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Don’t be distracted while driving this festive season

With the festive season on our porch everything is busy and residents is swarming all over to get their beloveds presents for Christmas, not only retail outlets are getting busier but the roads too.

In the next few weeks as schools close and drivers head for their holiday destinations, road users should be more cautious while driving.

“This time of the year should be a time to be festive and spending time with your loved ones but sadly it’s the time of the year that the most horrific accidents is taking place on our roads,” said a local towing truck driver from eMalahleni.

Any activity that takes a person’s attention away from the main task of driving is considered distracted driving.

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“Texting or looking at your phone while operating a vehicle remains one of the most dangerous activities but is not the only one,” says Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association.

There are three types of distractions, namely visual, which are when the driver takes their eyes off the road; manual, a task that requires the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel; and cognitive, when the driver’s mind is not focused on the task at hand.

These activities could include eating and drinking, grooming, adjusting the radio or talking to passengers, to name just a few.

Photo for illustration.

“However, texting is the riskiest activity because it is a visual, manual and cognitive diversion, which means no attention, is being paid to the road,” he says.

“When you’re driving, you have to think about a lot of things: your speed, the traffic laws, the direction you’re going in, road conditions, pedestrians, other cars around you. It’s a long list, and if you’re not focused on the task at hand, there is a greater chance that you’ll be involved in an accident.”

“We need to get off our phones and drive. That should be the only priority. You do not want to become a statistic.”

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He says, however, passengers can help too by reminding the driver when their attention is not on the road and assisting them with anything they may need.

“Let’s all work together to make our roads a safer place this festive season.”

Additional tips to ensure safer driving:

  • Don’t read, eat, change clothing or groom yourself while driving.
  • Don’t allow passengers to distract you. Ensure small children are buckled up before departing and if they require attention during the trip, rather pull over to assist them.
  • Don’t let animals roam around the vehicle freely, rather put them in a pet carrier which is properly restrained.
  • Create a play list with your favorite music so you don’t have to look for songs.
  • Let your friends and family know you will not answer any phone calls or texts while driving.

Keep a safe following distance to allow yourself time to react if required.

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