Tag Archives: safety


When NOT to overtake another vehicle

The key question: should I overtake?

The seemingly simple manoeuvre of overtaking/ passing other vehicles accounts for a high rate of fatalities on South African roads. Sometimes what may seem like a good opportunity to overtake really isn’t. Arrive Alive gives some great tips on overtaking:

First you have to ask the question: Should I overtake? 

Any driving movement can be considered with reference to the questions “Is it safe, legal and convenient?” There is often very little advantage to be gained for the risk taken! Only after answering YES to the following questions should you start to even think of overtaking:

Can I see far enough ahead to be sure it is safe?
Am I able to pull back to my own side of the road in plenty of time after completing the manoeuvre?
Can I abandon the overtaking manoeuvre if another hazard comes into view?
Will I come into conflict with any other road user?
Will it be legal to overtake here?

Where to Overtake:

Some places are simply better and safer to overtake than others! The decision to overtake is more difficult on a single lane road because of the different physical nature of the road. Dual lane roads are more likely to be straighter and have a higher speed limit which makes overtaking easier. The piece of road that you choose for overtaking must be free of junctions. Be alert to road markings indicating possible junctions. A vehicle emerging from a junction ahead may not be able to see you. If a vehicle does emerge from a junction ahead of you while you are performing an overtaking manoeuvre then the danger of an accident increases sharply. The farther you may identify slower moving vehicles ahead prior to overtaking the better.

You need a straight stretch of road that is long enough that you can move out, overtake the slower vehicle, and return to a normal driving position. Keep in mind that if the road is straight and allows you to increase speed, it would be so for oncoming traffic as well and they might also have increased their speed! Oncoming traffic has to be taken into consideration before overtaking, even the possibility of a car coming from around a bend.

When NOT to overtake:

On the left shoulder of the road. To overtake on the wrong side in the emergency lane is totally inconsiderate of the needs of road users who in the case of an accident may be in need of emergency services.

Where a vehicle has stopped at a pedestrian crossing or a scholar patrol

If overtaking can create a danger to any pedestrians such as in parking areas, building complexes, near schools etc.

Where the vehicle in front is slowing down at a YIELD sign.

Where the driver of the vehicle ahead is not able to have a clear vision of what is behind and passing.

Where pedestrians might be moving between parked vehicles and passengers climbing from vehicles.

In blind areas such as bends in roads, corners, near junctions, crossroads, and intersections.

In blind spot areas such as sharp curves or bends in the route, except where the road is wide enough to allow safe overtaking.

Where the vehicle in front is slowing down when approaching a hill or a blind rise.

Gravel roads: Gravel roads have no markings to assist the driver to remind him where it is dangerous to pass and with the dust from the front vehicle it makes the visibility even worse.The road condition is also worse near bends and in hilly areas.

Take offs and construction works: To overtake other vehicles that are patiently waiting in a queue for their turn and push in at the front is just rude.

Overtaking isn’t something that can be done without caution. Follow these tips and ask yourself the safety questions before overtaking another vehicle to avoid risking your life. If you feel it’s unsafe to overtake it probably is. Rather wait than risk a car crash due to overtaking.



The U-Turn: The most dangerous driving manoeuvre?

Arrive Alive reported that the U-Turn remains one of the most dangerous driver manoeuvres on roads worldwide. Paramedics respond daily to severe trauma from crashes that could have been prevented had it not been for the hasty decision to make a U-turn in traffic. But, why is the U-turn such a dangerous driving manoeuvre?

People often do not foresee the consequences that the U-Turn can have, which is often enough fatal as it is an unexpected driving stunt that usually does not allow time for the faster moving vehicle to change course and avoid an accident.

The U-turn is especially a risky move because the driver needs to cross lanes of traffic to complete the turn and it requires a street wide enough. It is also not always that easy to assume the speed of the oncoming traffic (that is if you can see them).

U-Turns are actually not legal in most locations and the first thing before you are about to make a U-Turn, you should ask yourself – Is it legal at this location? Just because there is no sign indicating that a U-turn is illegal, does not mean that it’s permitted. Arrive Alive states that U-Turns are not permitted at these areas:

-On a curve where approaching traffic from either direction cannot be seen for a distance of at least 150 metres.

-Within 30 metres of a railway crossing.

-Within 150 metres of a bridge, viaduct or tunnel where the view of traffic is limited.

-At undivided highways. A U-Turn is not legal on a controlled access highway except through an opening provided for that purpose in the dividing curb section, separation or line.

-U-turns are prohibited in no-passing zones and one way streets.

-In front of a fire station.

-At an intersection where there is a traffic light.

So, think again before you make that quick U-Turn next time, it might be the last turn you and your fellow road-user makes!


12 signs that your car urgently needs to be looked at

Even though every car owner knows they should get their car checked out frequently and serviced on a scheduled regular basis, a lot of people are still quite lazy or just clueless when it comes to maintaining their car. The truth is, cars are like any other machine, if they don’t get looked after, the chances are it will break down.

Here are 12 signs that your car seriously needs to be looked at:

  1. If the ”check engine” or ”service engine” lights are on.
  2. If your car makes a noise while driving or going over bumps.
  3. If there are any leaks coming from underneath.
  4. If the tyres are constantly loosing air pressure 
  5. Hesitation while driving or difficulty in picking up the speed.
  6. The car tries to jump gear or slipping while driving.
  7. If the vehicle overheats.
  8. Cracked windshield or any missing mirrors.
  9. Inoperative seat belts.
  10. Inoperative fuel gauge.
  11. If the battery is over five years old.
  12. If the spare tyre is in bad shape.

For more information on maintaining your car correctly, check out 5 tips for taking care of your tyres and your guide to basic car maintenance.

Travelling Baby

What to look for in a car with a baby on the way

There may be no greater joy in life than knowing you’re expecting a baby… but with the joy comes a lot of responsibility. If you’re in the market for a new car at this point, it’s safe to say that you’ll be having loads of different needs than with your previously owned cars which might have just been to get you from point A to point B. Here are the must-haves, nice-to-haves and luxury features you’ll have to consider when there’s a baby on the way:

Things you absolutely MUST have:

The most important thing you can do as a parent is keep your child safe – especially when driving. Regardless of how skilled you are behind the wheel, there is always the unknown factor of weather, road conditions and other motorists that could result in a crash. Modern vehicles have jumped leaps and bounds in terms of crash worthiness compared to older cars, even within the past few years. Some modern cars are much safer than others. To check and compare how well prospective new vehicle purchases rate in crash testing, visit this website or have a look at some of the safest cars in SA right now. 

It’s best to look for a four-door vehicle because the easier accessed rear seat area will be easier to deal with. Although most rear-seat coupes do come equipped with child seat anchors, accessing them and the child can be a nightmare. When your child is an infant and in a rear facing child seat this can be quite the struggle. A newborn is going to spend the next several years in child safety seats, so a vehicle with a rear seat is essential.

If your child seat has already been purchased, take it along when new car shopping so it can be test fitted to the backseat area. Pay attention to a vehicle’s official rear legroom measurement as these safety seats are deceivingly long. Also remember, not all smaller cars can accommodate one without forcing the front passenger seat to be placed uncomfortably close to the windshield.

Nice to have:

Rear doors are also important when it comes to size and operation. Vehicles with an extended wheelbase give parents all the space in the world to secure their babies to the back seats.

Chances are you’ll become more distracted behind the wheel now. Vehicles with the latest active safety systems like lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and collision detection could be a life saver if you stop paying attention.

Babies call for a lot of stuff like prams, cribs, diaper bags and more. A car with a large boot is best.

And when it comes to loading a child and their gear into a car, a vehicle’s height is important. Crossovers continue to gain popularity with new parents due partially to their load height. SUVs usually sit too high, requiring some people to have to step up into the vehicle to secure their child in a safety seat. Regular cars, on the other hand, sit too low and force parents to hunch over in backbreaking slouches as they secure the safety belts.

Keeping the sun out of your child’s eyes is also important, especially ones too small to relate any discomfort to you. A vehicle with factory or dealer installed rear window tint is good, but one with built in roll-up sunshades is better. Several minivans, crossovers and sedans are now offering this feature.

Luxury features that you should take if offered:

There are some other items that will make life even easier on new parents, like extra cup holders for kid’s snacks and food as well as excess storage bins for other random items. Some vehicles now include a secondary wraparound rear view mirror so a driver can take a quick look back on their kids without having to turn all the way around or moving the regular rear view mirror down.

Removable rear headrests are a nice bonus as they make installing child safety seats much easier and built-in rear video screens can help entertain little ones on longer trips.


10 interesting facts about road accidents

There’s a lot that can cause a road accident: distracted driving, drunken driving, vehicles that aren’t roadworthy, to name a few. A lot of the time it’s a simple mistake which could’ve been easily avoided that causes a major accident.

By taking note of the following 10 facts, you might be encouraged to pay more attention the next time you’re behind the wheel and to take the necessary precautions:

  1. Worldwide, male drivers have a higher risk of dying in a car accident than women due to their inclination to speed more, drink more and take more risks
  2. In South Africa, the major contributory factors to festive season fatal crashes are drunk driving, speeding, overtaking when unsafe to do so, fatigue, overloading of vehicles and a tyre bursting.
  3. Deaths from road accidents are at least twice as high in South Africa as the global average.
  4. The most dangerous drivers are young men.
  5. While women are statistically safer on the road, they have just as many accidents as men; however, they tend to be minor fender-benders, while men are usually involved in more serious collisions.
  6. Cautious old ladies are more inclined to die behind the wheel than speeding teenage boys – not because they’re reckless, but because they’re frail and less likely to survive injury.
  7. In SA, according to stats released in 1998, your likelihood of being in a fatal crash between midnight and 4am is four times higher than during daytime.
  8. Motorbikes are especially vulnerable on the road as motorists regularly fail to see them, and intersections are the most likely place for a motorcycle accident to occur.
  9. In the US, of all road users, 4-year-olds have the lowest death risk – probably because they’re in child car seats, and their parents drive more carefully.
  10. In the UK and the US, the drivers of station wagons have a death rate of less than half the national average for cars due to the fact that they’re safer on the roads and their drivers tend not to take risks.
Burglar threatens the woman a gun

This is how you can prevent a smash-and-grab incident

Just like hijack-incidents, smash-and-grab incidents are on the rise. Unfortunately if you live in South Africa and drive around a lot, especially in certain areas, getting robbed while sitting in your car is very likely. Here are some very worthy tips from OUTsurance to prevent a smash-and-grab incident from happening to you:

1. Always keep all doors locked.

2. Never open your windows or get into discussions with street vendors or anyone handing out flyers.

3. Do not leave your handbag, cellphone or anything of value in plain sight.

4. Always be conscious of your surroundings and remain alert when coming to an intersection or stopping your vehicle.

5. If it’s late at night, slow down well in advance so that the light changes green by the time you reach the intersection.

6. Keep an eye out for any obstacles on the road (e.g. tyres or rocks). Note: Do not get out of your car to remove these.

7. Leave a gap between you and the car in front of you to give you room to escape (i.e. drive away from the scene), if anything should happen.

8. Be especially wary whenever you see broken glass lying on the road. If the pieces of glass are still scattered across the road, chances are that a smash and grab occurred just recently.

9. If you don’t have smash and grab film installed, leave your window open slightly (approximately 3 cm, but less than 5 cm) whilst driving. This makes the glass more flexible and more resistant against shattering if they’re struck by a sharp object.

10. Fit your window with protective smash and grab film.

You can also read about other safety tips for women while driving and anti-hijack tips.