EVERY driver knows that the lives of their passengers rest in their hands. Since May is Road Safety Month, I am sharing some safety reminders I have gathered from different literatures that are empirically research-based.

Keep yourself well rested, fed and hydrated. Getting enough sleep, moderate food and adequate fluids will help you concentrate and give you that "presence of mind" when driving compared to the hungry, cranky and thirsty driver. It is important however, not to turn to coffee or energy drinks to boost your alertness as their effects recede over time that may cause you to lose your concentration.

Some energy drinks are also known to cause rebound hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) which can impair your judgment over time especially during long-distance driving.

Before hitting the road, check if your car is in perfect condition. This means checking the oil, fuel and tires. You also need to check the wear and tear of tires, brake fluid levels and make sure that the wheels are balanced and properly aligned. Other variables that need checking are the windshields, wipers, shock absorbers, brakes, lights, headlamps and indicator signals. Keeping your vehicle in good shape reduces the risk of road mishaps.

Buckle your seatbelt. This does not just save you from being penalized but is also for your protection as it decreases potential injuries and mortalities. Remind your passengers to also buckle up. According to Southend research in U.K., unbelted front passengers can hit the dashboard, windshield and steering wheel. Whereas, unbelted rear passengers can get killed or be injured as much as the driver does.

Check the weather forecast. This way, you know when a heavy downpour is expected and you can adjust your route or modify your trip to decrease potential risks.

Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel. This is plainly basic but one that is so difficult to conform. Some drivers have eyes that are easily distracted by sights. Others use their mobile phones while driving. Remember, the same amount of risks hold true of those mobile phones switched to "hands free" mode.

If one must use the phone to send a text message, it is but wise to pull over and send it. Perhaps the worst scenario is when others place their right hand elsewhere (pun unintended) while driving. These behaviors actually increase the risks of road-related accidents.

Take occasional breaks. Research has shown that driver fatigue comprises more than 10 percent of road accidents. In long trips, plan to stop at least 15 minutes for every 2 hour-trip on a long journey.

Keep your distance. Not that I am being discriminating, but if the car or vehicle in front is an older model, the distance between such vehicle and yours should be greater. Research has shown that older cars take longer to stop than more recent models. Therefore, calculated risks can save not only your pockets but also your lives.

Use your mirrors regularly. By this it does not mean taking selfie posts or narcissistic moments but rather to be vigilant in overseeing other vehicles and to anticipate pedestrians as well especially children, pregnant women and senior citizens.

Mind your speed and be sensitive to speed limits. According to research, at a speed of 60 kph, you are more likely to kill a pedestrian than at 50 kph. Likewise, be conscious of speed limits as any deviation from this can increase the likelihood of an accident.

Do not drink and drive. Any alcohol no matter how little can impair your judgement and driving. As a practice in developed countries, when having plans of drinking, leave your cars at home.

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