We all love the Festive Season – work couldn’t be further from our minds; everybody’s full of festive cheer and your favourite shops at the mall never seem to close! But the festive season does come with its share of stress, especially if you’re planning a trip away from home. Here are some essential road-safety tips to make sure that you arrive at your destination calm, relaxed and most importantly, safe!
Make sure your car is roadworthy and that it has been recently serviced
What could be worse than breaking down at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and then having to wait hours for assistance? Make sure that poor sap at the side of the road isn’t you by getting your car serviced by a reputable mechanic well in advance of your trip. This includes checking the small stuff like having a container of water in the boot and ensuring that the spare wheel is in good order.
We all know seatbelts are uncomfortable and generally just a pain, but wearing them could prevent up to half of the deaths caused by road accidents. You also need to make sure that you’re wearing them correctly – this means that both straps are snugly fitted to transfer the impact of the collision to the parts of your body that can take it i.e. your hips and shoulders. Just using the shoulder strap allows enough room for you to slide underneath it and be strangled and just using lap belt won’t stop your head from flying forward to hit the windscreen or seat in front of you.
Remember your manners
Just because you’re in the protective little bubble provided by your car doesn’t mean that you can behave as if you own the road! Be courteous at all times, give way to other cars and err on the side of caution, especially when overtaking. You can never predict what other road users are going to do so make sure you obey the rules of the road at all times.
Switch your headlights on
Keeping your headlights on, even on a clear sunny day, greatly increases your visibility. It helps other drivers see you and may prevent the chance of a head-on collision by as much as 25%. Having your headlights on also means that your taillights will be on, making you more visible to the drivers behind you.
Don’t use your cellphone
Unless you have a hands-free kit, talking or texting on your phone while driving is a criminal offence. And for good reason too! How often have you noticed a car driving erratically, straddling lanes and swerving all over the place only to see that the driver is talking on their phone? No matter how good you think you are at multitasking, research has shown that driving while texting or talking on the phone is more debilitating than driving under the influence of alcohol!
We all know about the dangers of driving drunk, drugged or ill but tired drivers are every bit as much of a risk. Driver fatigue has been linked to over 10% of long distance road accidents and is definitely not something that can just be dismissed. The following are some guidelines for taking breaks while on a long journey – never drive for more than 8 hours in a day; make sure you stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours; if you’re feeling sleepy find a safe place to stop and never stop on a blind corner and lastly, plan you journey so that breaks can be taken, allowing for an overnight stay if necessary.
Make it fun!
Spending endless hours in a confined space, especially if you have small children, is enough to send anyone round the bend. But there are things you can do to make the time pass quickly and keep the peace at the same time – pack plenty of healthy snacks to keep everyone’s hunger at bay (this will also prevent you from having to spend excessive amounts of money at overpriced service stations); play travel games like eye-spy or seeing who can spot the most red cars; play a DVD – as long as it doesn’t distract the driver, movies are a great way to keep kids entertained for hours at a time.
We hope these tips get your well-deserved Festive Season break off to a good start and would like to take this opportunity to wish all our Maponya 911 clients; friends and their families happy holidays and a spectacular New Year!