Top 10 safety tips for road travel

The World Health Organisation (WHO) regards South Africa as one of the world’s worst countries for road safety – with roughly 1 280 fatalities occurring between December 2012 and January this year.

About 40% of those deaths were a consequence of drunken pedestrians walking on the roads, with other catalysts being excessive speeding, dangerous overtaking, and wearing no seatbelt – or as a result of vehicles that are not roadworthy.

It comes as little surprise that holiday road users should be taking extra precautions by reminding themselves of the basics when planning a road trip. Midas, a store synonymous with quality automotive spares, travel accessories and general lifestyle travel products, recommends some easy-to-remember tips when travelling:

1. Plan ahead

Plan your holiday route before leaving home, giving yourself enough time on the road to reach your destination without speeding, thereby making your trip stress-free by planning where to refuel, rest stops and trying to avoid driving after dark.

2. Have your vehicle serviced

To avoid the inconvenience and expense of a mechanical breakdown, especially on a long trip, have your vehicle checked and serviced by a reputable motor mechanic or car dealership.

3. Install child safety seats

Research has shown that hospitalisation time for children from birth to four years who are involved in road accidents is reduced by up to 70% if they are seated in a booster child safety seat.

4. Buckle-up

Safety belts are 99% effective in preventing occupants from being ejected from the vehicle in a crash. Passengers who are seated at the back of a vehicle and not wearing a seatbelt can inflict serious harm on those seated in front.

5. Don’t talk on your cellphone while driving

Even though you may be using a hands-free device, try to avoid taking or making calls while driving. Being distracted from the road can prevent you from making quick, life-saving choices to avoid a hazard or potential accident.

6. Keep your distance

Give yourself room to react to an obstruction in the road by following the two-second rule. Pick a fixed object like a sign or tree on the road ahead and when the vehicle in front of you passes it, start counting one one-thousand, two one-thousand …

7. Back to basics – obey speed limits and always indicate

Allow extra time to travel without the need to speed or hurry, and always demonstrate your intensions by signalling, to give others a heads-up when you are changing direction.

8. Scan your environment

Continually be aware of upcoming intersections or decision points. Being able to spot a traffic sign early allows one to make the appropriate choices to prevent disasters.

9. Watch out for fatigue on a long trip

Turning up the radio, rolling down the car window, or having trouble keeping your eyes open and focused on the road may be signs that you are struggling with fatigue. On a long trip, stop every two hours for a break.

10. Don’t use cruise control when the roads are wet

Wet roads become more dangerous and challenging to navigate, so the last thing a motorist needs is constant power when trying to navigate a slightly more challenging road.

– Own correspondent.




today in print