First Gear English edition, Safety on the road (Chapter 07)


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Everything you need to know about your first car.

Welcome to the wonderful world of wheels!
We know that every single person dreams of owning a car. It’s understandable: a car epitomises independence. Success. Stature. Mobility. The freedom to go your own way. But we also know that the decision to purchase a car can be fraught with challenges. What car do you buy? What can you afford? What about the servicing requirements? What safety features should you look out for? What about safety out on the road? These and many other important questions plague your mind. First Gear aims to address all these topics and many other essential issues associated with car ownership. We have canvassed the opinions of the world’s leading authorities and this book aims to give you independent, authoritative and utterly essential advice. We want to take the mystery and malaise out of car ownership, and replace it with easy to follow advice and tips… so that your road to car ownership isn’t filled with potholes! We trust that it will provide you with a stress-free introduction to the world of wheels.

Enjoy your first car; you’ve worked hard for it!

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First Gear English edition, Safety on the road (Chapter 07)

  1. 1. Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them. Especially TER 7: young drivers – they believe that they’re invincible. But the reality is that anyone can have an accident while driving – even CHAP professional racing drivers! Even if it’s not your fault, you Safety oad on the r can still lose life or limb because of some other road user’s silly mistakes. Can you avoid accidents? Sure – not Besides, she knows what she’s doing… just by piloting a safer car, but by being or so she believes. aware of potential pitfalls, and Actually, she doesn’t. Well, not all the exercising more caution. time, anyway, as Jack regularly points out. For starters, this too cool for school Speed kills young lady has a bad habit of going flat As for Jill, she drives way too fast for her out and then standing on the brakes as own good. This is, of course, quite she’s cornering. Generally speaking, she common behaviour for someone like Jill. drives way too fast (even keeping within As the Royal Society for the Prevention the speed limit can be unsafe, for of Accidents in England points out: example on wet or icy roads or on “Young drivers are more likely to see narrow, winding rural roads). speed as exciting. They are particularly She tailgates trucks too… and other prone to approaching bends too fast cars. So she has to keep crossing into and to dangerous overtaking.” the oncoming lane to see what’s ahead Jill, of course, thinks this is all and if it’s safe to overtake. Jill has had nonsense. Hey, her hot hatchback was many close calls, but hasn’t learned. designed for speed, so why not?52  First Gear First Gear  53
  2. 2. When is it safe to overtake? The experts say: • When travelling along a single lane road behind another vehicle, ask yourself if you intend to overtake it • If not, leave a gap ahead that’s long enough to allow overtaking by other cars. This allows other road users to overtake you, slot safely into the gap you’ve left, and await an opportunity to overtake the next vehicle • Vehicles travelling close together create a very long vehi- cle that’s more difficult to overtake, increasing the risk of an accident • Even if no one’s behind you, leaving a large gap increases your line of sight and safety margin Consider the conditions Here are some pointers when you hit •• If you’re driving in fog, switch on your Bad weather? Well that’s another story. the road (someone pass these on to low-beam headlights, slow down When the roads are wet, it’s not rocket Jill, please): before you reach a patch of fog, and science that the tar is slippery and you need turn on your defroster and windshield to slow reduce speed. Not Jill. She goes full •• The U.S. Transportation Department wipers steam ahead, with absolutely no thought to says more than 450,000 crashes •• Increase your following distance in bad the consequences. The other day in a occur annually in adverse weather weather, such as monsoons seriously crummy thunderstorm, she floored conditions or on slick roads. To help •• Dry your feet before getting into the the accelerator even though visibility was nil avoid a crash, keep your tyres inflated car; wet feet can easily slip off the and driving conditions were so scary that to the right pressure and make sure pedals there were hardly any another vehicles on they have enough tread the road. She miscalculated her abilities, and •• Turn on your lights in bad weather or spun four times before stopping – with a low light resounding crunch – against a street pole. •• Avoid puddles: they could be That cost her a fortune in repair bills. She’s lucky she’s alive. camouflaging potholes •• If you start aquaplaning (also known More than as “hydroplaning”, this happens when there is water between the tyres of the 450,000 vehicle and road surface, leading to The number of crashes that occur the loss of traction), don’t brake or annually in adverse weather steer. Stop accelerating until you feel conditions or on slick roads. your tyres make contact with the road54  First Gear First Gear  55
  3. 3. Of course, there are several basic that should be rules you’re hit from second nature behind, there’s Jill and guys like to girls like space to steer aw time and Jack. Just like ou ay from the vehi in good or bad r advice front. Always ch cle in weather conditi eck your blind sp always stay thre ons, before changin ots e cars’ lengths g lanes. A mom car in front of yo from the peek can be all entary u. This means th you need to avoi at, if accident. d an lp you improve fuel driver; it will also he st line time advantages Defence is the fir efficiency (think big of at tack er your CO2 to your wallet) and low e” driver when it Always be a “defensiv emissions. lists, and aggres- guys and girls comes to children, cyc n Finally, one word for sive drivers: expec t the unexpected. Pla d then drive: no. d them who love to party an t yourself an wer, and the stats Demon drivers •• A truck with a badly packed or a “defence” to protec Your reactions are slo According to the Automobile Association unsecured load, or a car with a bulky against the da ngers they present. alities resulting show far too many fat for every single to convince us of South Africa, there are also some load on the roof rack – the load, or It is vitally important from drunk driving me older ones too!) es for speeding. It vehicles that you should be especially part of it, may come adrift young driver (and so otherwise. Same go ed driver training as simple as that. wary of while out on the road. •• A car containing active children and to invest in an advanc kills. Don’t do it. It’s bally successful pets – the driver may not be programme. Ford’s glo •• Any vehicle in which the driver’s range concentrating on the road Driving Skills for Lif e programme is a ues Avoid holiday bl classroom and nning a long of vision is limited – such as a fully •• A car with stickers on the windows, great option; it mixes Going on holiday? When pla help increase the fatigue. Turning laden truck with no side mirrors piles of luggage, or a large number of practical training to trip, be aware of driver ving techniques. or opening the •• A vehicle that “wanders” about the passengers – the driver’s vision is awareness of safe dri up the sound system ch you to be a safe road – it could be a faulty steering or probably obscured And it won’t only tea suspension, or the driver may be drunk •• A vehicle with a driver who does not or sleepy appear to be giving his full •• Any vehicle that is dirty, rusty, missing attention to the road body parts or with a badly smoking exhaust – it is probably in poor overall mechanical condition Remember, if you cannot see the mirrors of the vehicle in front of you, that driver can’t see you!56  First Gear First Gear  57
  4. 4. window won’t work. Rather, get plenty of shut-eye. If you feel drowsy, pull over for a nap, some fresh air or physical activity (walk around the car several times). Everyone knows that booze is a complete no-no and that it’s to be avoided if you plan to spend time behind the wheel. But bear in mind the fact that over-the-counter drugs such as allergy pills and muscle relaxants could also make you dozy. The Institute of Advanced Motorists in the United Kingdom also offers some other handy practical tips: • Pack belongings securely – loose objects can be distracting and, if the driver needs to brake sharply, unsecured items could fly forward and hit those sitting in front • Where possible pack heavy items in the boot • Don’t load your car until it’s ready to burst; you will almost certainly obscure visibility. You need to have a clear view of the road all the time • The driving seat should be adjusted to a safe Remember: upright position and the heating/air-condition- • Do regular visual checks ing set to a cool – not cold – temperature • Lumps/bumps could mean internal • Keep an eye on the fuel level to make sure you don’t run dry. Running out of fuel on a motor- damage: remove and have an way puts your safety at risk, and it will be very expert check it expensive to call out for help to top you up • Tyres deteriorate with age. If Rubber alert • Check tyre pressures before setting off. cracked, the rubber could be Never under-estimate the importance of your tyres: Tyres on a full and heavy car usually require perished. Remove and get they are what keep you stuck to the road. higher pressure expert advice Always check the air pressure when the tyres are • Driving on unfamiliar roads can be unnerving. cold – never during or immediately after a journey. • Keep your spare pumped and Satellite navigation systems can help and ena- Check every two weeks and adjust when necessary. primed for action. Check its ble the driver to re-route quickly and relatively The right pressures prevent unnecessary wear, pressure regularly, especially easily, but they can be expensive. It’s always minimise excess fuel consumption and help avoid best to plan the journey before hitting the road, before long journeys potentially dangerous blow-outs. using a map or online journey planner58  First Gear First Gear  59
  5. 5. 50% The percentage by which road fatalities are expected to rise in low and middle income countries by 2020 according to the International Road Assessment Programme. 5 Five fast life-saving tips • Take it easy at night. Young drivers have a high proportion of their crashes at night • Don’t drink and drive. And don’t accept a lift from someone who has been drinking or might have taken drugs. Remember, some over-the-counter medicines can also cause drowsiness • Always use a hands free kit when talking on the phone while driv- Cheap is not always best! “Not all replacement vehicle parts are ing. And don’t text or surf the net. U.S. government research shows It’s sometimes tempting to buy counterfeit created equal when it comes to safety,” the most dangerous distractions are those that take your eyes off or non-factory parts, because the warns Paul Massie, Ford powertrain and the road and hands from the wheel for an extended period of time perception exists that they’re cheap. And collision product marketing manager. “All • Loud music, eating, drinking and smoking can distract you while that’s sometimes true – they may be drivers should be aware that copy parts you’re driving cheaper than “the genuine thing”. But, can compromise the safety of their • Buckle up. Always. And get your passengers to do the same according to scientific studies (we’re not vehicles.” just talking marketing puffery here), you Copy aftermarket parts can end up could end up endangering your life by costing you big bucks if they result in fitting one of these substandard engine failure, or a mechanical breakdown. components to your car. But what is the actual difference Ford Motor Company recently conducted between a genuine part and a counterfeit substandard materials in order to be marketed a series of low-speed crash tests, and or non-factory component? Unless you’re as a cheaper alternative to authorised these revealed that aftermarket copy an expert in this field, it’s hard to tell replacement parts,” explains Massie. structural parts absorb less crash energy them apart – because, to the naked Sadly, counterfeit parts are rampant in the than genuine Ford structural parts and can eye, they sometimes look fairly similar. aftermarket industry… so how do you avoid also result in unintended airbag But, as Jill discovered when she dated using them inadvertently? “Always ask for and deployments. These fake parts are also a drop-dead gorgeous man who insist on the installation of original equipment not properly crash tested by the seller of turned out to be a complete factory parts. Your best chance to get ‘genuine’ the parts – so, in the event of an accident, disappointment, looks can be factory parts is to have the vehicle serviced at a you don’t know if they’re actually going to deceiving. “Aftermarket copy factory dealer,” suggests Joseph Cueter, work properly. parts are often constructed with operations manager for Ford’s Customer Service Division, Asia Pacific and Africa. Whatever you do, don’t take a chance… the single most important thing is remaining safe on the road.60  First Gear  First Gear  61