Learn from those ‘oops factor’ moments and cut your risk on the road
ROAD SAFETY and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to reflect on the dangerous moments they have experienced at the wheel, to reduce the risks they face on future road journeys.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth comments: “We are all familiar with those ‘oops factor’ moments of danger, where no harm was actually done but where we came close to disaster.”
“We’re encouraging drivers to set aside time thinking about their own particular ‘oops factor’ moments. But rather than dwell on the danger and risk being distracted, wait until the end of a journey and set aside a few moments to think about why it happened.
“That short period of reflection may be all you need to identify the reason, and to adapt your observation or concentration techniques to prevent a similar situation happening again.”
GEM has produced the following four simple tips to reduce risk for drivers:
- Think about risk on journeys. This risk could come from a dangerous stretch of road, from adverse weather, an unwise choice of speed or from a lack of focus on the driving task.
- Expect the unexpected. This is especially true on familiar stretches of road. Keep your guard up, anticipate what could happen and stay ahead of the situation, rather than having to react urgently.
- Eliminate the word ‘suddenly’ from your driving vocabulary. By identifying all the possible areas of risk, you can adapt and update your speed and position to keep yourself away from trouble.
- Learn from mistakes. You’re sure to be familiar with the ‘oops factor’; the realisation that a risky moment just happened. Take time later to think about why that moment happened. Did you fail to see another vehicle? Did you misjudge distance or speed? Did we gamble with a changing traffic light? Most important, what could you do differently next time to reduce the risk?
“We can minimise the risks we face – and the risks we pose to others,” adds Neil Worth.
“Good observation and anticipation mean we can spot potential problems early and look for a safe resolution of a situation in its early stages. In a sense we’re doing other drivers’ work for them – and we shouldn’t expect to be thanked for it. Our satisfaction can come in knowing that we made a positive contribution to ensuring a safer journey.
“Experience should warn us of situations where risk is increased: for example, if it’s a wet day, we know we’ll take longer to stop. More to the point, we can expect to have to make allowances for others who may be less experienced or who don’t connect wet weather with greater risk.
“Taking time to assess any ‘near misses’ we might have experienced – those moments during a journey where we raised an eyebrow, drew in breath, cursed another driver, or felt our hearts miss a beat – can be very helpful in reducing risk.
“Most of us are poor at accepting blame. But we’re trying to keep blame out of the equation and adopt the simple priority of staying safe, and helping others stay safe, too.
“By recognising the situations that may lead to greater danger, and learning from those ‘oops factor’ moments, we can actively reduce risk, both to ourselves and to those around us.”
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