By: EUGENE HERBERT
As government around the world, including Nigeria and South Africa, ease lockdown, with more services returning, drivers on their way to work or going about their essential businesses should look out for workmen engaged in road construction or maintenance.
Two tenets of defensive driving are essential in this scenario. The first is driving looking 12 seconds ahead to give yourself adequate time to react should someone be on the road.
The second is to then double following distances to at least six seconds so you have enough time to stop or move out of the way in an emergency.
As you drive to work or other essential destination during this period, please keep in mind the following additional tips in case you happen to drive past roadside maintenance:
- If you can, please listen to the radio or check social media for traffic alerts that indicate where roadworks or maintenance is taking place to avoid the frustration and hazards all together where possible
- Obey construction road signs indicating speed limits or what changes or hazards to expect. A common cause of injury in construction zones is failure to see workmen on the roadside due to inattention to road signs or bad lighting and signage.
- Adjust your speed to not only the speed limit but the traffic and road conditions as well.
- There is likely much less traffic, however, if you do find yourself in traffic do not be impatient and make irrational moves.
- While one should never drive distracted, it is particularly important to not be on your phone, use your radio or not pay full attention to the road and potential obstacles in your path.
- Avoid inpatient driving, moving into lanes last minute or refusing to let others into a lane.
- Leave with enough time so that you don’t have to rush or take risks.
- If your headlights are not already on, switch them on.
- Avoid sudden moves such as quickly switching lanes when driving through a work area.
- If a construction worker is directing traffic, listen to them as their directions carry authority and they have the most experience to safely alleviate traffic flow
- Use your indicator and do not assume that another driver will automatically give way.
- If another driver is reacting aggressively rather let them pass than force them to let you in.
- If a lane has been narrowed or the shoulder of the road is being used, look out for additional obstacles.
- Watch for construction workers or even equipment that may suddenly obstruct the path
Road construction and maintenance could pose a challenge in the coming months.
Keep an eye open for this if you will be driving during this time. Give the workers the necessary respect and ensure their safety in the same way you would any other road user.
Eugene Herbert is managing director of MasterDrive, SA