The black stuff, the stop stuff and you!
I was just approached by a journalist asking for a quote or two on the most crucial elements of road safety. This is what I sent him, and then I realised that these were so obvious and so often overlooked, that it was worth sharing them myself:
The two most important safety features on your car are the most obvious plus one other: tyres and brakes. So many people compromise on the quality of tyres (buying cheap stuff, or worst bad remoulds) but if you think about it, that small patch of rubber is actually your only connection to the road surface. If it fails or loses traction you are immediately in trouble, and the consequences could be catastrophic!
Brakes are understandably important to the safety of a vehicle – without them you can’t stop! It’s crucial to have them regularly checked and well maintained, particularly looking out for wear and warping on the discs. Don’t cheap out on brake pads and parts. Always buy OEM bits direct from the manufacturer or officially authorised parts – they’ve been tested for your vehicle. Anything else could fail.
Above all though, there is a third crucial element to car safety on the road – and that, of course, is the human behind the wheel (for now at least, as we await with disgust the impending arrival of the autonomous car). Be responsible, take driving seriously, ignore your phone, focus on what you are doing, stay alert and take in as much information about your surroundings and the road conditions as possible. If you feel tired or sleepy, stop, take a break. Take responsibility for the your safety and that of your passengers and other road-users. If the driver is not concentrating on driving or has a problem, the car is inherently unsafe, no matter how good the brakes, tyres or anything else.