South Africa’s roads are treacherous on a good day. Throw in rain, cars that aren’t road worthy, speedsters and potholes and things become a whole lot worse.
We’re all aware of the most important safe driving guidelines – we hope. But what about the lessor known ones?
1. Avoid braking during a tyre blowout
When a rear tire explodes (wear and tear on rear tyres often goes unnoticed), your natural instinct is to hit the brakes. But, that’s actually the most dangerous thing you can do. Braking during a blowout will cause your vehicle to fishtail and flip on the median – or worse – onto another vehicle. When the explosive noise of the blowout hits your ears, hit the gas firmly but not heavily and bring your car to control, with the focus on keeping it straight as you can. A flat or totally blown out tire will drag on the road. Accelerate just enough to keep your car stable and moving forward, then turn in the direction of the side the blown tyre is on. It will bring your car to a stop on its own. Accident averted!
2. Maintain a large, safe following distance
The three-second rule must be a thing of the past! Avoid bumper bashers by maintaining a big enough following distance between you and the car in front of you – an average of three car lengths is best! By keeping that distance, you have ample time to stop if the driver in front of you suddenly slams on brakes. It’s better to be safe than hit the car and possibly set off a chain of events on a busy freeway. Maintain at least five car lengths on a freeway and at least two on suburban roads. These distances give you a fair time to react in a tricky situation. A large following distance becomes especially important if you’re driving behind someone who has stuff tied down to the roof of the car or has to brake suddenly. Trailing far enough will keep you safe and give you enough time to respond to any unforeseen circumstances.
3. Exercise care when driving in the rain
After a lot of rain, driving on water-logged and wet roads can be a tricky. If you’d like to avoid making the traffic report, avoid driving your car through flooded roads or your car might breakdown. The trouble starts when the force of the water is greater than your vehicle’s weight. If water gets into your engine – not everyone drives an SUV or 4×4, your engine will seize and you’ll have to be towed.
4. Don’t listen to techno music
This is a weird one, but we get it. Those who listen to the “doef, doef” of techno and house while driving are more likely to not see red lights and tend to drive like they’re dancing. These are not the kind of people you want to share the road with, so don’t be that guy either. How do we know this though? Multiple studies show that the louder the music, the worse you’re likely to drive. Better to keep the focus on the road and don’t let your choice of tunes become a distraction.
5. Don’t touch your cellphone
This one really needs zero explanation.