Bryte Insurance | Loadshedding and road safety: what you need to know
Serious road safety issues and traffic congestion number among the many negative consequences of severe loadshedding.
Added to the chronic lack of electricity, theft and vandalism mean that even the country’s biggest metros cannot provide backup power for their traffic lights. This is more than a source of frustration for motorists. According to the KwaZulu Natal Department of Transport, the spike in accidents during power outages has become a serious issue impacting overall road safety. And while these may not be fatal, they also significantly affect traffic congestion.
Motorists must be especially cautious during loadshedding to manage the added risks of driving during power outages.
Practice caution when approaching traffic lights
During loadshedding, traffic lights should be treated as a four-way stop. Don’t take anything for granted – proceed with extreme caution, as fellow motorists may disregard the rules or get confused and drive out of turn. Double-check if it is safe to proceed, even if you have the right of way.
Appreciate the point of pointsmen
The ubiquity of makeshift pointsmen at busy intersections is a truly South African innovation. These unofficial traffic officers can be helpful, reducing the congestion usually encountered at traffic lights during outages. But motorists need to be cautious. Firstly, self-appointed pointsmen have no official mandate, and many drivers may choose to disregard their directives. Be alert and aware.
It is also important to recognise that as these are not officials appointed by a relevant authority, they have no legal standing. Following their instructions is no excuse for reckless driving or failing to follow the rules of the road. You, therefore, risk being liable for an accident, even if you were following the lead of someone conducting traffic.
Stay informed about planned outages
Power outages aren’t always predictable, but it can be helpful to check the loadshedding schedule before you set out to enable you to plan your route. Consider using a navigation app to optimise your route and alert you to unexpected delays.
Be sure to read and understand your policy
Motor insurance is essential for any vehicle owner. In addition to regular cover for accident damage and theft, comprehensive motor insurance also provides drivers with third-party liability cover.
As roads become much more congested, traffic risks increase. It is, therefore, more important than ever to ensure you have adequate cover and understand the terms of your policy. Should a policyholder ever experience an accident, the insurer will attend to the claims as long as the terms and conditions are met, such as the driver holding a valid license, not driving under the influence of alcohol etc. From a liability aspect, it is also essential that motorists apply due caution, drive at the speed limit, and be aware of their surroundings. Consider consulting with your broker or insurer for guidance to avoid misunderstandings about your obligations under unusual traffic conditions.
*Advisory note issued by Bryte Insurance.