Right about now, most people have begun the trip back from time away on holiday, whether it’s migrant labourers returning to work after going home, or families who’ve taken a drive down to the coast for their festive break. Every year, the Minister of Transport laments the horribly high road death statistics, always calling for greater awareness and care from South African drivers.
If you’re part of those making the groot trek home, take note of the 10 following simple road rules to get you and your loved ones home safe and sound.
Rule #1: Conduct a pre-trip inspection. Ensure your car has no issues that could endanger you on your return home. This includes regularly checking your tyres for wear and correct inflation. Don’t forget to check your spare. Many a driver has been left stranded because they forgot to make sure their spare is pumped!
Rule #2: Everyone in the car must wear their seat belt, whether they are a driver or passenger.
Rule #3: The rules on the highway are there to protect you and other road users. Make sure you follow them, and avoid taking unnecessary risks, such as overtaking on a blind rise or solid line.
Rule #4: Did you know, if a young child is thrown from a car travelling at a mere 40 km an hour, they could be fatally injured? The speed limits have been set for a reason, so for your own safety and the safety of others, stick to the speed limit.
Rule #5: Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or any other substances. We really shouldn’t need to explain why!
Rule #6: Protect your children by ensuring they are in appropriate car seats. Also, don’t allow children to travel in the front of the car until they are at least 12 years’ old.
Rule #7: Pay attention! According to recent statistics, road deaths caused as a result of drivers using their cell phones have overtaken those caused by drunk driving. Under no circumstances should you be using your phone while driving (unless you have a hands-free kit and it’s an absolute emergency). Rather have a passenger help you make a call or send a text message on your behalf.
Rule #8: Stop if you’re tired. You don’t have to check into a hotel – if you’re tired, swap driving duties with a travel companion. If you’re alone, find a public area, such as a petrol port where you can park your car and have a quick nap, or eat and stretch your legs.
Rule #9: Protect your brain. If you’re riding a two-wheel vehicle, a helmet is non-negotiable.
Rule #10: Be courteous. We’ve all been the victim of a driver who’s cut us off, jumped a red light, or refuses to allow us to move into a lane. Don’t mirror this behaviour – always consider other road users when you’re on the road.