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Unit 4 Minimise Conflict

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The driving skills you need to avoid trouble before getting into it. Driving conditions are not always perfect. Other drivers make mistakes or take chances in spite of the road rules. Experienced drivers 'second guess' what might happen.

    The 5 elements are -

  1. Adjust to the driving environment
  2. Respond to situations in the driving environment
  3. Avoid stressful or difficult driving environments
  4. Make safe decisions in stressful situations
  5. Manage your motivations (by controlling yourself when you want to drive in a way that may be dangerous

4.1  Adjust to the Driving Environment (as road situations - eg narrow streets with parked cars are different to a wide street - and conditions change).

To do this you must

4.1.1  Adjust speed to suit the situation or condition

You must -

  • Travel at a speed that suits the road situations and conditions
  • Travel at a speed that will allow you to deal
  • with other road users
  • with anything that might go wrong in a particular environment
  • Slow or fasten your speed as you enter the new situation or condition.

4.1.2  Match your path (the course the car is following) to the situation or condition

You must position your car safely for -

  • parked cars (Leave at least 1.5m to allow for car doors opening)
  • repeat hazards (like driveways) on either side of the road
  • traffic coming the other way

4.2  Respond to Situations in the Driving Environment

On the road there will be many hazards that must be dealt with. If another road user doesn’t obey the law, or doesn’t drive safely and reasonably, their path might cross yours.

When driving, you must be able to respond to other road users doing the wrong thing, this is why it is important to -

  • keep space between your car and the vehicle in front
  • try to predict and adjust your driving for what might/could happen
  • when you can't see what is ahead (like a blind intersection) to slow down and move away from the centre of the road

To do this you must -

4.2.1  Respond to an immediate threat (where other road users' paths may cross yours - like blind intersections, pedestrians, cyclists, cars blocking your view)
    You must -

  • turn your eyes to things that may become an immediate threat

4.2.2  Position your car so that you can see as well as possible

If it is safe and legal, move your car on the road so that you can see more and that others can see you better, to do this you must-

  • drop back from a large car (like a bus) to see more of the road ahead.
  • when coming up to a blind intersection on your left, move towards the centre of the road to see further ‘round the corner’.

4.2.3  Match your speed to the distance you can see to be safe in front of you and to the sides

This is particularly important at-

  • blind intersections
  • blind curve
  • hill crests
  • cars parked on the side of the road

When you come up to a hill crest, blind intersection and corner, slow down until you can see it is safe to keep going. It is safe when you can see over the hill, round the corner or down a side street.

4.2.4  Move your car on the road to keep you away from things that may be dangerous

Do this by -

  • moving to the left when coming up to a crest of a hill or moving towards the centre of the road when coming to a parked car
  • moving to get more space between you and another road user

4.2.5  Adjust your driving in good time when other people do something that may be unsafe

‘In good time’ means you have time to brake, accelerate or move smoothly to another part of the road to avoid a crash.

This means planning ahead and predicting how the driving situation may change before it does.

You might -

  • back off the accelerator
  • start to brake smoothly and steadily
  • steer away from the hazard

Some times you may need to accelerate (like when a car is closing in quickly from behind)

4.2.6  When you make a mistake and find yourself in an unsafe or illegal situation, correct it immediately

Experienced drivers make mistakes, but they fix them before they cause trouble.
4.3  Avoid Stressful or Difficult Driving Environments

to do this you can -

4.3.1  Stop the car until conditions improve

You might do this in very bad weather, or in very bad road or traffic conditions, if you are finding it very difficult to concentrate

4.3.2  Choose a different route

You might do this to -

  • avoid bad weather and road surface conditions;
  • avoid particular environments that you find difficult or unsafe because of the traffic conditions (for example, a tricky intersection); or
  • avoid environments that you don't feel comfortable driving in.

4.4  Make Safe Decisions in Stressful Situations

to do this you must -

4.4.1  When you are in a new or complicated driving situation (like driving in mud, deep pools of water, slippery gravel), slow down and make cautious decisions

  • You must slow down

4.4.2  When you are driving an unfamiliar car, familiarise yourself with it

You should -

  • practise finding and using controls and switches before you move off.

    Make cautious decisions.

  • keep a low speed
  • be more careful when overtaking, cornering and picking gaps in traffic

The unfamiliar car might be more or less powerful than you think

4.4.3  Reduce distractions in the car

You can -

  • turn the radio/cassette down or off
  • stop a conversation
  • ask passengers to be quiet
  • pull the car over, if you need to

4.4.4  If you are uncertain about a driving situation (like overtaking or selecting a gap), make a cautious decision

    To make a cautious decision you could -

  • Hang back instead of overtaking
  •  Wait for the next gap in the traffic

4.4.5  Respond positively to other road users (like a driver behind who wants to go faster)

    You could-

  • Talk to yourself to remind yourself to stay calm
  • Don't criticise other road users’ behaviour
  • Pull over to let the other driver past
  • Breathe deeply
  • Concentrate on other driving tasks
  • Go a different way

4.4.6  Respond safely to frustrations and delays in traffic

Things you can do -

  • go another way
  • keep safe following distances
  • talk to yourself about what’s in it for you if you behave cautiously, and what it might cost you to behave in a risky way
  • don't criticise other road users' behaviours
  • do some deep breathing and try to relax your jaw and shoulders

4.5  Manage your Motivations -

‘Motivation’ means the feelings and thoughts that make us do things. It is something we cannot see; we just know that people act in certain ways for certain reasons. The reasons why we behave the way we do is part of what makes us ‘good’ or ‘bad’ drivers. You should use the motivations that help drive safely and try to control the motivations that make you drive unsafely. To do this you must -

4.5.1  Drive so that it shows you value life and property

Safe drivers value life and property. They don't want to be harmed or to cause harm.

4.5.2  Stop your emotions from interfering with safe driving

Emotions which might interfere with safe driving include-

  • aggression
    unhappiness (or happiness!)
  • impatience
  • depression
  • anxiety from worries

You could try talking to yourself to work out the situation, ask if you are getting any benefit from these emotions when driving and ask yourself its effect. Also, try deep breathing; pulling over, stopping and making a phone call; or going another way.

4.5.3  Notice yourself taking risks. When this happens think about the benefits and costs of both risky driving and cautious driving, and make decisions you can live with.

If you want to be safe, but are a bit short of skill, your ‘safety motivation’ will make up for the lack of skill. But it doesn’t work the other way. You may be very skilful, but if you have a tendency to take risks you will not be a safe driver.