Road Safety: Stay Safe on the Road This Long Weekend and Beyond
With all the long weekends we have in April it's important that, if you are planning a roadtrip, you take the necessary precautions to make sure that you and your family are safe on the road. Life is unpredictable and freak accidents can happen, so itís really important that you, as a driver, respect the rules of the road and drive carefully to help to keep both your loved ones and other travellers safe. Here are some helpful guidelines you can apply:
Make sure your car is roadworthy
Before you leave for your trip, check that your car is in working order, paying special attention to parts such as brakes, tyres, shocks, indicators, headlights, hazards, break lights and windscreen wipers. It is advisable to have your car serviced as recommended by the manufacturer and to keep up regular maintenance. Before you depart, go through a check list and make sure you have the following:
- Spare tyre
- Tyre tool kit
- First-aid kit
- Jumper cables
- Blanket and torch
- Large bottle of water
- Emergency triangle
If you do experience a breakdown, put your hazard lights on immediately and try to move the car to a safe location. If youíve stopped along a busy road, put on your hazards and remain buckled up in the car while you wait for professional assistance. Rather don't try and do repairs on a busy road, as this can be dangerous.
Wear a seatbelt
According to the Western Cape Government website Safely Home, wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of death in a motor vehicle accident by up to 45%. It also prevents occupants from being ejected from the car 99% of the time which helps to reduce injury and, in many instances, save lives. The power of wearing a seatbelt should never be underestimated and all passengers travelling in a car should buckle up properly, even if you are only travelling a short distance. Always wear the seatbelt properly and check that it is locked securely.
Keeping children safe
Children should always wear a seatbelt and travel in a car seat or booster seat that is suitable for their age and size. Never ever travel with a child on your lap, even in the back seat, as this can have dire consequences for the child, should you have even a minor bump or accident.
Stick to the speed limit and maintain a safe following distance
The National Road Traffic Act outlines various speed limits that should be adhered to by road users in South Africa. Limits vary depending on the area and kind of road, but are usually well sign-posted. Speed limits are set in an attempt to keep vehicles travelling at an acceptable speed for a specific area, so itís important to stick to them. Speeding is the cause of many accidents each year and speed limits are in place to try and reduce these. It is also important to maintain a safe following distance as driving too closely to the vehicle in front of you can result in a collision if it suddenly brakes. The general rule is to have a two second distance, or at least a space two cars deep, between your vehicle and the one in front. The faster you are going, the bigger your gap needs to be.
Plan your route and take regular breaks
Familiarise yourself with the route you'll be taking to get to your destination. This will help you to be prepared for toll gates or to avoid road closures that may affect your trip. Knowing your route will help you to plan around the petrol stations and rest stops along the way. Always take regular breaks. Drivers should take a break for at least 15 minutes to every two hours (or 200km) of travel. Use this time to stretch, drink some water, get petrol and snacks, and to take a break from concentrating. If you feel yourself dosing off or your eyes getting heavy pull over immediately and rest. Driving when you are tired can endanger you and your passengers.
Don't drink and drive
It sounds obvious, but some people still don't seem to abide by this rule. According to the AA, the legal limit is a breath alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1000ml, or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml. Driving while drunk can affect your reaction time and your ability to brake or drive in a controlled manner. Rather allow someone else to drive, or use a taxi service, if youíve consumed alcohol.
FRANK.NET is there to lend a helping hand when life throws you a curveball. Be prepared for the worst and consider investing in life insurance. This type of insurance will give you peace of mind to know that should something happen to you out on the road, your loved ones will be taken care of, if you're no longer around.