Nobody wants to get into a road accident. Unfortunately, they happen daily all across the world. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.3 million people die each year due to car crashes, with up to 50 million more left injured or seriously disabled in the aftermath of an accident — which averages out to more than 3,200 deaths a day. Luckily, you can take the following precautions as a driver on South African roads and be part of the solution.
Avoid Driving in the Fast Lane
You want to get to your destination alive. Don’t drive too fast! Most accidents happen in the fast lane. If you’re driving in a middle lane, you have more “escape” options. If someone on the road looks like they’re about to cause a problem, you have the wiggle room to change lanes. Use the right lane for passing, but stick to the left where you can.
There’s a reason you shouldn’t let yourself be distracted by your cellphone or fiddle with the radio while driving. Accidents happen in a split second, and you need to have your wits about you to respond when you are in danger. When you’re driving, always be on the lookout for potential problems. If a car or taxi is changing lanes or swerving, if a biker is too close to the car, or a pedestrian looks like they might cross in front of traffic, be prepared to react. Check your mirrors and scan for dangers 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. Keep an eye out for vehicles that might be driving aggressively. If you see a car driving dangerously and you’re worried, try to get off the road by turning left or taking the next exit if it’s safe to do so.
Stick to the Speed Limit
To maintain control of your vehicle, you must control your speed. Speed limits that appear on signposts for South African roads do not apply to all conditions. They are chosen by the traffic department based on the recommended speeds for ideal road conditions on that particular stretch of road. If it’s misty, raining or windy, adjust your speed to what is appropriate for the conditions.
Watch Your Hands!
For the best driving position, your hands should be at 9 and 3 o’clock. This position facilitates maximum vehicle safety and control. If you’re forced to do some quick manoeuvres on the road, this driving technique is more likely to help keep you safe. Talking about positions, check your seating before you get behind the wheel. The perfect driving position is seated close to the steering wheel with your arm stretched out and your back pressed against the seat.
Keep an Eye on Your Car
Every car has its limits, including how it handles during turns. To avoid car accidents, you want to know what your own vehicle is capable of. Be familiar with your tyres and brakes and how they react in certain situations. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for your car to keep running smoothly. Change your tyres regularly and be prepared for possible hazards such as dangerous roads or broken down taxis.
Be Calm and Kind on the Road
Road rage alert! No matter the situation, make it a priority to keep your cool. You’re on the road, so be considerate of the other people on the road. When someone is going slower than you want, don’t get angry; instead, keep your distance. This improves safety for everyone. If they are really moving too slow, you can leave them in your dust when safe to do so.
Avoid Driving After Dark
Some people choose to drive at night to avoid traffic, but this can be very dangerous. You might be tired or have trouble seeing, or you might encounter other tired or drunk drivers. Car lights can be temporarily blinding and visibility is reduced in the dark.
Don’t Overload the Car
Driving a vehicle with a full load is not a safe idea. Maximum weight limits are set by the manufacturer for a reason: to ensure driver safety. When a vehicle is overloaded, the stability and responsiveness of the car will be compromised. As a driver, you won’t have as much control or stop as quickly, leading to greater risks in an accident. Driving an overloaded vehicle also puts extra wear on the tyres, increasing the chance for sudden blowouts. Do you really need to pack that amount of clothing for your break? Keep it light and safe.
If you’re a cautious driver, then you know the best ways to steer out of trouble. But sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to avoid an accident.
Have You Been in A Road Accident?
If you are involved in a car accident, and you or a passenger have been seriously injured, or you were a pedestrian seriously injured by a car, Adendorff Attorneys Inc. can assist you with your personal injury case against the Road Accident Fund.
We are personal injury lawyers with offices in Cape Town and Pretoria but offer nationwide services. WhatsApp us on 076 911 7300, and we will get back to you.