Safe driving is a collective effort which includes your behavior as well as the condition of the vehicle you drive, the condition of the roads, the driving skills of the other drivers and the condition of their vehicles on the road.
One of the biggest components of road safety that makes up the total bouquet of necessities, however, is driver attitude. As traffic congestion worsens, however, it does become more difficult to maintain a calm demeanor, especially when other drivers are being impatient or irresponsible. But as much as we may be tired and frustrated for spending so much time in the traffic, remaining calm is exactly what we need to do.
Besides our attitude, there are a few other tactics that we can adopt to reduce our risk of having an accident and reduce our risk of injury.
Most accidents are caused by human error, so cutting out distractions is vitally important in maintaining your concentration. It is obvious, but it needs to be said again and again – texting or using your mobile phone in the car, other than when it is connected to a hands free system, is an absolute no-no. Just don’t do it.
If there is something so important that it needs your attention, take and extra 30 seconds and pull of the road safely and deal with it. The number of accidents caused by using cell phones is on the increase as younger people who have grown up with wireless devices come of driving age.
Head lights and visibility
We are very fortunate to live in a very sunny and bright place, but visibility is very important. If you don’t use your headlights during a sunny day, make sure you use them in bad weather, as the sun sets and in the dark.
Using your indicators is not only helpful to your fellow road users, it is also common sense. When driving, as in life, it is often the simplest actions that make a big difference. Using your indicators is easy and it lets other drivers and road users know where you are going.
A lot of people in the big cities like Johannesburg will say that they only drive fast because everyone does. It reminds me of being a child when my mother would say, “If your friend jumped in the fire, would you?” No, I wouldn’t.
Let’s remove the law enforcement side of speeding and look at the impact of speeding. In an accident at a mere 50km/h, your body mass is increased by 20 times. That means a 30kg child would effectively weigh 600kg’s – and that is only at 50km/h, imagine the impact at 120km/h or faster?
Don’t speed. Getting to your destination 5 or even 10 minutes later is better than not getting there at all…
There is a general rule that you should keep a minimum 2 second distance between yourself and the car in front of you. If you increase that to 3 seconds, all the better.
The average reaction time in people is around 0.7 seconds. The average perception-reaction time is around 1.5 seconds. That is the time it would take you to realise that you needed to take some sort of evasive action like braking or swerving and then the time it takes you to actually implement that action.
At 100 km/h with a following distance time of 2 seconds, you would be only 270 meters behind the car in front of you, by the time you react and take action, you would have travelled about 200 meters; logically you can calculate how much it would benefit you to increase your following distance.
Always look out for the brake lights of the vehicles two or three vehicles ahead of you and when you see them braking, start braking yourself – this will make sure that you are already prepared in the event of something ahead of you going wrong.
Your vehicles condition
In modern cars, safety technology is highly advanced, especially in things like braking, crumple zones and air bags. There are many cars on our roads that are not high end and therefore, whether you are driving an older car or driving behind or in front of an older car, you need to realise that the vehicle is not equipped to do certain things.
As an example, if you are in a new car with ABS but have an older car behind you, you need to start braking at an intersection earlier than your car handle to give the car behind the space to stop as well.
Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition, especially when considering the tyres, shock absorbers and brakes.
Responsible drivers have fewer accidents!
The tips mentioned above will go a long way to reducing your risk of having an accident. They will also go a long way to making your driving experience more pleasurable and stress free.
Imagine getting to work or home after a calm drive? It may prevent an argument or it might prevent you from taking out your stress on someone else, putting them into a bad mood leading them to have a bad day – so not only is driving more responsibly great for reducing accidents, it also makes for a happier country!