Archive for the ‘Driving Tips’ Category

driving-abroadTerrorism, crime, and diseases are foremost on the minds of travelers as soon as they get hold of their tickets. However, the chance of falling victim to these threats is but a small fraction compared to the risk of being injured or killed in a motor accident.

This article is not meant to scare potential travelers. But the facts just cannot be ignored: according to the World Health Organization, motor vehicle mishaps are the largest cause of injury and death in travelers, with an estimated 1.26 million people dying each year on the world’s roads.

Unfamiliar driving conditions, hazardous roads, and poor policies are just some of the factors that make driving abroad dangerous.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when driving abroad is to learn about the road culture, or in other words, familiarize yourself with the foreign driving environment. You can do this by finding out important things like, for example, what street signs mean, the rules about right of way, acceptable blood alcohol levels, stopping at checkpoints, etc.

Knowing the road culture can help you drive safely. Make sure you know the rules of the road in the country that you are in and obey them. Many rules and traffic regulations will be the same as in your country, but some will not be. Try to anticipate that the rules will be a lot stricter and that being a tourist will not exempt you. Also make sure that you know the common hazards involved that might include poorly lighted roads, unlicensed drivers, and even animal crossings.

When opting to rent a car, try to get the kind you usually drive or one that you can drive comfortably. Make sure that the car you are driving is roadworthy and that necessary safety features are in place such as seat belts and airbags. When bringing children, you might also want to consider bringing your own child car seat. It is also important to test every feature of the car before you drive off the lot: turn signals, wipers, hazard lights, locks, high beams, etc.

Plan your route and make sure you have an up-to-date map. Do not drive too far without a break. Take a break every two hours and, if possible, change drivers regularly. If you must continue, pull over, have some coffee and take a brief nap (30 minutes or less). When you wake up, walk around briskly for a few minutes.

Overtaking is a difficult and potentially dangerous maneuver. Make you are safe while overtaking. One thing to remember is always make your own decision to overtake, not relying on the judgment of your passengers.

Another important thing to consider is driving a rented car in countries without strict regulations regarding the position of the steering wheel or driver seating position, or to put it simply, driving a right-hand or left-hand drive car on the “opposite” side of the road. There are many dangers associated with this but chief of them is having difficulty seeing what’s ahead of you while driving. It’s always a better idea to err on the side of safety and just opt to drive a car with the correct steering wheel placement.

In other words, enjoy your vacation and be safe. Especially when driving.

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How to steer clear of poor visibility

fog on roadPoor driving visibility is another problem which is taken lightly by most motorists. The problem is aggravated by a lot of environmental factors that increase poor visibility even for drivers who may have excellent eyesight. Here are some of the most common factors and some tips on how to neutralize them.

5 factors that increase the instance of poor visibility

  1. Very few governments the world over are strict when it comes to testing the eyesight of those applying for a driver’s license. Even the UK which has one of the most stringent eye exams for new license applicants don’t require a re-test until the driver reaches the age of 70;
  2. Many motorists today are unaware that they have vision problems and more than half of those who wear corrective glasses and contact lenses admit that they take them off while driving;
  3. Very few drivers regularly check if their windshield wipers and washers are fully functional before driving the vehicle;
  4. When driving during twilight, there is a short period of time when our vision is very poor while we try to get accustomed to the darkening environment;
  5. Natural conditions such as the sun’s glare, dust, rain, snow, etc.

10 tips on how to improve visibility for these situations

  1. Take the time to have your eyesight checked regularly, even when the law does not require it;
  2. To relieve or prevent the strain of eye fatigue, move your eyes from time to time and refrain from staring too long at a fixed point. Some contact lenses can actually increase the chance of eye fatigue. It is better to wear glasses instead of contacts while driving;
  3. It is a good practice to keep a spare pair of spectacles in your car;
  4. To reduce glare from the lights of incoming traffic and even from the sun, light tint and anti-reflection coating can be applied to your spectacles or even your windshield;
  5. Of course, never wear tinted glasses or visors after dark or during conditions of poor visibility such as heavy rain, fog or snowfall;
  6. When taking medication, ask the doctor whether such medicine may impair your vision or slow down your reflexes;
  7. Keep your windows clean. Make sure that your defogger and windshield wipers work and that windshield washers are filled correctly;
  8. Be wary when driving during twilight and turn on your running lights for other people on the road to see you better;
  9. When driving at night, adjust your rear view mirror to avoid the beam of the headlights from the vehicles behind you from hitting your eyes directly;
  10. And last but certainly not least, if you have someone sitting in the passenger seat, let that person help you watch out for road signs and incoming hazards.

When it comes to the problem of road visibility, you can’t be too complacent. Regularly test your eyesight, slow down when necessary, always take care and don’t be embarrassed to ask help. Just remember, as Dave Barry says:

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above-average drivers.

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