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Arriving safely is half the journey

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 - 11:08 am

Charlene Bates, Key Accounts Executive at Ariva

There are certain times of year when road safety gets a lot more attention, for instance, often around peek holiday seasons, such as the Easter long weekend and again around the December festive season. However, if we consider that the Road Safety Annual Report released last May by The International Transport Forum's (ITF)*, ranked South Africa the worst out of thirty-six countries when it came to the number of road fatalities per year – this really stresses the need for road safety to become a constant sense of consciousness and cognisance.

 

While road and weather conditions and increased traffic volumes may be contributing factors, the stark reality is that most incidents on South Africa’s roads can most commonly be attributed to driving behaviour and unroadworthy vehicles. Therefore, regardless of the journey - whether you are popping around the corner to the shops, running daily errands or planning a long trip - here is our list of things to ‘check your vehicle’ and ‘check yourself’, to ensure as far as possible that you and your potential passengers arrive safely at your destination.

 

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Check your vehicle

Tyres

There are two key checks on your tyres:

Ensure that your tyres are always at the right air pressure and if you pick up a puncture – even a slow puncture – be sure to have it fixed and don’t leave it as sudden changes in tyre pressure – often caused by punctures – are the most comment causes of tyre blow out. Not only can it cost you more to fix down the road, where you may have to replace the whole wheel/rim depending on the extent of the damage, it is a major safety risk as a blow out can lead to loss of control of the vehicle, which could lead to an accident.

 

-      Make sure you have sufficient tread – on the inside and outside of the tyre – and that there are no signs of uneven wearing as this can significantly impact your wheel alignment and your traction with the road surface, which can also be a major safety risk.

 

Shocks

Worn shocks can have a significant impact on the performance of your vehicle and the way it handles the road. As such, it’s important to have your shocks tested regularly, and especially before taking a long journey.

 

Mechanical/services checks

There are a number of things that influence the mechanical workings of your vehicle and its engine and should be checked on your vehicle regularly – at least each time your vehicle is serviced – and certainly before a long journey and these include; the brakes and brake fluid, oil, water and the battery.

 

Windscreen

Visibility – it goes without saying – is critically important, though often people don’t realise the influence that things stuck on the windscreen or hanging in front of it, or even cracks across the driver’s line of sight, can have on the driver’s perceived visibility – and particularly in the split seconds that can lead to an accident.

 

Added to this, as weather conditions can often change during the course of the day and/or while on a long journey, it’s also important to ensure that the windshield wipers are in good condition and perform sufficiently in wet – and particularly – harsh weather conditions.

 

Indicators

It’s quick-and-easy to check that both indicators and the hazard lights are working and they should be checked every day before you start driving your vehicle, as well as used appropriately to ensure other drivers are aware of your intentions on the road.

 

Hooter

While commonly and inappropriately used by drivers to express their irritation with other drivers on the road, the hooter is actually a safety feature. The hooter should only be used in instances where you may be experiencing a problem with your vehicle – that could impact other drivers on the road – or to alert other drivers to your presence, for instance, if a driver is crossing lanes and may collide with your vehicle. In any event though, it’s important to ensure that the hooter is always working.

 

Keeping it clean

Not only can having the outside of your vehicle washed improves its visible presence to other drivers on the road, it’s also important to ensure that there’s nothing rolling around in the vehicle that may get stuck under the driver’s feet and/or in the way of the pedals while driving.

 

Check yourself

Tired? Then rather rest.

It’s important to plan ahead before hitting the road – and particularly when going on a long journey – as fatigue is one of the major contributing factors to the high number of accidents on the roads, as it can have a significant impact on a driver’s responsive reactions in a given situation.

 

When planning a long trip, if you are feeling tired, then rather postpone. Get some rest and start your journey feeling fresh and energised to ensure you are alert. It’s also important that as the driver, your seat is in a comfortable and position and that you stop regularly – every two hours or 200kms is widely recommended – as this will also affect your physical and mental fatigue.

 

Shoes

Surprisingly people don’t often notice the difference that driving in the wrong pair of shoes can make until it’s too late – and their foot slips on one of the pedals, which can have a server impact on your reaction time in an emergency situation. To safeguard against this, avoid driving in high heels, flip flops or event bare foot and rather go for comfortable, flat shoes.

 

Hands on steering wheel – eyes on the road

Once you hit the road there are a number of things that may distract your focus - and at different degrees – from the road ahead and the other vehicles around you, some of these key things to avoid may include;

-      Eating while driving. Often we think that a take away will save time, though this places you (and you passengers in danger). Rather stop and eat comfortably.

-      Fussing over passenger – particularly small children – can be hugely distracting to a driver. When taking a long journey with small children, try time your trip around times with the children will be asleep and – wherever possible – and ensure they are safely strapped in and that you have another adult in the car with you that can fuss over restless children.

-      Fiddling with your GPS. Rather ensure you have your destination set and route mapped out before you start driving. Also, make use of a hands free unit where you can place the GSP unit on your windscreen, but not so that it’s in the way of your direct line of sight.

-      Fidgeting while driving. This may include things like; smoking, phone calls or texting and even self grooming, all of which can significantly distract your attention from the road and your hands from the steering wheel.

 

 

Arriving safely at your destination – and every time – is such an understated aspect of the journey in your life, so why rush? Plan ahead, be patient, courteous and vigilant to other road users and enjoy drive.

Link to Ariva www.ariva.co.za





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