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Kyle James
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Making the roads in SA a safer place

31 December 2013, 08:58

Road Safety Advice

One of the vans for the plumbing company I work for (Plumber Bro’s) was involved in an accident near the N2 this afternoon. The taxi involved in the accident was travelling back from the Eastern Cape, and the driver didn’t see the van in his blind spot and swerved into it. Thankfully no one was hurt, and the event is (again, thankfully) not newsworthy. From the ensuing chaos however, I was involved in a conversation with the guy involved; and I figured I would share some of the information he let me in on. After the audience a post on hail damage reached, I figured if this could do the same, and help make people more aware, then it is worth the time to write it.

Take regular rest intervals on long journeys:

I am not too sure on the exact science behind it all, but I know they have done very conclusive tests that show driving with lack of sleep is more dangerous than drunk driving. I am sure however, that we have among the most dangerous roads in the world. Especially at this time of year, when so many people are going / returning from holidays. Please plan your journeys around regular breaks. The taxi involved in the accident today was making this 1000km trip for the 3rd time in as many days. From what I have gathered, it is the most profitable times of the year for taxi drivers, and they push themselves beyond the limit. Unfortunately, this is not illegal. The government sees more use in putting up those gantries, when I imagine the same number of them could ensure drivers are not doing these trips and putting people’s lives at risk. This post however is not an attack on the government or taxi drivers, just an observation. In fact I think many people don’t realize that for every one taxi that gives them Tourette’s, they drive past 99 who are abiding by the rules of the road and filling a crucial socio-economic gap our government still hasn’t looked at improving (Don’t attack the government, Kyle. You mentioned where you work).

Don’t drink and drive:

I hate the guy who states the obvious as much as you do, but apparently this statement isn’t that obvious. With a large number of alcohol related accidents, people are doing it. I am sure any one of you has a friend or family member who could pick you up or try and sort something out for you. Try and instil that message that you would do the same for your friends. Even if you are alone in the car (Which seems to be an excuse), you are putting other people’s lives at risk. I knew a guy who hit a little boy while driving drunk. Besides the obvious horrible tragedy, you don’t want that kind of blood on your hands, trust me.

Be careful when crossing a road:

I am sure you have heard in the news that many accidents this December have involved pedestrians. Numerous people have chanced crossing busy roads while under the influence, and have caused accidents. Often surrounding the highways near shebeens is poor infrastructure (I wonder who is at fault for this?) and people chance crossing in order to get home quicker. If you have to cross a road for whatever reason, please do so as safely as possible, and avoid busy roads at all costs. Rather get home late than not at all. Some people drive without headlights on (Probably while drunk), and you could get hit.

Wear a seatbelt:

Right, I know there is going to be that one guy who spurts off some urban legend about how they actually are more dangerous. Some rubbish about something they saw a redneck do on Discovery channel in 1993. In all modern cars, with airbags and chassis design, I am telling you now that a seatbelt is statistically more likely to save your life than being ‘flung to safety’ is. Please don’t let your stupidity be the reason your family and friends no longer laugh at your rubbish conspiracy theories. All we need now is a central unit of control that does publicized testing on this matter to back this up, and educate people through their large influence. A dream for another day I guess.  

Ensure the roadworthiness of your car:

It is actually really affordable to have your car checked for major faults that could cause an accident. If a professional knows what they are looking for, the whole process also takes no more than 10 – 15 minutes. Before embarking on a long journey, and even once or twice a year if you travel a lot, have it checked to make sure that there are no significant faults within your vehicle.

Be vigilant and look out for one another:

The fact of the matter is that people aren’t following the rules of the road, or are doing numerous long haul trips and are tired. There is a high chance that you have driven past a few of them during this festive season. Please keep your eye out, and be as alert as you can. Slow down even if the robot is green (so you can check the intersection), and keep checking all your mirrors. Be on the alert for pedestrians (and cyclists) and do what you can to make your vehicle as visible as possible if you are driving at night.

At the end of the day, if our government (There I go again) is quite content in allowing our road safety to stay in the state it is in, and has been for many years, it boils down to us trying to make a difference. If every person applied themself at making sure that they drove responsibly and with other motorists at heart, there is very little reason for there to be an accident on the roads of South Africa.

I urge everyone to be as safe as they can, especially this week (New Year’s Eve tonight, and the last weekend before many people return to work, and the roads leading in to Johannesburg are going to be very busy). I hope everyone is safe, and has an awesome start to 2014. Please drive safely and have a great time.

PS: Good luck to all those with New Year resolutions. You have to start somewhere, and keep going even when it gets tough. If you work for government and your New Year resolution involves stopping smoking (The kind you blow up peoples arses; not the cigarettes, of which I recommend 60+ a day for you), then extra good luck. If you are the minority in government trying to do a good job, then I hope your work gets noticed more in 2014. Let us all make it the year of South Africa… 

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