For most South Africans, the festive season means road-tripping to a holiday destination or driving to see family. There is, of course, a significant increase in traffic volumes as a result, as witnessed between 18-19 December 2020, when, despite lockdown conditions, the country had an average of 2,439 cars travelled on the N1, from Gauteng to Limpopo, and 1,547 vehicles on the N3, between Johannesburg and Durban, each hour.  

This traffic congestion can be frustrating for road users, potentially leading to road rage, reckless driving, and even road accidents. According to the country’s 2020 festive season statistics, 690 people lost their lives on the road between 1 and 20 December 2020.

“The festive season is a fantastic time for South Africans to travel. Unfortunately, however, it becomes a time of tragedy when lives are lost on our roads,” says Justin Manson, Sales Director at Webfleet Solutions. “It’s therefore imperative that road users remain vigilant, exercise patience, and, most importantly, obey the road rules to reduce the number of accidents this season.”

Along with obeying traffic laws, making sure vehicles are properly serviced, and taking regular breaks, motorists must also be considerate of truck drivers when driving along national routes during these holidays. These are some of the nation’s most vital frontline workers. 

Hilary Muvirimi, an express truck driver at Africa Transport Solutions, advises South African road users on ways to navigate the festive traffic while safely sharing the road with trucks during one of the busiest times of the year, based on his more than a decade of experience behind the wheel. 

Have rear reflectors when driving at night

Muvirimi advises drivers to avoid driving at night and instead be on the road during the day. He says if daytime driving isn’t an option, then motorists should make sure their vehicles have visible rear reflectors so that other drivers can see them. 

“So much can happen on our roads, but it becomes harder to react when driving at night due to low visibility. These conditions become even more dangerous when vehicles don’t have rear reflectors – making it more difficult for approaching vehicles to see that there’s a vehicle ahead,” says Muvirimi.

Know when to overtake

Some drivers exceed the speed limit to arrive at their destinations quicker during this time, often disobeying road rules and dangerously overtaking other vehicles and massive trucks. Muvirimi advises motorists to ignore the urge to drive recklessly and only overtake when it’s safe, especially on the long road. In addition, he says overtaking should not be done without considering what is happening in front of the vehicle ahead.  

“Motorists must avoid reckless driving, like crossing double lines. Following these rules of the road saves lives,” adds Muvirimi.

Be aware of trucks on the road  

According to Muvirimi, motorists must understand that not all truck drivers are experienced. Therefore, road users need to be mindful of driving around these enormous vehicles and exercise patience.

“People need to understand how trucks work – for example, a 22-metre truck requires two lanes to turn. I have seen cases where small vehicles are struck by trucks turning a corner or taking a bend because they don’t consider these factors and are in the truck driver’s blind spot. So people need to be extra vigilant around these big vehicles.”

According to Muvirimi, the roads are already becoming congested, and the additional traffic is making them more dangerous. Because of this, he calls on motorists to respect other road users, whether they are truck drivers or travelling in small vehicles.

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