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How to Avoid Ending up Dead on the Road in Southern Africa

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You’ve got a one in four chance of ending up in an auto accident in southern Africa. Here’s a simple trick that will lower that rate dramatically.

Andrew St. Pierre White of 4xOVERLAND and Paul Marsh talk about driving in underdeveloped countries. White shares the experience he’s gained over 35 years of driving 4×4 vehicles in less developed countries, and quotes some startling statistics on how and why so many rental 4x4s crash.

He also reveals the simple trick to avoiding such an accident.

Standing on a roadside in Namibia, White declares, “Twenty-five percent of all the people that visit this country, and rent a vehicle for their trip, end up with the vehicle upside-down on the side of the road and them dead or injured.”

“That means that when you take your vehicle into southern Africa, there is a one in four chanceone in fourthat you are going to end up in the bushes, injured or perhaps killed.”

White goes on to say that those stats might be a little skewed. It is more accurate to say that one in four rental vehicles in Namibia ending up upside-down at some point.

He then says there is a technique that will move you from the one-in-four category, to the one-in-a-hundred-and-four category. That’s from 1-in-4 to 1-in-104.

“It’s a simple technique. Easy to learn, Easy to do. And this is it…” he says.

“Don’t drive fast. Don’t drive fast. Simple as that.”

In 90% or more of such auto accidents, there is no other vehicle involved, and there is excessive speed. Other African countries have similar statistics. These are facts that cannot be argued with. All of these countries, White says, “have high-quality gravel roads where it’s easy to drive fast, but it’s not safe to drive fast.”

How fast is fast? That’s simple, too.

81 kph (or 50 mph) is too fast. 80 kph (49 mph) or below is not too fast. At 50 mph or above, you are in the 1-in-4 auto accident category. As soon as you choose to drive at 49 mph or slower, you automatically move yourself into the 1-in-104 category.

“Driving on these roads is so different from almost anything else on almost any other continent,” says White.

But he’s not finished. Now, he says, he has a technique that will move you from the 1-in-104 category to the 1-in 1,004 category: engage four wheel drive.

“Four-wheel drive makes all the difference in the world to your safety,” he says. “Use it.” Marsh gives a demonstration on how to engage the four wheel drive in your vehicle. It’s a fairly simple process.

On an unkempt road, one with loose gravel, White recommends moving down to 60 kph (37-38 mph). He also recommends keeping your headlights on all the time. In fact, in Namibia, it is the law to keep your headlights on.

White concludes, “It’s all about common sense, and understanding the threats that face you.”

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

NEXT: What’s Better, Ground Tent or Vehicle Roof Tent?

How to Avoid Ending up Dead on the Road in Southern Africa