Mike Waters' Blog: 10 March 2010 - The neglected wrongs
10 March 2010
Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.
Without wanting to sound pessimistic; fog, rain, potholes, pedestrians, vehicle malfunctions, animals running into the road, fallen branches and ice are just some of the dangers that motorists face. Whether you enjoy it or it's just a means of getting from A to B, driving is a great thing but it's also fraught with dangers.
On today's roads where there is more traffic than ever before, being a driver comes with great responsibility, and even the best must take a risk-averse stance. For most, the risks fall into two categories: those that you can't control but that you can be prepared for and those that are self inflicted and unnecessary. However, the example of drink driving shows that there is often overlap between the two.
It is self inflicted and irresponsible, significantly increasing the chances of an accident and makes the driver less able to deal with unexpected obstacles such as a car that pulls out or a skid.
Now I'm not going to harp on about drink driving because while it's still an issue in the UK, everyone knows that they shouldn't do it. Just as concerning are figures from national road safety charity Brake which highlight driving misdemeanours that can have a similar impact, but are either being ignored by drivers or are simply not on their radar at all.
The first is tantamount to drug driving with twelve percent of drivers admitting that they have driven while taking legal, prescribed medicine having not bothered to check warnings on the label. The research even shows that some spot the recommendation not to drive but totally ignore it. Like alcohol, prescribed medicines can affect reactions, the ability to make decisions and often cause drowsiness.
Talking of drowsy drivers, the second issue is those that are too tired to control their vehicle. At least 300 people are killed each year as a result of drivers falling asleep at the wheel, often because they veer off the road or into the back of the vehicle in front. Research shows that on less than five hours sleep a driver only has a ten percent chance of staying awake on a long journey. Despite this more than half of drivers surveyed admitted to driving on less than five hours sleep and three quarters admit to having driven while feeling tired.
Some drivers need to take their heads out of the sand, take responsibility for their actions and give in to common sense. It is the responsibility of the person behind the wheel to ensure that they are fit to drive at every stage of a journey. After all, while your fitness to drive may not be a big deal in your head, a judge might not share the same view.