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Friday / 12 August 2022
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Safety tips for long car journeys

With the school holidays officially underway, it may be an excellent time to plan a family trip or a weekend getaway.

Arrive Alive has provided a series of travel tips to help motorists stay safe on South Africa’s roads.

Planning the journey

Before setting off, it’s important to plan your road trip in advance.

Use a road atlas or navigation tool like Google Maps to plan your route, ensure that you leave with enough time to reach your destination, and avoid driving in the dark where possible.

It’s recommended that motorists stick to major roads where possible, and know the distance to the next major town while traveling.

Related to this, always plan ahead as to when to refuel to avoid getting stranded.

Identifying places to stop can also help the driver to recover between long stints on the road.

As a safety precaution, it is advised that you always alert a friend or family member that you will be traveling, and let them know about the route you plan to take.

Roadworthiness

Another aspect of prepping for a long journey is to check to see that your vehicle is in roadworthy condition before departure.

This includes checking for faults with:

  • Tyres
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Exhaust system
  • Windscreen wipers
  • All lights and indicators

Additionally, avoid overloading the car with baggage as this can negatively affect the braking and performance.

The driver

Always make sure that you are well rested before embarking on your travels.

When driving, a general rule is to take a break every 2 hours or 200km to avoid fatigue.

General safety and responsible driving measures include:

  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Make sure all occupants are wearing seatbelts.
  • Do not use a mobile device or other distractions while driving

Defensive driving

When driving on highways, make sure to only overtake when it is clear to do so, and never overtake on a blind rise or corner.

Turn your headlights on even during the day when it is raining or overcast, and remember to dip high beams when a vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction so as to not blind the oncoming driver.

Another driving practice is to maintain a safe following distance of at least 3 seconds, and to reduce your speed and increase the following distance when it is raining.

Motorists are also urged to be aware of pedestrians as well as animals, especially near more rural areas.

Emergency stops

If possible, avoid stopping on the highway and instead take an off-ramp to as public a place as possible.

Be wary of stopping in a remote area, especially if you are traveling alone, and always keep your cellphone charged.

Another good habit is to travel with a first aid kit and other roadside tools like jumper cables or a tow rope

In the event of an accident, your first course of action should be to assess the injuries of any occupants and call emergency services.

Following this, document the damage to the vehicle with photos and take down the contact details of other drivers that may have been involved, and then file an accident report with the police as a case number will be needed before you can claim for insurance.

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