The sight of a car accident has unfortunately become a very common occurrence on the roads of South African, with many patients presenting with varying injuries subsequently admitted to the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital Trauma and Emergency Centre. The WHO names 10 countries responsible for 62% of all road fatalities, with South Africa mentioned in this category.
10 Tips for safe driving:
Attentiveness - Remaining alert at all times to what's going on around you is important for drivers of all experience levels, not just those who are learning how to drive. Your split second reactions could mean the difference between being in a crash, or avoiding one.
Scanning the road - Many crashes happen because people only watch the car in front of them. Always scan ahead and around the car, in order to anticipate crashes before they happen.
Buffer zones - It can take up to 13 metres to stop a regular car doing just 48 km/h; even more if your tyres are under inflated, it's wet or the road is slippery. Keep ample space between you and the car in front and increase that space at higher speeds.
Driving to conditions - Rain, wind, glare, gravel and night driving all pose their own unexpected threats. Slow down, always drive within your comfort zone and observe advisory signs on the road; they're there for a purpose.
Blind spots -To avoid blind spots when changing lanes, always check over your shoulder first. Also, you can help to reduce blind spots by ensuring your side mirrors are turned out far enough to see the entire width of the lanes beside you.
Driving tired, intoxicated, drugged or distracted - A standard drink, some prescription drugs, doziness or having your mind elsewhere can reduce attentiveness and make reflexes slow. It's that split second reaction that counts.
Plan your route - If you're confused about where you're going there's more scope for making mistakes in traffic. Slowing right down will help you absorb an unfamiliar environment and drive with more confidence.
Night driving - Lack of visibility makes night driving hazardous. Slow down if you're having trouble seeing and in rain. Also, try shifting your gaze slightly away from oncoming headlights and adjust your rear view mirror to reduce the glare from behind.
Country roads - Country roads can be narrow, winding, rough and full of surprises - such as live stock, large trucks and potholes. Adhere to advisory signs, don't be tempted to speed, avoid the edges of roads (but be ready to slow down and move over for passing vehicles), and always remain alert, even if the road looks quiet.
Seat belts - Seat belts will limit your contact with the car's interior on impact and spread the forces over more of your body to protect against injury. Without a seat belt and airbag, you can suffer serious injury in a head on collision at just 29km/h.