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Driving tips for staying alive on SA roads.

Driving tips for staying alive on SA roads.Driving in SA

To be clear I drive the roads of SA every day and the things I see that scare me senseless are the things I am going to talk about and tell you how to protect yourself against. It is incredible how many people think that saving a minute or two on a 30 minute journey is worth risking their lives for. South Africa has a working Traffic Police system but it is subject to bribery and corruption. The cool drink mentality is fairly obvious.

We joke that the biggest employer in Malelane is the traffic department and this is probably true of Komatipoort as well, When travelling down the N4 from Malelane to Komatipoort, there are more blue lights per capita than on any other stretch of road I have travelled, but they are not there to remove unroadworthy vehicles, nor are they there to punish reckless drivers, They are there to stop you and make sure you are carrying your drivers licence, if not then their objective is to find anything they can issue a fine for, or in some cases get a cooldrink.

I am always in awe of the driver that overtakes on a blind corner to get to the first traffic lights in town before I do, I used to travel a stretch of road that is part mountain pass and has blind corner after blind corner. I cannot tell you how many people took their lives and mine into jeopardy by overtaking when there was no way to know if there was oncoming traffic, 8 out of 10 times I would get to the traffic light entering town and would stop alongside them or within eyeball distance of them.

Some testing was done about 40 years ago on a 45 minute journey from the centre of Johannesburg to the airport, about 30% of the distance is on a highway. Three drivers left a point in Johannesburg to get to the airport, One was to follow every traffic rule and drive as smoothly as humanly possible, no emergency braking, ultra fast acceleration and being courteous to other drivers. Another was drive as fast as possible but within the rules of the road as in accelerating hard and braking hard to go as quickly as possible from one point to the other, basically being a dick but following the rules, The third was to go like blazes and not worry too much about the rules. Remember there was a 1/4 of the traffic on that route than there is today so I know the results would differ today, but the journey is closer to an hour and a bit today.

Now you would think the 3rd bloke would get there in time for coffee before the courteous bloke did. As I remember he saved about 3 minutes, the second bloke about 25 seconds. The 3rd bloke risked his life and limb, the wrath of the traffic department for enough time to get out of his car and collect his bags from the boot before the law abiding driver got there. 40 years later people still think being a dick is going to get them there faster.

Let's do some sums. In a journey from Nelspruit to Pretoria not factoring stops for a pee and a coffee, It's just under 320kms At 120km's an hour you are looking at 2hours and 40 minutes (Google Maps has it at 3 hours and 9 minutes) if there is no traffic and you ignore toll gate stops. At 140 its 2 hours and 20 minutes. At 160 it's 2 hours. Add traffic to the fray and these figures will change, but the fact is that risking your life for 20 minutes? Is it worth it?
Road safety

Tips to avoid accidents


A green light means go, right? In South Africa use it as a yield sign, always check that there isn't some colour blind nut coming along to T bone you. In South Africa when a light turns red, the traffic will accelerate to cross over, I have been slowing down for a red light and been overtaken by another vehicle racing against the lights. You would think this would be an anomonaly but it happens often enough that I consider it a norm.

When approaching a blind rise or a blind corner move as far left as you can and prepare for evasive maneuvers, because there is a high probability that some mother's darling son or daughter is going to be overtaking a slower car and are about to make a big bang with you as the victim.

When entering a main road from a side road, be very aware that some mothers darling child may just be in a high speed convoy with his VIP protection team doing double the speed limit or more, They will be on you so fast, you won't see them coming. If you see avehicle coming, watch them for a minute so you can jusdge how fast they are coming, because we not only have VIP motorcades, we have idiots with German cars that think they can stop them on a dime, morons on motor cycles that think they are invincible at high speed, and the worst the bloke in the 1600 sardine can that is trying to beat his previous speed record at 197.36 km/hour.

Never expect courtesy, but when it is offered be polite and thank them for it, You may just be the only person today that acknowledges a kindness from them, and the more people that acknowledge that kindness, the more likely it is that that driver will be courteous again.

Driving at night brings a whole new level of fear. Assume there is a truck trailer combo on the road without tail lights. It is a normal occurrence for me to find such on the road.

Do you have any tips that I have forgotten?
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