I remember many a times whenever I take my father out in the car, he tells me to drive carefully. Quite obvious for him to tell me this out of concern. But further he says, “You might be the best driver in the world, but you can’t trust the other person driving on the road, and we can meet with an accident because of someone else’s mistake”. So true!!
He advises me to drive carefully and always be cautious, so even if someone else on the road, may be a pedestrian or a motorcyclist or an animal or anyone else for that matter, makes any mistake, we get enough time to react and avoid an accident.
Fortunately for me, I have never met with an accident in my 20 years of car experience and 10 years of 2 wheeler experience. So in all total 30 years of my road journey I have never met with an accident except for a few minor ones which made few dents to my vehicle, but didn’t have even a minor injury to me.
Was this luck that I never got injured even once in my 30 years of road driving?
I don’t think so.
Though I will never forget an incident –
Once my wife Surekha and me had been to Lonavla on a bike for a one day picnic during rainy season after about 2 years of our marriage. While returning back from Lonavala, I was overtaking a massive dumper on a curvy road. I was a bit care free as the road was a long one way stretch on old Mumbai – Pune Road and I was not expecting any vehicle to come from opposite end. At somewhere middle of the dumper which I was overtaking, all of a sudden, I saw a fast moving truck just about 200 mtrs away rushing towards us. It would be a sure shot head on collision. At that time Kushal, our Son was just 1 year old and was at home with my mother.
During those hardly 2-3 seconds, I even imagined Kushal as an Orphan child as death was approaching us. I did whatever was possible for me do at that time – breaking, (assuming) us in that gap between the two trucks and what not – all in just 2-3 seconds!! We had only that much time between the death and us. Finally I could get a fraction space to escape from behind the dumper which I was overtaking and took my bike off road and somehow saved our life.
Was this luck that we escaped this deadly “could be” accident?
I don’t know.
But I know one thing for sure that luck may save you from accidents a few times not always.
What will save you is road and vehicle training, traffic sense, safety precautions, presence of mind and much more.
This is just what I did for last 30 years of my driving to avoid an accident –
- Wearing Seat Belt – I ALWAYS wear seat belt while driving and insist the co passenger also to wear it no matter how far or where we are going. Buckling up only takes a second. I feel safe and secure in the seat belt. They hold you in place during an aggressive maneuver. Even if I am sitting at the rear seat and my driver is driving, still I wear the seat belt. It’s a habit in me fastened like a seat belt. This is a must for my car from safety point of view. Law related to it is secondary.
- Not using the Phone – I won’t lie here. I may sometimes attend the call while driving. But if I have to make any urgent call, I find a place to park the car, make the call and then move on. I mute all social media and even SMS notifications while driving.
- Letting others Pass – My driving is defensive. Means letting others go ahead – not defending my position in traffic. I avoid the urge of overtaking (though not always). Accept the fact that someone is always going to think they’re in more of a hurry than you. These are the drivers I keep far away from me and don’t ever get into “teaching them a lesson.”
- Not doing anything other than Driving – Keep eye on the road. I don’t change CDs, radio channels, no eating, no drinking, no turning back and picking up something from rear seat etc.. I avoid doing anything apart from driving.
- Holding Steering Wheel tightly with both the hands – I learned this from one of my drivers. On highways or anywhere when the speed is more than 60-70 Kmph. And if the front tyre bursts the vehicle can go anywhere. If you are holding steering wheel tightly with both the hands, you can control the vehicle going off the road and save yourself from a major accident.
Above 5 points are enough to keep you safe and away from 98% of road accidents. If you just follow these 5 points you will save your life for sure.
Apart from above there are lot of other technical points which you need to check as a routine may be. They are –
- Check tyre pressure, brakes and other mechanical points of the vehicle
- Follow speed limits
- Be extra careful while driving in bad weather, at night and at intersection points
- Early morning i.e. just before sunrise and late evening i.e. just after sunset – be extra careful. Keep your head lights on during this time.
- Don’t tail gate and don’t allow others tailgating you, keep safe distance
Before I end this article I will tell you an incident which happened just recently.
Me, Surekha and my dad had been to our native place in Karnataka last year by our Ford Figo. My Mom was paralytic and my dad was always used to be with her. But we three had to go for some very urgent work and come back asap as Mom was alone with the care taker. We left from Thane at 8 PM and reached our native place near Belgaum by 6 AM next day. 650 Kms journey non-stop throughout the night.
We finished our work during the day time and started our return journey to Thane at 6 PM. It had started becoming hectic for me and at around 11 PM, I was feeling too tired and felt like I will have to take a short power nap to get fresh. I parked the car and tried to sleep but couldn’t. So I decided to have a cup of tea. After having tea, I was fresh for 2-3 hrs. We used to stop and I used to have tea and again drive for 2-3 hrs. But after Panvel at around 3 AM it was just becoming impossible for me to control my sleep. But we were hardly some 50 Kms away from Thane and dad was very eager to go home. Tea at Panvel couldn’t help this time and I knew that sooner I will start dozing.
I told Surekha who was seating at rear seat to take my “control”.
We hear the incidents of accidents due to driver dozing off and ultimately ramming the vehicle. What happens here is, in first place, when the driver dozes off the pressure on the accelerator paddle comes off. This happens in few seconds. Now the next stage is eyes getting closed and ramming the vehicle. May be 30 sec to 60 sec process. That’s all.
When I came to know that I will start dozing very soon, I knew that pressure on the accelerator paddle will be released and the vehicle will abruptly slow down. I instructed Surekha that once she notices slowing down of the vehicle she will shake me up and make me aware. She sat closer to my seat and whenever she felt that I was dozing she made me aware. This thing worked and we finally came to Thane by 5 AM.
It would be dangerous but Surekha never allowed me to go in to ‘Stage Two” where I would have closed the eyes. Immediately after dozing she used to shake me up and I used to try and focus on driving.
I won’t advice anybody to do, what I did in this particular case. I had absolutely no option left but to drive back straight to Thane non stop.
But I will certainly advice you all to be more careful out there and take care of yourself.29