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Road Safety: Be Safe, Be Defensive


Road Safety Be Safe, Be Defensive

Courtesy of the Traffic Division of the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda

Proper and safe road usage can be achieved by embracing one word and it is "defensive". This word in its simplest term means 'to protect.' So whether it is in walking, driving or riding on the road ways of Antigua and Barbuda we must protect ourselves.

Drivers when turning a corner should ensure that they are able to see down the road they're turning into before actually beginning to make the turn. In other words don't cut corners. The best way to determine whether you are turning correctly is to make sure that you are always on the left side of the road at all times. Only overtake when you are able to see clearly some distance ahead thus making the manoeuvre safe. Once you can complete this overtaking without causing the oncoming traffic to alter their course then you've overtaken properly. Never overtake another vehicle close to a corner, under the brow of a hill, or around a bend. In other words, if you cannot see for some distance ahead of the vehicle you want to overtake then that area becomes a "no overtaking zone."

Always stay on your left and proper side of the road. Many times I have stopped motorists and ask them this simple question, "What side of the road do we drive on in Antigua and Barbuda?" This simple question has led to many of these persons receiving a traffic ticket. We drive on the left side of the road in Antigua and Barbuda. Many of you know that when you are driving you have a tendency to take shortcuts. Ninety percent of the traffic collisions that occur in this island is a direct result of driver error. The next nine percent is shared by, pedestrian error, or animals on the roadway. So that leaves us with one percent, yes, only one percent of the traffic collisions being the result of mechanical failure.



What exactly am I saying? Many drivers are allowing themselves to become distracted for a myriad of reasons. Chief among these are those drivers who regularly use a cell phone, groom themselves, or look for things in the vehicle, among many other reasons. A driver may take his or her eyes off the road for what is perceived as a split second, but truth be told, that is all it takes to create a situation that results in a collision. A vehicle's movement is measured in time and distance. When a vehicle is being driven at forty miles per hour, it means that in one hour that vehicle will have covered that amount of distance in that amount of time. Now if you do the math with me you will see that in one second a vehicle travels fifty eight point seven feet (58.7'). Blink now and see how dangerous that blink can be if you're a distracted driver. When a driver is distracted they are less likely to react and operate the vehicle in sufficient time to avoid a perceived hazard. Under normal or ideal circumstances the average reaction time of a driver is 2.5 seconds. Add more time to that when the driver is distracted or driving under the influence.



The two second rule was established to get a driver to be approximately two to three car lengths behind of the vehicle ahead. To calculate being two seconds behind when the back of the vehicle ahead of you passes a stationary object like a pole, fire hydrant etc., just speed until you are the correct distance behind. I will add these two points: 1) Drivers, it is a known fact that unless you have a medical condition that causes immediate sleep "No one just falls asleep". A driver who feels tired and or sleepy ought not to drive. A tired or sleepy driver very often thinks that when their eyes close they have only blinked. When in truth they have actually closed their eyes for about 0.9 seconds. Looking at that time in relation to a normal person reaction time shows that even if or when the driver opens their eyes a collision is always unavoidable. 2) Drivers, at the pedestrian crossings the "Pedestrian has precedence." When the pedestrian has stepped on the crossing you must stop at the white line until the pedestrian has crossed the road. Do not roll towards them as they are crossing. So on approaching any pedestrian crossing reduce your speed whether you see a pedestrian or not this will help to keep you out of Court or avoid getting a ticket.