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Top tips for safe travel this Easter

Get to your holiday destination safely by following these tips

By on 27 Mar 2024

Unfortunately South Africa has an extremely horrendous road death rate and this coupled with high levels of crime makes travelling by road a hazardous undertaking. South African road deaths are intensified over holiday periods along with increased traffic volumes and alcohol abuse. Give your family the best chance of reaching their destination safely this Easter by following these simple, but potentially lifesaving tips.

Avoid speeding

With Easter being one of the shorter holidays, motorists are inclined to speed, thinking that this will get them to their destination quicker. The truth is that the risk is simply not worth the reward. Speeding will only take a few minutes off your travel time but greatly increases your risk of an accident as your visibility, stopping distance and ability to react is exponentially reduced as your speed increases. Speeding will also drastically increase your vehicles fuel consumption adding hundreds of rands to your fuel bill. The best practice to ensure safe driving and efficient fuel consumption is to travel at the speed limit or slightly below it and to try and maintain a consistent speed.

Avoid driving at night if possible

Driving at night in South Africa is an extremely dangerous practice and should be avoided if at all possible. South African roads are littered with a variety of night time hazards, including unroadworthy vehicles, pedestrians and animals. Criminals also prefer the cover of darkness to prey on victims. One of the biggest hazards at night and one of the biggest contributors to vehicle accidents is pedestrians who are under the influence of alcohol and choose to walk on unlit roads. Despite advances in lighting technology, your ability to see at night is greatly reduced and this coupled with a large percentage of unroadworthy vehicles and trailers who choose to travel with lights that are not in a working condition, results in a very dangerous driving environment.

Obey the rules of the road

Obeying the rules of the road will give you and your family the best chance of reaching your destination safely. This includes the basics such as keeping left and passing right and adhering to the speed limit. A head on collision is one of the most dangerous accident scenarios and motorists should therefore take extreme care when overtaking as to not do so over solid lines or when they can’t see well ahead such as over crests, around corners or in bad weather.

Plan ahead

Holiday traffic will mean congestion on major routes, at toll gates and at filling stations and this should be factored into your travel plans and how long the journey will take. Not leaving enough time and then running late will often lead to irritability, speeding and dangerous driving behaviour.

Avoid distractions

Distracted driving is rapidly becoming a major contributor to road deaths. Motorists should avoid any distractions such as typing or talking on their cell phone at all costs, especially as boredom and fatigue sets in. While talking on a handsfree kit is legal, it can also lead to distraction as your focus is on the phone call and not entirely on the task at hand and should therefore only be undertaken when absolutely necessary. Ask passengers to handle any tasks such as phone calls, text messages or changing the music, if necessary, in order for the driver to maintain their focus on the road.

Stop and rest

It is a well-known fact that drivers should stop and take a break every two hours, but in practice this is rarely executed. A quick stop to stretch your legs and get a cold drink or a coffee in a safe location will do wonders for restoring and maintaining focus on a long journey. These stops can even be planned beforehand to take in points of interest such as monuments or viewpoints along the way and in doing so make the journey so much more rewarding.

Have your vehicle serviced

Make sure that your vehicles servicing is up to date as a vehicle that is serviced in line with manufacturer guidelines will be far safer and more reliable than one that is a few services behind. Apart from conducting routine maintenance, during this service trained technicians will also inspect the vehicle and advise on any maintenance or safety critical items that need repairing or replacing.

Check your vehicle before hitting the road

A thorough vehicle inspection before hitting the road is key to travelling safely. Before setting off motorists should also take time to inspect their vehicle. Check the tyres for any cracks or foreign objects and ensure that they are inflated to the correct pressure for the load you will be carrying. Check that all the vehicle’s lights as well as the lights of accessories such as trailers, caravans and lights are functioning correctly. Check all fluids including oil, coolant and windscreen washer fluid. Make sure that your spare tyre and the spare tyre of any trailers are in a good condition, inflated and that the equipment required to change these wheels is packed.

Avoid overloading

Overloading of vehicles and trailers is an extremely dangerous practice as it will severely alter the dynamics of a vehicle, including its ability to brake and steer efficiently. Overloading can also lead to dangerous effects such as suspension damage and the catastrophic failure of tyres. Be sure to consult your vehicles owners manual as well as the trailer plate and avoid exceeding the allowed weight. Passenger vehicles should also be packed carefully with no loose items in the cabin or anything that is obstructing the view via mirrors or windows.

Keep your loved ones informed

Give loved ones or family an indication of your travel plans and estimated time of arrival so that they have a rough idea of your location and can alert authorities if necessary.

Credit: Reuben van Niekerk

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