Safe driv­ing and road safety starts with you

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODSTUFF -

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.

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