Road safety tips

2013-12-23 15:26

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Road safety is one of those topics most of us, especially regular road trippers, tend to skim over. Maybe it's because we live in a country with a reputation for its careless road users and horrific accidents, making the topic of ‘road safety' one we've come to associate with boring TV commercials and mandatory school tutorials. 

However, if you're hitting the road for a glorious bush break or maybe a wild winter seaside retreat, we suggest you take a few moments to brush up on these basic road safety tips. 

Before leaving 

Car Service

Take your car in for a once over before you hit the road. It would be useful to mention any odd sounds or quirks you've noticed in the days leading up to the service to the technician, as this will guide their work and also set your mind at ease. The brakes, clutch, tyres, windscreen wipers, fluids, lights and air filter are all essential components to be checked. 

Tyre check

Be sure to check your tyres for any tears or bulges and also make sure that there is still a healthy amount of tread yet. Make sure that they are inflated appropriately for your trip - tyres that are pumped up too tight can be as much of a danger in the case of a fully loaded vehicle, as a flat tyre can be.

Wash your car

Not only will you be creating a great impression among your fellow travellers, it's also actually an important safety measure! If you don't have the time, at least ensure that each and every one of the car's windows are clean for maximum visibility. There's nothing worse than trying to squint through a dusty windscreen, especially if the sun is coming from straight ahead. 

Avoid obstructions

Packing the car for a family holiday is always something of a challenge. So much stuff, so little space! The temptation is always there to just squeeze and stack till everything fits. However, having luggage obstructing your rear view can be extremely dangerous, even fatal. Make sure the driver can see the stretch of road behind the vehicle at all times.

Make sure you have adequate safety equipment

Before leaving on your journey, put one Saturday (or any other day where you have lots of time) aside to go through the emergency and safety equipment in your vehicle. There are a few essential items that should be readily available in your vehicle, should you have a breakdown. These include:

- Three reflective triangles 
- Jumper cables
- A sturdy rope in case you need to be towed
- A torch 
- A first aid kit

While travelling 

Assume everyone else is an idiot

This really is the golden rule of the road and basically comes down to this: you have to think for your fellow drivers. By being alert and aware of what's happening around you at all times, the chances are good that you will be able to act proactively to avoid an accident. 

Two hour driving shifts

If you're on a long journey, divide the driving time into two hour shifts, taking turns behind the wheel with other eligible drivers in the car. If there are no other eligible drivers, the rule still applies to you. It's important to rest, stretch your legs and freshen up every two hours, else your attention will start wavering. 

No fidgeting 

Fiddling with your cell phone or the radio while driving is an absolute no-no, yet most of us are guilty of doing this on quite a regular basis. However, it's just that split moment of distraction 

Keep you cell phone charged

Sometimes it seems like we've become a bunch of wussies when it comes to communication. In the old days people would set out on journeys, hoping that maybe somewhere along the way they'd be able to make contact with their family from a pay phone. These days we have our cell phones glued to our sides constantly and can't bear the thought of losing reception for a few moments. 

Whatever your thoughts may be about this, the fact is, cell phones are an incredibly useful tool to harness while travelling and could also be a lifesaver in many crisis situations. So, make sure that your cell phone (or at least one among your travelling companions) is always fully charged while driving. The best way to ensure this, is to have a charger you can plug into your car's USB port, or for the more old school among us, cigarette lighter.

Never drive in the yellow line

Even when someone's sitting on your tail, trying to push you off the road. And especially at night. While the yellow line may be completely clear 99% of the time, you do not want to be part of that 1% who hit a stray object, animal, or worst of all, pedestrian appearing only when it's too late. 

Be patient

Being stuck in traffic is one of those things in life that you really have no control over. So if you find yourself in this situation, somehow, while road tripping, just relax. Pump some cool tunes, chat to your travel companions and try to just soak up the scenery. Being impatient and trying to push your way to the front of the queue will just aggravate the situation and could inspire anything from road rage to an unexpected accident.

Check out the AA website for more vehicle and road safety tips

Read more on:    travel south africa

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