Women campaign for safer roads

EFFECTS of road user behaviour on road safety

Day to day road crashes have become a problem in Namibia. Yet the need to travel from point A to point B is an unavoidable must. We have no choice but to travel. Bad driver behaviour are things that other drivers or road users do that annoy, or distract you from your own driving.

Many road crashes are avoidable and are mostly caused by driver behaviour and human error. Risky driver behaviour can lead to loss of life and considerable damages not only in terms of maintenance and insurance charges, but also insurance claims. As drivers we tend to point fingers to others and rarely admit when we are wrong.

A call for self-regulation among all drivers.

We can rank a few critical and unsafe driving acts to help you evaluate your driving skills. Driving inattentively; merging improperly into traffic; failure to stop for a stop sign or light; failure to slow down in a construction zone; unsafe speed, following too closely; failure to slow down in response to environmental conditions; changing lanes abruptly in front of a vehicle; driving in a ‘no-go’ area; unsafe turning, unsafe passing, pulling into traffic from the roadside in front of a truck without accelerating sufficiently, driving whilst impaired by alcohol or other drugs, changing lanes in front of another vehicle then braking; unsafe crossing; driving right of the centre into oncoming or opposing traffic; failure to permit another vehicle to merge; failure to detect that the trailer of a manoeuvring bus/truck is blocking the roadway; nearly striking the front or rear of a vehicle whilst changing lanes; manoeuvring to the right of a vehicle that is making a right turn; operating at sunrise and sundown without headlights; crossing a lane line near the side of any vehicle whilst passing; driving between large trucks; nearly striking the rear of a vehicle that has stopped or is moving slowly in traffic; nearly striking an unattended or parked truck at roadside and abandoning vehicle in travel lane or impeding traffic.

Over Speeding: High speed reduces the driver’s ability to steer safely around curves, extends the distance to stop a vehicle, and increases the distance a vehicle travels.  Speeding also impacts aspects such as fuel consumption and braking ability. Always remember the faster a vehicle goes, the further it takes to stop.

Handling lane unsafely: Drivers making inappropriate lane changes can either lose control and crash their vehicles or run the risk of being hit by other vehicles. To change lanes safely drivers can divide their attention between monitoring the forward roadway, their surroundings, steering the vehicle, regulating the vehicle’s speed, and using the turn signal. Drivers have an average of two seconds to respond to lane change events, typical responses to these are a combination of steering and braking manoeuvres.

Failing to signal: Failure to signal when changing lanes or the failure to turn off a signal after changing lanes happens all the time. There is a clear correlation between the failure to signal and the possibility of a collision. Following too closely:  Rear-end crashes are common and surely it causes a lot of claims to insurances. Most rear end accidents involve one or both of three key factors: driver inattention by the driver behind, following too closely, or a rapid deceleration by the driver whose car is hit.

Non-use of safety belt: Seatbelt is a must at all times when in a vehicle. Failure to wear seat belts is responsible for more fatalities than any other single traffic Seat belts are one of the effective methods of preventing serious injuries and fatalities on the road.

Alcohol and drug use: The use of alcohol and/or drugs by any driver is a common cause road crashes. It must be understood alcohol or drug use affects the ability to drive as a result of impaired vision, reduced reaction times, reduced concentration and vigilance, feeling more relaxed and drowsy, which may cause a driver to fall asleep at the wheel, difficulty in understanding sensory information, difficulty doing several tasks at once (e.g. keep in the lane and in the right direction, while concentrating on other traffic), failure to obey road rules and over confidence, which may lead to risk taking.

Driver fatigue: Numerous studies have shown that fatigue influences driving behaviour in specific ways such as slower reaction times, reduce vigilance, reduced information processing and effect proper steering, speed and following behaviour.

Sharp cornering: The risk of incurring an accident will increase if sharp cornering is combined with speeding and even more so if this risky driving behaviour is performed with an overloaded or improperly loaded truck.

Unsafe braking and acceleration: Braking hard or harshly and accelerating can have a number of effects on vehicle costs. In addition to the danger that it poses to other drivers, particularly drivers behind the vehicle, harsh braking impacts tyre and fuel costs. ‘Hard braking will also accelerate tyre wear, along with excessive use of the accelerator and brake. When the footbrake is used the road speed that has been lost has to be made up by using the accelerator, thereby burning fuel. If it becomes necessary to change down a gear or half gear then even more fuel is used. The load is also more likely to shift under heavy braking. Harsh braking uses more fuel and require an increase in the number of gear changes that you will subsequently have to make.

Poor driver attitude: Attitude can be defined as a tendency to react positively or negatively towards specific situations, phenomena, objects or persons. A considerable number of research studies indicate that attitude influences behaviour. A drier therefore need to always check his/her attitude and grow better driving behaviour.   

Failure to obey traffic signals: The failure to obey traffic signals is a clear danger to other road users, as well as the driver, the vehicle and the load carried. The consequences for not obeying traffic laws include personal injury, death, and damage to your vehicle or other property. You may also be fines, which may result in a fine or license suspension.

Driver distraction: There is an important distinction to make between driver inattention and driver distraction. Driver inattention occurs whenever the operator of a vehicle diverts his or her attention away from the driving task. Driver distraction, on the other hand, has been defined to occur when this inattention leads to a delay in the recognition of information that is necessary to accomplish the driving task safely Thus, distraction occurs when inattention leads to a critical incident.


For more on this and how you can become a road safety champion in your region please call Hileni Tjivikua on 0811279321. Join Women in Road Safety in Mariental on 18-19 September for more on these topics.