festive season | holidays | christmas | driving | AA | South Africa

The festive season is officially starting, and with the start of our holidays, the increase in traffic begins.

The Automobile Association (AA) says even though traffic volumes this festive season are predicted to be down on previous years because of coronavirus restrictions, they will still be significantly higher than normal.

“Of course many people will not be going on holiday, perhaps because of accommodation issues, or because of COVID-19 concerns. But many people will still be travelling, and it’s important that all road users adhere to the rules of the road, and stay safe wherever and whenever they are travelling,” says the AA.

The Association says anyone who will be on the country’s roads – particularly on national roads – this festive season, must remain vigilant and focused, whether they are behind the wheel of a vehicle, as a passenger in a vehicle, riding a motorcycle, or as a pedestrian.

“Our annual national road fatality statistics are a national crisis, something we’ve mentioned time and again. Even though there may be fewer vehicles on the road this year, it doesn’t mean the risks of using our roads has diminished; in fact, we should all be more aware than ever of our roles in ensuring road safety,” urges the AA.

Apart from keeping your vehicle in good condition – good enough condition for a return trip to your destination – the AA says road users should observe the following tips:

  1. Have the right attitude on the road, and be courteous to other road users
  2. If you have any doubt about your eyesight, check your vision before you drive. Proper eyesight is essential to safe driving
  3. Obey all the rules of the road, and directives from law enforcement officers
  4. Ensure everyone in the vehicle (yes, front and back) is wearing their seatbelt, and that all children who require such devices are properly secured in the correct child restraint system (child seats or booster seats)
  5. Check your tyres (including the spare, and those of the vehicle you are towing) are in good condition. If they need replacing, don’t wait until you return, do it before you leave
  6. Ensure your windscreen wipers (front and back) are in good condition and working correctly. Even if you haven’t used them in a while, the condition of wipers can deteriorate due to sun damage
  7. Don’t drink and drive. If you are going to be drinking don’t drive, simple as that.
  8. Don’t drink or walk. Pedestrians comprise the highest percentage of road user fatalities in South Africa, the same advice applies as above
  9. If you are a pedestrian ensure you are visible at all times, particularly at night, dawn and dusk, and in poorly lit areas
  10. Rest well before a long journey. While you’re on the road take a breather every two hours, or every 200kms. Stretching your legs and getting some fresh air will keep you alert, and you’ll be ready for the next part of your trip
  11. If you’re a biker or riding on a bicycle, wear a helmet
  12. Drive to the conditions of the road. It may be raining, or there may be heavy fog on a road marked with a 120km/h speed limit. It’s essential to reduce your speed and drive according to the surrounding conditions
  13. Pack away your mobile device. Distracted driving is dangerous, it means you aren’t focussed on the road ahead. 
  14. Take a detour, get off the beaten track and explore our beautiful country. Make the journey part of your trip
  15. And, lastly, make road safety a priority for yourself and your family

The AA says apart from these tips, travellers should always have emergencies contact numbers available in case they need them. Using the AA app ensures prompt response to breakdowns and medical emergencies while using the AA Armed Response app will ensure private security personnel are available at the push of a button.

READ: Be prepared, even if you’re not a Boy Scout or Girl Guide

“2020 has been a trying year for many, and the last thing anyone needs now is more trouble on the roads. We must remember that road safety is everyone’s responsibility, and we urge all road users to play their part by obeying the rules of the road,” the AA concludes.

Text: AA of South Africa

Image: iStock