ROAD safetyorganisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to think about the dangerous moments they have experienced at the wheel to reduce the risks they face on future road journeys.
GEM says those ‘oops factor' moments we have all encountered offer a golden opportunity to reflect on driving and to find ways of being safer in future.
GEM road safety adviser James Luckhurst said: "By definition a near miss means no collision occurred and no one was hurt. But a near miss is only a near miss thanks to luck interrupting a chain of events that could have been catastrophic.
"Think of a time when you found yourself braking at the last second. Or when someone sounded their horn at you. Or when you found yourself dropping off on a long, dull journey and ‘woke up' with a start.
"It's widely reported that most of us see ourselves as ‘above average' drivers, yet up to 94 per cent of collisions are a result of driver error1. So we can't all be as good as we think we are.
"Giving ourselves time to reflect on our own particular close encounters means we can learn from what happened and work out how to be safer in future.
"But rather than dwelling on the danger there and then , it's better to wait until the end of a journey and set aside a few moments to think about why it happened.
"That short period of reflection may be all that's needed to identify the reason, and to adapt techniques of observation or concentration in order to prevent a similar situation happening again."
GEM has produced the following four simple tips to reduce risk for drivers:
1. Think about risk on journeys. This risk could come from a dangerous stretch of road, from not taking breaks, from bad weather, from unwise speed choices or from a lack of focus on the driving task.
2. Expect the unexpected. This is especially true on familiar stretches of road. Keep your guard up, anticipate what could happen and stay ahead of the situation, rather than having to react urgently.
3. Eliminate the word ‘suddenly' from your driving vocabulary. By identifying all the possible areas of risk, you can adapt and update your speed and position to keep yourself away from trouble.
4. Learn from every journey. What went well? Where were the biggest risks? Take time later to think about why that moment happened. Did you fail to see another vehicle? Did you misjudge distance or speed? Did you gamble with a changing traffic light? Most important, what different action could you take next time to reduce the risk?
"We all make mistakes; but unfortunately a lot of us look to blame everyone or everything else - making it difficult or impossible to learn. But we are all more vulnerable on the road than we think we are," added Mr Luckhurst.
"By recognising the situations that may lead to greater danger, and learning from those ‘oops factor' moments, we can actively reduce risk, both to ourselves and to those around us."