Image: Simphiwe Mbokazi

As we head towards the festive season, the AA has issued a 10-point list of tips that can help motorists travel safely to and from their destinations.

The AA warns that while the festive season is a time to rejoice, it is unfortunately also characterised by horrific accidents.

“Last year alone we had more than a million crashes on SA roads,” according to AA spokesman Gary Ronald.

“All our roads are dangerous, some due to their condition and others due to the terrain through which they pass.

“Be especially aware of changing weather, roadworks and the inevitable slow-moving vehicles.

“As a driver, start your holiday journey with the correct frame of mind and accept any delays encountered without frustration,” Ronald said.

Ronald offered 10 key points to remember when taking to the roads this festive season:

-To save fuel, try to fill up as close to your trip as possible. Make sure you check your tyre pressure, because under-inflated tyres have more rolling resistance, which means that you need to burn more fuel to keep your car moving. Consider shutting off the air conditioner, opening the windows a little and enjoying the breeze, and accelerate with care.

-The day before the trip, inspect your car: check all of the vehicle’s lights – headlights, brake lights, tail lights and indicators. Check the windscreen for chips and cracks and make sure that the windscreen wipers work and are in good condition. Fill up the water reservoir and check the condition of all the tyres, including the spare wheel.

-If it is due for service, have your vehicle serviced before you leave.

-Alternatively, take your car to a Dekra centre for a safety check.

-Buy an AA road atlas of the country or one of the AA maps to assist you to plan and plot your journey. These can be bought at Travel Experience stores or leading book shops, news agents and large retail outlets.

-For peace of mind, try to always travel on major routes or toll roads that have continuous traffic moving or route patrols. If you do break down, you can be assured of assistance. Keep your AA membership card in your wallet for easy access.

-Check the AA website for toll roads and fees, ensuring that you have enough cash or a petrol card to pay the tolls.

-Plan your rest stops along the way – identifying the filling and rest stations along your route. This is important to plan where you can fill up with fuel, let the kids stretch their legs and enjoy some refreshments. Fatigue remains one of the biggest killers on our roads, so rest every 200km or after every two hours of driving. If you’re tired, it’s simple – don’t drive.

-Make sure that all passengers are buckled up.

-If stopped by traffic/police officers, you have the right to ask for identification, particularly if they are not in uniform. If uncertain, ask them to accompany you to a nearest police station.

“This year a wet summer is anticipated, and driving in the rain is a safety hazard, requiring drivers to be aware of the precautions they need to take in order to save not only their lives, but the lives of others,” Ronald said.

“We share the road with thousands of motorists and we all need to be courteous of each other,” said Ronald. - Pretoria News