Road Safety Guide For The Festive Season
In December 2016, over 1 700 people died on SA roads, 5% more than 2015. With the festive season around the corner, motorists are urged to be vigilant. Dialdirect have put together a list of practical tips to assist you drive right and avoid becoming a statistic this festive season:
Before you take to the road, be sure to check your vehicle’s lights and electrical system, windows and wipers, wheels and tyres, brakes, suspension, battery, belts and chains, cooling system, filters and fluids, exhaust system, body panels, mountings and accessories, safety and warning equipment and child seats.
GOOD DRIVING PRACTICE:
- Plan your trip carefully and use the technology at your disposal to avoid problem areas.
- Keep a safe following distance.
- Stick to the speed limit. According to the Dialdirect Insurance App, almost 30% of motorists exceed 140 km/h at least once every 10 trips. A 10% decrease in speed reduces fatal crashes by 40%.
- Avoid tailgating and sudden, erratic movements, minimise lane changes, signal early, accelerate and brake gradually and keep pace with traffic. If you need to overtake, do it only once it’s legal and safe.
- Accommodate other drivers. With lane mergers, a ‘zipper’ structure should be followed.
- Make sure that your load is within your vehicle’s capabilities and that it is properly secured. Tie a red piece of cloth to the ends of any object that protrudes past your vehicle’s edges. All trailers are required to have a safety chain, which helps in the event of tow bar failure.
- Motorists should get at least seven hours sleep before a long-distance trip, and avoid travelling during their body’s downtime, which for most people is between 2am and 6am.
- Plan breaks into your trip and do not drive when you’re tired. Avoid having sugary or fatty snacks, energy drinks and caffeine to keep you going. Drink lots of water, eat healthy foods and pull over to rest and refresh properly when you need to.
- Distracted driving could be as dangerous as driving under the influence.
- Bear in mind that even hands-free solutions divide your attention. If something cannot wait, rather pull over to the side of the road.
BIKES AND HEAVY MOTOR VEHICLES:
- Always “think bike” and also keep a special lookout for heavy vehicles. If you’re behind a truck and you can’t see the mirrors, then the driver can’t see you.
- A truck with a trailer needs two lanes to turn.
- Heavy vehicles need a long distance to stop, so avoid cutting in front of them.
IF YOUR CAR BREAKS DOWN:
Switch on your hazard lights and, if possible, pull into the emergency lane.
- Make sure that your vehicle remains visible – make use of your emergency triangle.
- If you get stuck in a dangerous spot, get out of your vehicle when it is safe to do so and walk carefully to the side of the road. Ideally, you should remain in your car with the doors locked.
- Immediately call your insurer for assistance.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE:
- SA’s legal limit is a breath alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1,000ml, or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml. This means that, as a general rule, 2 drinks in one hour will put you over the limit. Also bear in mind that, after a night of partying, you could still be over the limit the morning after.
- Alternate the alcoholic drinks you do have with soft drinks or water.
Use a GPS to avoid getting lost and becoming an easy target.
- Inform someone at your destination about your estimated time of arrival.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and look out for anything suspicious.
- Limit distractions when walking to or from your car, as well as when driving.
- Avoid driving with windows wide open, keep the doors locked and valuables out of sight.
- If you suspect you are being followed, make a couple of false turns. If someone is still following you, drive to the nearest police station.
- Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you to avoid being boxed in.
- Slow down in such a way that the traffic light is green by the time you reach it.
- Always park in a safe, well-lit area.
- If you sense you are in danger, immediately use the Namola Safety App.
- If you are hijacked: Remain calm; do not argue, do not make sudden gestures; avoid eye contact but try to remember what the carjacker looks like; comply with the hijackers directions (within reason); try to get away from the area as quickly as possible; don’t be a hero – your life is worth more than your car.
SMASH & GRABS, VEHICLE THEFT AND REMOTE JAMMING:
- Lock your car when driving and when leaving it parked. Double-check that you did lock it.
- Empty your car frequently to avoid it becoming cluttered with items that you don’t want stolen.
- Never leave house keys or important documents in your car.
- Install a good alarm system, gear lock, steering wheel lock and immobiliser.
- When driving, leave your passenger windows open by about three centimetres to make the glass more flexible to absorb a smash and grab impact.
- Street intersections, stop signs or driveways are regarded as smash and grab “hot spots” at any given time. Always remain on full alert when stationary in your vehicle.
- Have polycarb film fitted to your windows. This is tinted so that potential thieves cannot see into your car. The film makes it extremely difficult to shatter your windows and it also reduces glare. In addition, the film reduces the chance of injury from broken glass.
- Fit all access doors with security gates and install burglar bars on windows.
- Install electric perimeter fencing if it’s feasible – be sure to check for vulnerable points where objects like telephone posts or trees make it easy to jump the fence.
- Look out for suspicious vehicles or individuals when entering your property.
- Mix up your daily routine to make it less predictable for criminals to know when you’ll be home.
- After Christmas Day, don’t pile up empty gift boxes on the street. Instead, tear up the boxes and put them inside your black bin bags.
- Notify your security company when you won’t be at home for extended periods of time.
- Store irreplaceable, sentimental items in a safe.
- Lights that are always on and newspapers bulging from your post box send a clear message that you’re not home. If you can, install a timer for lights so that they only switch on at night. You could also ask someone to check on your home, switch on lights and collect your mail while you’re away.
WHILE ON HOLIDAY:
- Keep your kids close – kidnapping and human trafficking are worryingly prevalent.
- Shop and explore with caution – discovering new places can be fun, but avoid ATMs and shops in quiet, remote and potentially dangerous locations.
- Save important contacts – have the local police / EMS provider’s number handy at all times.
- Chat to the locals – it’s valuable to find out which places are must-sees, and which to avoid.
- Stay alert and limit distractions. Always be aware of what is going on around you.
- Avoid high-target stores around opening and closing times.
- Decide how and where you and your friends or family will meet in the event of a robbery – remember that you may not have your cellphone.
- Don’t confront anyone – robbers are likely to be armed. If you notice suspicious activity, don’t go near it. Report it discreetly to the management, the information desk or security staff and then calmly leave.
- Always signify your intention to the robbers to cooperate. Avoid eye contact. Respond promptly to requests and do not act aggressively.
- Should robbers demand personal items, hand them over immediately – your life is worth more than any of these
- If you are near an exit and it is safe to do so, leave the mall immediately. Use the Namola Safety App for help.
- Stay calm. If you can, try to help other people in the same predicament to do the same.
“Many people often have a distorted perception of their safety while on holiday, making them less vigilant. So remember to stay aware and alert, as criminals don’t take holidays,” says Warwick Scott-Rodger, Executive Head of Dialdirect Insurance.