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Thursday / 20 June 2024
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South Africans are forgetting how traffic lights work

With record levels of load-shedding in South Africa and most areas in the country sitting without electricity for 10 to 12 hours per day, motorists have gotten accustomed to traffic lights simply just not working.

As a result, many drivers are now “automatically treating intersections like four-way stops when the light is actually green, or potentially worse, red,” said Eugene Herbert, MasterDrive CEO.

This can be classified as a form of distracted driving (DWD) as motorists are operating on autopilot and simply going through the motions.

“If, nine times out of ten, on your trip to or from work, there is load-shedding, treating every intersection as a four-way stop may become a habit,” said Herbert.

“Consequently, instead of arriving at a destination and realising one cannot remember most of their drive, motorists are being shocked out of their daydreams by other drivers hooting or swerving around them at intersections.”

Driving without being aware of your surroundings can be incredibly dangerous and lead to severe consequences.

Keeping focus on the road

There are a few things one can do to remain vigilant and ensure you are focusing on the road ahead while doing your daily chores.

The first of these is to get adequate nightly rest. Sleep deprivation results in a mind that drifts easily and makes it more difficult to access previously learned information.

It’s also recommended to sort out your to-do list before starting your journey as mulling it over in your head while behind the wheel could cause you to go into autopilot mode.

If you find that inattentive driving has become a habit and that it’s tough to stop, find a way to remind yourself to keep looking forward and focused. You can do this by, for example, putting a reminder on your smartwatch before you set off, or even putting a physical sticky note on the sun visor – whichever works for you.

Music inside the car can be a blessing or a curse, depending on if you concentrate better with or without it. Whatever your personal preference, avoid putting the tunes too loud or listening to songs that are too intense as it can draw your attention away from the task at hand – which is getting where you need to go safely.

Last, but certainly not least, avoid your phone.

Switch the phone to silent or Do Not Disturb mode whilst driving to minimise distractions, or use software like NOCELL which will only allow certain apps to push through notifications.

“DWD comes in many forms. Do not make the mistake of thinking because you’re not using your phone that you are not driving distracted – and it all has the same tragic consequences,” concludes Herbert.

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