By: EUGENE HERBERT
Driving along a road with high accident rates requires changes to your driving to meet the situation.
It is up to a driver to assess the area and identify what makes that particular area high risk and afterwards start driving with more caution (especially when weather conditions are bad).
Moreover, the driver needs to keep an eye out for vehicles that may swerve into oncoming traffic.
Conditions that can make a road into a high-risk area include: Concealed accesses, high traffic volumes, a blind rise, animals that may wander into the road, high incidents of negligent driving, low visibility, roads prone to potholes and weather conditions
Upon sensing any of the foregoing, a driver needs to assess the situation to determine what makes that stretch of road dangerous and adapt his or her driving to account for this. Even if you cannot immediately identify the risk, be just as cautious as what you would if you did know.
Examples of driving styles to follow include:
Slow down so that you have extra time to react should a car suddenly enter the road from a side road unexpectedly or to react to many other hazards
Increase your following distances to give yourself additional time and space to react to the actions of cars ahead of you or to concealed obstacles
Look 12 seconds ahead as you drive so that any potentially dangerous situations do not catch you unaware
Watch the reactions of drivers in front of you. Additional time and space gives you the opportunity to notice if all the cars ahead are veering to one side of the road to avoid something like a pothole and allows you to react to the hazard timeously and carefully
Always drive with your headlights on to increase your visibility to other vehicles or pedestrians
Be prepared for slippery roads by paying attention to your surroundings and learning what to do should you lose control of your vehicle
Do not drive fatigued as it can make something as simple as a straight road extremely dangerous because your ability to pay attention and react quickly, among other issues, is affected
Be patient and courteous in heavy traffic. Losing your cool or preventing others from entering a lane creates dangerous as well as volatile situations
Roads where you are at a higher risk of crashing are not unusual, making preparation for it essential. “Follow the principles of defensive driving on these roads and be ready for any challenge you may encounter to ensure you emerge from these areas as safely as possible,” advises Herbert.
Eugene Herbert is the managing director of MasterDrive, SA