Advice from the AA: how to be safe on the road these holidays

With the festive season holidays around the corner, many South Africans are looking forward to their much-deserved vacations. With this in mind, the Automobile Association (AA) urges all drivers to consider the road and weather conditions of the route they will be using, as well as at their destinations.

001-off-my-wheelsBrian Joss – “Weather patterns across the country change from province to province and severe heat or wet conditions may be experienced in parts of South Africa. If you have been driving for a long time, in the heat, this may have an impact on your overall mood, and may make you tired, irritable, and quick-tempered. It is critical that you rest and relax before continuing your journey to avoid being a situation where you ‘snap’,” the AA warned.

Keep your cool: don’t get hot under the collar in traffic. *Picture: Quickpic
Keep your cool: don’t get hot under the collar in traffic. *Picture: Quickpic

The Association added that the heat was especially dangerous for children and pets. It noted that neither should be left alone in locked cars with the windows up as this could lead to serious medical problems. Children and pets should also be given water on the journey to ensure they are properly hydrated. Regular stops to give children and pets a chance to stretch their legs and get fresh air are also vital.

Along with this, the AA urged drivers to remember that children need to be protected in car seats, and that pets should be properly housed in crates for the journey.

The Association also advised motorists to:

Plan your route. Check the conditions of the road and the weather on your planned route and make sure that it is still safe to use. Planning ahead will also help you plan accommodation for overnight stay if your need it.

Sleep the night before leaving. Having a good night’s rest before you hit the road will put you in the right frame of mind to tackle the long journey. Driving while you are tired or weary is dangerous not only for you and your family, but other road users.

Stop and rest every two hours or every 200 kilometres, and rest for at least 15 minutes. This will allow you to refresh and refocus for the rest of the journey.

If possible, share the driving workload. If there is another licensed driver in the car, let them drive for some of the journey. This will take your mind off the road and give you some time to mentally recharge.

Don’t rush. Leave enough time to get to your destination in good time. Speeding is against the law and dangerous. Arrive at your destination in one piece, rather than not at all.

Dress comfortably for the car. Wear clothes that allow for freedom of movement, and which are comfortable. Apply sunblock if necessary because your arms and legs may be exposed to the sun, even if you aren’t aware of it.

Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is extremely important, especially if it is hot.

Open your windows. Even if your car is equipped with an air conditioner, open the windows every now and again to let fresh air in.

The Association warned: Obey the rules of the road – they are meant for everyone and are there for a reason.

Wear your seatbelt and ensure all passengers – including children – are also properly buckled up.

Don’t be distracted. Talking or texting on a cellphone, or constantly turning around to interact with passengers on the back seat are all extreme dangerous as they are taking your focus away from the road. Pay attention to your own, and other drivers’ behaviour. Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol and driving do not mix, it’s as simple as that.

Be courteous to other drivers and respect their right to also use the road.

Check your tyres. Bald or worn tyres can be deadly. Check your tyres for wear and for correct inflation. Don’t forget to also check the spare.

“More and more people will be on the roads over the festive period so it is critical that motorists are calm and prepared for the road. It is also important that drivers appreciate the fact that their actions have an impact on others,” the AA concluded.

*Picture posed.

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