Take a look at our list of travel tips before hitting the roads for that long-awaited December holiday.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
-Get enough sleep and plan your route – It’s important to determine the route first, including refuelling points, rest points and any overnight stops if necessary.
-Also ensure you get enough sleep the night before your trip to ensure you’re not tired when driving. Depart at a time when your body is used to being awake and active, and avoid heat build-up in the car. Research has shown that high temperatures have the same effect as a blood alcohol level of 0.5.
-Check your car – Before departing it’s essential to check that your car is also properly prepared for a long road trip. Double check the headlights, indicators, shocks, stoplights, tail-lights, windscreen wipers, mirrors, brakes, steering, tyres, oil and water. Also ensure that your spare wheel is in good condition.
-Don’t forget that caravans and trailers need pre-trip inspection too. Check the tyres, make sure lights are all working properly and that your licenses are up to date. Also remember that by law all trailers require the correct chevron tape to be wrapped all the way around the body for better visibility.
ON THE ROAD:
-Seatbelts – Using seatbelts is important for any road journey, in both the front and back seats. Children under 12 should ideally be secured in a back seat. Even with air bags, the back seat is generally safer for children. Child safety seats for younger children are also essential and should be used correctly.
-Never put a rear-facing car seat in the front where there is an air bag, make sure it is securely fitted and is the right size for your child.
-Rain and slippery roads – During rainy weather, motorists can expect that slippery roads, traffic slowdowns and decreased visibility will make driving hazardous, even at moderate speeds.
Allow extra following distances, and don’t slam on brakes but rather apply a steady, light and firm pressure. Drive in the centre lane and avoid the outside lanes as water often collects in these areas, and use your headlights.
-Take breaks – Drivers and passengers should be aware of any signs of fatigue. If the driver is drifting from lane to lane and jerking the vehicle back again, is daydreaming, constantly yawning, having difficulty focusing or keeping his/her eyes open, it is time to stop and take a rest.
Don’t rely on the radio or fresh air from an open window to keep you awake. Rather pull off into a safe area and try to have a nap. If you do need to rest, avoid suspicious areas and keep all your doors locked. Where possible, rather pull over to a designated rest stop, such as one of the many petrol stations which line the major routes in South Africa.
While there is no guarantee what action will prevent hijacking, practicing the following common sense techniques can reduce the risk:
-Know your destination and directions to it, and be alert should you get lost.
-Don’t talk on your cellphone while driving, which can make you lose focus.
-Always drive with your windows and doors locked and/or closed. Windows should be left no more than 5cm open.
-Drive in the centre lane, away from pedestrians where possible.
-Be vigilant and regularly check your rear-view mirror to ensure that you are not being followed. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, drive to a safe area such as a police station or shopping centre.