5 Nights That Could Save Your Life

Night 3 - Driver Danger

You may think you're a safe driver, never had an accident. But would you know what to do in an emergency. Seven News reporter Paul Kadak continues the 5 Nights That Could Save Your Life with a look at emergency manoeuvres.

But as police road safety experts told us the best way to get out of trouble is to avoid it in the first place. It's called "Defensive Driving". Wednesday's story had some good advice on doing just that - along with a graphic illustration of how speed can make all the difference.

Last year there were more than 43,000 crashes on WA roads leaving 349 people critically injured and 165 people dead. Latest road safety research tells us speed was a factor in 31% of fatal crashes, in 22% of fatal crashes at least one driver had a blood alcohol level of over 0.05 and 27% of those killed weren't wearing a seatbelt.

For more information the following is courtesy DriveSafe Australia - a driver training company. www.drivesafewa.com.au

Driving Safe

Driving a vehicle is the most dangerous activity we undertake on a regular basis. It's a demanding task that requires concentration, co-ordination, timing, judgement and constant vigilance.

As drivers we have a responsibility for our own safety, the safety of our passengers and the safety of other road users.


Excessive braking and locking of tyres can result in problems such as increased stopping distance, loss of steering and rear-end skids.

Conventional Braking System

The correct technique is to "squeeze" the brakes in an emergency using the weight transfer of the vehicle to provide the front tyres with greater grip. It is important to avoid or minimise tyre lock up.

When emergency braking with a manual, "squeezing" the brake and depressing the clutch will achieve the best result.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

ABS uses electronic sensors to detect when the wheels lock up under heavy braking. The brakes are then automatically released and re-applied in a rapid pulsing action. ABS requires strong pedal pressure for best results. Ignore any sounds or pedal "kick back" and hold the brakes firmly.

ABS does not allow you to drive faster or brake later than you did before. Braking distances are likely to be similar or slightly longer to that of a conventional braking system


Front wheel skid (understeer) is a loss of traction because of excessive acceleration or braking.

  • Ease off the pedal that created the skid to regain traction and control. Steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go.

Rear wheel skid (oversteer) is a loss of traction because of excessive acceleration or braking.

  • Ease off the pedal that created the skid to regain traction and control steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go. Remember to be smooth with the controls.

In the event of a big skid, if you think you have reached the point of no return - a total loss of steering control - lock up all wheels and stay on the brakes until the vehicle stops.

"Defensive Driving"

Is all about avoiding trouble. The following information has been sourced from both WA Police and Drive Safe Australia.

To be a "Defensive Driver" Maintain a safety zone - leaving yourself room to manoeuvre and plenty of time to react to an emergency.

When stationary you should be able to see the rear tyres of the vehicle in front of you. If you are the first vehicle waiting at an intersection you should be able to see the intersection control lines in front of you.

When moving you should have at least a two second gap between you and the vehicle in front. Wait until the vehicle in front passes a fixed object (like a signpost) then count "one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two". You should not pass the same fixed object before reaching "one-thousand-and-two". In wet conditions allow at least four seconds.

Communicate with other drivers effectively through proper use of indicators when changing lanes, overtaking or turning. You should make your signals meaningful and not use signals that will confuse other drivers.

Check mirrors regularly - perhaps every 10 to 15 seconds and whenever approaching a road hazard, intersection and before braking.

Be less aggressive and more courteous to other road users.

Always look at the big picture while driving, seeing as far ahead as you can to allow for changing road and traffic conditions.

Driving safe means "concentrate". All drivers make mistakes. Concentrate on making fewer mistakes. And adjust your driving to allow for mistakes by other drivers


Office of Road Safety - a wealth of information on a whole range of driver safety topics.

DriveSafe Australia - a driver training company