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'Higher learning' needed for safer SA drivers

2014-07-09 07:09

DON’T LOSE YOUR COOL: An argument with a fellow driver following a crash can (and often does) take a turn for the worst. Remain in control and don’t lose your temper. Image: Shutterstock/ Monkey Business Images

Taxi drivers stopping whenever they please, teenagers texting while driving, mothers distracted by their children in the back seat… irresponsible drivers are all too common on South Africa’s roads.

While you might not be able to control how other people behave, you can control the role you play on our roads with proactive driving.

Les McMaster, chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), said: “Proactive driving means constantly refreshing your driving skills through professional training. People think that because they’ve been driving for many years, they know all they need to know about road safety and vehicle control.


“They are mistaken; experienced drivers are often the biggest menace because they’ve become relaxed when they’re driving. All of us can help make the road environment safer by updating our defensive driving skills.”

McMaster advises road users complete advanced driving courses.

He said: “They help reduce key risk behaviours and teach people how to avoid or handle emergency situations.

“In addition to creating a safe environment inside and outside the vehicle, advanced driving skills also benefit the vehicle itself as there is less wear and tear on brakes, clutch and gears. Fuel consumption is lower and in some cases insurance premiums might be lower too.

“Advanced driving courses help you develop skills such as hazard perception and more assertive driving. These drivers have been proven less likely to be involved in a road incident.”


An important skill is the ability to monitor your emotions and recognise your contribution to a situation on the road. Road rage can be avoided if you stay in control. Anticipating another what a fellow driver might do will also reduce your risk of a crash.

McMaster said: “Be aware of all the hazards and risks and respond appropriately and quickly when other drivers behave irresponsibly. Always maintain a safe following distance and be aware of all vehicles behind you, in front of you and behind you.

“When you’re driving, you have to think about a lot of things: your speed, the traffic laws, the direction you’re going in, road conditions, pedestrians, other cars around you. It’s a long list, and if you’re not focussed on the task at hand, there is a greater chance that you’ll be involved in an accident.”

Sadly, SA has an exceptionally high number of pedestrian killed on our roads: “Unfortunately our road infrastructure does not cater for pedestrians so drivers need to become more conscious and adapt their speed in locations where there are many pedestrians. You can’t control the actions of others, but you can be proactive.  

Four tips tips for improved road safety:
• Be aware of motorcycles: Think bike
• Keep an eye out for pedestrians at intersections.
• Ensure that your windscreen view in not obscured by a larger vehicle. Rather move over to a lane where you can view at least two to three cars ahead of you.
• Be aware of other drivers’ actions – if they’re following too closely, move into another lane. Keep an eye out for vehicles that change lanes without indicating.

Read more on:    south africa  |  road safety

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