The Easter school holidays this year begin on 28 March, which means roads across the country will be much busier during this period as thousands of people embark on holidays.

An increase in traffic volumes almost always sees an increase in fatalities on the country’s roads, and motorists are urged to be vigilant while driving. More than 1700 people died on South African roads over the 2016/2017 December holiday period, another reminder of the dangers of driving on the country’s roads during festive breaks

Roads during the Easter weekend period (30 March – 2 April) may be even more congested as travellers enjoy a long weekend with the Friday, (30 March) and, Monday, (2 April) being public holidays.

Typically, traffic volumes on all the country’s major routes is expected to increase, especially on the N3, and N1 and N2 to Cape Town, as holiday-makers go to various destinations. The N1 to Limpopo is traditionally also busier than normal during this time as members of the ZCC head to Moria for their annual pilgrimmage.

It is important that any motorists who are planning to be on the country’s roads during these times are aware that there may be heavier than normal traffic on their route. The most important element of driving during this time is the correct attitude on the roads; drivers must obey the rules of the road, respect other motorists, and ensure their own, and their passengers’ safety, going to, and returning from their destinations.

Apart from the right attitude on the roads, motorists are also urged to ensure their vehicles are in good condition, and that they check them now, instead of waiting until the last minute to do so, as there may be a rush from many motorists wanting to make last minutes repairs.

Tyres, for instance, are a crucial element of road safety. If you need to change your tyres before you leave, do it now. If you wait, you may find tyre fitment centres have run out of stock to accommodate you two or three days before you want to leave. This may impact on your holiday plans. The same goes for mechanical issues you need to resolve; do it now, before you realise it’s too late. Remember, there’s only one week left before the holidays start.

Apart from having a route planned before leaving, it is important that you are also aware of road conditions, and traffic issues, on their route. It said stopping to rest every two hours or 200 kilometres is vital, as driving while tired is akin to driving while intoxicated.

Some things to remember when driving include:

Wear your seatbelt at all times, and ensure all passengers are wearing theirs,
Don’t drive drunk, or under the influence of any drugs,
Be courteous and considerate of other drivers,
Rest when you are tired, or every 2 hours or 200kms,
Obey the speed limit, and drive to the conditions of the road,
Check your tyres, and replace any balding tyres, including the spare,
Check that your brakes and shock absorbers are in good condition,

Check for any cracks or chips in your windscreen, as these may get worse on a long journey, and cause problems with visibility.
Check windscreen wipers (front and back) and ensure they are working properly. Don’t wait for a heavy downpour to discover your wipers don’t work.
Check that all electric components on your vehicle work. If you are in doubt, have it checked out.
If possible, stagger your departure dates to and from your holiday to avoid the heavy traffic.

Road fatalities in South Africa are a huge problems and must be brought under control. It is important that every person on our roads understands they have a critical role to play in road safety, and to take that responsibility seriously.