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Eight ways to beat load-shedding when behind the wheel

23 June 2022 - 12:20 By Motoring Staff
Load-shedding can cause chaos and confusion on our city streets, particularly at night.
Load-shedding can cause chaos and confusion on our city streets, particularly at night.
Image: 17077034/123rf

Load-shedding, which is now almost a daily occurrence in SA, is a major inconvenience that has seen an increase in vehicle accidents on our roads. 

Insurer Dialdirect has compared the number of vehicle accidents when there is no load-shedding to when there is from July 2019 to May 2022 and found that during the week load-shedding resulted in a 5.2% increase in vehicle accidents.

Over weekends this figure more than doubled to 13.5%.

“The dangerous consequences of load-shedding is when street lights and traffic lights are down at night,” said head of Dialdirect Anneli Retief.

“Motorists are encouraged to drive cautiously at all times, but especially so in poorly lit areas. Treat all inoperative traffic lights as a four-way stop and when in doubt, yield to oncoming traffic from the right. Do not assume other drivers will stop, so exercise vigilance and drive defensively.”

Motorists can follow these tips and stay safe on the roads when the power goes out.

  • Plan carefully: Know when there will be outages in your area or areas you plan to travel through and to. Try to avoid the roads in areas experiencing load-shedding as far as possible or wait out load-shedding if you can.
  • Reduce speed: This will give you extra time to react. Always remember to check and double-check before you move.
  • See and be seen: When street lights are out, take extra care in making sure you can see where you're going and that you're visible to others.
  • Stop and then go: Treat intersections with inoperative traffic lights as four-way stops and when in doubt, yield to oncoming traffic from the right.
  • Expect the worst: Do not assume  other drivers will stop, so exercise caution and drive defensively. Also bear in mind not all drivers know an area and its traffic lights well, increasing the risk of them driving through an intersection.
  • Rage no more: Beware of frustrated drivers. The frustration caused by load-shedding often spills onto the streets with dire consequences. Actively focus on keeping yourself calm, driving responsibly and keeping an eye out for irate drivers.
  • Forget about the phone: Drivers often spend more time on their mobile phones during load-shedding to update others that they’re running late — a distraction that could have fatal consequences.
  • Beware of criminals: Hijackers and smash-and-grab criminals use the cover of darkness to their advantage. Keep your car doors and windows locked and closed, be alert and fully aware of your surroundings and move along as swiftly and responsibly as you can.

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