What driving advice do you have for others at this time of year?
It's December 2019. It's been a hard year, I know. You've done a lot of heavy lifting all year, whether through physical work, or through the challenges presented by the people in your life. You've had your fleeting moments of escape, driving through the countryside for a brief moment of quiet solitude, but that's all over now as we're now headed into the silly season.
That changes things.
I am loathe to drive such a preachy and schmaltzy column onto DriveTribe. It's feels like a lecture about Valentine's Day, in that I'm trying to reinforce a lesson that we should exhibit each and every day, rather than saving it for a special occasion. But here we go, nonetheless.
Please, for the love of all that you deem important, take it easy out there. The festive season means that we're all in a crazy hurry to get our year finished. Our nerves are frayed from months and months of hard toil, celebrations, disappointments, and having to put on the most sincere/not-sincere of smiles while dealing with other people.
Statistics from the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities do indicate a small increase in fatalities on the roads (as a total over five years) in the festive season from November to January. This would be largely in part due to people travelling more frequently as part of their seasonal obligations.
I have spoken to people who are involved with road incidents, many of whom are the first people to be on the scene of an accident, and they often express their sorrow, and in some cases frustration, at what they see. They even seek out patterns of when these incidents occur, with some even saying that they don't look forward to nights with a full moon, as the lunar object in the sky creates the dumbest behaviour.
As enthusiasts for driving, we pride ourselves on our abilities and the constant vigilance we practice for the sake of safety.
But we're fallible. And at this time of year, when the world seems to have accelerated precisely at a time that we're most fatigued, we can't be perfect. So I feel that now is likely a good time for us to share a couple items of wisdom that we've collected while on the road. I personally have only a few items, which might seem blindly obvious to you, dear reader, but please feel free to share these with those you feel could benefit.
And feel free to share your own.
Silly drivers are just knobs
I am sure that we've all faced a situation in where another driver has performed a manoeuvre that is careless or rude. The first immediate (and understandable) reaction one may feel is that this other driver thinks they're better than you, and think that they don't need to follow rules or be courteous.
Maybe you're right. Maybe you're wrong. Trust me, the energy you put into your annoyance is nowhere near as productive as the focus you put into driving properly. You can't control them, but you sure as heck can control you.
Let them be knobs, and let them do it as far away from you as possible. If you're lucky, you may even see a cop pull them over. There are few feelings in this existence that are as satisfying as seeing that happen.
A small amount of rain can be just as deadly as a downpour
In Australia, particularly after long dry spells, the roads can be imperceptibly covered in a fine layer of dust. In the dry, this film of sand is mostly benign or even undetectable. However, with the slight addition of the smallest amount of rain, such roads can go from grippy to dickhead in 2.3mm.
Curb your enthusiasm and settle down. These greasy roads will humble you, and do it very quickly.
Visibility is your friend
When making any kind of move on the road, always position yourself based on what you can see. Is there a crest? Move safely away from the centre line and back off the throttle, because you just don't know what's on the other side. I've seen people drive down the very middle of unsealed roads, going over crests with the blind faith that there's nothing oncoming.
Don't do that.
Equally as important as what you can see, is whether you are seen. Daytime Running Lights are pretty standard on new cars these days, however turning on low-beam lights in the middle of the day when you're on a country road can help to make sure that no one else makes a silly move when you're coming from the other direction.
These tips may not be a stunning revelation for you, reader. They could be blindingly obvious, and something that you practice each and every day. Or you could think I'm wrong. Given the time of year, and how much risk we potentially face as we travel the countryside, we should review our knowledge, refresh what we know, and make sure that we respect the roads before we embark on our journeys.
All the best of the season to you all, and stay safe.