JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Every driver has seen a road sign warning that a high-risk accident zone lies ahead at which time they should change their driving style and increase their awareness to be ready to respond to an unexpected challenge.
MasterDrive’s MD Eugene Herbert believes such stretches of road require a change d driving style to meet the situation.
“It’s up to each driver to assess the area and the risk. Van Reenen’s Pass is one of South Africa’s most notorious high-risk areas thanks to truck traffic and bad weather. So, follow the instructions along the route that separate cars and trucks and look out for swerving cars.”
There are more conditions that can make a road “high-risk”. Concealed accesses, heavy traffic, a blind rise, stray animals, negligent driving, poor visibility, potholes, and weather are just a few. Herbert advises:
TAKE YOUR TIME
“Assess the situation to determine what makes that stretch of road dangerous and adapt your driving to cope. Even if you cannot immediately identify the risk be just as cautious.”
Examples of needed driving styles include:
• Slow down to have extra time to react should a car suddenly appear or a hazard become obvious.
• Increase your following distance to give yourself more time and space to react to an emergency situation.
• Look 12 seconds ahead as you drive so that any potentially dangerous situations do not catch you unawares.
• Watch the reactions of drivers in front of you. Additional time and space gives you the opportunity to notice if cars ahead are changing direction – perhaps to avoid a pothole.
• Always drive with your headlights on to increase your visibility to other drivers 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 if tired. It can make something as simple as a straight road extremely dangerous because your ability to pay attention and react quickly will be affected.
• Be patient and courteous in heavy traffic. Losing your cool or preventing others from entering a lane can create a dangerous and volatile situation.
“Follow the principles of defensive driving on such roads,” Herbert says, “and be ready for any challenge to ensure you emerge from danger zones as safely as possible.”