Safe driving and road safety starts with you
a killer,” the government says.
Forgive their simplistic approach, for they know not always what they do. And when they do, their purpose sometimes does not relate to the given problem.
Inappropriate speed for the conditions of the road and the traffic at a given time is one of the problems. And a man or woman behind a bush with a camera is never going to solve that problem.
Many years ago, when I mooched about in a black uniform with brass buttons, I was taught by some seriously experienced people that one of the greatest sins you could commit while operating a vessel at sea is failing to keep a proper lookout. It is still one of the greatest sins being committed on our roads.
Motorists so often fail to keep a proper lookout. Whether it is the cellphone, whether it is the sandwich that dropped to the floor, the conversation with the backseat passenger, or just a daydream, drivers allow their focus to be drawn away from the road, the rearview mirrors and the vehicles around them.
The fact is, an accident happens because at least one of the vehicles involved is in the wrong place on the road. And that happens when you run a red light, overtake in the face of oncoming traffic, drive too close to the vehicle in front of you, change lanes without proper warning and fail to give way to the right.
What does that mean, give way to the right?
It means that any car that approaches from your right-hand side, whether from in front or behind, has right of way. That is why traffic circles work. If you are in the left-hand lane and want to move into the right-hand lane, you had better give way to faster traffic to your right before changing lanes.
Effectively, if you are driving in the fast lane and faster traffic comes up behind you, you are supposed to give way when the appropriate opportunity arises, otherwise you are blocking traffic.
How fast that other driver is going has nothing to do with you – it is his or her prerogative to decide how fast to go and he or she will have to face the consequences of any law enforcement.
When you block a lane and force a person to overtake you on the left, you are causing a danger by forcing a faster moving vehicle into a slower lane.
Research has shown the vast majority of peak hour tailbacks are caused by traffic blockers.
Another little aspect of driving on our roads that I’ve wanted to touch on for a while now, is this thing of rights. We South Africans can be incredibly intolerant on the road. Then, when we stop and get out of our cars, we can be the most jovial, friendly bunch you might find. Why?
It is just damn stupid. Don’t stand on your rights on the road. Rather give way when necessary, it makes life so much smoother, especially when you do it with a smile. I’ve often heard people say: “It was my turn to go and then he drove into me.”
Sorry. By rather giving way, could you have avoided the accident? If yes, you should take part of the blame. And to be able to give way like that, you have to have your eyes peeled. Hence my reference to keeping a proper lookout.
You have to understand what the traffic is doing, you have to see a person who’s approaching a fourway stop too fast and you have to have a good guess at whether or not he’s going to stop in time. Foresight is an essential part of safe driving. Understanding the dynamics of how vehicles move is vital.
And if all those things appear to be black arts to you, maybe you should take the bus next time. The Myciti service is really very good, I am told.
We are fast approaching the time when we are going to reflect on things past, from the year past. We are going to think of people who were with us last year who are not with us now. Let us then put some effort into the here and now too, and make sure we are not the ones being missed next time.
Drive with fun, drive with pleasure, but drive safely. It is, after all, a privilege, not a right.