Wednesday April 26, 2017 01:59 PM

Safe behind the wheel

Safe behind the wheel
Many of our drivers do not have safety in mind /MEHEDI HASAN

Changing the way we drive is key

It is good to see that the proposed and much talked about Road Transport Act draft has been finalised. To me, articles, seminars, talk-shows, and laws do little while the death toll continues to rise. Until and unless, that is, people learn how to behave responsibly.

Laws are undoubtedly necessary, but punishment can only be served after the occurrence of any incident.

But as a nation, we have to do something. Something to make people conscious enough so that accidents are reduced, if not eliminated.

My intention is to introduce “defensive driving” as a simple, cost-free technique for motorists, which can ensure demonstrating safe and responsible behaviour, which can lead to significant progress in the upkeep of road safety of the country.

It means that while driving, the drivers need to keep in mind that other drivers or pedestrians are prone to be careless and make mistakes, and it is up to the driver to be alert in order to prevent any accident taking place.

“Defensive” thoughts must be in play while driving so as to prevent accidents from happening, in spite of imprecise actions by others, or adverse driving conditions.

A point to note is that driving well is not just a physical thing, but is largely psychological. How one performs as a driver depends on one’s mental capacity to manoeuvre.

So, what defensive driving entails is for the driver to cultivate a positive attitude towards demonstrating safe and responsible behaviour, and to develop skills to see, think, and act responsibly on the road, bearing in mind the potential of others’ mistakes.

Imagine a bus that is stopped on the left side of the road.

Defensive driving entails for the driver to cultivate a positive attitude towards demonstrating safe behaviour, and to see, think, and act responsibly on the road, bearing in mind the potential of others’ mistakes

A defensive driver will not speed up to the narrow passage created by the stopped bus. He will identify two probable situations: First, passers-by might come suddenly before him in front of the bus, which will lead to a fatality if the driver speeds up. Second, another parked vehicle in front of the bus — which was not visible to the driver — may peep out onto the road, leading to a collision.

By identifying these two situations, a defensive driver will slow his vehicle down during such situations to avoid any unwanted accidents. This is what we call defensive driving: Where the driver learns to notice and prepares to act accordingly to avoid any unfortunate incidents.

Examples such as this are plenty, but my worry is that motorists won’t learn this technique on their own. This idea needs to be introduced and facilitated to the motorist community, so that they can be trained to be responsible on the roads using the technique.

I would like to raise the issue to the authorities concerned to design social campaigns promoting defensive driving in order to ensure safe and responsible behaviour for better road safety.

Otherwise, as far as road safety in Dhaka is concerned, I am not sure how much change the laws could bring.

SM Mokaddes Ahmed Dipu is a Lecturer of Marketing, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences at Chittagong Veterinary & Animal Sciences University (CVASU).

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