We’re closing in on the holiday season. With people putting the finishing touches on their vacation plans, millions will be using South African roads and it’s important that motorists prepare for this busy period. Here are just a few tips to help you stay safe and enjoy your holidays for what they are.
Plan your trip
Plan your route and map out all your stops, making provision to stop every several hundred kilometres to rest, refuel and refresh (or even change drivers). If you can, try to plan your trip so that it avoids the rush days when there’s bound to be more cars on the roads. Where possible, leave a day sooner or a day later and do the same for your return journey.
Before you leave
Make sure that your used Audi has been maintained and that you aren’t likely to lose an exhaust on the national road at 120km an hour while overtaking a truck. Check standard things like your oil and water levels, tire pressure, brake light functionality and that your windscreen wipers work
Obey the rules of the road
It sounds a little self-explanatory, but most accidents occur when people take the law into their own hands. Don’t be that person! Overtaking on blind corners, driving up people’s’ backsides and pushing your vehicle to ridiculous speeds are all just a little silly and show you up as a fool. Remember that you’re sharing the road with other people: families, children, husbands, wives. Your moment of bravado or stupidity can have major consequences downstream, including serious injury or death.
Drive to the conditions of the road
Sure, the speed limit might be 120, but if it’s raining heavily and visibility is poor, rather slow down and be more patient. If the road twists and turns (and many of our coastal roads do) then show more control and don’t speed. Rather wait for a clear opportunity to overtake or just get to your destination a few hours later than originally intended. Better that than find yourself at the bottom of a cliff in a burning heap of twisted metal.
Another extremely straightforward piece of advice. But South Africans are notorious for driving without seatbelts. If you ever need motivation for wearing one, there are plenty of YouTube videos that show the effects of not wearing one. Remember your physics at school. Well, if you’re not a fan of your seat belt, you just might become one of those lessons. But in this case when people look for X, they’ll find it scattered across the tarmac.
Don’t drink and drive.
Your WhatsApp message can wait
Distracted driving accounts for up to half of all accidents on our roads during the holidays. Sure, your husband might just have won his first game of golf, or your daughter just won first prize at a holiday club. But checking your text messages, Instagramming, tweeting, Facebooking or otherwise generally using your phone at all, means that you’re not entirely focused on the road. Have someone else in the car respond to any text messages you might get or take that “so-important-it-couldn’t-wait” phonecall. It seems that every year, people are told not to use their phones while driving, and every year ignoring this tip costs people their lives.
Remember that other drivers have every right to be on the road. Be patient, show courtesy and try to be a good human for once in your life.