Easter holiday traffic: AA warns reckless drivers to leave their families at home

Brian Joss – More traffic is expected on the roads in the coming weeks as families from across the country prepare to enjoy the Easter holidays. Schools close for the Easter break on March 28 and reopen on April 10. Easter Weekend begins on March 30 (Good Friday) and ends on April 2 (Family Day).

But, says the Automobile Association (AA), its message to drivers this year is different from the past.

“This year we’d like to urge all reckless drivers to leave their families at home. And, if you’re a reckless driver who operates for profit, consider driving alone as well. All reckless drivers should drive on empty roads, preferably on closed circuits, of which there are many for hire in the country. In this way, you’ll only cause harm to yourself, and not anyone else in the vehicle with you,” the AA says.

The Association says it has become apparent that many hundreds of thousands of drivers in South Africa obey the rules of the road, operate their vehicles safely, and look out for other road users. These drivers should be praised for playing their role in ensuring road safety on South African roads.

“But, unfortunately, there are always those who spoil it for everyone else. 

There is a certain section of our road using public who simply don’t care about others, is only concerned about how quickly they can get to their destination, and who seems to think the rules of the road doesn’t apply to them. It’s these road users we need to single out as the reason for our horrific road fatality statistics,” says the AA.

The Association says as the holidays approach, all road users need to be aware that traffic on major routes, including the N1 to Limpopo, N3 to Durban, and N1 and N2 to Cape Town will be busier than usual.  

“Adjust your attitude when on the road this Easter. Understand that many people have a right to be on the road, and who all want to reach their destinations safely. Apart from obeying the rules of the road, all road users – motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians – need to respect each other, and each other’s right to use the roads,” the Association notes. The Association says it’s important for all road users to: Respect the rules of the road; ensure your car or motorbike is mechanically sound; ensure all tyres (including spares) are in good condition; ensure. everyone in the car is buckled-up (or in approved child restraints); obey the speed limit (and to drive to the conditions of the road); wear a helmet if they’re on a bike; make themselves visible if they are walking; don’t drink and drive, or drink and walk; take a break every 200kms or every two hours to stretch legs and get some fresh air and pay attention to the road.

“Using the road comes with an obligation to be a safe road user, and to set a good example for youngsters. Unless we collectively aim to be better road users we will never achieve our goal of reducing the country’s road fatality numbers, and we will leave a terrible legacy for the next generation of road
users,” the AA concludes.

Meanwhile if it happens to rain there are extra challenges, according to Eugene Herbert of MasterDrive.

 Many South Africans are glad to see the considerable rainfall in certain parts of South Africa, although not much in Cape Town. Yet, those who need to complete their daily commutes in the same weather, may not be as enthusiastic. Rainy weather usually brings a number of challenges to the roads.

Here is some advice about driving in the rain. 

People driving too slowly: while slowing down in rainy weather is important, some drivers may take this to the extreme. Looking ahead by up to 12 seconds (where visibility permits) will enable you to quickly see these drivers and move around them where possible. If you cannot safely move around, maintain a larger following distance and patiently wait for an opportunity to do so.

People driving too fast: do additional checks in your review mirror to quickly see when a driver like this is approaching and move out of their way if you can safely do so. If you are on the highway, avoid using the right hand lane, which is where they are more likely to be. Traffic lights not working: this is common when there has been a large amount of rain. Traffic lights are to be treated like four way stops but with even more caution. In larger intersections many drivers are uncertain of when to go or even reluctant to wait their turn. Never take it for granted that a driver will stop when they are supposed to. 

Flooding: avoid areas which are prone to flooding. If you do come across a section of road where there is fast flowing water rather turn around or pull over if you can safely do so. It only takes 15cm of water to lift a car off the tar.

Hydroplaning: if you start to hydroplane slowly take your foot off the accelerator and concentrate on steering straight. Never brake. Skidding: if you do start to skid, do not brake but take your foot off the accelerator. Gently steer in the direction you do want to go until you regain control.

Be patient: do not let reckless or impatient drivers take your attention away from the road. Rather accept that these drivers are inevitable and rather focus your attention on getting to your destination safely.

Challenge: how to drive in wet weather. Picture: Motorpress

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