With the Covid-19 pandemic overwhelming our medical services in South Africa, an impactful approach to helping is to avoid any unnecessary medical and emergency services assistance during this time.
We would like to share these tips for driver safety during the pandemic:
Expert recommendations for driver safety during the pandemic
- Limit the number of places to which you drive and reduce your chances of being exposed to someone or something with the virus.
- Be wary of what you touch when filling up including fuel pumps, keypads and the high-touch areas at petrol stations.
- Limit the number of people who travel with you and ask passengers to sit in the back seat.
- Wash hands/use hand sanitiser frequently to reduce the risk of contamination.
- Disinfect your vehicle’s high-touch areas frequently including the steering wheel, interior door handles, gear lever, seatbelts, radio and cup holder.
- Disinfect the dashboard because it’s one of the most germ-prone surfaces in the vehicle.
- Disinfect any foreign objects you are transporting inside your vehicle and also be mindful that airborne particles can travel to other areas in the vehicle.
- Open the windows between trips for a few minutes to clear potentially contaminated air.
- Ensure that drivers who share the vehicle take the same precautions so that they don’t introduce contamination.
- Use soap on high-touch areas before disinfecting them for best results according to the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.
- Use wet wipes in your vehicle because the disinfectants on them can be effective in killing the virus.
- Avoid damaging your car’s interior by using proper products.
- Avoid ride-share or, if unavoidable, take extra precautions using hand sanitiser after touching surfaces.
- Follow official guidelines set out by authorities such as this official Coronavirus guideline page.
The importance of driver fitness
You wouldn’t want to take a flight with a pilot who wasn’t in peak fitness. Similarly, you could be putting your life and the lives of others on the line if you don’t have optimal driver fitness.
Driver fitness is defined as the physical and mental capabilities of the driver and how they affect safety. So how can you ensure you are at your best before you get behind the wheel? Here are some tips on the basic things you can monitor to ensure driver safety. They can easily be forgotten and when they are, can lead to serious consequences.
Human error and accidents
An international study has found that human error was the sole cause in 57% of traffic accidents. It was the contributing factor in more than 90%, while only 2.4% of accidents were caused solely by mechanical fault and 4.7% were due to environmental factors.
Researchers said that drivers relied on perception, attention and memory – three mental processes that are human and therefore flawed. These processes are also influenced by driver fitness – drivers can make misjudgements because of competence factors such as health, speeding, alertness and blood alcohol levels. Optimum fitness means being alert and able to make sound decisions, being on top form physically and mentally.
The starting point for driver safety is to ensure that you have a valid licence and that the vehicle you’re driving has a valid registration, that you have a low blood alcohol level, are well-rested and fed and are driving within the speed limit.
The importance of vision
The importance of eyesight for driver safety cannot be overstated because it’s essential for observing road signs, road conditions and the performance of other vehicles. To ensure that your vision is up to scratch, go for regular check-ups at your optometrist at least every two years.
There are various eye diseases and conditions that can affect your eyes, for example, glaucoma and cataracts, so monitor unusual symptoms such as tunnel vision, blurred vision, reduced side vision or anything out of the ordinary. If you wear glasses, keep the prescription up to date for driving. Your vision might change as you get older and you should monitor and make adjustments. For instance, you can avoid driving at night if you find it more difficult to see at that time. If you have reduced side vision, you can install special mirrors and always ensure that the windscreen is clean to avoid any glare.
Medical conditions and medications
There are also medical conditions that can affect your driving ability and overall driver safety. For example, low blood pressure can cause dizziness which will affect your perceptions while driving. However, high blood pressure will not affect your perceptions but might result in a medical episode such as a heart attack or stroke and a lapse in driving abilities. Also, the medication to treat high blood pressure might cause symptoms that affect driving ability, so you should check with your doctor and be aware so you can monitor the effects.