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New Zealand’s road death toll is climbing – at odds to the declining car fatality rates of other nations. Getting in an accident isn’t something anyone wants, but is all too common on our roads.
Thankfully, the NZTA reports that there are a few simple things we should avoid to reduce the risk. Today, we break them down in detail.
The number one cause of accidents today is distracted driving, and the number one distraction is our phones. Even with laws prohibiting it, we still tend to check our phones during stops and red lights, and the NZTA has stated this is the leading modern cause of accidents.
You may think it’s innocent enough to simply check your texts while at a stand-still, but the slope to checking them while driving is a slippery one.
The next major cause of accidents is speeding, especially on rural roads. You may see a similarity beginning to emerge between these risks already: it’s all too easy to get away with them in safe situations.
Fact is, speeding on an empty rural road is still part of the problem. Even if you don’t eventually speed somewhere more dangerous, you’re putting yourself at risk – a wild animal could unexpectedly send you off road - and the faster you go, the bigger the mess.
New Zealand’s drinking culture is another main factor in our crash frequency. Again, it’s easy to get away with a drink or two before driving, but even managing your exact intake is far less safe than knowing you’ve had nothing at all.
New Zealand’s drink driving laws are projected to get even tighter over the coming years – and the penalties will be harsher to match. The Automobile Association has stated a key focus in coming years should be the wider implementation of breathalyser locks on the highest-risk offenders.
New Zealand plays host to all sorts of weather, and being aware of changing conditions is another key aspect of reducing the risk of an accident. Reducing speed in low visibility, making sure you use your headlights in the rain, and stopping when fatigued are all decisions that New Zealand drivers should be making.
Even if you do reduce your speed, you may find your vehicle susceptible to aquaplaning – or hydroplaning – in wet conditions. This occurs when a layer of water builds up between your wheels and the road, and renders your steering useless.
Keeping an eye on your tires is the way to prevent this as, if your tread is up to standard, you’ll be able to avoid it. While keeping all parts of the vehicle serviced and fit for the road is important in avoiding a crash, your tires tend to wear quicker than anything else, and should be checked every so often for pressure and tread depth.
Road rage is another leading cause of accidents, as it distracts not only you, but other drivers on the road. If you feel like you’ve been slighted and want to yell or tailgate, take a moment to calm yourself. It’s not worth the injury or damage that it could cause.
Even if you drive like a saint, other people might not. Knowing how to drive defensively and react to other drivers on the road is a vital skill for staying safe on the road.
Be ready for anything, especially during times when you know there’s a higher chance other motorists have been drinking – such as Friday nights, or the weekend.
While not applicable to everyone, it’s worth mentioning how easy it is to forget that any medication you are taking could affect your behaviour on the road. This is especially true if you don’t usually take any medication, but are recovering from something that requires it, like a recent operation.
Check with your doctor if you’re unsure, or just catch a ride with someone else.
The blind spots of your vehicle are critical to safe driving, and remembering to check them before changing lanes could save you from a nasty surprise. Making sure your mirrors are properly adjusted also helps. More importantly, remember that other people on the road have blind spots too, and you could be in them.
Large trucks have areas alongside them called ‘No-Zones’, where the driver is unable to see at all, and collisions frequently occur in them.
This last one may seem pedantic, but you can easily imagine needing to slow down suddenly, only to find the brake pedal blocked. Loose items around your car interior could be thrown around when quickly changing speeds, and risking the distraction isn’t worth the minor effort it takes to ensure there’s nothing to get in your way.
Even if you keep all these tips in mind, accidents can still happen. Being prepared for anything with good insurance is a smart move. If you’re looking to compare car insurance NZ wide and find the best coverage for you, try glimp today.
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