Aftermarket Solutions offers some valuable 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 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 not only provides a map, but 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 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 percent 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. 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 workshop can assist with replacing light bulbs and refitting light covers, and have your car serviced regularly.