South Africa’s has one of the worst vehicle accident rates in the world. Driver fatigue, driving under the influence and just pure bad driving all contribute to this deplorable situation. Plus we have become a nation of angry and impatient drivers. Just think of how people go through red lights . . .
You cannot control other drivers. You can make sure that your car is safe and you drive safely.
Let’s say you drive a Datsun Go. You are already more than halfway there. The most important requirement is the ability to see. Darkness and rainy conditions hamper visibility, but at least your Datsun headlights help you there. They have been specifically designed to cast their light further and wider.
There are a few practical steps you can take to make sure you see properly under all conditions. Make sure your windscreen, windows and mirrors are clean. Bright sunshine refracting on dirty glass can blind you on a crucial moment. Make sure your window-cleaner reservoir is full. If you wipers start to smear, replace the blades. They are not expensive – infinitely cheaper than an accident. Also, make sure your rear-view and side mirrors are adjusted for maximum rear vision and minimum blind spots.
South Africa is pothole central. You can and will find the most extraordinary potholes on our highways, byways, even driveways. Your Datsun’s suspension has been pothole proofed as far as non-tank technology can take it and it will give you better stability over uncertain surfaces. But when a car suddenly meets donga, the car normally loses.
All you can do is keep alert. You seldom get a huge pothole in an otherwise good road. So if the road you are on starts getting ropey and rutty, slow and be alert. Be alert not only for the potholes but other cars around you as well. When a pothole suddenly attacks, cars often scatter like frightened antelope.
There is a dark joke that speed does not kill, it is the sudden stop during the accident that does. Don’t kid yourself: speed is a major contributor to accidents and their consequences.
Your Datsun gives you all the stopping power you need. It comes with great ventilated disc brakes that will bring you to a complete stop in just 33m from 100km/h.
But there is your reaction time to take into account – they from when you see the danger to the time you start to brake. If you are going 100km/h in a situation where 50km/h is appropriate, you are going too fast. You are the driver and your judgement is critical.
Something else about speed: the greater the speed, the worse the sudden stop at the end. What may be a fender bender at 50 can be fatal at 100. Jokes aside. Speed kills. You have a car with great brakes, but you need to display sound judgement to give them time to do their thing.
Driver fatigue is a major cause of accidents here. Your Datsun has ergonomically-designed seats with great spinal support to prevent fatigue and help you keep alert. Your seat supports you, and you can do your bit by not driving when you are tired, by stopping every couple of hours on a long trip or swopping drivers. Open the windows for a blast of cold air. Stop and run around the car, do a few star jumps.
So your car is as safe as it can be. Do your bit.
Don’t drink and drive, or go too fast, or be aggressive. Do check your tires and oil and water regularly. Do wear your seatbelt, check your mirrors, keep both hands on the wheel. You know, be sensible.
If you do not yet own one of these funky, fun, safe cars, why not look at and arrange a test drive of a Datsun.