Public schools across South Africa close for the end-of-year holidays on 6 December, meaning that thousands of motorists will undoubtedly be on the roads soon thereafter…

This time of the year going into January is also the most dangerous of the year, with more people involved in fatal crashes now than at any other time.

It’s for this reason the Automobile Association (AA) urges all motorists to ensure their vehicles are in good condition, and roadworthy, and that their attitudes towards driving, especially over long distances, are also in a good condition.

“This time of the year it is important for families to reconnect, friends to come together, and for people to recoup from the long year. To ensure the best possible experience on the road, we want to encourage all motorists to get their vehicles checked out in good time, and to make sure they are mentally prepared for their journeys,” the AA says.

The Association says motorists should:

  • Plan your route, including stops, and ensure that you make provision to stop every 200kms or every two hours to rest, refuel and refresh.
  • Look at the planning of your trip and avoid the rush days when there is bound to be heavier traffic on the roads. If possible, leave a day sooner, or a day later. Do the same for the return leg of  your journey.
  • Buckle up. This includes all passengers, including toddlers under three who, legally, must be in a car seat, and children 1,3m or shorter need to be in booster seats.
  • Obey all the rules of the road, and drive to the conditions of the road. If the road is marked 120km but visibility is poor, decrease your speed to ensure clear vision of the road ahead.
  • Be courteous of other drivers. Remember everyone has a right to be on the road.
  • Make sure arrangements for overnight accommodation are done before they leave. For any accommodation needs visit aatravel.co.za for AA Quality Assured Accommodation.
  • Ensure your car is in good condition and roadworthy and ready to take you to your destination, and bring you home again.
  • Inspect the tyres (including the spare tyre) and make sure they have sufficient tread for the road ahead. Tyres are a key safety feature on vehicles. They are the only thing between the vehicle and the road, and because of this, ensuring their continued good condition is vital. Any tyres which are bald, or under or over inflated, can be dangerous.
  • Check you have all the necessary tools to change a tyre if needed, including a red warning triangle
  • Keep your AA membership card handy in case of emergency.
  • Put your cellphone and other electronic devices away while driving. Focus on the road and on other drivers. Distracted driving diminishes reaction time.
  • Plan a route off the beaten path and experience a bit more of South Africa than the regular routes. Take time and arrive at your destination calm and rested.

“It’s also important to understand that going on a long journey is not a race. Arriving safe is more important than arriving in ‘record time’. And, preparing for a road trip by having a good car, and clear mind, is as important as the holiday itself,” the AA stresses.

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The Association notes that, with just over four weeks before the start of the public school holidays, motorists should consider services and maintenance on their vehicles now, before it is too late, and to avoid any last minute rushes from other drivers.