It is no accident that we have so many crashes on our roads. Many of our fellow South Africans drive like drunk lemmings at the best of times, and even worse when they are drunk. Which is often. You cannot control how other people drive or how roadworthy their cars are, but here are some tips on what you can do to keep yourself and our roads safer.
Never assume the other driver is going to behave rationally. You don’t have to be paranoid, but . . . The car coming from the front with its right indicator on may or may not turn in front of you. Ditto the car coming without it indicator on. Be aware of dumb behaviour. Don’t assume a driver is going to stop at a robot just because it has turned red. Or that people know how to behave with a flashing robot. Or that their brakes actually work when they approach at speed. Or that they are paying attention. Or that they are sober and thus rational.
Look and think ahead, and behind you
If you are behind a truck or huge SUV, you cannot see ahead, so give yourself more following distance. Yes, you know people are going to push into the space you left, but that is their lookout. You will have more time to react when things go pear-shaped.
The car in front of you going too fast and you know there is a stop coming up. Give yourself a bit of room for when he has to slow down fast. Keep an eye on the cars behind you as well. When visibility is bad and you see the cars in front slow down suddenly, you may even flash your hazards once or twice to warn the cars behind you are slowing down.
Think ahead. A guy pulls into the yellow lane to let you pass, but he is about to go over a blind hill. If there is a car stopped on the other side, the guy suddenly will have to swerve right. Right where you will be.
Make sure you are not the problem
We all know this and yet so many still do this. Don’t drink and drive. Even if you don’t cause an accident, it can still ruin your reputation, job prospects, and your bank balance. Don’t speed. Speed aggravates any accident and decreases reaction opportunity. Adjust your speed to the circumstances. Slow down when the visibility is bad or there are children or animals around. Don’t text or check Facebook when driving. This sounds obvious, but so many of us do it.
And please move out of the fast lane on the freeway when cars behind you want to get past, even if you are at the speed limit. Hogging that lane causes frustration behind you. And frustration leads to rash and aggressive driving, eventually accidents.
Make sure your car is not the problem
Check your tyres: tread and pressure. There are many ways to check the tread, but if you think you have to, you probably should have already. Make sure your wheels are balanced and your shocks are fine. If your car vibrates on a smooth road or feels wobbly in a curve, have it checked out. Fixing these issues is not expensive and you will quickly recoup the money with better fuel economy.
Make sure you can see. Make sure your windscreen spray has water in it. Replace wiper blades when they start to smear. If you get a small stone chip on your windscreen, it will be cheap to fix, not so much when it becomes a large crack. Check your mirrors and adjust if need be. Blind spots can be a pain in the – back of your car.
Most multi-franchise outlets offer free, no-obligation safety checks, and your friendly local car dealership definitely does. It does not take long, and it’s worth it.