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Avoiding Pedestrians

When you decide to hop in a car and drive the vehicle, it’s a huge responsibility you’ve taken on. It’s a responsibility to keep yourself, the passanges in the car with you and pedestrians safe while you’re driving. Not even counting drivers and passengers, far too many pedestrians die because they're hit by cars. It’s an unfortunately case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens. As a driver, here's how to avoid it.

Avoid injuring pedestrians by being aware

  • Watch out. Informal settlements are often found next to main roads and pedestrians often cross the road at any point because of lack of pedestrian crossings.
  • Don’t speed when you’re in an area that you know has an informal settlement nearby. You shouldn’t be speeding anyway.
  • Always use your brakes if you see a person appearing in the road. You may think that the person has seen you, but this may not be the case. It’s not worth the gamble.
  • Always look for children who may be running around.
  • There’s no hurry. If you’re passing a settlement and the driving or weather conditions are bad, it’s dangerous to overtake cars on the road.
  • Bad weather is bad news for pedestrians. It’s important to slow down your vehicle if there is heavy rain.
  • Driving with your brights on could blind oncoming traffic and could cause them to have an accident. Be considerate when using your brights.
  • Often pedestrians will walk on the side of the road with their backs towards you. They can't see you coming.
  • Drunk pedestrians put themselves in danger, but don’t let their bad decisions affect the rest of your life. Be extra careful over weekends and near informal settlements when more people are drunk and may stagger into your path.
  • When you see a bus or taxi next to the road, be careful – passengers often shoot out into traffic without looking because they want to cross the road quickly.
  • Expect the unexpected.

Things to remember as a driver

  • Pedestrians are everywhere. Even when you think you’re driving through a place where there are no pedestrians, there will always be that one person who happens to crop up out of nowhere.
  • Even though we may hope that all pedestrians dress in bright clothing so that they are easily seen – this just isn’t how it goes down. Often pedestrians are hard to see – drive slowly and be alert, especially if you’re driving in bad weather conditions.
  • If a pedestrian is at a zebra crossing, stop for them.
  • If you see a car has stopped dead in the middle of the road, don’t just overtake them out of frustration, they may be stopping to allow a pedestrian to cross. Rather don’t try and overtake the vehicle if there is any doubt in your mind.
  • Often drivers assume that pedestrians see an oncoming car and will get out the way. One too many sad stories tell us that this isn’t the case. Sometimes physically or mentally challenged people find themselves trying to cross a road, only to prove too slowly. A sad reality.
  • Pedestrians often don’t watch what’s happening with traffic. It makes for a dangerous situation when you’re trying to turn a corner but have to wait for a gap in the traffic before you can go. If you’re not aware of pedestrians crossing the street, you may find yourself hitting one because neither of you were aware of one another.
  • In neighbourhoods where children are often seen around, and in streets near schools, drive slowly and carefully. A good rule of thumb is to drive in these areas as you would like people to drive past your house.

If drivers were to drive slower, pay more attention and not be in such a hurry to turn, overtake or get to their destination, then perhaps South Africa would see a drastic drop in the number of pedestrian fatalities every year.

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