Bring the Values of Driving During Ramadan
As a child, sitting in the back seat of the car, I received my first driving lesson from my dad. “It’s not enough that you drive well; you’ve got to drive keeping in mind that other people may not be driving perfectly, or well,” he said then, imparting impromptu words of wisdom to my older sibling, and this advice has never really left my mind.
The US National Safety Council defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”
Driving during the Holy Month
Driving during Ramadan between the pre-dawn and sunset hours when many are fasting, it is clear that this homily is spot on. Research has shown that lack of sleep, combined with lower levels of blood sugar during the late afternoon and early evening, may cause impaired driving performance, irritability, and daytime drowsiness.
Experts tell us that psychological factors of wanting to rush to a meal need to be factored in while on the road, along with slower reaction time and mildly impaired spatial perception – both key to driving.
Awareness of our limitations and those of others is another good life lesson that applies to driving. Knowing that the body is under stress, and that negative reactions are quicker to come by when patience is running low, is winning half the battle.
Here’s what we’ve learnt from experienced drivers about staying safe while driving during Ramadan.
Follow all the rules
Think about the driving lessons you took, the booklets you read, and follow every rule. Don’t swerve, don’t rush at a traffic light, look left and right and then left again before crossing, check your shoulder, stay within the speed limit, and maintain lane discipline. Don’t check your phone and keep your hands on the steering wheel.
The rule of thumb is being able to see the wheels of the vehicle in front of you at all times. Distance protects you.
Keep your car tuned
During Ramadan, even more than at other times of the year, Carlease ensures that your car is perfectly maintained, that the air-conditioning is in top-notch order. Headlights, taillights and indicators should be working and the windows should be clean.
Ensure a comfortable driving position
Sit with your back upright with the head up and ensure that the car seat supports your head. Here’s a checklist with advice on how to keep your seat adjusted perfectly.
Make use of rest stops:
Stop, take a deep breath, take five minutes to yourself if you feel tired or drowsy while driving during Ramadan. Switching mental gears mid-task is one way of refreshing your internal systems before you head back on the road. Go back to a favorite problem, tease out the elusive word that you’ve been looking for, or make a list of tasks to do the next day.
Stop at sunset
If you’re fasting, don’t rush home when you hear the call for evening prayer. Instead, experts recommend stopping to drink water and eat a couple of dates before resuming the journey.
Leave on time, don’t rush
If you must make it home before iftar, leave on time, taking into account traffic delays. If that is not possible, stay alert to your impatience and follow step 6. Authorities tell us that concentration tends to drop to the minimum just before iftar, resulting in more frequent accidents.
Look around you
Be aware of other drivers who may be fatigued or rushed. Be patient. Keep scanning the mirrors to anticipate others.
Know your route
Do you know where you’re going? If it’s an unfamiliar route, spend 10 minutes before your journey to go over it either on GPS or on paper. Carlease provides add-on optional GPS devices.
As a last resort, call a cab, consider using the metro or have a friend pick you up if you’re tired of driving during Ramadan. You can return the favor another day and enjoy your journey.
Finally, we’re urged to be better versions of ourselves during the holy month. And I’m reminded that discipline, restraint, patience and kindness are the cornerstones of observance. Certainly, on the road, practicing these would keep us all safe while driving during Ramadan.
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