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Defensive Driving - how to keep yourself safe

2015-06-05 10:07

MOTORISTS IN THE DARK: Load shedding adds more danger to SA roads, motorists need to err on the side of caution when commuting. Image: Supplied

As if the crisis of bad manners on our roads wasn’t enough, now the energy crisis has thrown load shedding and non-functioning robots into that mix and created a situation which is downright dangerous.

Given that you can’t do a thing about these variables, Tiger Wheel & Tyre asks: How do you ensure your own road safety in the midst of this madness?

DRIVE FOR EVERYONE ELSE

Tiger Wheel & Tyre group marketing executive Joe du Plooy said: "You drive for everyone else on road, or to use the technical term, you drive defensively. That’s all you can do, we must take responsibility for our own road safety."

Read: Car insurance excess: all you need to know

The term 'defensive driving' sounds like something you might see in a Hollywood car chase. But it’s about much more than just swerving out of the way of out-of-control cars. 

Defensive driving pointers:

 •  Make sure your car is roadworthy – that the tyres have sufficient tread and are properly inflated, that the brakes are working and the car is running well. This will enable you to come to a timely stop, accelerate out of trouble and keep your wheels on the road if you need to swerve suddenly.

 •  Check your mirrors. Always know who is to your front, rear, left and right, adjust your speed to make space when drivers are too close, and try to anticipate their next move. Most people start turning before they indicate. Your awareness is your only defense against these incoming missiles.

 •  Don’t lose your cool, especially when a blackout leaves traffic lights out of order and traffic gridlocked. Take a deep breath and pay extra attention so you don’t miss your turn at the intersection, or get sideswiped by someone going out of turn. Nerves will be frayed and people frustrated by their inability to get where they’re going on time: and you don’t want to stir the pot and fuel a road-rage incident.

Read: 11 tips on how to survive road rage

Du Plooy says: "Anticipation is the most important element of defensive driving. You can’t let your guard down for a minute. If you see someone driving recklessly, let them pass and keep your distance, because the chances are good that they will cause an accident.

"Always assume that others won’t indicate, so keep a safe following distance to compensate. Be alert at intersections. Even if the light is green for you, that’s no guarantee that another driver won’t skip the red light.

"Finally, if you have an important meeting or need to get to the airport on time, check the load-shedding schedule that applies to your route and either leave earlier or reschedule."


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