Main roads throughout South Africa are expected to become busier over the next few weeks as travellers embark on their annual vacations. But, while this is a time for relaxation, road users cannot afford to take it easy, especially if they are driving.
School holidays across the country start on 12 December 2018 and reopen on 9 January 2019. Major routes to Polokwane, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern and Western Cape are expected to be particularly busier over this period.
Road users must understand that major routes in the country will be busier, and they need to adjust their attitudes and driving styles to accommodate for the increased volumes. Trying to get to a destination in record time is irresponsible and dangerous, and unnecessary. If you are going on holiday, make the journey part of the holiday.
From 1 December 2017 to 15 January 2018, 1 676 people died on South Africa’s roads. Although lower than the previous year, this is still too high, and all road users - motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, need to ensure they are safe on the road.
Pedestrians continue to make up almost 40 percent of the more than 14 000 annual road deaths in South Africa. This is an unacceptably high number. Motorists must always be alert on the road and obey the rules. Similarly, pedestrians must make themselves visible, obey the rules of the road, and must not drink or take drugs and walk.
Some tips for road users to ensure your road safety:
- Always wear a seatbelt, and ensure all passengers are also buckled up. The law requires all children under three to be secured in proper child restraint seats.
- Don’t drink and drive and don’t drink and walk.
- Have your tyres checked (including the spare) and ensure they are suitable for a long journey (and safe enough to bring you back again). Check your wheel alignment.
- Drive to the conditions of the road. Don’t speed.
- If you are a pedestrian, be visible to other road users, and walk where there is light. As a motorist, always focus on the road and check for pedestrians.
- Don’t take chances by running or walking over busy roads of highways.
- Always wear your helmet, and dress appropriately for motorbike and bicycle usage.
- Don’t be distracted while driving. Eating, drinking, and talking to back seat passengers is extremely dangerous. Stay focused whether you are in a car, on a motorcycle, bicycle or walking.
- Do not text or talk on mobile devices.
- If you are going on a long trip, stop every two hours or every 200 kilometres for a rest, to stretch your legs, and regain your focus.
- Keep your AA membership details handy in case of emergencies.
This time of the year is for family and friends to reconnect, spend time with each other, and to enjoy a break. Arrive safely at your destination, and return safely back home.