Friday, February 12th, 2016

TTAA: Motorsport can promote road safety

Posted By: Duane 3NE 2NR30/06/1264 Comments;
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TTAA: Motorsport can promote road safety

The TTAA (Trinidad & Tobago Automobile Association) is the FIA arm for mobility/motoring in T&T. The TTAA provides FIA approved international drivers licenses for mobility to T&T nationals (in-case you wanted to drive on the roads in another country) and they also provide services and support to the motoring public in T&T. The TTAA is celebrating its centenery (100 year anniversary) in 2012.

In an article published in the Guardian newspaper on Thursday we read that the TTAA (Trinidad & Tobago Automobile Association) has a major directive of promoting safe driving in T&T. Our feedback from the TTAA, is that there were several other comments made that were not published in the newspaper due to constraints of space.

During the interview with TTAA Chairman Rawle Mahabir, questions were asked on the recent accidents that have led to multiple fatalaties, and if was there a common denominator in them all. Reference was made to the 3 fatalities on Charlotte Street about two months ago; The accident on the highway near Orange Grove, which left four fatalities, and our Ag Chief Justice still struggling to regain some degree of normal health; the horrific Labour day accident that left five dead when a car ploughed into a bar at Lopinot Junction at 5:00am. It seems in almost all accidents today, the report states “the driver lost control of the vehicle” – is this due to fatigue? alcohol? bad tyres? mechanical failure? driver error? or a combination of these?

Mr. Mahabir stated that he has seen almost all drivers dramatically improve their driving ability, reflexes and discipline when competing in local motorsport events such as Solodex and Rally. He said they learn the point at which their car may pick up a skid and how to correct it or avoid it altogether. Solodex is a dexterity competition where drivers navigate their car through a course made of safety cones in a timed contest.

The TTAA said requests have been made to have dialog with the Minister of Justice, Mr. Volney, to attempt to quickly include in the magisterial sentencing, the directive that everyone involved in any type of vehicular incidents where dangerous driving may have been a factor, the taking of a defensive driving course should be mandatory.

Rawle Mahabir drew an example from the advertising by tobacco companies that is now seriously regulated because of the proven dangers re: smoking and cancer. Mr. Mahabir said “sooner than later, the manufacturers of all alcohol products will very well face a similar challenge, simply speaking about drinking responsibly cannot be their only social stance on the death and destruction caused by those who continue to drink and drive.”

Suggestions have also been made by the TTAA that every young driver (under 25) be also exposed to practical defensive driving courses and hopefully, the likes of CARS with their SOLODEX events, can very well play a huge part in having this program conducted in a safe and controlled environment.

Guardian Article:

Defensive driving – TTAA sounds alarm for road safety
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012
Cherisse Moe

The T&T Automobile Association (TTAA) is sounding the alarm—make defensive driving courses mandatory for all motorists. These days, driving on the T&T’s roads has become an increasingly difficult task. With this year’s road fatality figure approaching the 100 mark, TTAA chairman Rawle Mahabir is reiterating his call for Government to work harder to effectively address the escalating number of road accidents. The first step to solving the problem, he said, is making defensive driving classes a must-do. A drastic move? Mahabir says drastic times call for drastic measures. What is defensive driving?  Mahabir notes that it’s much more than glancing in one’s rear-view mirrors or slowing down when the traffic lights turn yellow.  The US National Safety Council states that defensive driving is: Driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others. Mahabir concurs.

“It also brings to the individual’s attention the need to observe what is happening around them—in the front, in the back, and at the side. Also, it will teach you how to observe the prevailing road conditions,” he said. According to Mahabir, there are four key skills of defensive driving—concentration, effective all-round observation, anticipation, and planning. Defensive driving uses these skills properly and co-ordinates them with good handling skills. “What is going on right now on our roads is crazy. I used to say that you could be sitting at a bar and get robbed but now you can be sitting at a bar and get killed,” Mahabir said, referring to the recent accident in Caura in which five people were killed. “We need to have all drivers on board. Making defensive driving mandatory is extremely necessary,” he added.
Mahabir said motorists can receive defensive driving classes, which focus mainly on the theory of driving, for $300, from members of the TTAA. He said the courses teach drivers to be better prepared for potential dangerous situations through adherence to a variety of general rules, and the practice of specific driving techniques.

Hazard management
Peter Gopaulsingh of the Education and Campaigning of the National Road Safety Council, echoes similar sentiments. “You have people driving for years but that doesn’t mean what they’re doing is correct. They may not know certain things like checking their vehicles on a regular basis or hazard management,” he said.  “Often times, drivers let their guards down. They take driving for granted because they do it everyday. We don’t get up and say, ‘Lord thank you for a new day.’ We must approach each day as a new day with the same kind of caution.” Gopaulsingh teaches defensive driving courses at a cost of $400 and says it “goes way beyond the theory.” The practical part of the course is the most vital, he said.
Gopaulsingh’s defensive driving certificate provides the driver with a risk profile, which he said helps the motorist better identify his/her driving weaknesses.

His courses also aim to:
• Enhance recognition and perception of hazards;
• Develop risk management to reduce stress and improve personal and public safety;
• Stimulate and improve participants’ understanding of modern vehicle dynamics;
• Encourage a driving style which reduces fuel consumption and vehicle wear and tear;
• Highlight health and safety implications when driving on company business.

At the end of the course, participants are able to demonstrate knowledge of what constitutes a hazard or risk and define ways to manage them. They are also able to recognise why a systematic approach to every day road and traffic hazards reduces risk and improves vehicle efficiency and identify areas for improvement while demonstrating that improvement in their driving technique.

Additionally, Gopaulsingh says there are four Ss of defensive driving:

Safe: Safety is the most important aspect of all driving. Position and speed must always be sacrificed for safety, but safety must never be sacrificed. The driver’s objective is to maintain safe progress by identifying hazards early and planning how to deal with them safely and efficiently.

Systematic: The system of car control is a way of approaching and negotiating all situations that are safe, methodical and leaves nothing to chance.
Defensive driving teaches a system of car control together with driving skills to deal with an unpredictable environment in a methodical and logical way and have time to select the best position, speed, and gear to negotiate all hazards safely and efficiently.

Smooth: If your vehicle handling skills are properly co-ordinated with your perceptual and awareness skills, your driving will not only be safe and systematic, but it will also be smooth. Nothing should look or feel hurried. The three main considerations are passenger comfort, vehicle stability, and vehicle sympathy.

Speed: The ability to make progress is an important advanced driving skill, but progress must never compromise safety. Excess speed (speed above the statutory limit) and inappropriate speeds (excessive speed for the circumstances, regardless of the statutory limit) are dangerous and are not acceptable. Defensive drivers understand this and know that speed limits are limits and not targets. They use their perceptual and awareness skills to identify when they should impose their own speed limit on themselves, (regardless of the statutory limit), depending on circumstances.

Protect ourselves
Nivash Persad, general manager of Temple Properties Limited, a certified defensive driving company, underscored the importance of exercising caution behind the wheel. “All of us need to do the courses to better protect ourselves on the roads and be aware of how to deal with situations and how to operate a vehicle effectively, efficiently and safely,” he said. “Insurance companies give discounts to customers who have done these courses. Drivers 25 and younger can be placed on their parents’ policies which allows you to earn a safe driver discount.” Mitra Ramjit, marketing manager at local insurance firm Colfire confirms Persad’s statements. “Colfire has invested in defensive driving to help support young drivers because the challenge has been that it’s almost impossible for them to get insurance because of the high cost,” he said. “We focus heavily on education to improve their driving quality. If they are going to be a driver on their parents’ vehicle, it would normally attract as much as 100 per cent additional premium. However, after having completed the defensive driving course that cost is reduced to as little as ten or even zero.” Ramjit added: “Since we started in 2006, about 2,000 people a year come in with defensive driving certificates and that is woefully insignificant compared to the number of young drivers out there.”

Everyday tips
When getting into your vehicle remember:
• Ensure driver’s seat is correctly positioned along with door mirrors and review mirror
• Check instrument panel after starting vehicle
• Perform five point check around the vehicle before moving off
• Signal and move into traffic lane only when safe to do so
• Collect information from surroundings, ie road conditions, surroundings, weather conditions, etc when driving.

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