While the festive season marks the start of celebrations for South Africans, it also marks the start of an annual tragedy that plays out on our roads.
Like all major holiday seasons, the Christmas period is always accompanied by a spike in road accidents and fatalities.
For those looking to avoid becoming another statistic in a depressingly long list, there are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that your risk of being in an accident is greatly minimised.
1. Ensure your vehicle is roadworthy
According to Arrive Alive, burst tyres were the largest contributor of fatal crashes in 2011, causing 54.07% of all crashes that year. The next biggest contributor was faulty brakes, which caused 14.98%.
This is backed up by a 2017 report by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) which showed burst tyres causing 56% of all crashes in that year.
With this in mind, it’s clear that servicing your car is of the utmost importance before embarking on a holiday.
2. Obey road rules
You’d think this would go without saying, but unfortunately we all have stories about some reckless fool who thought the rules did not apply to them. Road rules are there for a reason: to keep you, your fellow drivers and pedestrians safe.
When out on the road, always make sure you obey them. Keep within the speed limits, don’t overtake on double lines, and only pull over when you can see a good distance ahead of you.
3. Remain vigilant
So your car’s in tip-top shape and you follow the rules to a “T”. That does not excuse you from not paying attention to the road as you drive. This is especially true in the Eastern Cape where we often find ourselves sharing the road with all manner of livestock.
When you’re out driving, make sure to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Check your mirrors constantly and make sure to keep an eye out for pedestrians or animals on the sides of the road. It is also important to make sure you are on full alert. When driving, especially if it’s a particularly long journey, it is not uncommon to become fatigued. If this happens, pull over and let yourself recuperate for a few minutes.
4. Don’t drink and drive
Drinking severely limits your reaction time and basic motor skills. , which becomes extremely dangerous when you’re operating a two-tonne hunk of metal hurtling down the highway at 120km/h. Be smart and leave the booze in the cooler when you’re setting off on a journey. And if you insist on having a few during lunch, make sure to have a designated driver present who’s willing to take one for the team and stay dry for the day.