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Special feature: Be a better you this New Year

Special Feature Updated: January 25, 2022, 12:34 PM IST

New Year's resolutions get a bad reputation for being fleeting commitments to one's personal growth. Doesn't matter if you're trying to get more healthy, more focussed at work, or a better person to be around - statistics show that a staggering 80 per cent of all new year's resolutions are forgotten by the time February comes around. This year, you may want to ask yourself if you've been the best person to be around when you're behind the wheel. Because the road isn't just for you, it's for everyone, and your actions have a ripple effect across every other road user you come across on your commute, or long drive. If we all want safer roads to drive on, it really is on all of us to be better drivers first and hope that the ripples stay positive and effect change.

If you think about it, just the simple act of giving another road user the right of way at an intersection without a signal could save yourself, and the other rider/driver, a whole lot of unnecessary stress (not to mention a potential fender bender) that could arise from the two of you'll going for the same spot on the road, at the same time. If you even got a chance to make eye contact with the other driver, chances are you'll get a vote of thanks from him/her. It might sound unrealistic, but trust us, having another road user appreciate your patience definitely puts you in a better mood than the other way around, which could end with heightened heart rates and a heavy mind. Be considerate.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Being the better driver actually starts right from when you get in your vehicle. Even when late or in a hurry, we find the little rituals - buckling up, setting the mirrors, waiting for the car to warm up a bit - actually help put ourselves in the right frame of mind to drive responsibly. After all, getting to your destination a few minutes late is arguably far more valuable than being much later if you have to deal with an accident, or even not getting there at all. Even the choice of music you have on, and what volume you set it at have a bearing on how you drive. Too loud and jarring and you lose concentration on the road around you, greatly increasing the risk of an accident. Getting too involved in a phone conversation, even if it's over the vehicle's handsfree system, can also take you out of what's happening in front of you, so it's best to keep conversations in the car short. Be aware.

Doing this gives you more mindspace to drive better - when you look a little further down the road, you'll even find you can more reliably choose gaps in traffic to pass slower vehicles, saving you from the frustration of being stuck behind one. If you do have an important call to take, always use your vehicle's handsfree system, and try and stay in a middle lane, or a slow lane to the left, so that other road users can pass you safely. Think about every time you've seen a car moving erratically on the road, and you pass them after a lot of effort only to realise they've been on their phone, or worse trying to send a text message! Try and think of how unsafe and annoying that is the next time you have a text message to send that'll "only take a second". Be patient.

One thing that'll only take a second, and makes a big difference is using the vehicle's turn signals for every time you turn the steering wheel. Once a habit, you'll find yourself indicating when you want to pull out into traffic, for U-turns, for changing lanes - basically everything. And since your indicators are pretty much the only way you can inform other road users of your intent, shouldn't we all be using them as clearly and reliably as we can? Also, it helps when you do decide to switch lanes, you do it clearly, and concisely - be confident.

These are just a few tips to get you started on your journey to being the better guy when you're out on the road but starting small always makes the biggest difference. And if even one more driver picks up a good habit from your driving habits, you can consider a success. Happy new year, and let's all be better drivers together. #BeTheBetterGuy

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