Midas ( part of the Aftermarket Solutions (AS) group) provides tips and hints for safer driving, including safe driver behaviour and how to keep your car in tip-top condition
South Africa has one of the highest traffic-accident fatality rates in the world. Over last year’s festive-season period alone, over 1 300 people died on our roads.
When you consider that the number of registered cars using our 596 000km of roads increased from 6,4 million in 2003 to 9,1 million in 2011, the need for increased driver attention and vehicle maintenance is very clear.
Here is some advice that we as drivers can follow to help curb South Africa’s alarmingly high road-accident statistics.
Weather: Heavy summer rains, coastal fog and other inclement weather conditions can seriously affect safe driving. Flooding is particularly dangerous; water on a low-lying bridge can lift a vehicle while unseen debris can cause additional problems. Consider using a navigation system like TomTom that provides a map with alternate routes and also gives traffic warnings.
Road-surface conditions: More vehicles on our roads, poor road maintenance and bad weather have left many of our roads with notoriously bad potholes. Not only does this necessitate much more careful driving, it also requires you to properly maintain your vehicle, including making sure your tyres are appropriately inflated, and your shock absorbers, struts and springs are all working correctly. Visit your local CBS workshop to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition.
Speed: ‘Speed kills’ – it’s a fact. The faster you drive, the less reaction time you have and the greater the impact in the event of a crash. Particularly when driving in the wet, or on non-surfaced, gravel or dust roads, reduce your speed and avoid tailgating.
Driver skill: Research from the UK suggests that 90% of all road crashes are caused by human error. Psycho-motor skills like gradual braking, finding the biting point of the clutch or mastering the turn of a steering wheel make a huge difference in safe driving, as does knowing how to react if your car skids.
Driver knowledge: If it’s been a few years since you passed your driver’s test, now’s the time to give yourself a refresher (visit www.k53-test.co.za). Understanding the rules of the road and knowing how to interpret road signs contribute enormously to safe travelling. Knowing your vehicle is as important: reading the manual will be time well spent.
Driving while drunk or fatigued: It should go without saying that driving under the influence is a total no-no. And being severely sleep-deprived is as dangerous to safe driving as being drunk: it leads to slower reaction times and poor judgment.
Vehicle maintenance: A safe car is a well maintained car. Save yourself time, money and heartbreak by regularly checking your vehicle’s oil and cooling-system levels, tyres and lights (and especially your taillights – any Motolek workshop can assist with replacing light bulbs and refitting light covers, and have your car serviced regularly.