Nine useful tips to ensure safe travels these holidays

South Africa’s roads are the seventh most deadly in the world, according to the The Telegraph (based on the number of road fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants per year). According to statistics released by the Department of Transport, a total of 1527 people died on South Africa’s roads between December 1, 2017 and January 15, 2018.

 Alcohol abuse remains the leading cause of fatalities, with more than half of the drivers who died having had dangerously high blood-alcohol levels. Not drinking and driving is a no-brainer, but what else can you do to keep you and your family safe on the road this holiday season?

Here are some useful tips to make sure you travel safely these holidays: 

  1. Plan your route and map it out, including regular stops along the way. Investigate roadworks, road closures and detours, so you can plan for any delays. Useful apps include Tom Tom, Waze and Google Maps. 
  2. Check the weather beforehand to know what road conditions and potential hazards to expect. For example, late-afternoon thunderstorms and cloudbursts are particularly prevalent on the Highveld and in KwaZulu-Natal. 
  3. Have your car serviced. Check tyre treads and pressure, oil and water levels, battery and windscreen wipers, and if necessary replace the fan belt, air filters or spark plugs. If your vehicle is no longer under warranty, visit a workshop. Do the same checks before you begin the journey home again. 
  4. Rest both before and during the trip. In the few days leading up to a long road trip, get plenty of good quality sleep – at least eight hours a night. When you’re on the road, 15-minute rests every two hours will ensure you keep awake and alert. If you’re struggling to keep your eyes open, or are having to turn up the radio or roll down the window to keep yourself awake, pull over and stop immediately. 
  5. Consider signing up with a roadside-assistance programme like the AA ( Alternatively, sign up with your car brand’s manufacturer programme. 
  6. Don’t overload your car with luggage (check in the manual for its maximum carrying weight), and adjust the tyre pressure for heavier loads. Keep the back shelf free of baggage so you have a clear view of the road behind in your rear-view mirror. Secure heavier loose items so they won’t fly around and possibly cause damage or injury if you have to brake suddenly. Every year, loose objects inside cars during crashes cause hundreds of serious injuries and even deaths. 
  7. Stock up on essentials, like wet wipes, plastic cups, a cooler box stocked with healthy, nourishing precooked or fresh food, money/card for toll roads, a first-aid kit, a torch, jumper cables, a spare tyre and of course a car jack. Much of what you need can be found at the Naskar Spares Silverton or Silver Lakes stores. 
  8. Drive for optimum fuel efficiency. To conserve fuel, avoid making sudden starts and stops, carrying unnecessary weight in the car or exceeding the 120kph speed limit on open roads. 
  9. Follow the rules of the road! Buckle up, don’t talk on your cellphone while driving, keep a safe distance from the car in front of you, obey speed limits and use your indicators. 

Adapted from (Mar 26, 2015)