Keep your eyes on the road

Go! Drive and Camp Camp Guide - - Front Page -

The nut be­hind the wheel is the pri­mary cause of col­li­sions

Road ac­ci­dents are a ter­ri­ble re­al­ity: Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion about half a mil­lion peo­ple die an­nu­ally due to malaria, but dou­ble that lose their lives in road ac­ci­dents. South Africa does par­tic­u­larly badly – we have the high­est num­ber of road deaths per 100 000 peo­ple, and to make mat­ters worse, a study by Dis­cov­ery In­sure showed your chances of be­ing in­volved in an ac­ci­dent are high­est when you travel long dis­tances by car dur­ing the hol­i­days.


In Dis­cov­ery’s study the be­hav­iour of mo­torists trav­el­ling long dis­tances dur­ing the hol­i­days is com­pared to that of those com­mut­ing in cities daily. It seems driv­ers trav­el­ling dur­ing hol­i­days are more im­pa­tient, be­cause speed in­fringe­ments in­crease by 26% dur­ing this time. More peo­ple also tend to drive at night dur­ing this time, be­cause this num­ber also in­creases by 5,5%.

Ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial re­port ti­tled “Snap­shot of the Road Traf­fic Man­age­ment in South Africa”, which doc­u­mented ac­ci­dents in 2011, more than 60% of all fatal ac­ci­dents oc­curred over week­ends. This is a dreary pic­ture, but from th­ese sta­tis­tics you can learn some lessons to make trav­el­ling safer.


Be care­ful on a Fri­day. Ac­cord­ing to Dis­cov­ery’s re­search there’s 15% more traf­fic on the roads on a Fri­day. It seems the im­pa­tience to get to week­end destinations also makes peo­ple worse driv­ers, be­cause ac­cord­ing to the re­port this is also the time when most peo­ple speed and drive reck­lessly. Be afraid of the dark. It’s bet­ter not to drive be­tween 10 at night and four in the morn­ing. Your chances of be­ing in an ac­ci­dent are ten times higher than at any other time dur­ing the day. It will be a mis­sion to get ev­ery­one in the car late at night any­way. Ev­ery­thing keeps go­ing right... If you check your ve­hi­cle care­fully to en­sure it’s road­wor­thy be­fore you de­part, you lower your chances of be­ing in an ac­ci­dent by a good 15%. (Chances of a fam­ily fight while

you wait for a tow­ing ser­vice are also con­sid­er­ably lower...)


It’s com­mon knowl­edge that you must stop and stretch your legs reg­u­larly when you travel far. Ac­cord­ing to Dis­cov­ery the drive from Gaut­eng to the Kwazulu-natal coast will take you five and a half hours if you stop and take a 15-minute break ev­ery two hours. If you drive straight through – and 5km faster than the speed limit while you’re at it – you’ll reach your des­ti­na­tion an hour ear­lier, but your chances of not ar­riv­ing at all, also dou­ble. This is be­sides the fact that you’ll get tired be­hind the wheel.


Let’s be hon­est: No ve­hi­cle gets into an ac­ci­dent by it­self. Some­one must do some­thing – or not do some­thing – to cause an ac­ci­dent. Driv­ers’ neg­li­gence is the big­gest cause of ac­ci­dents. This refers to stupid be­hav­iour like ig­nor­ing the speed limit or reck­less driv­ing – like over­tak­ing on an un­sighted/blind hill. To smoke, eat or drink (even if it’s only food or a cooldrink) while driv­ing, dis­tracts you and in­creases your chance of get­ting in an ac­ci­dent. And then there are the cell­phones...


Your chances of get­ting in an ac­ci­dent are four times greater when you use your cell­phone while driv­ing. An­ton Os­sip, chief ex­ec­u­tive at Dis­cov­ery In­sure, says two thirds of driv­ers use their phones while they drive, and many even try send­ing SMSES while be­hind the wheel. Ac­cord­ing to Dis­cov­ery’s re­search driv­ers in Lim­popo are most prone to use their phones while driv­ing, while Capeto­ni­ans are the most law-abid­ing in this re­gard. Ap­par­ently about 40% of cell­phone users in ve­hi­cles have a hands-free kit, but 80% of all calls made from cars are made with­out th­ese.

Dis­cov­ery reck­ons your at­ten­tion is dis­tracted for al­most a minute when you use your cell­phone. This is like driv­ing with your eyes closed for 1km at 60km/h.


Thirty, forty years ago wear­ing a seat­belt wasn’t com­pul­sory, but to­day there’s no doubt about how many lives it saves. Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment’s re­port 67% of oc­cu­pants on the front seats of cars faith­fully wear their seat­belts. They reckon if this

num­ber in­creases to 80% for front and back­seats, the num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties will de­crease by 30%.

go! Drive & Camp says It’s easy to point fin­gers when some­one angers you on the road, but keep your side clean first (and hope other mo­torists do the same).

Sources: Dis­cov­ery In­sure, the Road Traf­fic Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and the na­tional de­part­ment of trans­port.

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