According to the Automobile Association (AA) of South Africa over 135 000 people have lost their lives in road accidents over the past decade. This has been declared ‘a national crisis’ by the AA and comes at a time when road safety is a challenge for the transport system in our country.
“It’s natural to feelsomewhat anxiousbefore leaving on a long journey to your holiday destination,” Says Brett Ferreira, Franchise Executive at Midas.“Most of us have reached burnout and desperately needa holiday promising rest and relaxation,yet we’re concerned aboutthe potential risks associated with a long drive on busy South African roads,” says Ferreira.
In order to make your trip as safe and pleasant as possible, it’s important to take charge of every aspect of the journey that you can control; before you depart; and to approach it in a cautious and balanced manner.
Midas, offers the following tips on how to prepare and embark on a long drive- with optimal safety in mind:
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip. It’s easy to overlook low tyre tread or a slight steering pullin the grinding last few weeks of the working year. Small issues like wheel alignment or tyres taking pressure from an increased load,easily become larger (even fatal), ones. So, factor in time toprepare.
2. Buckle up and check your safety features
It’s important to ask yourself, how safeis my car?
Safety belts are critical for every passenger, no matter where they sit. The instruction to “Buckle up!” is non-negotiable. -Statistics show that wearing a seatbelt makes the all the difference in protecting from possible injury, should an accident occur. Alsoin reducing injury-severity and saving lives. Younger toddlers and babies need to be strapped safelyinto an approved car seat and unbuckling for a snack shouldn’t be an option. To help avoidlittle ones getting restless,place a bag of travel activities within their reachor possibly a tablet with their favourite movies downloaded on it.
Whilst many cars in South Africa still don’t come fitted with airbags (standard in many countries overseas) if yours does, it’s best to get them checked before you leave. You approved dealer should be able to test they’re in good working order. Other essential built-in safety features include: ABS brakes and ESC (Electronic Stability Control) mechanisms.Also, don’t forget the First Aid kits.
3. Get a good night’s rest and be at your best
Don’t overdo things the day before you leave. Get at least seven hours sleep the night before. Health-niggles related to your back, eyesight or ability to concentrate,should be seen toprior. Keep your mind fresh on the trip by stopping every 200km or so. Fatigue is one of the biggestdangers on our roads.
4. Know your route
Whether you're using a map, an app or Satnav, know the route and distance you're taking and keep to familiar onesif possible.If you’re venturing into unknown or remote areas, factor-in extra time and take emergency supplies like water, snacks and a powerbank.
5. Defensive driving
Always apply the defensive driving principle.Rather be cautious and look out for other drivers’ erratic behaviour. Statistics show that alcohol is a factor in 58 percent of road fatalities in SA!Speeding and using a cellphone while driving are other contributing factors.
6. Choose the smart speed
Going too fast or too slow can significantly increase the risk of an accident. Go too slow and everyone will want to get past and take chances - putting you into the path of danger. Drive too quickly and you may not able to slow down in time, if something goes wrong. It’s safest to stick to the speed limit. Neverovertake if you're not sure you'll get to the other side safely and always leave margin for error.
7. Drive during the day
Many prefer driving long-distance at night because the roads are quieter. Yet stats show that driving then is a lot more dangerous. There’s obviously a significant decrease in visibility and diminished speed/distance judgement. Also, more drunk drivers. You may contend with more traffic and summer heat, when driving during the day, but it's still, by far, the safest.
Your holiday should start from the moment you leave home, make the most of your journey and see the travel time together as an adventure that good memories are made from!