Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Quicker = safer

I like to drive fast, but that doesn't mean I leave my brain at home and mow down everything in my way. Getting safely out of my car at the end of the day is as important to me as it is to anyone else. But I'd argue my commitment to fast driving improves my safety.

I'll only go quickly when it's clear to do so. But in constantly trying to go as quick as conditions permit, I am totally focused and when at the wheel, my mind doesn't wander and my attention doesn't stray. There's no 'what am I going to have for dinner?' or 'wasn't that show funny'. I'm scanning the environment.

I'm checking out the road surface for broken tarmac, gravel, mud, leaves, frost or black ice. I'm on the look out for possible obstructions or hazards, trying to anticipate anything: is that car going to pull out? do those wheelie bins mean there's a slow moving refuse truck up ahead? Is that van a mobile speed camera? Can I see the verges clearly enough to be sure a deer isn't going to run out unexpectedly? There's a lot to think about and that's only possible with total concentration.

My car doesn't get treated as a take-it-for-granted appliance. I keep it in tip top mechanical condition - I won't be caught dead with under inflated tyres unlike the hundreds I spot every day.

Of course, the quicker you go, the faster you need to respond, but the slower the speed, the longer and more tedious the journey, and the more likely the driver is to get distracted. I'd much rather the roads were full of switched-on drivers who take a pride in their car control, than a herd of multi-tasking zombies with the cruise control set at sixty.

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