CRA Public Safety – South Africa

JOBURG – While many of the country’s population will return to the roads, it is important to practice safe driving.

During the national lockdown much of the focus has been on maintaining your car but are we as drivers still fit to drive?

Government’s road safety campaign Arrive Alive shares some of the major challenges and safety suggestions for drivers returning behind the wheel after a break.

What are the major challenges facing returning drivers?

  • If you have not driven for a lengthy period, your driving skills will be rusty.
  • For most, the main concern is about safety and not killing or injuring another.
  • Whether it has only been a few months since you were last out on the roads or decades, the rules of the road are constantly changing.
  • It is incredibly important that you brush up on these rule updates.
  • Roads may have changed and become much more congested in specific areas.
  • Get familiar with any new speed limitations, new roads, or routes that might have changed since you last drove.

Safety Suggestions:

Arrive Alive noted that it is equally important to focus on both the theoretical and physical aspects of the return to driving.

Theoretical knowledge:

  • Ensure that you are familiar with the road signs and the many other rules of the road.
  • Whether you are driving your own car or someone else’s, you need to make sure you’re completely familiar with it.
  • Read the user manual of the vehicle/car.
  • Go through the small rituals that we take for granted such as checking and adjusting mirrors, the car seat, headrest, and the position of the seat.
  • Know more about hazard awareness and defensive driving techniques for specific conditions.

Techniques for the returning driver:

  • Become comfortable again with the pedals and clutch control.
  • Be reminded of observation and where to look during driving manoeuvres.
  • When rusty you may wish to start driving in a less busy area to get into the swing of things again.
  • Acquaint yourself with the adjustments in the driving style required for rural driving, all-weather driving, driving at night etc.
  • Focus on avoiding any driver distractions. Radio silence might be your best bet for a while.

Building confidence for the return to safe driving:

  • For some having a family member or friend next to them in the passenger seat can boost their confidence -whether they are keeping nerves at bay by chatting or giving handy tips.
  • Keep in mind that having a relative or friend beside you in the car can sometimes have the opposite effect for those feeling more pressure having them there.
  • An advanced driving course is always a good suggestion for those looking to sharpen their driving skills and overcome their nerves.

It can take drivers a while to rebuild their confidence but it is important to build your confidence at a pace that best suits you.

“Stick to quieter local roads for the time being. That way you know the roads and you can get home quickly if you feel stressed. Once you have a few hours of practice under your belt, you can begin to challenge yourself by driving to areas you are not familiar with,” noted the campaign.

Credit to Rosebank Killarney Gazette.