Safer vehicles on safer roads combined with decades of public awareness campaigns have ensured that road accidents have reduced drastically in New Zealand over the years as more people become safer drivers. While this is definitely a move in the right direction, road carnage still remains a big problem for NZ.
Statistics show that up to 377 lives were lost in 2018 as a result of road accidents in the country with numerous related injuries. These figures are unacceptable and we all have to do our part to curb these unnecessary fatalities.
Technology reduces road accidents
Technological developments in New Zealand and all over the world in general have helped greatly in the reduction of accidents on our roads. Cars with more safety features and advancements in road construction and traffic management have been very effective in reducing road incidents.
Although technology helps, we still need to do our part. The majority of road accidents can be attributed to human error — emphasizing the need for each citizen to be responsible and practise safe driving techniques. This applies to all drivers, both new and experienced.
To help you be a safer driver, we have complied a list of 10 tips for safer driving in New Zealand.
1. Do not drive drunk. This is one of the most emphasised road safety guidelines, yet people still ignore it. It’s not only unsafe to drive while drunk, it’s also illegal and can land you in legal trouble if you get caught by the authorities.
Even at low levels, alcohol in your system impairs your ability to make judgements in addition to lowering your inhibitions, reducing your rection time, and affecting your coordination. High levels of alcohol can result in blurry or double vision and in extreme cases, loss of consciousness.
If you’ll be driving, it’s advised that you keep away from the booze for both your safety and that of other road users. If you plan on drinking, make sure you have a sober designated driver to chauffeur you. Or ask for a ride from a friend or get an Uber.
2. Speed kills. The faster you drive, the higher your chances of getting into a road accident. In addition, the risk of fatality increases at higher speeds.
Speeding is dangerous because it reduces your ability to identify hazards and drastically reduces the amount of time you have to react to hazards that you’ve already been late to identify.
To prevent speeding, make sure you plan your trips to give yourself ample time for travel. Also make sure to follow the recommended speed limit on each specific road you drive on.
3. Keep your eyes on the road. A huge number of road accidents happen because the driver was not paying attention when they’re driving. Don’t eat, groom or fiddle with electronic devices when you’re driving.
Texting while driving is a huge NO and you should never do it. Also avoid interactions with passengers that will take your eyes of the road.
4. Avoid fatigue. Long trips and working hours or lack of sleep can cause you to become drowsy while you’re behind the wheel. The results of falling asleep while driving are predictably bad.
To avoid drowsiness while driving, it’s important that you get adequate sleep — not just when you’re going on long trips, but every day. If you start feeling even slightly groggy when on the road, take immediate action and get some rest.
5. Belt up. Even at low speeds, a crush can cause serious injury to a person who is not wearing their safety belt. Most vehicles have a feature to remind you to buckle up, don’t ignore it even if you’re driving a short distance.
A good practice would be to belt up immediately you get in the car as a habit. Also make sure all passengers are buckled-up before you set off.
6. Vigilance in bad weather. Weather conditions such as fog, snow and storms can drastically reduce visibility, impairing your ability to see more than a few metres ahead. Wet conditions on the road can also reduce traction which makes it difficult to control your car when braking or steering.
In difficult road conditions, drive below the speed limit and maintain a larger following distance. If you happen to end up on the roadside, switch off your lights so as not to mislead other drivers who can’t see well as to the position of the road.
7. Maintain a safe following distance. Often, hazards on the road can appear abruptly forcing drivers to brake instantly. If you follow the vehicle in front too closely, you might not have time to react if they brake suddenly.
It’s recommended that you maintain a 3-second gap with the car ahead so that you have time to react when you need to.
8. Look out for other motorists. While you might be driving safely and following the rules, the next person might not. It’s therefore your responsibility to keep an eye out on everyone around you.
Watch out for rogue drivers and use your judgment to anticipate mistakes so that you can react appropriately.
9. Use defensive driving techniques. Defensive driving is advanced driver training that teaches you how to be a safer driver. Among the things you’ll learn include reacting to hazards and taking precautions to minimise the risk of accidents.
A defensive driving course, in addition to traditional driver training, can help you better protect yourself from road incidences.
10. Maintain vehicle safety. Maintaining your vehicle is not only useful for extending your cars life, it also enhances your safety while you’re on the road. Although vehicle inspections in New Zealand ensure most of the car issues are sorted out, care should be taken to ensure your vehicle is in tip-top shape.
A common maintenance problem that causes many accidents is improper tyre pressure. Uneven tyre pressure — either low or high — can affect performance and increase the risk of a blowout.
Taking these precautions can help ensure that the number of avoidable road accidents on our roads are reduced and even eliminated.
Article suggested by A1 Driving School