Road users urged to stay safe and alert over busy holiday time
The first school holidays of the year coupled with two consecutive long weekends signal a busy time on our roads in the coming weeks, but travellers can take comfort in the knowledge that Netcare 911 is ready to provide emergency medical care where the need arises.
“Drawing on our experience from previous years, we know that this is a particularly busy time on our roads which is, unfortunately, often accompanied by tragic road accidents,” says Netcare 911’s general manager of national operations, Shalen Ramduth.
“Every motorist has a role to play in making South Africa’s roads safer over this time. By following reasonable safety precautions and courteous driving behaviour, it is possible to reduce the number of accidents and ensure that more people reach their destinations and return safely after their holidays.”
Driver fatigue and drunk driving are two major contributors to road accidents, and both are fully preventable. “Drivers need to consider the importance of being mentally alert and in good physical condition when embarking on a road trip. They should also consider that alcohol consumed the night before could still impair their driving ability the following morning,” Ramduth cautions.
“One of the difficulties about alcohol is that it often creates a sense of confidence, so that people under the influence often mistakenly believe that they are fully in control and able to drive. This is one of the most dangerous things about alcohol, because it can stimulate people to take unnecessary risks without them realising that their judgment and coordination are impaired.”
Apart from being rested and alert, drivers should also ensure that their vehicle is roadworthy and equipped with a spare tyre in good repair, basic tools, a reflective triangle and first aid kit.
“It is also advisable to do some research to obtain current information about the route that you are planning to take, including any roadworks or detours you will encounter. Getting lost or disorientated, especially when tired, can cause a driver to become distracted and have an accident.”
To keep road safety top of mind among road users and provide emergency medical and rescue assistance to the public on the N3 highway to Durban during this busy holiday period, Netcare 911 has bolstered it’s Harrismith base with ambulances, an advanced life support response vehicle and emergency care practitioners.
Netcare 911 urges road users to follow these basic safety tips:
- Always ‘buckle up’: ensure that the driver and passengers are wearing seat belts and children are properly secured in safety seats at all times during a journey.
- Get adequate quality sleep before setting off on your journey.
- Avoid alcohol before and during the journey.
- Stop and take a break from driving at least every two hours.
- If you are feeling very tired, stop at a safe place and take a nap or stretch your legs – wait for at least ten minutes before getting back in the car as you need to ensure that you are properly awake.
- Keep the temperature in your car cool, since a warmer environment encourages sleepiness.
- Make a point of checking blind spots and ‘reading’ road and traffic conditions – do not simply keep your eye on the vehicle ahead of you.
- Do not use your cell phone while driving, rather allow your passengers to SMS, tweet and take photographs for you.
- Ensure a safe following distance of at least three seconds from the vehicle in front of you
Ramduth offers the following advice when reporting an emergency: “Dial 082 911. When the call is answered, begin by stating ‘I have an emergency…’. Give your name and contact number clearly so that we will have a means of contacting you. State whether it is a life-threatening situation from the outset. Be specific. Give your exact location and the physical address or location where the persons requiring assistance can be found.”
Technology is also making it easier to call for assistance in the case of an emergency, with a recent partnership between Netcare 911 and mySOS emergency mobile application.
In an emergency, the mySOS app sends an alert to Netcare 911’s national emergency operations centre, or other relevant emergency services, and your selected loved ones to show them your GPS location. The app also makes a phone call to Netcare 911, or the most appropriate service provider for the type of emergency encountered, so that assistance is mobilised in the shortest possible time.
mySOS can be downloaded at https://www.mysos.co.za/download.html.
The app also includes a function that can track you when you are travelling, for greater safety and peace of mind for both the traveller and their loved ones. If you do not reach your destination within a time limit set by yourself, the app will alert your selected emergency contacts, providing them with your position and a map of the route you took, while continuing to track your location. This potentially lifesaving service is designed to be efficient, as it uses minimal battery power on your phone.
“It is always our hope that there will not be any accidents, and we hope to pre-empt many preventable accidents by promoting road safety awareness. Nonetheless, Netcare 911’s dedicated emergency care practitioners will be on full alert and ready to assist in case of any medical emergency that may arise,” Ramduth concludes.