According to the Automobile Association (AA) of South Africa over 135,000 people have lost their lives in road accidents over the past decade. With this stark reality on our roads, it’s natural to feel somewhat anxious before leaving on a long journey to your holiday destination. But, there are a few steps you can take to feel safer on our roads these holidays. Check out these tips on how to prepare and embark on a long drive for a safer holiday.
Before you embark on your journey it’s important to be prepared. Make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip. It’s easy to overlook low tyre tread or a slight steering pull in 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. Ensure you factor in time to prepare before you head off. There are even tyre pressure gauges and sensors that will help identify your car’s load and safety.
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Safety belts are critical for every passenger, no matter where they sit. Wearing a seat belt when travelling in a car is non-negotiable. Statistics show that wearing a seatbelt makes all the difference in protecting passengers from possible injury, should an accident occur. Wearing a seat belt can help reduce injury-severity and save lives.
Another key safety feature in modern cars is the airbag. Many cars in South Africa don’t come fitted with airbags (standard in many countries overseas), but if your car does have airbags fitted it’s best to get these, and other safety features in your car, checked before you leave. Your 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.
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Get a good night’s rest
Make sure you’re well-rested before you get behind the wheel. Get at least seven hours sleep the night before you leave and ensure you don’t have any health niggles related to your back, eyesight or ability to concentrate, so you can focus on the road. Fatigue is one of the biggest dangers on our roads so ensure you keep your mind fresh on the trip by stopping every 200km or every 2 hours. To stay alert, try taking health supplements to boost your energy and mental awareness.
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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 South Africa so be alert at all times. Speeding and using a cell phone while driving are other contributing factors. When driving keep your eye on the road and have your passengers perform other tasks for you so you can focus on driving.
Drive during the day
Many prefer driving long-distance at night because the roads are quieter. Yet stats show that driving during the night 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.
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