his mirrors or signal.  We parked up and I asked why he hadn't signalled.  He said "Because the car in front didn't!" 

I'm sure you will agree that this is a poor argument.  So, if the guy in front drives into a lamppost, you're going to do the same?  Of course not, but the suggestion nevertheless is there.  He does it, you do it.  I don't teach people to do what other drivers do; I teach them to drive properly.  Every day I see many examples of bad driving, not signalling being one of the most common (and most irritating).  In these days when day to day communication is handled in the briefest way possible (i.e., text messaging) some drivers seem to think that signalling in good time has become superfluous.  It hasn't and if anything, due to the congestion on our roads, has become more important than ever.

However, although signalling is important it has to be done appropriately.  Not every situation requires a signal and sometimes a signal given can cause more confusion than not given.  So always consider carefully whether a signal is appropriate and if it is, give it in good time.

Above all, if you choose to copy the driver in front, and he does it wrong, then you'll do it wrong as well - with all the consequences that there may be!