14 tips for safer driving
DEFENSIVE DRIVER IN TRAINING: By training teens to drive defensively, we can ensure a generation of safety-conscious drivers in SA. Image: AP
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Following horror crashes the need for defensive driving is critical, especially considering that road deaths cost R300-billion a year and only a third of drivers are insured. So try these 14 defensive driving tips!
Wheels24 reported in September 2013 the horrific deaths of 10 people, including eight girls, when the bus carrying them home from the annual Reed
dance at the Nyokeni Palace in KZN overturned and was speared by a steel barrier on the R66, near Eshowe. More than 60 people were injured.
A week later Wheels24 reported on the Pinetown crash, in which a runaway truck crashed into four minibus taxis and a car, killing 22 people and injuring many more.
A THIRD OF DRIVERS UNINSURED
Dial Direct insurance reports that one-third of SA drivers aren’t insured and that the country’s exceptionally high rate of crashes costs the economy more than R300-billion a year.
The need for defensive driving techniques is critical. In the US most states require drivers, particularly those who have committed offences, to take defensive driving courses. Senior executive Bradley Du Chenne said: “Nobody can predict what other drivers are going to do. Testimony to this is the fact that in 2012 we received close to 3000 claims for minor bumper-bashings.
“Adopting a safety-above-all-else mindset, and always anticipating the possibility that someone might pull a dangerous manoeuver near you, will put you in better stead on the road. You can’t change how others behave on the road but driving with caution and being prepared can help you avoid potentially dangerous situations."
Using defensive driving techniques, drivers are better able to assess and respond to potential hazards. These techniques go beyond simply adhering to basic rules of the road and encourage more safety-conscious driving.
Top 14 defensive driving tips:
1 Follow the rules of the road at all times.
2 Minimise distractions – don’t SMS on use your cellphone while driving
3 Keep your eyes held high and focused on the road ahead – don’t focus only on the car in front of you.
4 Minimise lane changes – pick a lane and stick to it. Also, anticipate and plan escape routes.
5 Keep an eye out for drivers changing lanes. Regularly monitor your rear and side-mirrors for cars darting in and out of lanes and watch out for absent-minded drivers meandering across lanes.
6 Be attentive at intersections – when the light turns green be extremely aware of your left and right side traffic as you make your way through.
7 Move away from bad drivers – put a healthy distance between yourself and bad drivers such as those who appear to be drunk, speeding, tail-gating, changing lanes erratically, and even those who are driving too slowly.
8 Keep a safe following distance – this will enable you to react if the car in front of you suddenly turns, swerves or stops.
9 Signal well ahead of time if you intend to turn.
10 Brake smoothly and gradually.
11 Maintain pace with traffic.
12 Adjust your speed and position to avoid potential hazards.
13 Be on the look-out for brake lights in adjacent lanes. This could be an indication of vehicles hoping to cut in front of you.
14 Be on high alert at intersections, pedestrian crossings, parking lots and areas where children are such as outside schools.
‘EXPECT THE WORST'
Du Chenne said: “At a very basic level, defensive driving is about anticipating or expecting the worst and then acting in the most responsible and safest way possible to avoid the worst happening.
“For instance, a defensive driver would keep a safe following distance, anticipating that the car in front of them will slam on brakes without warning, and before roaring off when a traffic light turns green, will first check in all directions to make sure that another vehicle hasn’t jumped the lights from the side."