- December is holiday time and in Namibia that means sun, sea and road trips. By now, many people would already have left the city but since Christmas falls on a Sunday, many are yet to drive to their desired destination today. Christmas is special but it can only be that when and if road users are cautious and make it safe to their destinations.The death toll on Namibia’s roads every year is devastating and it becomes even worse this time of the year – a time when families are supposed to celebrate often ends up being a mourning period. Messages on safe drive have been repeated times ad nauseam asking the nation to stop the carnage.
Besides the basics of having your car well maintained, the rest is ultimately up to the driver. With background to previous road trips, The Lounge brings you a few tips that might be valuable as you hit the road this festive season.
Day or Night
There is no specific recommendation when it comes to the best time of driving as it all depends to the driver’s preference. However it is commonly known that night time driving has limited vision as the driver’s sight is only limited to the cars headlights reach. Some drivers like driving at night because there is less traffic and the weather is cooler for the car. It is quiet and the drivers finds a way to connect with his thought in a personal way. All that there is there is simply the driver and the road. The downside of it is that, there are animals grazing alongside the road and they may just be too close to the road or worse they may cross unexpectedly. What’s worse is that the light from the car disturbs the sight of the animal and it may respond by running in any direction. The other disadvantage of driving at night is the trucks that sometimes drive with their lights on bright. The light disturbs your vision especially when the truck driver decides not to reduce their headlights. Many road accidents have been caused by truck drivers who refuse to reduce their headlights for the oncoming vehicle.
Driving during the day is what many advise for safety reason since the driver can see almost everything and can respond accordingly. However, the heat especially this time of the year can cause the driver to feel sleepy especially on long roads. We thus advise drivers to either get enough rest or drive along with a friends who will entertain them so that they are able to resist sleep. Alternatively you may also take turns driving.
There are animals on the road
Wild animals are unpredictable, easily scared and often panic at the sight of a motor vehicle. Animals will wander onto or cross a road in search of food without any thought of traffic. These animals start moving around as the temperature lowers in the evening.
Depending on the route the driver wishes to take, there are always animals on the road which drivers need to have an eye for at all times. The country has received minimal rains so far and it is for this reason that drivers will spot animals grazing alongside the road. Roads like the B1 this time of the year are grazing plains for cattle and warthogs especially in the morning and in the late afternoon. Warthogs are a known danger and cause of many road accidents. We thus advise drivers to be very cautious of the pig-like animals grazing just centimeters along the yellow line. Another known danger on the side of the road is the Guinea Fowls. These birds too have a habit of feeding on insects alongside the roads and can be a problem at any time, especially when found in a flock. They are known to be spoilers of a good trip as they damage your windscreen or soft car bumpers. And of course, the beautiful kudu – they have taken many lives.
Driver should also expect to find grazing alongside the road especially just a few kilometers before a town.
Eye on the Road
The world would be such a better and safer place if all road users obeyed the basic road rules. However, the country is far from realizing this eventuality. Of course we have the few disciplined drivers to do things right, who believe it is safer to protect ourselves at all times. Being able to take charge of your vehicle in case another driver loses control can only be done be managed when you drive at a reasonable speed. Even when you are driving in your lane innocently, you never know when the other driver will decide to be reckless or lose it. So it is advised to always have your eyes on the road because you never know.
There are drivers who take chances of overtaking at a heel when you are innocently coming from the other side. It might not be in your hands but such accidents become easier to escape when you are driving at the right speed. Overtake when it is safe to do so for both yourself and the car you are overtaking. We would like to assume all legal license holder know when it is safe to overtake. Stick to that.
Stick to the speed limit
The limit of 120km/h does not mean 120 is the minimum. It is over emphasized that speed kills but besides that, the traffic is on full swing making sure those who do not want to adhere to the speed limits pay heavily for their ignorance. Imagine what that could do to your #keDecember budget. But before we discuss the fines list, consider that the life of a human being is superior and sacred. If you do not value yours as much, please think of your passengers and those in the oncoming vehicle.
Make sure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition before departure. All lights and indicators, windscreens, windscreen wipers, brakes, steering, shock absorbers, exhaust system and tyres should be carefully examined for faults. Follow the following basic rules.
Do not overload
Have your divers license with you – getting a fine for license and seatbelt should be a thing of the past by now
Do not drink and drive
Try to recognise potentially dangerous drivers on and pedestrians alongside the road and keep well clear of them
Be visible – drive with your lights on, even during the day
Headlights should be dipped well before an approaching vehicle is within the range of the main beam.
Always wear your seat belt and see that everyone in the car is wearing theirs.
Stay within the speed limit at all times
Only overtake when it is absolutely safe to do so
Avoid distractions on the road such as texting, conversations on cellular phones etc
Drive smart and reach your destination safely. Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.