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3 Simple Rules on Driving

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By NEELA RAMSUNDAR

 

Many of us face it every day. That gruelling test of patience, skill and fortitude: driving on the roads in sweet Trinidad and Tobago.

Oh, our country is not isolated when it comes to bad drivers and bad drives. But you have to admit, Trinbagonians have a special knack for ticking off the next driver with some crackbrained manoeuvres on the road. Even generally good people pull off some hare-brained stunts, go figure.

Don’t forget too the potholes that come out of nowhere. You instantly forget about the last bad drive, wondering instead how your suspension is holding up. Sigh.

I do have some pet peeves when it comes to driving. It just grinds me sometimes that people take such foolish risks to their life and limbs. Below are three of them. I hope pointing them out may actually help keep us safer on the roads!

  1. OMG! Use the pavement!!!

Pavements are not embellishments to beautify a road! Their singular purpose is to create a dedicated space for people to walk on safely, away from the dangers of vehicular traffic.

I cannot emphasize enough how wrong it is to be walking on the road when there is a perfectly good pavement you can use! Did you know if you get knocked down by a driver, and you sue that driver for negligent driving, the fact that you failed to use an available pavement for no good reason could reduce the amount of compensation you may be entitled to? That’s because a judge may decide that your decision not to use the pavement contributed to your injuries!

Now, I know there are pavements at the side of our streets with missing manhole covers, grossly uneven surfaces and ridiculous slopes and angles. But where a passable one exists, use it, please. Educate your kids about the importance of using it and when you see a child walking on the road instead of the pavement, stop and ask them to keep to the pavement for their own safety.

While we are on this topic, if there are zebra crossings and walkovers, please use them for the same reason.

  1. Green does not mean go!

I’m talking about waiting for that red traffic light to turn green. How many times have you taken off at the first sight of a green light without a second thought? This can be a very dangerous habit. How often have you seen drivers racing past an amber light in the hope of crossing before it turns red? If they don’t time it right, you could be on the intersecting end moving off on a green light, then, BAM!

Again, if this happens to you, and you sue the other driver for negligent driving, you could be found to have contributed to your accident, or you may even lose the claim, for not waiting to make sure the roadway in front of you was clear or safe to proceed.

A good rule of thumb is to wait for two or three seconds, while you look both left and right and in front, to make sure the path is safe to proceed. Forget the moron blaring his horn behind you … be safe and be smart.

  1. Roundabout – the right of way is on the right!

I cannot fathom why so many roundabouts exist, but with minimal education to drivers on the many rules on how to use it. Given their prevalence, and the notorious amount of bad drives we get every day when trying to use them, nothing less than daily informative advertisements on the radio, television and social media should suffice!

When you cut off that driver approaching on your right around the roundabout, that’s a bad drive, so long as the driver has to take emergency action to prevent an accident, like mashing their brakes.

All drivers on your right have the right of way. Let them pass, and when there’s a safe gap, then proceed around the roundabout. If you cause an accident by cutting in (forget that excuse that you have to push to get through or you’ll be waiting forever) a Judge may very well find you wholly and solely liable.

© Neela Ramsundar, LL.B (HONS), L.E.C is a Civil Litigation Attorney at Law & Certified Mediator.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for general informative purposes only. It does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney – client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney-at-Law of your choosing directly.

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1 Comment

  • Agreed 100%. Driving education is sadly lacking in many of Trinbagonian drivers. Defensive driving and road safety courses should be mandatory in schools and as refreshers for current drivers. At a minimum, the issuance and renewal of a driver’s permit should require evidence of completion of an accredited defensive driving course. That way we will all have a safer and more enjoyable road experience in Trinidad and Tobago.

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