SA racer’s 6 save-your-life driving tips

Steve Wicks
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 ROAD SAFETY BEGINS WITH YOU: SA Production Car competitor Gennaro Bonafede says it’s important to be vigilant over the holiday season and be aware of your surroundings. Image: SUPPLIED ~ Supplied
With the festive season fast approaching Wheels24 asked 23-year-old racer Gennaro Bonafede, a competitor in the SA Production Car championship, to share his tips for safe driving.

Gennaro Bonafede, a regular visitor to the South African Production Car podium after racing his Audi S4, is regarded as a wet-weather expert. He's also an instructor at the Volkswagen Driving Academy at Kyalami.

Bonafede shares his advice for Wheels24 readers travelling during the 2013/14 year-end and Christmas holiday season:


First and foremost it’s your attitude to driving that counts. You have to watch the road ahead and recognise situations before they become a threat. During December – January there are a lot of thunderstorms in SA and as a result large puddles form on the roads. Some drivers tend to drive into puddles because they think it’s cool to make a big splash but how do they know the puddle isn’t hiding a huge pothole?


Visibility is reduced in the rain and because it's during the holiday season, some drivers are not concentrating behind the wheel and are distracted by their holiday plans. Rain at night also poses another danger as lights are reflected on wet windows and roads and can be a big distraction.


It’s estimated that 25% of all motor vehicle accidents are blamed on bad weather, but I disagree. Bad weather is not the cause of crashes. The driver is the one in control, the weather and road conditions only serve to punish a driver’s mistakes.


A lot of people assume that because I race cars, I tend to drive fast on public roads. I like to say that I drive sensibly and I don’t intentionally speed or make a habit of it but like everyone, I speed occasionally but I don’t ever exceed conditions for the road I’m driving on. There is a difference between going fast on a public road compared to driving on a race track.

On a racetrack, drivers are experienced, cars are travelling in the same direction and there is a lot of space on a race track beyond the tar. On public roads, your biggest danger is other drivers. Licenses are being bought these days and as a result I do not trust other road users.

I try and manage the space around me and look beyond the car in front of me so I have a fair chance of predicting what he/she might do. You have to be very aware of your surroundings.


The conditions of the road make a huge difference to your ability to drive. Dirt and oil combined with rain can make surfaces more akin to an ice rink. Other obstacles are kerbs, lampposts, potholes and roadworks. A wet surface reduces grip and braking distances will become much longer.

Be gentle with your car. Unless your vehicle has traction control, hard acceleration can cause you to wheelspin. Sudden steering inputs can cause a car to slide and not make it around a corner.


There are a number of factors that influence stopping distances even in perfect conditions: Reaction time varies from driver to driver. Reaction time can be decreased by fatigue, alcohol or drug use, medication and poor vision.

Once a driver has reacted there are many other factors influencing stopping distances - weight of the car, condition of the brakes, tyres and road surface are all important to consider. A vehicle with four passengers can add 300kg or more to the car’s weight.

On dry roads a car travelling at only 80km/h will need more than twice the stopping distance than a car doing 60km/h. At 120km/h a car will need over four times the distance to come to a safe halt.

The above are just few things to consider when driving but it’s equally important for a driver to ensure tyres are correctly inflated, adequate fuel and that the vehicle is licensed and insured.

Safe driving over the festive season and remember road safety begins with you.