Drive safely during Easter
In December last year it was announced that South Africa accounts for about 14 000 of the annual motor accident deaths around the world. A few weeks later we learned that around 1000 people died on the roads during the holiday season. With this in mind it is safe to say that we need to take a long hard look at road safety in our country.
In a few days, tens of thousands of people will once again take to the roads for the Easter long weekend. Last year, 197 people lost their lives in accidents that, for the most part, could have been avoided.
In 2005 a statistical analysis was done to determine the cause of accidents. The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) found that 90% of crashes were due to lawlessness and negligence. With a bit of foresight and planning, most of these would not have happened.
Human error also played a huge part in this research. It seems that quite a few people do not adhere to traffic rules, drive too fast or have a few drinks before they set off on a journey. Luckily the government launches a campaign each year to keep this kind of behaviour to the minimum. Unfortunately, they cannot be everywhere. This means that you have to think for most of the other people on the road too.
Factor in the state of the roads at the moment and the situation seems bleak. This is exactly the reason why the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists has decided to supply you with some tips to stay safe on your way to a much needed holiday.
First, make sure that the vehicle you will be using is roadworthy. Check the state of the tyres, the fluid levels of the engine, and make sure that all the outside lights are working. If it is safe to take to the road, then half the battle has already been won. This will also allow you to fully use the dynamic potential of your vehicle if you need to get out of a hazardous situation.
Secondly, take good care of yourself. Make sure that you are always well rested before you leave on your journey. If you feel tired or irritable, just pull to the side of the road and take a breather. Remember that you have your family with you and it is not worth risking their lives to get there a few minutes earlier. This will also make you less susceptible to road rage and that never leads to something good.
Thirdly, remember to be alert when using the road. Unroadworthy vehicles are an unfortunate reality and you have to be aware of this fact. Keep in mind that other road users are not as attentive about their safety as you may be. Make sure to keep reasonable following distances and always be aware of all vehicles that surround you. Again, this will make it easier when the worst happens.
The most important safety tip is to wear your seatbelt. This is the most vital safety device in any car and is fitted to most vehicles on the road. The Volvo Cars Safety Centre says that wearing your belt will reduce the chances of serious injury or fatality by about 50%. They also mention that since the three point belt has been invented, over 1 million lives have been saved by it. Makes you think…
Safety begins with you. Plan ahead and keep alert when using any road in South Africa. When all else fails, make sure that you have an emergency kit in your car and that all important numbers are saved on your phone.
Drive safely, and keep yourself from being just another RTMC statistic.
2010 SAGMJ Bursar