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By Rory Judd, MiWay head of Online Marketing
It’s almost time to pack up the car and hit the road for a long weekend of rest, relaxation and chocolate treats. Yes, it’s Easter season again, a time when South Africans traditionally take to the country’s highways and byways in search of quality family time.
But while this is a joyous time for many, it’s also a period best approached with extreme vigilance, with road fatality figures still high, year-on-year. To ensure you reach your destination safely and make the most of your much-needed break, here’s a handy pre-holiday checklist to keep on hand:
- Tread with caution
Reaching your destination in one piece is far more likely with a solid set of tyres. So before you head off on the open road, make sure to give yours (including the much neglected spare) a thorough once-over. Check for any gashes or lumps to avoid any unexpected blow-outs, and ensure that all the tyres have a minimum tread depth of no less than 1mm. You must also check the tyre pressure before you depart, bearing in mind that vehicles with heavier loads will require higher-than-normal levels. And remember, nobody wants to waste precious holiday time stuck on the side of the road, so don’t forget to make sure your tyre-changing kit is in full working order before you get going.
- Lessen the load
While it might be tempting to pack your car to the rafters, essentially relocating your entire home for the weekend, it’s important to remember that to do so is to severely compromise your safety. Not only can an overloaded vehicle obscure a driver’s field of vision, but it can also significantly affect your car’s stability and capacity to steer and stop. In addition, loose objects can not only cause distraction, but also turn into flying missiles in the event of an emergency stop or accident. So make sure to pack only what you really need for your weekend away, securing all loose items and keeping heavy baggage consigned to the boot.
- Buckle up
Yes, it might seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s one many continue to ignore and probably the most critical differentiator between life and death in the majority of road accidents. So make sure everyone is securely buckled up before you hit the road, including those in the backseat. Not only will this significantly reduce the risk of death or injury in the event of a collision, but it’ll also enable the correct deployment of airbags in certain vehicles.
- Play defense
It can be tempting to take an offensive stance on the roads over Easter time, particularly in light of frustratingly long queues and the seasonal abundance of slow and uncertain drivers. However, the seconds you might save by aggressively overtaking or tailing slower vehicles can come at a high price. Make your aim to reach your destination rather than to reach it in the fastest time possible, build a few extra hours into your travel timeline and keep a safe following distance at all times. By putting at least three seconds between you and the car in front of you, you’ll give yourself the necessary time to brake and ensure the driver in front of you can have sight of you at all times.
- Prepare for any weather
While Easter time is usually characterised by blue skies and sunshine, you never know when the weather might turn, so make sure you’re prepared before you set off. Bear in mind that wet roads are far more slippery than their dry counterparts, so you’ll want to extend your following distance and watch out for large puddles, which can conceal potholes. It’s also imperative that you check the working condition of your wipers to ensure visibility, and don’t forget to turn those headlights on so that others can see you coming and you are visible for the traffic behind you. And remember, don’t panic and slam on the brakes should you lose control of your vehicle in wet conditions – simply remove your foot from the accelerator until your tyres regain their grip of the road.
- Minimise distractions
Multi-tasking on the road is a sure-fire recipe for disaster, so make sure to maintain your focus if you wish to arrive safely. Mobile phones are a particularly common culprit when it comes to traffic accidents, so tempting as it might be to fire off a quick message in slow-moving traffic, it’s vital that you keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times. If it really can’t wait, rather take a bit of time to pull over onto the side of the road – yes, it might delay your arrival slightly, but it’ll certainly increase the likelihood of it happening at all.
- Leave early
By avoiding peak traffic periods, you’ll reach your destination quickly and without complication. While leaving at an obscene hour of the morning might sound like an unpleasant prospect, it’ll significantly up your chances of arriving safely, with far fewer fellow motorists to contend with and a reduced period requiring your undivided focus.
For more information on car safety and insurance visit www.miway.co.za.
MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)