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Drive safe and obey the rules of the road



This article is a reminder to obey the rules of the road. Not only will this keep all your family safe, but will also help others become better road users. Added to these, is the benefits of avoiding costly expenses arising out of bad driver behaviour.

A South African example

The roads in SA are becoming busier and increasingly clogged as more and more cars are being sold daily. The convenience and freedom of owning ones own car is undisputed. It is a way of life in our country - that we take for granted - but daily there are drivers who fail to observe simple rules of the road. This article highlights these with the aim of reminding and even educating road users so that they can become better, more courteous drivers on South African roads.

Where is the law enforcement

There is a strong case to be made that South African road users are becoming increasingly lawless. Maybe this view can be strengthened by anecdotal evidence that can be gathered quite easily, or we can proceed with this assumption.

What is just as clear, is that the traffic enforcement authorities are non-existent and display a powerlessness to resolve the problem. There is no clear message to road users that instills a message of reassurance or education to better driver behaviour.

The 'arrive alive' campaign and 'speed kills' billboards speak to a specific issue, but it does not touch on the all important rules of the road, and how drivers should respect these rules.

Remember the signage saying 'keep left, pass right'. These are the messages that when reinforced through penalty or awareness help keep road users in check. It also reinforces a message of common courtesy to fellow road users helping free-flow of traffic. Clearly there are other campaigns that can be run that keep this 'driver behaviour' concept in the minds of drivers and road users.

What we are saying here, is that merely ticketing drivers is not the answer. Clear messages on what will be acceptable and what won't be acceptable driver behaviour that is enforceable needs to come to the fore by road authorities in SA.

The broken windows theory

As per Wikipedia.org, The broken windows theory is a criminological theory of the norm-setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior.

In simple terms the theory states that maintaining and monitoring urban environments to prevent small crimes such as vandalism, public drinking, and toll-jumping helps to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes from happening. Like this example of an abandoned building in St Petersburg, where it was discovered that the start of serious decay and vandalism, began with a mere broken window that was not fixed - so too can this concept be related to traffic violations on SA roads.

How many drivers do we see daily that illegally park, make U-turns on busy roads with solid barrier lines, or disrespectful 'cool' drivers obstructing traffic behind them, driving too slowly, or making irrational choices at the traffic light?

The list is endless, but the message here, is for law-abiding road users to not fall into this mindset and become better themselves.

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Putting pressure on public servants in the form of traffic enforcement to also take the lead in punishing bad driving behaviour will help restore the norm of order on our roads.

Perhaps taxi drivers are the broken window, but they are not to blame for the vandalised building.

The traffic authorities message needs to be clear: If you break the rules of the road, you will be breaking the law which we will enforce.

Keep a two car following distance

Any driver that has passed their drivers license test will know that 'it is safe to always keep a two car traveling distance', meaning that the space between you and the car in front of you, when driving should be two cars in length.

This makes common sense as it can help prevent accidents on emergency braking or avoiding obstructions for example. Yet many roads users do not follow this sound advice at all ― this is especially true at high speed.

Maybe drivers are always in a hurry, or need a thrill when driving, but again this is unsafe driving and poor driver behaviour.

Hazards

In fact many insurance companies themselves constantly advise drivers to keep a safe two car following distance when driving. There is a reason for this!

Cracked windscreens is a common occurrence on SA roads, that make glass fitment centres a lot of money daily. When a car does not keep a two car distance, there is a high risk ― depending on whether the road is smooth or not eg. a highway vs urban road ― of debris and road stones from shooting up from the car in front directly into your windscreen.

Driving tips to avoid stones

If you have a sports car that sits low on the road, you are more at risk to cracked windscreens because the combination of kilowatt power (causing you to inevitably keeping up with the driver in front) and the low ride height of the vehicle, puts these stones in direct trajectory with your vehicles windscreen (compared to say an SUV).

Therefore especially for these cars keep the two car following distance.

A car windscreen is generally made up of three layers: one glass layer surrounded by two layers on either end of plastic - to prevent shattering on any impact. This is important to know, because it may give you an idea of what the windscreen can withhold and what it probably cannot.

If you are travelling say around 60 kms per hour and a stone half the size of a fist, or smaller enters your path it may be better to take the impact, than risk swerving and rolling your vehicle. Thus putting your life and your entire vehicle at risk. However if the speed is even 30 to 40 kms per hour higher there is no guarantee that it won't go straight through the windscreen. Also very importantly if the size of the object is larger than mentioned there is also risk of far greater damage.

If you drive up to a truck or other vehicle transporting goods, or debris, it is best to try and pass these as soon as it is safe to do so, to avoid the risk of debris hitting your windscreen.

Therefore, Always keep a safe following road distance!!!!!

Last words of importance

Always leave your ego out of the car. This will minimize the risk of road rage and irrational behaviour. Respect other road users, even if you feel they are at fault. It is best to pass by and carry on your journey to make a point. You do not know how it will be received...

It is very important to respect the law, but not to take it into your own hands as there may be a price to pay for your arguably 'good' intentions.

Just breathe in and out, catch a few moments to centre and calm yourself and move on to your destination. You will feel a lot better afterwards knowing you have self control.



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