With less than three weeks to go before the end of the school exams, most of us are looking forward impatiently to our annual getaway - and there are two very important words in that sentence that should be setting off alarm bells in the minds of experienced drivers.
The first is “most”: in the few days after schools close, traffic densities on the country's major routes will soar and, no matter how carefully everybody tries to drive, there will be more accidents.
The second is “impatiently”: we all want to get to our holiday destination, break out the sunscreen and go for a walk on the beach, but inevitably average speeds will be lower on overcrowded roads and tempers will fray - not a good idea when you're in charge of a two-tone lethal weapon.
So why not book into a B & B about half-way between here and there, and turn the delay into a mini-adventure?
Every traffic officer the municipalities can uproot from behind their desks will be out there - and rightly so - trying to keep order in the chaos, and their patience will be even more frayed than yours; you just can't risk breaking the rules.
With that in mind, the Automobile Association shares these tips to help keep you safe this holiday season:
The laws don't change just because you're on holiday.
The cops are not on holiday and the same road rules apply, such as driving sober (no drinking and driving), always wearing seatbelts, obeying the speed limits and keeping a safe following distance at all times.
KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape have a “Zero Tolerance” policy when it comes to the rules of the road. Breaking these rules could mean you spend some of your holiday behind bars.
Most reputable hotels, some of the better B & B's, offer transfers and can possibly also arrange private drivers, such as Goodfellas. If you're planning on drinking when you go out and don't have a designated driver, remember to put money aside for a driver or taxi fare.
Always buckle up - even on the short trip from the beach, and regardless of whether you are sitting in front or in the back, it's essential to wear your safety belt. Not only is this the law but it could save your life. And remember, no hanging out of the windows while driving.
‘ARE WE THERE YET?’
Plan ahead to keep the kids busy, so as to delay for as long as possible the chorus of “Are we there yet?” from the peanut gallery, and lower the stress levels for the driver.
If you're travelling outside South Africa, do your homework on the local road rules and any requirements for vehicles and documentation before you cross the border.
They could be different to South African rules and you don't want to get stuck at the border post.