Festive season road safety

2012-12-11 15:43
In South Africa, December is holiday time for most families, and the time South African roads are busiest. Therefore road safety is essential.  Motorists should be mindful of fellow motorists while driving and ensure the road worthiness of their vehicles.

Recent Wheels24 survey reveals the habits of South African motorists:

-    Only 3% of respondents service their car before hitting the long road
-    96% of motorists insist that passengers buckle up while driving
-    Only 40% of South Africans service their car once a year
-    Only 34% of South Africans stop every 3-4 hours on a long journey
-    Only 21% of South Africans plan journeys with rest stops needed
-    61% of South Africans alternate driving responsibility when embarking on a long trip.


Caltex the leading refiner and marketer of fuel and lubricants products, believes ‘It’s how you get there’ that is important.  As one of South Africa’s top four petroleum brands, with more than 800 service stations nationwide, Caltex will be working hard to make the journey enjoyable by providing quality fuel, great service and clean facilities.  However it is also important to equip motorists with the information they need to be safe and fuel efficient this holiday season.

Suzanne Pullinger, Communications Manager for Caltex South Africa says; “How you get to your holiday destination is just as important as getting there itself.  We know that road safety is critical, and urge all motorists to take this seriously, especially when travelling long distances.”

“At Caltex we are also well aware of the fluctuating fuel price, therefore using fuel efficient driving techniques is also important when travelling to your holiday destination.  There are many ways to get more kilometres out of a tank of fuel, but it all comes down to good vehicle maintenance and sensible driving, these are the leading influencers in optimising fuel economy,” concludes Pullinger.

Road safety and fuel efficiency tips that will ensure a smooth and cost effective road trip:

Pre-journey Safety Checks are essential: The survey results indicated that only 3% of respondents say they service their car before they hit the road for a long journey and only 40% say they service their car once a year. This is quite alarming as servicing one’s car ahead of a long trip is crucial in order to make sure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition before departure. Vital car checks include: Vehicle tire pressure; the condition of the lights and brakes; checking the windscreen for cracks and making sure windscreen wipers are effective; and checking fluid levels (oil, water). Steering, exhaust system and shocks should also be examined for faults.

Allow time for rest stops: It is important to take safety breaks at rest stops every 2 hours or 200km. However only 34% of South Africans say they stop every 3-4 hours on a long journey and only 21% of South Africans plan journeys with rest stops needed. Motorists need to plan their routes and allow enough time to reach the destination. Keeping an eye on the fuel gauge and considering how long it may be until you pass the next service station is also advisable. By resting enough along the route drivers will be able to remain focused.

Stick to the speed limits: 
Stay within the speed limit at all times. One of the survey results interestingly revealed that 32% of respondents believe that one can save fuel by driving faster, which is in fact a false perception and could have fatal consequences. Many people don’t know this but by driving fast especially on highways, aerodynamic drag forces an engine to work harder and use more fuel so by simply decreasing your speed, you can increase your fuel economy by as much as 20%.

Drive defensively focusing on fellow motorists

Do not overload: 
The lighter you travel the better. All extra weight requires extra power from your engine and extra fuel. For every 45kg you carry, your fuel economy is reduced by up to 2%, especially if you drive a smaller, lighter car.

Try to limit the use of air con:  Only 20% of respondents said they still drive with their air-conditioning on at all times and 74% said they only put it on when it’s hot. Something to be aware of is that by using the air-conditioning your car can actually reduce the fuel economy by as much as 3km per 4.5 liters under certain speeds and operating conditions.

Be mindful of rev counts:  Another driving habit that is an easy way to help manage fuel consumption is to be aware of the rev count when changing gears. It’s important to remember that driving in gears which rev the engine wastes fuel. In manual cars, choose the gear with the lowest revs per minute which doesn't risk stalling the engine.

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