File photo: Anton Hammerl.

Holiday journeys can be extremely taxing, yet every year thousands of South African motorists set off on long journeys without adequate preparation.

According to Goodyear, badly maintained vehicles and fatigued drivers are two of the biggest causes of accidents over the festive season.

To that end, the company has released some handy advice for motorists to take into heed of before setting off.

Prepare the car

Ensure a smooth and stress-free start by making sure your vehicle is well-maintained and adequately prepared. An extra check-up of your vehicle before departure can save you a lot of hassle.

Plan the journey

Plan your journey ahead of time, even working out your resting points. This helps to break the trip down into realistic, manageable spurts.

It's a fact that drivers who don't plan rest stops often push themselves just that little bit extra to drive another few kilometres, and that's when the risks start to increase. Estimates suggest that fatigue is a factor in up to 30 % of fatal crashes.

How to avoid fatigue

It's essential that you begin your journey well rested and have a good night's sleep before you set off.

It also pays to respect your biorhythm. Depart at a time when your body is used to being awake and active.

Of course, don't drink any alcohol before departure and avoid any medication that may make you drowsy.

Avoid peak departure times and take regular breaks. Rest immediately when you feel signs of fatigue. Going for a short walk could really help.

Don't feel the heat

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.

Night driving dangers

About 40% of accidents occur at night. But if you do decide to hit the road after dark, ensure that your car is prepared by cleaning the windows, headlights, taillights and indicators.

Also make sure your headlights are set at the right height so that they illuminate the road ahead adequately but without blinding other drivers.

It's also highly recommended that you reduce your speed and increase your following distance as it is harder to judge the speed and distance of other vehicles at night.