As if the crisis of bad manners on our roads isn’t enough, now the energy crisis has thrown load shedding and non-functioning traffic lights into that mix and created a situation which is downright dangerous. South Africans have recently experienced the return of load shedding as Eskom struggles to keep up with energy demands. Eskom’s energy output is insufficient for the country, and this shortfall is expected to continue for years to come.
Follow these safe defensive driving tips during load-shedding:
Make sure your car is roadworthy – ensure that your tyres have sufficient tread and are properly inflated, that the brakes are working and the car is running well. This will enable you to come to a timely stop, accelerate out of trouble and keep your wheels on the road if you need to swerve suddenly.
Check your mirrors. Always know who is to your front, rear, left and right, adjust your speed to make space when drivers are too close, and try to anticipate their next move. Most people start turning before they indicate. Your awareness is your only defense against these incoming missiles.
Don’t lose your cool, especially when load shedding leaves traffic lights out of order and traffic gridlocked. Take a deep breath and pay extra attention so you don’t miss your turn at the intersection, or get side-swiped by someone going out of turn.
Be patient. Nerves will be frayed and people are frustrated by their inability to get where they’re going on time, and you don’t want to stir the pot and fuel a road-rage incident.
“Anticipation is the most important element of defensive driving”. You can’t let your guard down for a minute. If you see someone driving recklessly, let them pass and keep your distance, because the chances are they will cause an accident.
Always assume that others won’t indicate (signal), so keep a safe following distance to compensate for this.
Be alert at intersections. When traffic lights are out, intersections should be treated as stop streets.
If you have an important meeting or need to get to the airport on time, that you check the load shedding schedule that applies to your route, and either leave earlier or reschedule.
Road safety organisation Arrive Alive discussed how drivers and road users can be safe when load-shedding takes place, as it takes down robots and street lights:
The most important aspects to remember are:
Drivers must stop at traffic lights which are out, even if there are no other cars nearby.
Drivers must then take turns to safely pass through the intersection.
Power outages could remove important road safety features such as street lighting.
This makes it extremely difficult for motorists to spot road hazards such as potholes, debris and even pedestrians on the road surface.
Good advice would be to slow down and thus increase the time to evade these possible dangers!
If there is no oncoming traffic it is advisable to drive with your lights on bright to increase the distance of the visible surface.
One of the road safety slogans is “Be Visible Be Seen!”. Load shedding makes this even more important
Turn your vehicle’s headlights on to make yourself more visible to other road users – even during daytime
Motorists must be attentive to the dangers of criminals lurking in the dark.
During load shedding, it is possible that hijackers and “smash and grab” criminals might see an opportunity for themselves – be alert of your surroundings.
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