Traffic authorities and emergency services are bracing themselves as people start their journey home or away for the holidays.
Despite good intentions, car accidents have sadly become part and parcel of the “silly season”. It’s important to prepare for your trip, spokesperson for the Automobile Association of South Africa Layton Beard says.
“Motorists must check their cars and make sure they’re roadworthy,” he adds.
“As they drive, they must stay alert, obey the rules of the road and not get distracted by passengers (like children) in the car. Drivers need to calm down, and realise the roads will be busier now.
Everyone wants to have a happy, incident-free holiday, but this can happen only if everyone respects the rights of other drivers.”
It takes only a split second for cars to crash, and motorists need to start believing it can happen to them, warns Caro Smit, the founder of South Africans Against Drunk Driving.
“People’s attitudes change only when they’re scared of the legal and financial consequences of their actions,” she notes.
Consequently, she says, she’d like to see the Department of Transport and Public Works focusing on catching and fining people for not wearing seat belts, drinking and driving, and driving unroadworthy vehicles. She adds that punishment should be harsher.
“The parents of kids who die because they’re not buckled up, should be charged with murder,” Caro insists. SA has stringent drinking-and-driving laws, but these are seldom applied, she says.
“The law allows for six- to nine-year jail sentences if a death or severe injury occurs, but drink-driving is seldom seen as the serious crime that it is.
Alcohol abuse is behind 60 % of road carnage. It costs our economy about R200 billion annually, and untold grief to the families affected.”
Although you can’t control someone else’s actions on the road, here are some precautions to help you and your family reach your destination safely.