The beginning of the year is a great time to recommit to new habits, particularly those relating to road safety. Not only does repeating better driving patterns extend the life of your vehicle, but they will also increase the general well being of your family and those on the roads around you. Vuyi Mpofu lists the 12 driving resolutions to start practicing now.
- Use your indicators: For some inexplicable reason, a significant number of motorists insist on keeping their actions a secret by not using their indicators. The thing is, indicators are not for you, but rather, they are for road users around you. They communicate to others which direction you intend to travel in so that they know how to safely progress around your vehicle.
- Control your temper: South African drivers are a cantankerous lot who easily lose their rag over the smallest of slights. Blame it on escalating fuel prices, the heat and rolling blackouts but taking your frustrations out on other motorists usually results in deadly situations. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and exercise caution and patience at all times.
- Position your seat correctly: As simple as it sounds, sitting correctly at the wheel is one of the most basic safety features. The proper seating position allows you to access the pedals without over extending your legs and to look up and out of your car with ease. Most cars have adjustable steering wheels (can be re-positioned up, down and towards the driver), and headrests which go a long way towards giving you support and keeping you safe.
- Stick to maintenance schedule: Having your car serviced as per the manufacturer’s directive not only keeps your vehicle in good order but also reduces the possibility of breakdowns and other untimely inconveniences.
- Never run a red light: Even if yours is the only vehicle on the road at the time, get into the habit of slowing down as you approach an intersection and coming to a complete stop. Anything less than that could result in an accident, injury or worse, loss of life.
- Buckle up – Always: Securing your seatbelt takes almost as much time as being involved in a car crash – a few seconds. Irrespective of the distance you drive (be it around the corner to the shops or to a different province, always ensure that you and your passengers are securely strapped in, including babies and toddlers.
- Don’t tailgate: Riding someone’s bumper is a recipe for disaster because it leaves no room for escape in the event of an emergency. Make it a point to keep enough space between your car and the one you are following to minimize nasty surprises caused by distracted drivers and unexpected changes in traffic.
- Be aware of motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists: Drivers should be extremely cautious when driving around road users who do not have the benefit of metallic frames to keep them safe. Similarly, it is the responsibility of pedestrians, cyclists and bikers to be aware of their surroundings, wear bright/reflective clothing and to avoid distractions.
9. Take out insurance: An alarming 70% of vehicles on our roads are uninsured meaning that at any given time, you are driving in the midst of motorists who could damage your car without financial recourse. Scary right?! Insurance might not be an exciting monthly purchase but it is a necessity. Talk to a broker for clear explanations about the various policies available to you.
10. Get your eyes tested: It stands to reason that if you can’t see well, you won’t be able to drive well either so it is logical to visit an optometrist immediately once you notice changes in your ability to see either at night or during the day.
11. Be confident at traffic circles: Too many motorists are simply clueless when they encounter a traffic circle. Revisit the K53 booklet and remind yourself of who has the right of way so as to avoid causing an accident.
12. Don’t drive drunk.
Safe driving habits should be the everyday norm, but statistics show that 40 accidents occur daily on our roads. In order to avoid becoming one of those, make it a point to reacquaint yourself with these driving resolutions. They could possibly be the best ones you could keep.