Lockdown restrictions will be lifted, here's what you should know when you're back on the road

The new Alert Level 4 restrictions mean a few more people can resume work. Hopefully, in a few more weeks, if we're lucky to see a move to Level 3, the majority of companies will be able to operate again.

That means there'll be a whole lot more traffic on the roads. While it's vital to take care of your vehicle during the lockdown - making sure you start it regularly and check the fluid levels and tyre pressures - here's what you should know once you get back on the road. For some of us, it's been closer to two months since we have been behind the steering wheel of a car.

Then there are those motorists who were unable to make it home in time or opted to spend the national lockdown with families elsewhere. 

MasterDrive Eugene Herbert says in the days preceding lockdown, many 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, the roads between major cities will likely be bustling as people return home. Even the roads within cities will be busy as people return to work and their everyday activities", says Herbert. 

If this applies to you, Herbert offers some defensive driving tips to keep in mind as you navigate the roads:

traffic,

Keep a safe following distance at all times, even when in traffic. Image: GettyImages

Following distance

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 easily estimate the following distance. 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."

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Awareness

Assume the worst of every road user, says Herbert. "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 3 metres, slow down when you see animals near the road and have an escape route should something go wrong.

"As there have been considerably fewer cars on the roads and some areas experienced heavy rainfall during the 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."

Image: iStock

Avoid recklessness

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 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 heading home 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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