Heels & Horsepower Magazine


Drive Defensively For A Safer Holiday Season

Compiled by H&H Admin

December is the most eagerly anticipated time of the year. It is also the most dangerous time to drive.

Wikipedia defines defensive driving as driving to save lives, time, and money, despite the conditions around you and the actions of others.

You may have covered the basic principles but you may have forgotten them over time, so it’s important to refresh your memory and stay abreast of current trends.

Here are a few practical steps that you can take to increase your safety and that of your loved ones. 

There are, essentially, three principles to defensive driving.

1. Put safety first by following the rules of the road
  • Speed kills, as you have less control of your vehicle and less time to react to hazards on the road. So, go easy on the accelerator.
  • Obey traffic signs and lights. They are there to maintain a rules-based road network and, if everyone followed them, it would drastically reduce road dangers.
  • Tailor your driving style to the weather. For instance, if there are Highveld storms, visibility is reduced, so cut your speed, increase following distances, and turn on your lights or hazards. 
  • Office parties are a great way to end the year but don’t drive under the influence of alcohol, or when you’re sleep-deprived.
2. Be courteous on the roads, but never assume it of other drivers

Manners cost nothing. It could mean letting someone into your lane or showing gratitude to other courteous drivers. If everyone drove with manners and predictability, the roads would be a much safer place.

As we all know, however, not everyone does. So, assume the worst of others and drive accordingly. Give everyone ample space, and you’ll protect yourself, no matter what they do. 

3. Keep your car running optimally with regular maintenance

Defensive manoeuvres such as quick braking and swerving to avoid dangers will only work if your car is capable. Ensure your vehicle is in tip-top shape, especially before a long trip over the holidays.

Top up your car’s fluids. Ensure hoses and belts are in good condition and properly attached. Make sure your tyres, as well as the spare, are in good shape and inflated to the correct pressure. 

Let’s look at the unique challenges motorists face on South African roads
  • Lack of road maintenance, such as potholes, streetlights not working, non-existent signage, and soft or deep road edges means our country’s roads are a disaster waiting to happen. Drive accordingly.
  • Nature can also be a threat, especially flooded roads after torrential rain. Stay alert to official warnings. Listen to radio traffic reports. Increase following distances. And make sure your tyres are in good condition and have ample tread. 
  • Stay alert for stray animals, (domestic and wild), pedestrians, cyclists and bikers on the roads.  
  • Criminals lay spikes on the road to puncture tyres. Motorists are forced to stop and in so doing, become vulnerable to attacks and robberies. 
  • Don’t drive over anything in the road, such as plastic bags, as these can be used to disguise spikes. Keep a safe following distance so their driving behaviour can alert you to potential threats.

And remember, you’re on holiday and it starts from the moment you hit the road.  Don’t be in such a rush that you forget to enjoy the journey. Take a break every two hours to stretch your legs.  You’ll stay fresh and alert to dangers.

Start your preparation for the holiday season by ensuring your tyres are in top condition. 

Source: TI Auto

Share this article: