Schools across South Africa close for the festive season break on 15 December and traffic on the country’s major routes is expected to increase significantly from then on. The Automobile Association (AA) says motorists must prepare both their attitudes and vehicles properly for their journeys.
“Driving is not only about having a vehicle which is in safe condition, but also about having a positive attitude behind the wheel. Getting enough rest before embarking on a long ride, obeying the rules of the road, and being courteous to other drivers is equally important. With our country’s annual high rate of crashes and fatalities, it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure they play their part in making our roads safer,” says the AA.
The AA says it expects traffic volumes to pick-up on major routes such as the NI from Polokwane to Cape Town through Gauteng and Bloemfontein, the N2 along the Indian Ocean coastline, the N3 from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal, the N4 through Mpumalanga, and the N7 through from Cape Town through Namaqualand to the Namibian border.
“Roads will be busier and that always means there’s an increased risk of incidents occurring. All road uses must remain as vigilant as possible and focus on the road, whether they are drivers, passengers, riding a motorcycle, or a pedestrian. We must stress that while our country’s traffic law enforcers work exceedingly hard over this period to ensure everyone is safe, road users have a major responsibility to themselves, their passengers, and to other road users. Any attempts to reduce our country’s horrific road fatality numbers will amount to nothing without a concerted effort from everyone on the road,” says the AA.
In addition, the AA offers the following tips for travellers:
- Keep left, pass right. A simple rule which should be followed by all moving vehicles. It’s also courteous to drivers to make way for them if they are moving quicker than you. Driving too slow in a lane when there are faster vehicles behind is dangerous and could lead to road rage incidents. The correct approach is to allow faster vehicles to pass when it is safe to do so. Don’t police other drivers, leave that to the authorities.
- Take a detour, get off the beaten track, and explore our beautiful country. Make the journey part of your trip. For any accommodation needs visit qa.aatravel.co.za.
- Ensure everyone in the vehicle (yes, front and back) is buckled up.
- Drink or drive. If you are going to be doing one, don’t do the other, simple as that. It’s the same if you are walking: drink or walk.
- If you are walking, be visible at all times, especially at night, and at dawn or dusk, and in poorly lit areas.
- While on the road, take a breather every two hours or every 200kms; this will help you stay alert behind the wheel.
- If you’re a biker, or riding on a bicycle, wear a helmet and other necessary protective gear.
- Drive to the conditions of the road not necessarily to the indicated speed limit.
- Distracted driving is dangerous, and means you aren’t focussed on the road ahead. Put your cellphone in the boot and use it only in an emergency.
- Ensure your tyres (and spare) are in a good condition.
- Ensure your windscreen wipers (front and back) are in good condition. Even relatively new wiper blades may deteriorate quickly if left in the sun for long periods. Streaking, skipping, slipping or squeaking wipers are telling you they need attention. Don’t’ discover mid-way through your journey that they don’t work properly.
- Be prepared for any roadside, medical or security situation by downloading the AA RescueMe app (available on all platforms).
Road users should not forget that the country is still in Lockdown Level 1, and that the current curfew runs from 00h00 to 04h00 daily. People are advised to plan their trips properly, so they are not on the road during these times. It’s also a good idea to avoid the rush days on roads when traffic will be heavier: either leave a day sooner or a day later and plan the same for the return leg of your journey.
“The festive season is a time for family and friends, especially this year considering the restrictions from last year. Time away is valuable and travellers should not waste it by being stranded on the side of the road, or without accommodation. We urge everyone who will be travelling to make arrangements for their trip, to have the right attitude when they are on the road, and to enjoy their holidays,” the AA concludes.