LEARN TO COMPLY

Go on, admit it. Most of us accept constructive criticism for many things, but prefer to draw the line at driving. Correct?

The majority of us would gratefully accept some learning points to enable us to, for example, hit a golf ball further or cook that food better or gain improved exam grades, or even do our daily job more efficiently. You can fill in the gaps with your own suggestions, but you get the point.

When was the last time something went wrong behind the wheel? Did you instinctively blame the other driver or some other contributory factor - anyone or anything except yourself?

Blaming ourselves rarely features. But unless we can accept that we may need to do something better, we’ll never be safer drivers.

Not everyone’s a keen driver. Some of us will see our vehicle as nothing more than a tool to get us from A to B. We aren’t bothered about the niceties of technique or feel willing to spend precious time developing our skills.

But that’s not an excuse.

Whether we love or hate driving, our duty of care remains constant…that is if we want to stay alive. If we aren’t prepared to take that responsibility we simply shouldn’t drive.

Unfortunately, though, many of us have a resistance to learning when it comes to the driving task. A close relative of ‘resistance’ is our reticence to ‘comply’. We only have to look at drivers in Oman to see this in evidence every day, despite the best efforts of the government and the ROP to mandate the ways to optimise the safe use of vehicles on Oman’s roads.

Apart from the obviously poor driving on show, the non-compliance culture is exemplified by the lack of seatbelt use and the absence of child seats - the latter being a relatively new innovation in the sultanate. Many are ignoring the law and putting themselves and their passengers - often very young children- in real danger of death and injury.

A lack of compliance often stems from our innate feeling that nothing bad will happen to us: it’s always other people we read about having nasty crashes. However, statistics show that a significant proportion of the readers of this article will be involved in a crash on the road at some point in their lives.

But we can greatly reduce this risk by complying not only with the law - which, of course, is very important - but with our own common sense and instinct for survival.

The appropriate use of speed and correct level of awareness and anticipation, to cite just three elements of driving technique (topics I discussed in my Muscat Daily articles in 2013 and which are available on the newspaper’s website) will limit the opportunity for a crash.

Some younger - usually male - drivers are particularly at risk due to their propensity for driving-related thrill-seeking activities such as on-road drifting. This is dangerous and illegal but many are good at it because it interests them, therefore any resistance to learning is absent. Imagine how safe these drivers would be if they expended as much energy learning about defensive driving as they did in making their tyres squeal and smoke.

We should open our minds and think about what we need to learn in order to stay safe. Apart from reducing the chances of crashing, you will enjoy your driving more by removing the unnecessary stress caused by near misses, late braking and a generally haphazard driving style caused by a lack of proper concentration and engagement.

Learn to comply, don’t die - and persist, don’t resist!

Safe driving!

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