Public schools across South Africa close in less than a month on 4 December and the Automobile Association (AA) urges all motorists to prepare now for what is traditionally the busiest and most dangerous time to be on South African roads.
“Statistics show more people are on our roads during the holiday break, and more people die in car crashes during this festive period than any other time. Preparing your vehicle ahead of the holidays is important, but so is ensuring that you have a positive attitude behind the wheel, especially if you are going to be travelling long distances,” says the AA.
The Association says all vehicles – including trailers and caravans – must be roadworthy and thoroughly checked before embarking on a long journey. It says these vehicles should be in good enough condition for a round trip to your destination and back home again.
“If your vehicle needs a service, book it in as soon as possible as spaces get filled closer to the holiday season and you may not get a slot. If this happens, you run the risk of leaving on a long journey with a vehicle that may not be as sound as you think. And, don’t forget your trailers and caravans. Check tyes, spare wheels, nuts, bolts and axles. Don’t risk your holiday plans by having a towed vehicle break down due to bad planning or non-servicing,” warns the AA.
If you have a vehicle which is out of warranty, or which has outlived its service plan, pick up a product that will cover your high-risk maintenance and service needs.
In addition, the AA says road death statistics show that around 92 percent of all vehicle fatalities in the country are a result of human behaviour, rather than vehicle, road or environmental conditions.
“These numbers show that drivers need to adjust their attitude when they are behind the wheel. Put your mobile phones away while driving, adhere to the speed limit, obey the rules of the road, and importantly, be courteous to other drivers and enjoy the journey,” says the AA.
The Association offers the following quick checklist for motorists:
- Plan your route, including stops, and ensure you make provision to stop every 200kms or every two hours to rest, refuel and refresh.
- Look at the planning of your trip and avoid the rush days when there is bound to be heavier traffic on the roads. If possible, leave a day sooner, or a day later. Do the same for the return leg of your journey.
- Buckle up. This includes all passengers, including toddlers under three who, legally, must be in a child restraint, and children 1.3m or shorter who also need to be in booster seats.
- Obey all the rules of the road, and drive to the conditions. If the road is marked 120km but visibility is poor, decrease your speed to ensure clear vision of the road ahead.
- Remember everyone has a right to be on the road.
- Make sure of arrangements for overnight accommodation before you leave. For any local AA Quality Assured accommodation visit www.qa.aatravel.co.za.
- Inspect tyres (including the spare tyre) and make sure they have sufficient tread for the road ahead. Tyres are a key safety feature on vehicles; they are the only thing between the vehicle and the road, and because of this, ensuring their continued good condition is vital. Any tyres that are bald, or under or over inflated, can be dangerous.
- Check you have all the necessary tools to change a tyre if needed, including a red warning triangle. This includes tools for a tyre change on any vehicle you are towing.
- Download the AA app on your mobile phone for easy use in case of an emergency. It’s available for Apple or Android.
- Focus on the road and on other drivers. Distracted driving diminishes reaction time.
- Plan a route off the beaten path and experience a bit more of South Africa than the regular routes. Take time and arrive at your destination calm and rested. A good place to start is on the AA’s website at www.aa.co.za, which will give you road conditions across South Africa.
Another good tip is always to have water, a first aid kit, and a mobile phone charger in your car for emergencies.
“The festive season is a time of family and friends; it should not be spent on the side of the road with a broken-down vehicle, or stranded without accommodation. Plan your trip properly, prepare your vehicle for you and your family’s safety and, most importantly, have the right attitude when you are driving,” concludes the AA.
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About The Automobile Association of South Africa
The Automobile Association (AA) has been the trusted champion of the South African motorist and traveller for over 85 years. Along with our AA Accredited Sales Agents located countrywide, the AA offers access to over 50 benefits on 1 card as well as other travel and mobility services that extend far beyond 24-hour roadside assistance - from technical and legal advice, to emergency rescue services, roadside security and a mobile app suite. The AA offers specialised apprenticeships to help motor industry players build in-house skill, and short skill courses for individuals.
The Automobile Association of South Africa is a member of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT).
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
AA Public Affairs
011 799 1126 or 083 386 6954