Load shedding has been a talking point for quite some time and unfortunately, it is not going away any time soon. For South Africans, driving during load shedding can be a real challenge considering power outages affect traffic lights and street lamps. Not to mention the presence of emergency vehicles, service delivery workers and the difficulty to spot pedestrians and cyclists in the dark.
If you are on the road during a power outage, it’s imperative to follow the rules of the road. As always, Arrive Alive adds some valuable input with their set of guidelines to ensure you and other road users remain safe on the road.
Planning Is Key
Planning your route ahead of a trip is something we all know is important but it becomes essential during load shedding. If the information is available, check the load shedding schedule and leave a bit earlier. While some traffic lights might still be working, the majority won’t which could result in more traffic adding additional time to your trip. Remember, if you are not pushed for time, you are less likely to disobey road rules or drive recklessly.
Another helpful tip is to always charge your phone when the power is on. Doing so will ensure that you can call for help if you get stranded or breakdown on the side of the road. Always keep a spare charging cable in your car and you can even get a power bank.
It goes without saying that you should always keep enough fuel in your tank ahead of a planned power outage. Besides petrol stations being unable to pump fuel during load shedding, you don’t want to be stranded next to the road in the dark.
Last, but certainly not the least, is putting together a ‘go-bag’ to keep with you in the car. For the most part, this bag should include a torch, power bank, charging cables, cash and even a spare phone. Just remember to keep it off or the battery won’t last and you’re stuck with two dead cell phones.
Managing Traffic Lights
While this was part of everyone’s Learner Driver test, for some it was a long time ago so here’s a recap. When traffic lights are out of order or down due to load shedding, treat that intersection or crossing as a four-way stop so first to stop means first to go. Here are some additional pointers you should keep in mind:
- If two cars arrive at the traffic lights simultaneously, you must yield to traffic approaching you from the right
- If three vehicles arrive simultaneously, the car furthest on the left should yield to the right until both other vehicles have passed
Always be alert and err on the side of caution when approaching traffic lights during a power outage. Watch the sequence of all vehicles from all directions and be patient, even if it means waiting for three cars from different directions to pass.
Driving Without Street Lights
Considering that street lights also go off during load shedding, motorists struggle to see road hazards in the dark especially potholes or debris. The only way to stay safe is to reduce your speed and use your brights, but only if there are no other cars on the road.
While it’s not something anyone should get used to but it is a fact that load shedding is the perfect opportunity for would-be criminals. No street lights make “smash and grabs” much easier so always remain vigilant to everything around you, especially when stopping at an intersection.
Top Tips From Arrive Alive
- Everyone is annoyed with load shedding but we all share the same objective which is arriving alive at our destinations
- You are not more important than other road users and many drivers also have to attend urgent appointments
- Always be respectful to traffic officials and pointsmen as they are only trying to assist motorists at intersections. Remember, they are not responsible for the power outage and a little respect can go a long way
- Load shedding is bad enough, so let’s not act like animals and lose all sense of manners
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