From Bumper To Driver... What Is The Biggest Problem On The Roads?

    Posted by Ben Davidson about 4 months ago

    We all believe we have the components to be a responsible driver. After all, we passed our driving test, didn't we? But, while we always lay blame to other motorists, and never ourselves, we've got to ask the question, are we actually as good as we think we are? And on top of this, we have to think about what the biggest problems are on the roads. We've all got our own opinions as what is the biggest hazard, from drink drivers to distracted drivers, and all the various subcategories in between, like traffic. But, what is the answer? Is there one overriding problem? Let's see if we can answer the question.  


    A LACK OF COMPETENT KNOWLEDGE

    We've all had moments behind the wheel where we think back and realize how lucky we were to have not caused an accident. While these slip-ups occur from time to time, it can make us think about what would happen if a real emergency was to arise. Would we have the skills necessary to navigate our way out of it? We can argue that the modern driver, especially within the comfort of a modern vehicle, doesn't necessarily need to have any base knowledge if an emergency comes up. Breakdowns are still common but there are many drivers out there that have no clue how to fix the most basic of problems. While there are numerous resources online, even an auto shop like Ogston's Auto Body And Paint will have a play by play of what to do in an accident, we still need to have some basic knowledge so we can get through that sort of situation. From a mechanical perspective, we can understand the basics of keeping our car maintained, such as oil and water, but it's amazing how many people don't consider these issues until it's too late.

    What we have to think about as far as the overall knowledge of cars and driving are concerned is if we tend to develop certain bad habits over the years. The driving test has become stricter in some countries, most notably in the UK, and while this means that the latest breed of drivers is more knowledgeable, if you were to take your test again today, would you pass it? A lot of people believe that they wouldn't. And it's not like we all regularly go back to the drawing board and cram up on the road safety information, do we? Once we’ve passed our test, the vast majority of us believe that we are “fully competent”. We know deep down we're not, but what does it matter? We are free on the road! This is a very dangerous frame of mind to be in.


    THE VARIOUS ROAD HAZARDS

    Accidents are commonplace and it stems from a lot of things beyond our control. A surprise contender for the biggest road hazard of all is potholes. More people are making insurance claims and visits to the mechanic as a result of potholes. In addition to this, many of us or swerving to avoid these, and can cause a problem on the other side of the road.

    The other main hazard stems from rush hour; traffic and congestion can seem part and parcel of our daily lives, but the human anxiety is that can breed as a result of congestion encourages drivers to take matters into their own hands. One person running late for work decides to drive erratically and take risks- this doesn't just mean that they are a danger to everyone else, but from this one person deciding to take the law into their own hands influences others, and before you know it, there are more people thinking “if they can do it, why can't I?” It's a very difficult line to draw because it's drilled into your head that you should be cautious on the roads, but you shouldn't obstruct the traffic behind you by being overly cautious. This is put to the test when on busy freeways driving at 60 miles per hour.

    And we've got to realize that speeding is still a common problem on the roads. Because we have issues with congestion and traffic, we feel that we've got to make up for lost time. Regardless of if there's more traffic further on in our journey, if we can get away with it most of us will tend to put our foot down. You only have to look at the various posts on social media that highlight where speed cameras are at any given time. This shows how many people out there are happy to go over the speed limit to serve their needs.


    OUR HUMAN FOIBLES

    Speak to any driver that's been on the road for more than 40 years, and they will tell you that it's not fun anymore. It becomes a game of Russian Roulette, depending on where you are. While there are people who are in it for themselves on the road, there are others who are very considerate to other drivers, and then there are others who are completely oblivious to what's going on around them! Distracted driving is a very common problem on the roads today. And when we look at the main reasons, it's not a surprise that technology is problem number one.

    As we have an abundance of distractions in life, specifically on our smartphone, we are taking this distraction out onto the road. The numerous law firms out there that make a living from distracted driving claims must be rubbing their hands with glee due to the advent of the smartphone! But what do the modern car makers add to improve the experience? They install better sound systems, more gadgets and navigation tools than you can shake a gear stick at! Alas, the debate with technology in vehicles rages on. On the one hand, we've got numerous tech that can save our lives, from lane assist to ABS, but on the other side of things, we've got complex sound speakers, various options for Bluetooth and smartphone capabilities on our dashboard, as well as the numerous devices we have on our person. While so many people are distracted by technology on foot, is it hardly a surprise that people are distracted when they're behind the wheel? Especially when driving becomes an automatic function for them!

    But distracted driving isn't solely caused by technology. Driving while tired is something that we all do. This is one of the biggest epidemics affecting drivers today. If you stay awake for 18 hours, driving at this level of tiredness can mimic the effects of driving with a blood alcohol level of .05. And for a frame of reference, .08 is drunk! And, if you are to compare drunk driving with drowsy driving, which one fares better? It's arguable that a drunk driver is awake enough to react if something was to happen. On the other hand, a drowsy driver can easily nod off at the wheel. But we always believe to be driving drunk as something worse than driving drowsy. This is obvious because it's against the law to drive drunk. But in terms of how we feel behind the wheel, it's down to our own individual tolerance. This doesn't disguise the fact that so many of us drive with a sleep deficit every single day. Throw into the mix common road issues, like traffic and congestion as well as being distracted, do we really have our eyes fully focused on the road that much? And while it's easy to say “if you're feeling tired, you shouldn't get behind the wheel”, most of us don't have this luxury! But as modern life stretches as to our capabilities, and we have to rely on our car, we are always running the risk of causing problems on the road due to our tiredness.


    WHAT IS THE ANSWER?

    Is there one single major problem on the road? It's all relative. Drink driving kills but so does tired driving. Distracted driving kills, but if we make one single mistake behind the wheel, this could result in a major accident. The overriding goal is safety. But when we look to define one specific reason, it's nigh on impossible. What can we do? Taking responsibility for our own actions behind the wheel is the one and only way we can minimize these problems. It's a very common trait, blaming other people on the road. But if we continue to do this, and lose sight of our own abilities behind the wheel, this snowballs into a blame culture. If we continue to blame other people when we need to look at our own approaches to driving, this means that we can all get behind the wheel. Now, it's easy to say that we all need to improve our skills. But the statistics show that there's no one root cause for accidents. And the message is abundantly clear, why not laying blame to others and focusing on our weak areas, we can work to improve on our skills, which we can apply to our life on the road.


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