The BEEP Fund team of volunteer doctors are always on call to assist with any emergency situation. The majority of these calls are for road traffic accidents. Many road accidents can be avoided, and these points will refresh drivers on car care, maintenance and safety tips.
Prior to sitting in your vehicle, there are many ways to prepare to ensure you are ready, your method of transport is in working order and you have everything you might need with you. Plan your route before you start if it’s not known to you. Add time for rest stops or to return any calls or messages you may have missed whilst driving. Should the weather be rainy, windy or foggy add additional time for your trip. If you need any money or a card for any toll roads, have them to hand.
Check tyre pressures and tread to ensure maximum safety, also check fluid levels under the bonnet, that lights all work and are clean. Do keep up to date on vehicle services so it is running at its best.
Ensure that your vehicle is packed safely – make sure nothing can move around in your car whilst you are driving. You don’t need a drink bottle falling under your pedals or an unsecured bag on your backseat becoming a lethal weight in a crash. If anything drops on the floor whilst driving, do not try to retrieve it whilst the vehicle is in motion. Ensure you have a first aid kit in your boot, alongside a blanket and jump leads to help yourself or others.
Make sure your seat, mirrors and heaters or air con are at the right setting before you start. Set up your Sat Nav before your journey, so you don’t need to distract yourself whilst moving. Put your seatbelt on and ensure all passengers in your vehicle are securely fastened.
If you have consumed alcohol or drugs, do not drive any vehicle. You will put yourself and others at risk. If you are taking any medication, including cold and flu remedies, do check that they do not cause drowsiness as your driving will be impeded. Should you feel tired, unwell, stressed or agitated, do not drive – it will affect your judgement and driving ability. During a journey, if you do feel tired and are struggling to concentrate, pull over and have a sleep. It is better to do this for your safety and for everyone else on the road whom you might encounter. Do not use your mobile phone either, it is a distraction which could remove your attention from the road.
Sticking to speed limits will result in safer driving. The speed limit is suitable for the road and surrounding areas. If a vehicle is going too fast, there is less time for the driver to react.
Always signal in advance and check your blind spots when moving and changing lanes. When behind the wheel, drivers need to be alert at all times, pre-empting the actions of other drivers. Patience is indeed a virtue and when driving you need to exercise patience. Better to arrive safely although a few minutes late than not at all.
Obviously, headlights are required at night, but you should also have them on during rain and fog to ensure all other road users can clearly see you. Keep your windows clean in order to avoid glare from other cars at night. If your headlights are on high beam, ensure you dip your lights if another road user is approaching. Should an oncoming vehicle dazzle you with their lights, avoid looking at the lights and direct your attention to the left hand kerb and keep your speed steady.
Drive safely, keep your vehicle in good working order and be prepared in the event of an accident so that hopefully you will never be on the receiving end of emergency medical response teams. However, be reassured that the BEEP Fund doctors are on call to deliver their life-saving skills to anyone who may need them.