Women can help make our roads safer
AS many families are already planning for the coming holidays, let’s talk about how to plan better. The Women in Road Safety project would like to share some road safety suggestions not only for holiday planning but for every day and all hours of the day.
Planning the journey and rules of the road
Obey the rules of the road and carry your driver’s licence with you.
Plan the route to your holiday destination and give yourself enough time to reach the destination.
Use a GPS navigation tool or a road atlas to plan your trip in advance.
For peace of mind, try to stick to major routes or toll roads. If you are going to travel on the back roads identify the towns along the route and what the distance is between them.
Do not get stranded without fuel. Always plan ahead where you will refuel.
Plan rest stops along the way and if you are travelling with kids it is a great way to let them know when and where you will be stopping.
Always ensure that a friend or family member, who is not travelling with you, is aware of the route that you are planning to travel. Ideally, you should also update them on your progress of the journey and let them know when you have reached your destination safely.
Try to avoid driving after dark if possible.
Expect others not to be as obedient to the law as yourself.
Vehicle Fitness /Roadworthiness
Make sure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition before departure.
All lights and indicators, windscreen wipers, brakes, steering, exhaust system and tyres should be carefully examined for faults.
Take your vehicle for a full check before embarking on your holiday travels!
Do not overload your vehicle.
Driver Fitness / Driver Fatigue
Have a good rest before you embark on your journey.
Take safety breaks every 2 hours or 200km
Do not drink and drive. If you intend to consume alcohol make alternative arrangements so you will not be behind the wheel.
Remain alert at all times and avoid driver distractions, such as cellular phone conversations, texting, etc.
Be responsible about wearing seatbelt. Always wear your seatbelt and see that everyone in the car is wearing theirs.
Namibian law requires each passenger being transported in a motor vehicle to make use of the seatbelts and strap themselves in. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all passengers are strapped in while travelling. It is a criminal offence for an adult to allow a child younger than 14 years to travel unrestrained in a vehicle equipped with seatbelts or a car safety seat.
Infants and children under the age of 12 should travel in the backseat of a vehicle and should be buckled up, either in a car seat, booster seat or use the car’s seatbelt, depending on the age and weight of the child.
Infants between 0 months and one year of age, or up to 10kg in weight, should travel in a rear-facing car seat in the back of a car. In the event of an accident, the impact will be on the seat and not on the infant.
Defensive Driving Behaviour
Drive defensively. Risk takers are collision makers!
Avoid all distractions. Keep both eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel.
Be visible, drive with your lights on.
Headlights should be dipped well before an approaching vehicle is within range of the main beam.
Stay within the speed limit at all times.
Be especially alert when approaching traffic lights, intersections and level crossings.
Only overtake when it is absolutely safe to do so.
Maintain at least a three-second following distance. This distance should be increased at night, in foggy or rainy conditions and when the road is wet.
Avoid driving on the blind spot of other vehicles.
Be courteous towards fellow road users – keep your temper and resist the temptation to retaliate.
Be cautious when driving alone and avoid stopping in remote areas.
Avoid criminals on the road
Remain alert to any areas that might present a threat of criminal activity such as hijackings and smash-and-grab.
Always place your valuables in the boot of your car and never leave items such as cell phones and wallets in open sight, unattended, or on the seat of a car.
Recognize the safety of all road users
Try to recognize potentially dangerous drivers on and pedestrians alongside the road and keep well clear of them.
Try to keep children away from the roads. The roads are not the place to play.
When walking near traffic, avoid distractions and be visible.
Motorists must be aware of pedestrians and animals on the open road, especially near more rural areas.
Bikers should drive with lights on and wear protective clothing at all times
Bikers should never hang out in a truck’s blind spot or “No-Zone”.
Be extra cautious, paying attention to the signals and brake lights of other vehicles, especially trucks.
When cycling during the holidays remember that there is strength to be found in numbers.
Do not go on the road alone and rather find a partner to cycle with you. This will be very important especially in the event of an emergency.
Inform friends and family when you will be cycling, the road you will be cycling on and when you can be expected to return.
Carry a fully charged cell phone with you so you can request assistance in the event of an emergency.
The law requires that you cycle in single file and with a safety helmet.
Safe Driving in Challenging Road Conditions
Always adjust your driving to the driving conditions and environment.
If it is raining, turn your headlights and windscreen wipers on. Try to reduce speed and try not to brake suddenly. Often there is oil and petrol on the road, which can cause you to skid out of control.
If there is fog, reduce speed, turn headlights on low, or use fog lamps. Use the road markings or the verge of the road as a guide and be very alert to sudden looming obstacles.
Always keep in mind if you cannot see or operate the vehicle safely you should not be driving.
Travelling with small children can be a challenge. Small children can get bored and irritable on long trips so make sure you pack a variety of their favourite snacks and toys, such as portable DVD players, colouring books and crayons.
If your child tends to suffer from motion sickness and complains of dizziness or nausea, this can be helped by getting out of the car for a bit of fresh air. Alternatively, there are over the counter drugs available for treating motion sickness, which need to be taken before.
Emergency stops and accidents
Try to avoid stopping on the highway, rather take the next of ramp to stop in a more public area where you can stretch, refresh yourself and/or take a break from driving; and have numbers for roadside assistance and other emergencies close at hand or saved on your cell phone, so that you are well-prepared for any eventuality.
Keep essential roadside equipment with you as many breakdowns are caused by relatively minor problems. Items include a first aid kit, tow rope, warning triangles, torch and fire extinguisher.
In the event of an accident, determine the extent of the damage or injuries and assess whether or not medical attention is required.
Take a picture with a camera or mobile phone and file an accident report with the police as you will need a case number for your insurance company to file a claim. Remember to get names, addresses, telephone numbers and ID numbers of everyone involved in the accident.
For the magnitude of crime and lawlessness on our roads, we believe it is important to emphasise the importance of defensive driving, which will be discussed in more detail in the next issue. Contributed by Arrive Alive. Join Women in Road Safety today. For more tips and road safety advice send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +264 811279321.