According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, over 10 000 people have lost their lives on South African roads during the festive season in the past six years. With many motorists taking to the roads again this month, Dialdirect implores motorists to be vigilant.
“The true tragedy here is that the bulk of these deaths could have been avoided if motorists took road safety more seriously,” says Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dialdirect Insurance. “All too often, the price is higher than a damaged or written off vehicle.”
According to JMPD Chief Superintendent, Wayne Minnaar: “The main offenses that motorists commit which cause accidents include speeding, dangerous overtaking and ignoring of white lines, drunken driving, reckless driving, disregarding stop signs and red traffic lights, turning in face of oncoming traffic, entering the road in an unsafe manner, and turning from the wrong lane.”
Dialdirect have put together a list of practical tips to assist you drive right and avoid becoming a statistic this festive season:
- Before you take to the road, be sure to check your vehicle’s lights, windows and wipers, wheels and tyres, brakes, suspension, battery, belts and chains, cooling system, filters and fluids, safety and warning equipment and child car seats.
GOOD DRIVING PRACTICE:
- Make sure that your load is within your vehicle’s capabilities and that it is properly secured. Tie a red piece of cloth to the ends of any object that protrudes past your vehicle’s edges. All trailers are required to have a safety chain, which helps in the event of tow bar failure.
- Plan your trip carefully and use the technology at your disposal to avoid problem areas.
- Always keep a safe, 2 to 3 second following distance.
- Don’t speed. According to the World Health Organization, you could save your own or someone else’s life with just a 10 km/h decrease in speed. This small change reduces fatalities by almost 40%.
- Stop at a red traffic light and stop sign, without fail. Don’t overestimate your own luck, timing ability or observation skills.
- Obey the line. Even with lines permitting overtaking, always make double sure that it’s safe to do so.
- Don’t drink and drive. SA’s legal limit is a breath alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1000ml, or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml. As a rule of thumb, two drinks in one hour will put you over the limit. Bear in mind that you could still be over the limit the morning after. Alternate the alcoholic drinks you do have with soft drinks or water. If you’ve been drinking, do not take a chance and rather call a taxi.
- Always look twice. Be especially mindful of motorcycles and vehicles without the necessary lights or indicators, or drivers who forgot to turn their indicators off.
- Focus. Avoid distractions like eating, drinking, minding kids or using your cellphone while driving.
- Choose the correct lane for the speed that you’re traveling at.
- Think ahead by keeping a constant eye on the vehicles in front of you.
- Plan your turns, as well as your highway entrances and exits, well in advance to ensure that you get into the correct lane early enough.
- Bear other drivers in mind. They also need to plan for your vehicle’s movements, so be sure to indicate clearly and timeously. With lane mergers, a ‘zipper’ structure should be followed.
- Always keep an eye out for pedestrians and switch your vehicle’s headlights to the brightest setting wherever possible.
- Help your fellow road users. Report faulty traffic lights, damage to roads, obstructions and bad driver behaviour hotspots to the authorities.
- Rest. Motorists should get at least seven hours sleep before a long-distance trip, and avoid travelling during their body’s downtime, which for most people is between 2am and 6am.
- Plan breaks into your trip and do not drive when you’re tired. Avoid having sugary or fatty snacks, energy drinks and caffeine to keep you going. Drink lots of water, eat healthy foods and pull over to rest and refresh properly when you need to.
BIKES AND HEAVY MOTOR VEHICLES:
- Always “think bike” and also keep a special lookout for heavy vehicles. If you’re behind a truck and you can’t see the mirrors, then the driver can’t see you.
- A truck with a trailer needs two lanes to turn.
- Heavy vehicles need a long distance to stop, so avoid cutting in front of them.
IF YOUR CAR BREAKS DOWN OR YOU’RE INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT:
- Switch on your hazard lights and, if possible and legal, pull into the emergency lane.
- Make sure that your vehicle remains visible – make use of your emergency triangle.
- If you get stuck in a dangerous spot, get out of your vehicle when it is safe to do so and walk carefully to the side of the road. Ideally, you should remain in your car with the doors locked.
- Call your insurer for assistance.
“It is up to each of us to take proactive action to reduce road deaths, but despite our best efforts, tragedy still does strike,” Tshifularo concludes, “It is an absolute must to make sure that you are comprehensively insured so that you can be up and running again in no time.”