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Safer Driving Tips Page 1

Edited by Dennis LeWorthy and Bob Isaac, who are retired police officers and now driving instructors at the Metropolitan Police Driving School, Hendon, London.

The Volvo Owners Club has always supported Volvo's message of road safety, and we recently formed the 'Advanced Drivers' Register'. This is a register of all the UK members who have passed the Institute of Advanced Motorists test. (Visit their web site and find out more about them)

I said last time that I would say a little more this time about observation. Well here goes. As I said in the last edition of Driver keeping a good look out can easily keep you out of trouble. Spotting the possibility of a problem arising before it actually happens can mean that it never actually becomes a problem at all. Let us take an obvious one to kick off with. It is 8am, you are driving along a road and a milk float is about one hundred metres ahead of you. The milk float is travelling in the same direction as you when you see it pull up at the side of the road. It is fairly obvious what the potential problem here is I would think. Milkie is about to exit stage left from his milk float to deliver three pints to number thirty six. What you need to do is to make sure that he does not decide to step out of his cab straight into your path or, more importantly, if he does, you are in a position to avoid coming into contact with him. Another favourite one is spotting all the wheelie bins or binbags lined up at the side of the road.

You now know that it must be today that the dustman is calling and can expect to come across him parked just round the bend emptying the bins from the row of houses there. You can now be on the lookout for Dusty the bin man. Most people think of the word Observation to mean just seeing things but it actually means obtaining information any way you can. Driving along a country road you might see that the verges have recently been mown, you might even smell newly cut grass and you may hear a tractor just ahead of you but out of sight around a bend. All three of these combine to tell you that just around the bend said tractor is slowly moving along cutting the verges back. Slowing down a little more than normal for that bend might just prove very useful to you. Observation helps you identify hazards, the definition of hazard being anything which is potentially dangerous. It could be as obvious as a man standing in the middle of the road or less obviously a sharp bend that conceals the same man standing in the road. The skill is recognising a hazard for what it is and driving in such a way as to be able to deal with the hazard if or when it appears. Hazards actually fall into three main types, which are;

1. Road layout such as junctions, bends, roundabouts etc.

2. Other road users.

3. Weather, visibility and road conditions.

They are really absolutely anything which would cause a driver to deviate from driving at a constant speed, in a straight line along a straight road, in good clear conditions. Having now chatted about what a hazard is next time you go out try to see if you can spot potential hazards, recognise them for what they are and be prepared to deal with them if or when they appear. Ask yourself at the end of the journey were you always in a position to deal safely with any situation that may have arisen on that journey. Who knows, Milkie and the dustman might be very grateful to you for your observation and subsequent action. Next time I will talk about driving in a systematic way. Until then safe and courteous driving.

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