As South Africa battles a second wave of the coronavirus and returns to level three lockdown, back to work driving is going to be somewhat different to previous years. Many companies are still operating remotely and people that do need to travel must think about issues that were not a cause for concern last year this time.
The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says reduced time on the road, avoiding the temptation emptier roads may present and safe practices particularly in public transport should be at the forefront of minds this January. “The challenges created by COVID-19 are affecting all spheres of life including driving habits. While this year’s challenges will be less like the congested roads of previous years, drivers will still encounter a new set of challenges.”
Less time behind the wheel: January is often the time when drivers needs to reacquaint themselves with congestion and busy roads. While this may still be true for some drivers, others may still be working remotely. This means that drivers that are reacquainting themselves with the road may be a reality for longer than just this month.
If you have not driven in congested traffic for a while, give yourself time to become used to the traffic again. Your driving muscle memory will return quickly but until then do not take risks and make way for drivers who have been on the roads throughout lockdown and the holidays. You will, unfortunately, be more vulnerable to impatient and potentially aggressive drivers who have driven throughout this period.
Many drivers that MasterDrive engaged with during the lockdown report driving slower than normal when returning to the roads, sometimes up to 20km/h slower. This emphasises the importance of anticipating this on the road and making allowance for it.
Safe driving: drivers who do not need to or already have regained their muscle memory, should exert patience and caution. If you encounter drivers that seem more hesitant than normal, give them the space and room needed as they get into the habit of driving in more congested traffic.
Additionally, do not be tempted to make reckless manoeuvrers. Despite the lockdown, the number of drivers will inevitably increase, especially once students return to school. Speeding, swerving between lanes, driving aggressively and similar driving habits increase the chance of crashing irrespective of how many people are on the roads.
Using public transport safely: as the new wave of COVID-19 appears to be stronger than before, MasterDrive urges users of public transport to not take any chances. Do not make use of transport providers that are not following the regulations put in place by the government. Ensure that you wear your mask and sanitise accordingly when you make use of public transport.
The new year is starting in a way that is vastly different to other years but still with its own challenges for the roads. “Whether you will be spending less time behind the wheel, need a reminder of safe driving habits or are a user of public transport, make driving decisions that will ensure you have a positive start to the year,” says Herbert.