Road Safety and You
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports indicate that many accidents happen during holidays when people travel greater distances. This is despite extensive awareness campaigns by government and Arrive Alive, which aims to decrease the number of lives lost on South African roads.
Fatigue, un-roadworthy vehicles, speeding, faulty brakes, alcohol abuse and a blatant disregard for road rules are just some of the factors contributing to the increase in road accidents. South Africa’s biggest problem is driver behaviour and attitude.
The impact of road accidents on the economy is staggering. The National Department of Transport said that in 2018 road accidents were costing the South African economy R164 billion. This translates into 3,4% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, which was 1,4% higher than the international benchmark.
Changing Driving Habits to Improve Safety
Road Safety starts at home and if every person changes their driving habits for the better there will be less fatal road accidents.
The AA of South Africa has listed a number of small changes in driving habits that make a big difference in road safety;
- Be courteous. Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. Signal several hundred feet before turning or changing lanes. Stop at stop signs and red lights. Don't run yellow lights.
- Avoid road rage. There are no studies to show road-rage incidents, but anecdotal evidence shows that road rage is on the increase. Do not allow yourself to be provoked into being violent and resist the temptation to retaliate as it may result in anything from a collision to a shooting match.
- Be alert and be aware. The best road users and motorists are those who are aware of their surroundings and are paying attention to the road conditions, weather and other external influences such as road works, accidents and collisions as well as obstructions.
- Anticipate the driving of other users. Motorists have to be especially vigilant when driving next to loaded cars and trucks and they also have to pay extra attention to drivers who could be distracted by children and pets in the car. Learn to recognise potentially dangerous drivers and keep clear of them.
- Obey speed Limits. Speed kills and there is no justification for rushing somewhere and endangering not just your life but that of other motorists and pedestrians.
Obey the Laws for a Safer Journey
- Obey the speed limit.
- Do not use cell phones when driving. It is extremely dangerous.
- Ensure all vehicle occupants wear a seat belt.
Visit the Safely Home Website for more safe driving tips.
Safety on the Road and Vehicle Maintenance
Your safety on the road depends on the condition of your vehicle. A well maintained vehicle can prevent accidents caused by vehicle failure. It can also prevent a motorist from getting stranded and falling victim to criminals next to the road.
According to Arrive Alive effective and proper maintenance will provide many benefits to the vehicle owner, including;
- Saving fuel and money – mechanical systems of the vehicle will affect fuel efficiency.
- Reducing long-term maintenance costs.
- Minimise harmful exhaust emissions and protect the environment.
- Increase reliability of your vehicle and limit the risk of vehicle breakdown.
Visit the Arrive Alive website for more information on vehicle maintenance and repair.
Plan Your Trip
Planning your trip in advance will make sure that you are prepared for any problems that might occur during your trip. Manage your time effectively, know your regular routes and calculate distances between your destination and how much time it will take for you to drive from one point to another.
Make sure that you have enough petrol in the tank to cover your trip. Study an unknown route beforehand to avoid having to make uturns and causing an accident. Always have enough water in the car with you to prevent dehydration on long trips.
Be Prepared for a Roadside Emergency
Many breakdowns are caused by minor problems that can be solved if you have the right equipment with you.
The AA of South Africa suggests that by keeping the following items handy, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and expense.
- Fire extinguisher.
- First aid kit.
- Aerosol tyre inflator - contains gas and latex to seal tyre punctures.
- Jump leads.
- Tow rope.
- Spare ignition keys - preferably stored in a magnetic case somewhere on the outside of the car, e.g. behind a bumper or inside a hubcap.
- Warning triangle.
- Strong adhesive tape.
- Wheel spanner.
- Compact tool box.
- Vehicle technical handbook.
- A cellular telephone is also considered an essential item especially for women travelling alone or with children.
The following links have more information on:
Child Safety in the Vehicle
Drunk Driving and Road Safety
Classification of Intoxication Levels
How to Handle an Emergency
Accident Scene Safety
Road and Traffic Information
Fuel Saving Tips
Corruption, Traffic Enforcement and Road Safety
Report Bad, Unsafe and Unlawful Driving
Useful Emergency Numbers
SA Police Services: 10111
Metro Emergency Medical Services: 10177
Emergency Traffic Control Centre: 021 812 4581