We hear about it in the news every year: the number of fatalities on the road during the holiday season. Well, road safety is of paramount importance, so we’ve compiled a list of some simple ways to keep you and your family safe on the roads this December.
We want everyone to have fun, but also to be cautious. It’s better to be safe than sorry…
Let’s look at the ways to stay safe.
Put your phone onto Do Not Disturb mode.
Most phones have a Do Not Disturb function of some kind or other. The reason it is useful is, even when we have the best intentions about not using our phones while driving a car, a sudden phone call or message notification beep can be oh so tempting.
The reason to avoid using your phone on the road is just by reading the messages, you increase your risk of an accident by 22 times. That’s massive. If you’re on your way to Durban or Cape Town or Johannesburg, chances are you’re driving at 120 km/h. At that speed, you’re almost certainly guaranteed a fatal crash in an accident.
By putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’, you remove temptation, and you can focus on the road.
Getting enough sleep is as important as not drinking.
We all know drinking alcohol, especially a lot of it, before getting behind the wheel is bad. It increases your risk of an accident considerably. But not many people know that being severely sleep deprived can be as bad. Not only does it lead to much slower reaction time, but if you’re exhausted enough you may experience something called ‘microsleeps’. It’s basically when your brain, as sleep deprived as it is, actually shuts down for extremely brief moments… frequently. Nothing could be more dangerous.
Make sure the night before a long road trip, you go to sleep early, and get plenty of rest. One way to ensure this is to turn off your phone or tablet computer an hour before you plan on going to sleep. They actually stimulate the brain. If you’re one of those who likes to read before bed, rather get an old-fashioned paper book. Or even certain types of Kindles are almost the same as reading from a page, because of the screen tech they use.
Whatever the case, a good, restful night is one of the most important things you can do.
Choose your music carefully.
An Israeli study showed that music with high beats per minute, like Trance music, has the effect of making drivers more aggressive and likely to take risks.
There’s no need to listen to intense music; listen to music that will help you concentrate and focus, but not at the expense of your inhibitions. Examples of good music to help you concentrate include Bach and Mozart, but if that isn’t your thing, any good old-fashioned music will do… provided it doesn’t make you more aggressive. There are often stretches of windy roads where you can’t tell if vehicles driving in the opposite lane are literally around the corner. If you’re feeling too aggressive while trailing behind a slow truck, you may just feel compelled to overtake on a blind corner or hill.
Don’t do it. Murphy has a Law, and that Law tends to come true when we do things like dangerous overtaking.
Increase your visibility.
This is the simplest trick of all. Simply run your headlights during the day. But even if you’re perfectly visible at 12 noon, a lot of people don’t turn on their headlights during civil twilight (the first stretch of twilight i.e. the time the sun has set, but it still lightens up the horizon quite a bit). They don’t realise that, because there is still enough light to see without turning on the headlines, they themselves aren’t as visible to other cars.
Always wear a seat-belt.
You’d think this one was obvious, but a lot of people (interestingly enough, mainly men) believe that they don’t need to wear seat-belts because of airbags.
Problem is, airbags are designed to work under the assumption that you are wearing your seat-belt. And if you aren’t, they can also cause you some serious harm.
Besides, being flung out of a moving car is not fun. And on that note, there is also the erroneous belief that if you’re in the back, you also don’t need to wear a seat-belt. Being flung around the car like a ragdoll will quickly cure that misconception. But let’s just avoid it altogether and rather put safety first.
Stay safe, everybody!
One last thing. Try to avoid having to stop at the side of a road to use the bathroom (when nature calls, don’t necessarily go to nature). There are normally petrol stations at regular intervals on a journey. But some road trips have long stretches without them. Try plan your trip, so even if you don’t feel like using the bathroom, you do at the last station before the stretch begins.
That way you can best avoid making a pitstop in the middle of nowhere, where anything can happen.
Stay safe, use common sense, and always err on the side of caution, and you should get to your destination just fine.