As Transport Month kicks off in October, the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) has called for road users to be more aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Nico Esterhuizen, General Manager of Insurance Risks at SAIA says, the economic cost to the country as a result of road accidents, is probably well over R100 billion per year. A report released late last year by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) also showed that more than 4 500 people died on South African roads in the 2014/2015 year.
“As we enter the rainy season and with the festive season fast approaching, there is likely to be an increase in the number of road accidents and fatalities. We caution South African motorists to remain conscious on the roads and adopt safe driving habits. Some of the key distractions and reasons to which a high accident rate is attributed, include the use of cellphones, applying make- up or even eating while driving. Driver behavior such as speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol also contribute to a high accident rate.
The SAIA advocates the following road safety tips:
• Distractions: Always remain focused on the road, avoid any activity that may cause distracted driving such as the use of cellphones, applying make-up or eating while driving.
• Roadworthiness: Ensure that your vehicle is always in a roadworthy condition and repairing it promptly when required.
• Tailgating: This refers to the practice of driving very close to the vehicle in front of you, which means that if the vehicle in front suddenly brakes or comes to a stop, you are unlikely to be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. Ideally, there should be a three-second travelling distance between you and the car in front of you. If someone is tailgating you, move to another lane and allow them to pass.
• Speeding: Slow down to increase your safety. Plan your trip and try to avoid peak hours.
• Fatigue: Take regular breaks if you are driving long distances and rest if you are feeling fatigued.
• Driving under the influence: Do not drive when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• Be vigilant and considerate: Remain vigilant and always exercise patience for other road users including pedestrians.