Clean up your driving habits and stay alive

THE Department of Transport recently released the official road death toll figures of 1376 fatalities for the period between December 1 last year to January 7 – a sobering reminder that the festive season isn't always so happy for everyone.

Here are some resolutions for this year which may just save your life, as suggested by Tiger Wheel & Tyre:

  • I won't text and drive
This is extremely distracting. The minimum amount of time your eyes are off the road while texting is 4.6 seconds, so if you're texting while driving at a speed of 88km/h you will drive more than the length of a soccer field with your eyes off the road.

That's an unacceptable risk. Pull over to a safe spot before texting.

  • I will indicate
The fact that indicators are standard and not optional equipment on a vehicle should be a dead giveaway as to their importance.

You should start indicating at least 30m before turning, to give the driver behind you the chance to slow down. With so many drivers choosing not to indicate, it's easy to get sucked into their game. Resist the temptation and set a good example instead. It may become contagious.

  • I will check my tyre tread and pressure
Tyres are like the heels on shoes, you usually don't know they're wearing down until they're worn through, but while a worn heel may throw you off balance, a worn-out tyre could blow and cost you more than your dignity.

So check your tread, or have a professional do it for you, to ensure there is always at least 1mm remaining tread around the circumference of the tyre, and while you're at it, check the tyre pressure too. Driving with under-inflated tyres can cause them to wear out sooner, costing you money and compromising your safety.

  • I will exercise tolerance and manners
Take a deep breath when the grandma ahead slows to 20km/h and brakes for no reason and the young hooligan weaves around you.

Flying into a blind rage will only distract you, raise your blood pressure and compromise your decision-making ability.

There will always be road hogs and they will always frustrate you.

So, to paraphrase the great Mahatma Ghandi, be the change you want to see on the road.

Drive courteously, exercise tolerance and show gratitude to other respectful drivers.

  • I will stay awake, alert and alive
A moving car is a moving missile, which is to say that driving is a huge responsibility.

You don't want to be responsible for causing an accident any more than you want to be the victim of one.

So resolve not to drive when you're drowsy or under the influence and when you do drive, to give it your full attention.