I travel for a living.
Driving from coast-to-coast every day is how I make money during the summer. I get to see some of the prettiest parts of the country during the ‘best’ part of the year. The sun is shining, the (terrifying) birds are chirping and waves are crashing on the shoreline. It is picture perfect.
It is a tourist trap.
This is why I want to write something on how to stay safe this summer. It seems that people forget about being safe when summer comes out to play. It’s like the sun appears and all notions of safety and common sense goes out of their heads. As I travel to work, this post is going to be about how to safe on the road during summer.
This will all sounds like ‘common sense’, but common sense is the one thing that can help you stay safe this summer (and every season after that).
#1: Obey the speed limit.
A couple of weeks ago, British YouTuber, Louis Cole, was caught driving at 139km/h on New Zealand roads. The reports say that he was traveling at 141km/h, but he was initially locked at 139km/h, which is what he was charged for. That is ridiculous. More than that, it is beyond dangerous. He even admitted, “I don’t even know what the speed limit is in New Zealand.” Guys, how can you not know what the speed limit is and be trusted to drive a car?! I am floored by this information. The speed limit is 100km/h on open road, and 50km/h in towns. That is the standard answer. Stick to it.
#2: Travel at a safe distance.
Simple: Don’t be that asshole who tailgates someone the whole trip. It annoys the person you’re following, and, more often than not, they go slower when someone is right behind them. I know I do. Back off, give them some distance and they will pull over to let you pass (if they are a decent human being).
#3: Pull over.
Again, simple: Don’t hold up traffic if you aren’t a confident driver. If you see a line forming behind your car, then pull over as soon as you can and let others pass you. Chances are they will travel at a speed that is much faster than yours. If there are one or two cars that have been following you (quite closely) for more than five kilometres, then pull over and let them pass. This way, you get to drive without the pressure of having to go faster and the other person won’t attempt a (potentially dangerous) manoeuvre to get past your car. It’s all about keeping you and them safe on the road, remember?
#4: Drive to the road/weather conditions.
If rain is falling out of the sky like there’s no tomorrow, then don’t drive at 100km/h. Confident driver or not, the rain changes road conditions in an instant. I saw a car go through a fence because they were driving too fast on wet roads. It was terrifying. In another instance, I heard emergency sirens go off twice within five minutes for two separate accidents. All because it was raining and people hadn’t slowed down.
The same thing applies to a gravel vs. sealed road. Don’t use the same speed on a gravel road. It just takes one-second for you to go into an uncontrollable spin. Trust me.
#5: Indicate then brake.
It amazes me how many people don’t know how to do this. You are supposed to indicate for three-seconds (or more) as you approach your turn before braking and then executing the manoeuvre. I have seen so many people simply brake then turn (without warning) this summer. The indicator is meant to keep you safe and indicate what you are planning on doing. This is so other drivers aren’t surprised by your sudden movements.
#6: Look twice (or more) before you cross the road.
A few weeks ago, I witnessed a very close call. A woman was crossing the road (not on a crossing) and walked into the path of a car that was pulling out of a parallel parking space. Logically, he should have seen the pair because they were right in front of his car nose…but he didn’t. They should have seen him because he was indicating to move out of the parking space. She yelled at him for almost hitting her, he yelled at her for not using the crossing (which was about twenty metres away).
Long story short: Look twice, even three times, before crossing the road. Even at pedestrian crossings. You can never be sure who is and isn’t going to stop. Would you really put your safety at risk just to get to the other side of the road?
#7: Don’t use your cellphone whilst driving.
I like to think that this one is obvious. You may think you’re being sneaky whilst using your phone, but it is incredibly obvious that you are distracted. That text isn’t that important. Snapchat can wait. Instagram, just why? If you absolutely 100% need to answer the call then make sure you have a hands-free set or pull to the side of the road. Just don’t use your cellphone. Period.
#8: Take a break if you’re tired.
I drive 200km every day. That’s 1,400km a week. I do that every day for six weeks, which adds up to 8,400km travelled. I get tired. Quickly. That being said, I take a break in the middle of the day for lunch (coffee) which leaves me refreshed. I pull over and let other cars pass me if I am tired. Right now, the road toll (for January) stands at 23 people. Today is January 25th. That’s almost one person a day. A couple of weeks ago, I read about a French man who died the day he got into New Zealand. The story says that he crossed the centre line. He could have been tired from the trip or confused about driving on the other side of the road. Regardless, if he had taken the time to have a break, the story might not have happened. Keep yourself (and others) safe. Take a break if you’re tired.
#9: Be a mind-reader.
If you find yourself thinking: ‘They’re not going to do that…’ then it is likely that they will. Trust me. If you’ve thought about it, then so have they. You might know that they aren’t going to make the manoeuvre in time, but they don’t know that. They think they have plenty of time and then some. They might not see you coming. It happens. You need to be able to see the other driver and anticipate what they might do. It’ll probably save their life.
Wait that extra second at a roundabout. Slow down when you’re coming up to T-intersections. Increase your following distance. Don’t drive like a lunatic. Don’t overtake on any corners. Make room for (motor)cyclists.
And remember: People will forgive you if you’re five, ten, or even thirty minutes late. They just want you to get there safely.
Please remember these tips and stay safe this summer.