Paballo Thekiso pleads with South Africans, and one driver in particular, to be cautious on our roads over the holidays.
Dear old man driving a green Toyota Tazz around Weltevreden Park in the West Rand area.
I write this to you with full respect and I hope you will receive it well.
First, you did a sudden stop where there was no stop sign, causing those driving behind you to apply their brakes hard.
Second, you stopped at a green traffic light and only went in when it turned red.
Your car, sir, does not have airbags and if I had hit you from the back, your face would have been glued to your steering wheel and I’m afraid at your age, this could have been a disaster.
You were lucky I was the one driving behind you because with my advanced and defensive driving lessons, I was able to react swiftly to avoid an accident.
As we have seen in the news day in day out, dozens and dozens of people are dying on our roads around the country and in most of them I hear people blaming cars or the bad roads.
But I am of the view that even with bad roads and all, the majority, if not all, of the accidents are caused by human error and bad decision-making by people like the old man in a green Toyota Tazz.
Before you start accusing me of being too hard on people, let me give you facts from experts on the matter.
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be part of the Subaru advanced-driving course at Gerotek and here are some of the stats to prove my case.
Ninety percent of accidents are caused by human error, 55 percent of crashes occur at dusk, night or early morning. Twenty-six percent of fatal crashes happen between 6pm and 9pm.
Fifty-eight percent of crashes happen on Fridays and Saturdays.
Twenty-nine percent of all crashes are related to overtaking, 8 percent due to poor visible following distance, 58 percent of drivers in crashes exceeded the legal alcohol limit and 9.5 percent exceeded the level by more than five times.
Like you, I was shocked to learn this.
One of the exercises we did had to do with the amount of time it takes for a car travelling at different speeds to stop. This exercise helped me realise that it’s not necessarily speed that kills people, but the sudden stop.
For example, did you know that at 30km/h and with full force applied on the brakes, it will take 10m for the car to come to a total stop?
And at 60km/h this number will triple to 40m and at 120km/h the car will take 100m to come to a complete stop.
The lessons I got from the Subaru driving experience helped me avoid what could have been a deadly accident. I’m of the view that if all motorists did advanced and defensive driving lessons, we could see a huge drop in the number of fatal accidents
I used to think advanced driving was only about having fun and freedom to do what we cannot do on our public roads, but I know now that there's more to it.
Here is one basic driving rule in case you forgot it: keep a good following distance as you drive to your holiday destinations.
And to the family of the old man, please do your father or grandpa a big favour and take his keys away from him before you get a call from the police or emergency services to come and identify his body.