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Types of Hazards and How to Avoid Them – Part 2

Obstacles in the Road

There are countless items that could find themselves in the road and pose a problem to vehicles. Fallen trees, items fallen from vehicles, rocks and boulders, parked cars, the list is almost endless, but one thing we must be aware of is that if we have to invade the opposite lane in order to pass the obstruction then we must give way to oncoming vehicles and only pass when safe to do so.

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Permanent Road Features

It is vital that we pay attention to our surroundings constantly. Not only reading and observing the physical signs on a road such as the maximum permitted speed limit or warnings of hazards ahead, but also of the physical characteristics of the road itself. Look for junctions, narrow streets, dangerous bends, elevation changes and dips, blind corners and merging traffic. Remember that road signs are there to help us and are indicative of a number of reasons why we must react to the conditions, but road signs are not present for every hazard on the road, we must look out for those ourselves.

Parking

When parking your vehicle, always choose a location that is safe, legal and convenient. Respect distances between vehicles, look for signs or signals that prevent or restrict parking. Be careful when opening your door, look in the mirrors and around the vehicle for approaching road users such as cyclists, motorbike, pedestrians or other cars.

Reversing Vehicles

We should always try to avoid reversing wherever possible as our field of vision is significantly reduced. Reversing into a parking bay makes it safer and more convenient for leaving, and reversing from a minor road to a major road should always be avoided. The manoeuvrability of the vehicle may be compromised as the driver becomes confused during a revering manoeuvre. Pressure and added stress can also lead inexperienced drivers to make mistakes when reversing. If you see a vehicle carrying out a reversing move allow extra space and time.

Vehicles Turning Left or Right

Be aware that the vehicle in front of you may wish to turn. Although we hope that the vehicle´s lights are working and that the driver will carry out the correct procedure for junctions, this is not always the case. Allowing sufficient space between you and the vehicle in front allows you more time to react in the event of something happening. Look out for the vehicle in front slowing down or moving to the left or right of the lane and look out for hand signals from the driver.

Novice Drivers

Remember that each and every one of us were once a learner driver, and then we became loose on the roads as a novice. Driving soon becomes habitually second nature, hopefully with good habits rather than bad, but novice drivers still lack the experience to react to situations they are not used to. Be patient and give them the time to learn in a safe manner.

Heavy Vehicles

Because of their size and weight, large vehicles are more difficult to manoeuvre. They need to make wide turns, especially in tight junctions and roads. Even, depending on its length and shape of the junction, they may invade other lanes.

They are usually slower in performing normal movements and their speed may be affected by hills and inclines. Allow extra space and time near these vehicles and pay attention to the potential blind-spot risks to the driver. If you can´t see their mirrors, they can´t see you.

Slow and Priority Vehicles

Be extremely cautious when approaching a vehicle with emergency lights. You may find construction machinery, garbage trucks, transport of dangerous goods, damaged vehicles or those performing maintenance on the road which are travelling at a much reduced speed than ours.

We must give way to priority vehicles traveling with light flashing to an emergency, slowing or even stopping to the right of the roadway if necessary, but we must never endanger other road users.

Animals

Animals in the road pose a major risk, especially in countryside areas where they be unaware of the dangers their presence might be posing to traffic. Drive slowly and always respect distance, because animals are unpredictable and can be startled. Any animal poses a risk, especially if loose. They usually run at a relatively slow speed, so they can sometimes even force us to stop.

 


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