The festive season is fast approaching and many families might choose to travel during this time. This might be an exciting time for most as you can explore new places. Some might choose to travel using the road, so it is important to take precautions to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip.
Summer might be a fun time to explore new destinations, but in South Africa this is the time when many people lose their lives on the road. There a few safety tips that you can follow while driving on the roads.
Check Your Vehicle
Before choosing to travel, ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy and that it has gone for servicing recently. Check that your lights, indicators, windscreen wipers, hooters, exhaust pipes, and brakes are all in good condition before you head out on your journey.
Your vehicle tyres should all have a tread of at least 1 millimeter and that your spare tyre is in good condition. You should check that you have the right tools such as a reflective triangle, in the event that you need to change your tyres. Ensure that your windows do not have chips or cracks, and if there are, they should be fixed before the trip.
Plan Your Route
It is important to plan in advance the routes that you will take, this can be done with a GPS navigation tool or a road atlas. It is advisable to make use of major toll roads or routes that are better maintained. In the event that you choose to use ‘back roads’ then you would need to know the routes that you will use as well as the distance between them.
Take into account fuel stops that you will need to take and the fact that you might need extra travel time as the roads might not be in the best condition. You can do your research beforehand to find out the distance from one petrol station to the next as you will need to refuel and pump your tyres. Pack emergency supplies that you might need such as water if you plan to travel into remote areas.
It is recommended to pack early and avoid packing last minute. The latest time you can start with your packing is the day before you leave for your trip. When you are packing for your trip, pack within your means. Do not try to force things in your car and cram items in empty spaces if you have limited space. Choosing to cram things in your car can be dangerous, especially if you are packing heavy objects as they could be lethal weapons if you are involved in a car crash.
Have a Driving Partner
When driving for long distances, it is essential that you have a driving partner. They will be able to help you take driving breaks especially when you have been driving around for hours.
Take time out to have a stretching break every 200 kilometers or every two hours. You can use this break to stretch your legs, splash your face with water and to drink water as it will keep you alert, hydrated and make you feel fresh again.
According to the South African law, every passenger that is being transported in a motor vehicle is required to strap themselves in with a seatbelt. This also includes those in the backseat. Using seatbelts reduces your risk of being severely injured or dying in the event that you are involved in a car accident.
When traveling with children, you should check that they are all making use of seatbelts. If you have infants then they should travel in a rear facing car seat in the back of a car.
Drive During The Day
You should choose to drive during the day as you have greater visibility of drunk drivers, speed and distance judgement, and of what is on the road. There are many people who might prefer driving during the night, especially if it is long distance as people enjoy how quiet the roads are during this time. Though you might have to deal with the heat and traffic during the day, it is also the safer option.
Not only is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol illegal, but it can be dangerous for you and other people on the road. During the festive season, people tend to drive under the influence which leads to 58% of the road fatalities during the period. If you are going to be drinking, then it is best to avoid the road.
Switch Your Lights On
It is important to keep your lights on even if you are driving during the day. Keeping your lights on ensures that oncoming vehicles can detect you earlier and you can grab the attention of those drivers a lot quicker, which reduces the risk of accidents occurring. It can also reduce the risk of pedestrian fatalities.
Know Emergency Numbers
It is important to know emergency numbers in the event that an accident were to occur and you need medical attention. Some of the numbers that you need to memorize are:
- Police: 10111
- Fire: 10177
- Ambulance: 10177
- Accident Towing: 0860 911 326
- Netcare 911: 082 911
- ER24: 084 124
Be a Keen Observer
When you are driving, you need to be aware of everything that is happening on the road. It might be easy for you to go into auto-pilot mode, but this could put you and your passengers in danger. You should pay attention to not only the vehicles on the road, but also the pedestrians near the road.
Take the opportunity to make the most of your holiday, but it is important that you are responsible on the road. Remember to follow the rules of the road and follow the safety tips offered above.
Additionally, here are Easy Holiday Safety Steps To Help Prevent Break-Ins This Season #1