Drivers using mobile phones are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers without a cellphone. By Mark Logico

With schools finished for the year and most people off work, the holiday season is officially here and people are embarking on long road trips to different parts of the country.   

“While we’re all eager to get to our holiday destinations, the focus needs to be on getting there safely so that we can enjoy making those unforgettable memories,” says Amanda Rogaly, Chief Mommy and founder of the fastest-growing parenting portal, BabyYumYum. “By taking these safety precautions on the road, we can reduce risks and take care of ourselves and our loved ones,” says Amanda who, having worked closely with Arrive Alive and RoadCover, gives the following safety tips for road trips:

Check your car

Get the car serviced with a safety check before your trip so that you know everything is in order, ensuring that all the tyres (including the spare tyre) are in good condition. Additionally, check the wipers, engine reliability and suspension, and avoid overloading the vehicle as this can impact on your ability to control the car on the road.

Speeding

While speed may decrease the amount of time spent on the road, it is not worth the risk. According to the WHO, an increase in average speed is directly related both to the likelihood of a crash occurring and to the severity of the consequences of the crash. 

For example, every 1% increase in mean speed produces a 4% increase in the fatal crash risk and a 3% increase in the serious crash risk. The death risk for pedestrians hit by cars rises rapidly (4.5 times from 50 km/h to 65 km/h). In car-to-car side impacts, the fatality risk for car occupants is 85% at 65 km/h.

Tolerance 

It’s a long journey. It’s hot. You’re tired. These are all ingredients for losing your cool. “Plan ahead mentally to be tolerant of slow or rude drivers,” says Amanda. “Know they’re out there and make a commitment to stay calm and carry on.”

Expect the unexpected

Other drivers are going to take unnecessary risks. Take extra care and be vigilant on blind rises in case an oncoming car is carelessly overtaking at this point in the road. Assume that drivers may not stop at red robots, obey stop signs and give your car space where lane merge.

Avoid distracted driving

Focusing 100% on the road is vital to decrease the risk of a crash. Distractions include eating, talking, adjusting the stereo or looking at the navigation system. However, according to the WHO, drivers using mobile phones are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers without a cellphone. 

Usage impacts on a driver’s reaction time to breaking and responding to traffic signals. It exacerbates veering out of your lane and take focus off the correct following distances. Ironically hands-free phones are not much safer than their hand-held counterparts.

Think safety first

Increase your vehicle’s visibility by keeping the headlights on when travelling during the day. Locking the doors not only keeps you safe from the outside, but together with wearing a seat belt it protects you from being through from the car in a crash.

“According to the WHO, wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death among drivers and front seat occupants by 45% to 50%, and the risk of death and serious injuries among rear seat occupants by 25%. The use of child restraints can lead to a 60% reduction in deaths,” says Amanda.

Keep the 3- to 4-second rule for following distance in good weather conditions. However, add an additional second where conditions hamper visibility such as rain, fog, after sunset or if you are behind a truck or motorcycle.

“Stay aware of everything in your surroundings, anticipating situations and making safe, well-informed decisions about handling your vehicle to prevent causing or becoming involved in a road accident,” says Amanda.

“While the holiday season is a time of much joy, it is also a time where accidents are intensified due to the amount of traffic on the road. By increasing our awareness and committing to safe, proactive driving practices, we can all make a difference. Each one of us has loved ones and is a loved one. Let’s make this a season of tolerance and kindness to our fellow South Africans, both on and off the road,” concludes the BabyYumYum founder.