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How load-shedding affects road safety

18.02.2015

LAST week I found myself waiting in traffic for a little over two hours. Only two hours you say? Well, I�m from Witbank, where, if you�re held up in traffic for 20 minutes, it�s long. I�m not used to this madhouse Joburg traffic. One of the main causes of the hectic traffic last Thursday, boils down to the fact that Eskom implemented load-shedding so all the traffic lights were out. It then came to my attention that not many people know what to do when the lights are out. I found some helpful pointers that can assist in such a situation.

→ Let us first look at the impact of load-shedding on road safety.

The correct driving attitude can go a long way in preventing collisions or reducing the severity thereof. So, do try and remain calm.

Some good advice would be to plan your routes and leave early or earlier, to try and avoid the peak-hour traffic flows. This may also reduce the urge to rush.

Many other motorists are also stuck or delayed and may be using their cell phones and possibly not concentrating fully on the road. Make sure other vehicles are stationary before you pull away from the four-way stop.

→ How to use four-way stops at intersections when the power is out.

If traffic lights are out of order, the crossing becomes a Stop Street, that is, a four-way stop. This means you have to follow the road rules as you would for a four-way stop. Even if there is no traffic from the other roads, you still need to stop! If the vehicle in front of you crosses the intersection, you have to allow the vehicles from the other stops to enter the crossing before you can make your move. This means you might have to wait for three other vehicles from three different directions to pass. Be polite and pass swiftly while still cautious of possible offenders. Be alert to the sequence of vehicles from other directions approaching the intersection.

→ And the big no-no’s

Do not tailgate the vehicle in front of you to slip through under the radar. Be alert to innocent mistakes - do not become a victim of road rage. Refrain from rude gestures or death threats.

→ Inadequate street lighting

Good advice would be to slow down and thus increase the time to evade these possible dangers. If there is no oncoming traffic it is advisable to drive with your headlights on, to increase the distance of the visible surface. One of the road safety slogans is: Be Visible - Be Seen. Load-shedding makes this even more important. Turn your vehicle’s headlights on to make yourself more visible to other road users - even during the day.

→ Safety from criminal elements

Motorists must be attentive to the dangers of criminals lurking in the dark. It is possible that hijackers and smash-and-grab criminals take advantage of the situation.

→ General information and advice

Ensure that your cell phone is always fully charged when power is available. Ensure that your vehicle always has fuel in its tank since, during power outages, petrol stations cannot pump fuel. Keep temporary lighting readily available like torches, candles and lamps.

There is nothing we can do to turn on the electricity. Accept this and do not vent your frustrations on the roads. Load-shedding need not contribute towards road rage!

So, in conclusion, remember the following:

We are all annoyed with load shedding and we all have the same objective - Arrive Alive! We are not more important than other road users.

We wish you all the best out there on our roads. Please take care and try to follow some of these safety tips, for you and those around you.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
18.02.2015
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