How to cope with driving in neighbouring countries

Brian Joss – As the economic consequences start to affect the world as a whole, drivers who are allowed to conduct cross border deliveries under level three lockdown, may encounter roads that are more deteriorated than usual.

Economic difficulties in many neighbouring countries meant that certain countries already had dangerous roads and conditions even before the economic downturn of COVID-19.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says practising defensive driving will be the most important tool in your arsenal against ill-kept and dangerous roads. “By ensuring that you do not stray from your defensive driving habits, you will likely identify dangerous situations faster, have more time to respond to these situations and have more skills when it comes to deciding on your best course of action to avoid a crash.”

Here are some tips to help you safely travel outside the country:

Ensure that you check your vehicle before leaving and all necessary maintenance and services are completed before setting off on a long journey and before you return.

Keep an eye on things such as water and oil levels throughout the trip.

Obey the speed limit so that you have enough time to stop or move around obstacles.

If conditions are bad, such as misty, rainy or there are a lot of potholes, reduce your speed even lower than the posted speed limit.

Keep your headlights on as it increases your visibility to other drivers.

Avoid driving at night as it will be more difficult to spot problems and you are likely to run into derelict vehicles at this time.

If road signs warn you of obstacles such as potholes, pay attention and adjust your driving.

In rural areas watch out for animals that could stray into the road.

If there is a sign warning of animals, slow down whether you see any animals or not.

Plan your route so that you ensure that you have enough fuel to get to the next safe opportunity to refuel.

Be prepared for the different roads you might encounter and ensure you have been trained to drive on all roads whether gravel, sand or tar.

Keep all required documents close at hand. Zimbabwe, in particular, has a reputation for having many police roadblocks and subsequent fines or soliciting of bribes for not meeting regulation.

 Unfortunately, African countries have a bad reputation when it comes to the condition of its roads. “Some countries may have roads very similar to South Africa but others are in desperate need of repair and maintenance. This creates driving challenges that you need to be prepared for as one of the few individuals allowed to cross the border right now,” says Herbert.

CAPTION Trap for the unwary:  badly pot-holed road. Picture: Motorpress

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