As the year winds down and government schools across the country close for 2020, traffic volumes on all major routes in South Africa are expected to pick up in the next few days. The Automobile Association (AA) says even though traffic volumes 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 focussed, 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 correct child restraint system (child seats or booster seats) 5. Check your tyres (including the spare, and those of any other vehicle you are towing such as a trailer or caravan) 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 properly. Even if you haven’t used them in a while, the condition of wipers can deteriorate due to sun damage. Don’t discover too late that they’re not working properly 7. Drink or drive. If you are going to be doing one, don’t do the other, simple as that. 8. Drink or walk. Considering that pedestrians comprise the highest percentage of road user fatalities in South Africa, the same advice applies: if you’re going to be doing the one, don’t do the other 9. If you are a pedestrian ensure you are visible at all times, especially at night, and at dawn or dusk, and in poorly lit areas 10. Rest well before a long journey. And, 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 you reduce your speed and drive according to the prevailing conditions 13. Pack away your mobile device. Distracted driving is dangerous, and means you aren’t focussed on the road ahead. Put your cellphone in the boot, and use it only when you need to in an emergency 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 ensure 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.
“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.