The Easter holidays are almost upon us and many South Africans will be hitting the roads eager to get to their holiday destinations.
“If you’re planning to travel over the Easter weekend, you need to take extra care due to the higher volumes of traffic expected during this period. This means not only driving more cautiously, but also making sure that your vehicle is in excellent condition as so many accidents happen because of cars not being roadworthy,” says Tania Joffe, Head of Auto & General Brokers.
In 2015, 287 people died on our country’s roads over Easter – a staggering 49% more than during the same weekend in 2014. In 2015, Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, said that some of the key problems that traffic law enforcement officials continuously need to address are speeding, dangerous overtaking, drunk-driving, fatigue and un-roadworthy vehicles.
Auto & General offers the following advice for motorists travelling over the Easter weekend:
- Speeding: Speeding significantly impairs your ability to steer safely around corners and objects in the road and drastically reduces the time you have available to react to a dangerous situation, therefore increasing your chances of crashing. It not only increases your chances of having an accident but it also drastically increases the severity of a crash when it happens. Statistics from Arrive Alive show that a 10% decrease in speed reduces fatal crashes by 40%.
- Overtaking: Do not overtake on a solid line. When overtaking is allowed, make double sure that you have a clear view of oncoming traffic first. Avoid overtaking multiple vehicles in one go.
- Drunk driving: If you’re found guilty of drunk driving you could face up to six years in jail and you could be liable for fines of up to R120 000. Your driver’s licence could also be suspended. This means that you will have a criminal record which will impact your life forever. Of course, the worst case scenario of driving under the influence is that you kill somebody or yourself. Motorists are reminded that the legal blood alcohol limit is less than 0.05 g per 100 ml and the legal breath alcohol limit is less than 0.24 mg in 1000 ml of breath.
- Fatigue: Although typically associated with long-distance driving, fatigue can set in after a long day at work or a late night out. Emotional stress, illness, boredom and sun glare can also cause fatigue. Motorists should get at least seven hours sleep before a long-distance trip, and to avoid travelling during their body’s downtime, which for most people is between 2am and 6am. If you find yourself battling to keep your eyes open, day dreaming, or swerving into the centre of the road or onto the verge, find a safe place to stop and rest, or let another driver takeover.
- Car Maintenance: Many accidents on South Africa’s roads are the result of vehicle un-roadworthiness and vehicle component failure. Many motorists also find themselves stranded on the roadside at the mercy of potential criminals thanks to vehicle failure. No matter how you look at it, driving a car that is not properly maintained and fit for the road is dicing with your safety. Tyre failure is one of top contributors to vehicle component failure accidents. Driving with worn-out and un-roadworthy tyres is not only dangerous but it is against the law. So, if you are going to be travelling over the Easter weekend you must check that your tyres are in optimal condition and meet South African road safety specifications. If they don’t, they must be replaced before you embark on your journey.
“Remember that just because you abide by the rules of the road, doesn’t mean other drivers do too. Always be alert and practice defensive driving techniques,” concludes Joffe.