When it comes to road safety, we’d all like to think that we’re great drivers. Unfortunately, given the vast number of car accidents in South Africa, it seems that some of us might not be as great as we think. The truth is that driving school was probably a fair few years ago, and some of those little rules might have been forgotten. This is probably what leads to the most common driving mistakes, and therefore to road accidents.
Road safety is an important consideration, of course. You don’t want to have a car accident, you don’t want to get hurt. But you also don’t want your car insurance premiums to skyrocket because you’ve had to make a claim. That’s why we’re here to give you a few road safety tips. Think you’re a great driver? Chances are you’re still making at least one of these, the most common driving mistakes in South Africa!
Road Safety Signs Aren’t Just for Fun!
Road safety can actually be fairly easy as long as you follow the posted signs and road markings. The highway department in South Africa have very kindly provided you with lots of advice when it comes to road safety, but if you don’t know what those road safety signs mean, then you could be in trouble.
Take a simple example: traffic lights. Okay, we all know about red, orange, and green. But given all the power outages recently, do you know what to do when you come to a non-functioning light? Road safety rules say that a non working traffic light is the same as a stop sign. Simple, except if it’s a four way intersection. Remember the road safety rule for a four way stop? Whoever arrives first, goes first. So no trying to disrupt the order (even by trying to be kind and letting someone else go first!).
The bottom line here is that you might need to review a few of those road safety signs and rules for things like stop signs and traffic lights!
The Road Safety Nightmare: The Traffic Circle
Eugh, traffic circles can be a road safety nightmare, though when used correctly they absolutely make roads safer. The problem is, how do you use them correctly? For a single lane traffic circle, always give way to the right. For a two lane traffic circle, it’s a little more complicated. The outside lane is for cars taking the first turn on the left (either lane of that turn), and for cars who want to be in the outside lane of the second turn on the left. The inside lane is for cars that want to be on the inside lane of the second turn on the left, or who want to take the third turn on the left (either lane).
Sound a bit too complicated for you? No probs, check the video below, which gives a clear explanation (okay, it’s a Canadian traffic circle, but the rules are the same!).
Ignoring the Passing Rules
Another very common road safety mistake that we see is ignoring the rules for passing. There are two very, very simple rules that you need to keep in mind. The first of these is that you keep left and pass right. What does this mean? Stay in the left lane as long as you can, use the right lane for passing a car if necessary, and then return to the left lane. This keeps traffic flowing smoothly!
Second, if there is a solid line on the road there is NO passing. Never. Got it? And that’s true even when entering the highway (when people often try to cross the solid line before it ends so that they can hop into the highway lane that they want). It’s for your own safety!
Road Safety Means No Cell Phones
Yes, you know the law, no cell phone use in your car. But plenty of people think that it’s okay to grab their phone to send a quick message whilst they’re waiting at a traffic light. Sadly, the road safety law still says no. Using your phone, even whilst waiting at a light, takes your attention away from the road and can lead to accidents. Plus, you won’t be paying attention to that light and might end up missing your turn and irritating other drivers.
Think about it: how easy is it to accidentally move your foot and end up rear-ending the car in front if you’re busy sending a text? Remember, road safety laws are there for your own protection!
Say No to Tailgating
Finally, here’s a big road safety no-no: tailgating. Tailgating means driving too close to the car in front, and it’s a huge cause of accidents. By following too closely you practically guarantee that you’ll hit the car in front in case of a sudden stop.
It takes around 0.75 seconds to realise that the car in front of you has slowed or stopped, another 0.75 seconds to hit the brake, and about 0.05 seconds for the brakes to begin acting. Add that all up and if you’re travelling at 100 kph it’ll take around 1.5 seconds to react to the danger. The road safety rule here is simple: keep two to three seconds between you and the car in front (you can do this easily by counting the time between the car in front passing an object and you passing the same object).
Road Safety and Driving Mistakes: The Bottom Line
All of the above mistakes are ones that are all too easy to make, and ones that all of us have made and probably still do in some circumstances. But if road safety is a priority for you then you’ll need to keep the above rules in mind and try to be a safe driver (you can find more tips for driving safely here).
Avoiding these road safety mistakes will help prevent car accidents. And being a safer driver will help to keep those car insurance premiums down as well! That sounds like a win-win situation to us! Safe driving!
Main Subject: road safety
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