In 2017, over 1500 South Africans died on our roads. This is a horrifying statistic, and one that we should work together to change. While alcohol and speeding are major factors in road accidents, distraction from use of a cellphone is a growing problem.
If you’re talking on a cellphone, you’re four times more likely to have an accident. If you’re texting or looking at the net on your phone, you’re 23 times more likely to crash.
Whether you’re driving across the country to your holiday destination, or just nipping to the shops, you should be equally careful behind the wheel. These handy tips will help you drive responsibly.
When you text, your attention is taken off the road for approximately five seconds. On a highway, at 120km/h, you’d travel one-and-a-half football pitches in that time, without looking at the road. Obviously, that is incredibly dangerous.
Vodacom wants you to W8_2Send - consider what text message or WhatsApp is worth your life, the lives of your passengers, and the other road users around you. Rather pull over to a safe place, like a garage, to have your text conversation or check Google Maps.
If you think you’ll be tempted, make a habit of leaving your cellphone in the boot. It’ll be safe from a smash and grab, too.
Check your settings
Both Android and Apple devices have settings that are designed to keep you safer while driving.
Apple: iOS 11 has a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode that senses when you’re driving and disables notifications so your screen stays dark. Some notifications, like emergency alerts, timers and alarms, will be delivered.
You can choose to allow calls only from Favourites, or choose to allow calls if the person calls you twice in a row. If you’re connected via Bluetooth, calls will come through as normal.
If you’re using Maps, your phone will show your navigation on the lock screen and give you turn-by-turn directions. If you’re a passenger, your phone may think you’re driving - you can tap I'm Not Driving to turn it off.
Change your settings in Settings > Do Not Disturb.
Android: Install Android Auto or a similar app to get many similar features, although it’s not as restrictive as Apple’s version, and it doesn’t have an option to turn on automatically. Google has been testing Driving Mode recently, so it should roll out soon.
Make a playlist on Deezer
Fiddling with the radio or skipping songs on your phone are prime ways to distract yourself. Rather subscribe to Deezer and either choose an existing playlist, or make your own with your favourite driving songs. Our top summer driving tune is Black Coffee's 'Drive'. Bonus: Vodacom users can subscribe to Deezer via their Vodacom accounts, and get amazing special deals with some new contracts.
Download your map
Accessing Google Maps and setting your route before you start has two bonuses: one, you won’t be distracted as you drive, and two, you’ll save data if you download your map before you leave home and use Google Maps in offline mode.
Use the Voice Assistant
Whether you use Siri, Bixby or the Google Assistant, Voice Assistants can be very handy on the road if you really, really need to make a phone call.
Many newer cars come equipped with Bluetooth that connects automatically to your phone when you start driving. If your car doesn’t, invest a few hundred bucks in a Bluetooth Handsfree Kit that allows you to stream music and receive calls.
Use your headphones
If you don’t have Bluetooth connectivity, go really old school and use the headphones that came with your phone. They usually have a microphone so you can receive calls very effectively. Pop your headphones in before you set off, in case you get a call on the road.
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Photo by Simon Matzinger from Pexels