Ntsako Mthethwa
4 minute read
8 Nov 2016
10:59 am

Advanced Driver Training: what counts is your safety

Ntsako Mthethwa

Drivers get measurably worse over time and Advanced Driver Training might add to more road safety awareness.

The festive season is rapidly approaching and people, in the main, only care much about having their driver’s licence in their pocket in case officers ask for it. However, road safety remains a priority for everyone.

People will be travelling in large numbers to their destinations this festive. For the 2015/16 financial year, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters announced 1 755 fatalities on our South African roads – a shocking figure when compared with other developed or semi-developed countries.

Personally, as someone with an Advanced Driver Training qualification, it’s the things we take for granted that are most useful for our everyday driving. The increase in the number of vehicles on our roads also means one needs to be extra careful.

READ MORE: Texting and driving more like texting and dying

Many drivers have a false sense of security after many years’ experience at the wheel. According to research, drivers might even get measurably worse over time and doing Advanced Driver Training might add to their road safety awareness.

This awareness is not restricted to just other road users, road conditions, and infrastructure, but the “joining up” of these elements into an overall understanding of their meaning in terms of potential hazards and the appropriate driver response.

As a way of getting myself ready for all the hassle on our roads, the SAGMJ (South African Guild of Motoring Journalists) sent me for a full day Advanced Driver Training at MasterDrive to better my driving skills. Thanks to Volkswagen SA for the Polo GTI, it proved to be more than useful.

Here’s a summary of the things people often overlook the minute they get inside their cars:

Safety belts

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Safety belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. Yet millions every day do not buckle up on every trip.

Use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short. This sets a good example.

Texting and driving

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A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Driving Institute in America revealed that people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to crash. Texting and driving is more like driving blind for five seconds at a time and it slows your braking reaction speed by at least 18%.

Put down your phone, keep your eyes on the road and stay safe. No text is good enough to risk losing your life or causing the loss of life of others.

Following distance

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Tailgating is often regarded as a form of aggressive behaviour in SA, with most rear-end collisions caused by this.

In South Africa, with the high prevalence of road rage, tailgating might contribute towards retaliation by other drivers and initiate instances of road rage.

Always drive defensively and focus on your safety and the safety of those around you. Don’t allow yourself to be tailgated – change lanes or adjust your speed to encourage tailgaters to pass you.

If someone cuts into your space, take a deep breath, simply back off a little and regain enough space –what counts is your safety!

Speeding

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Please remember that observing speed limits means more than driving faster or slower than the posted speed. It means driving to conditions.

When it is raining or foggy, when ice is on the road, when traffic is heavy, when road construction is ahead, adjust your speed accordingly.

Fatique

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Being fatigued significantly increases the risk of a crash. It makes us less aware of what is happening on the road and impairs our ability to respond quickly and safely if a dangerous situation arises. Driver fatigue is believed to contribute to more than 30% of road crashes.

A little rest goes a long way.

The most important advantages of Advanced Driver Training are:

  • It makes motorists better, safer and more competent drivers
  • Drivers will be more confident, as their driving will be safer and more systematic
  • Reduced motoring costs come with less wear and tear on your vehicle as a result of better driving
  • Usage of the brakes, clutch and gears will be smoother and in sync with the car, and the road
  • You could enjoy a possible lowering of insurance premiums
  • Reduced levels of driving stress
  • Improved fuel consumption

A big thank you to the SAGMJ for allowing me to take part in such a delightful experience and, once again, thanks to Volkswagen South Africa for allowing me to use their vehicle.