Road safety tips for the festive season

SANRAL wishes everyone a happy – well-deserved – holiday, and offers some suggestions to keep road-users safe.

Make sure your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition before a long journey.

The December festive season is a time when many travel to holiday destinations or go home, and the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL) has some advice for people planning road trips.

Get ready for the journey

  • Obey the rules of the road and carry your driver’s licence with you.
  • Plan your route and give yourself enough time to travel to your destination.
  • Use a GPS navigation tool or a road atlas to plan your trip in advance.
  • For peace of mind, try to stick to major routes or toll roads. If you are going to travel on the back roads, make sure you know the towns along the route and the distances between them.
  • Do not get stranded without fuel. Plan where you will refuel on your trip.
  • Plan rest stops along the way and, if you are travelling with kids, share with them when and where you will be stopping.
  • Always ensure that a friend or family member who is not travelling with you knows the route you plan to use. You should also update them on your progress and let them know when you have reached your destination.
  • If possible, try to avoid driving after dark.
  • Be alert and do not expect others to be as obedient of the law as you.

Vehicle fitness

  • Make sure your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition before a long journey.
  • Take your vehicle for a full check before going on your holiday travels.
  • All lights and indicators, windscreen wipers, brakes, steering, exhaust system and tyres should be carefully examined for faults.
  • Check your shock absorbers.
  • Do not overload your vehicle.

Driver fitness

  • Have a good rest before you embark on your journey.
  • Take a safety break every two hours or every 200kms.
  • Do not drink and drive. If you intend to consume alcohol, make alternative arrangements so you will not be behind the wheel.
  • Remain alert at all times. Avoid distractions such as cellular conversations or texting.
  • Make sure you and your passengers always wear seat belts. South African law requires everyone in a motor vehicle to use seatbelts. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all passengers are strapped in for the duration of the journey. It is a criminal offence for an adult to allow a child younger than 14 to travel unrestrained in a vehicle equipped with seatbelts or a car safety seat.
  • Infants and children under the age of 12 should travel in the back seat and should be buckled up, either in a car seat, a booster seat or using the car’s seatbelt, depending on the age and weight of the child.
  • Infants up to the age of one, or up to 10kg in weight, should travel in a rear-facing car seat in the back of the car. In the event of an accident, the impact will be on the seat and not on the infant.

Be prepared for emergencies

  • Have numbers for roadside assistance and other emergencies close at hand or saved on your cell phone, so that you are well-prepared for any eventuality.
  • Keep essential roadside equipment with you, as many breakdowns are caused by relatively minor problems. Equipment should include a first aid kit, a tow rope, warning triangles, a torch and a fire extinguisher.
  • Try to avoid stopping on the highway. Rather take the next off ramp to stop in a more public area where you can stretch, refresh yourself and take a break from driving.
  • In the event of an accident, determine the extent of the damage or injuries and assess whether or not medical attention is required.
  • Take a picture with a camera or mobile phone and file an accident report with the police. You will need a case number to file a claim with your insurance company. Remember to get the names, addresses, telephone numbers and ID numbers of everyone involved in the accident

Know your emergency numbers

When you need assistance, call the following numbers:

Police – 10111
Fire – 10177
Netcare 911 – 082 911
ER24 – 084 124
Cell phone emergency – 112

May you and your family have a happy and safe festive season – share these suggestions with family and friends.