Driving after lockdown
In the days preceding lockdown, a number of people left to spend the time with their families or even found themselves stranded at holiday destinations. Thus, as lockdown is about to be lifted, busy roads between major cities can be expected as people return home. Even the roads within cities will be busy as people return to work and their normal activities. If this applies to you, keep these defensive driving tips in mind as you navigate the roads.
The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, recommends keeping a following distance of at least three seconds. “Whether you are driving in free-flowing traffic or heavy traffic, keep a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle behind you. Should the car in front of you suddenly stop, you will have enough time to stop and potentially prevent a major pileup.
“You can estimate the following distance in a simple way. Once the car in front of you passes a fixed mark, such as a street sign, you should be able to count three seconds before you pass that same point. If a car is driving too close behind you, rather move over and let them pass, even if you are not in the ‘fast lane,’ rather than be obstinate and risk your life and finances in the process.”
Assume the worst of every road user. “This is not to say that you should overreact or be paranoid but do not assume that because a traffic light is red oncoming traffic is definitely going to stop or that the cyclist on the side of the road will not fall. Double check intersections, give pedestrians and cyclists a berth of at least 3m, slow down when you see animals near the road and have an escape route should something go wrong.
“As there has been considerably less cars on the roads and some areas experienced heavy rainfall during lockdown, you should also be on the lookout for debris in the road, potholes, broken traffic lights and overgrown pavements. Awareness of your surroundings and understanding how any scenario could go wrong is critical to being able to avoid crashes.”
In your rush to get home or resume your work routine, do not take unnecessary risks. “Speeding, swerving between lanes, tailgating, cutting people off, passing illegally, and refusing to let faster vehicles move past all increase your chances of being in an accident and reduce your awareness of a potentially dangerous situation.
“Do not let your eagerness or desperation to reach home override common sense. Rather take 30 minutes longer to get back than take risks on busy roads that could mean you never arrive home. One of the main reasons for South Africa’s high road fatality rate is reckless driving and a disregard for the rules of the road. Do not survive COVID-19 only to lose your life or those you love in a car crash.”
If you will be facing busy roads once the lockdown is lifted, keep these tips in mind. “As we return to as normal a life as possible after lockdown, let’s not return to the road fatality statistics of before,” says Herbert.
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