Flying? Leave me out. I have been terrified of air travel since I watched a plane crash on the news many years ago. My parents offered to take me on overseas holidays many times but I turned them down because I’d rather be safe on the ground.

However, I am beginning to realise that it is dangerous on the ground, too. Travelling in a car can be…

…life-threatening, going by my experiences of the past two weeks. It was a quiet Sunday morning. Sitting in the front passenger seat, I looked out the side window. As I was appreciating the absence of the usual mad rush on the road, my father suddenly slammed on the brakes. I would have been thrown out of my seat but for my seat belt.

Turning my head, I saw a yellow taxi, only a couple of metres in front of our car, changing from the centre to the extreme left lane and screeching to a stop to pick up some passengers.

My father exploded: “That bugger must be mad! How can he cut across two lanes so abruptly?!”

Yes, he was mad. I mean my father, who was furious, not the driver. But I did not think the taxi driver realised the danger he had put another road user in – he’d acted on reflex.

I feel it would be much safer for all road users if taxi drivers looking for passengers can keep to the left lane, wherever possible. It’s natural for them to get excited when they see a potential customer and, under the circumstances, they would forget about safety.

Many times, people aren’t aware of the hazards they create. Two days after the taxi incident, I was similarly jolted when my mother braked sharply to avoid hitting a dog with a collar tag dashing across the road.

I don’t think the owner meant the dog to be a menace but it nearly caused an accident as the other cars stopped suddenly to avoid a collision.

The following week, my father had to jam on the brakes again. While travelling behind a lorry loaded with boxes, I was stunned to see one fall onto the road. We would have hit it if not for my father’s quick reaction.

The lorry driver learnt of this only after another driver drew his attention to the “killer litter”. I’d like to think he would have secured the boxes properly if he had been more aware of the risk involved.

Perhaps all of us can contribute to the safety of our roads by sharing our experiences in these Voices pages, so that people will be more aware of how their actions may endanger the lives of others.

In any case, I have to thank my good fortune that I was saved thrice by the seat belt and my parents’ alertness. It frightens me now to think of what might happen to children who aren’t buckled up when the unexpected occurs.

I had often seen children playing in the car, standing on the seat or waving to passing cars. The adults in the car did not seem to give such hazards a second thought.

Not too long ago, I saw a man driving with his young son on his lap. Despite going at quite high speed, he probably though it was quite safe and wanted his kid to have some fun.

Surely there was a better way to keep his son happy than through what is really an “extreme sport”? The father might not even realise he was breaking the law.

After my recent experiences, I understand the value of buckling up and am glad of my parents’ insistence on this. I used to hate being strapped in.

Now, I welcome it.

(This journal can be found in TODAY of 6 September 2006)