Johannesburg - Did you know crashes are 25% more likely over the long weekend? Here is a checklist to make sure your car is safe to travel in.
Driving long distances for a holiday or to see family can be an exciting experience, especially during these coronavirus pandemic times, but, before doing so, it is essential to ensure that key functions of the car work.
An insurer has warned Sthat at least four out of 10 accidents could lead to severe injury, using historical data from claims.
It is expected that thousands of South Africans will be travelling long distances by car or public transport due to Heritage Day being on a Friday, and with this in mind, the insurer has provided a checklist to ensure motorists and their families are as safe as possible.
CHECK THE CAR
This can be checked at home, or for free at an inspection centre.
“Before you take to the road, be sure to check your vehicle’s lights, windows and wipers, wheels and tyres, brakes, suspension, battery, belts and chains, cooling system, filters and fluids, safety and warning equipment, and child car seats,” said Ricardo Coetzee, the head of Auto and General.
Coetzee advises that motorists should keep a safe following distance of between two to three seconds.
This allows motorists enough time to manoeuvre in the event of sudden braking in the car ahead.
He adds: “Speeding significantly impairs your ability to steer safely around corners and objects in the road, and drastically reduces the time you have available to react to a dangerous situation.
“It not only increases your chances of having an accident but it also drastically increases the severity of a crash,” says Coetzee.
Citing a World Health Organization report, he said motorists could save their lives or other commuters lives if they reduced speed by 10km/h.
“This small change reduces fatalities by almost 40%. Obey the road rules, don’t overestimate your own luck, timing ability or observation skills.
“Stop at a red traffic light and stop sign, without fail.
“Choose the correct lane for the speed that you’re travelling at. Even with lines permitting overtaking, always make double sure that it’s safe to do so. Avoid overtaking multiple vehicles in one go,” he said.
“Don’t drink and drive: South Africa’s legal limit is a breath alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1 000ml, or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml.
“As a rule of thumb, two drinks in one hour will put you over the limit. Bear in mind that you could still be over the limit the morning after. Alternate the alcoholic drinks you do have with soft drinks or water.
“If you’ve been drinking, do not take a chance – rather call a friend or a taxi,” said Coetzee.
“Make sure that the load is within your vehicle’s capabilities and that it’s properly secured.
“Tie a red piece of cloth to the ends of any object that protrudes past your vehicle’s edges.
“All trailers and caravans are required to have a safety chain, which helps in the event of towbar failure,” said Coetzee.
MAINTAIN THE CAR
“Many accidents on South Africa’s roads are the result of vehicle unroadworthiness and vehicle component failure, with tyre failure being one of the top culprits.
“Many motorists also find themselves stranded on the roadside at the mercy of potential criminals thanks to vehicle failure. No matter how you look at it, driving a car that is not properly maintained and fit for the road is compromising your safety,” said Coetzee.
“Have your Covid-19 road trip kit – masks, sanitiser, wipes or soap – handy to use at rest stops to make sure that you and your loved ones are safe,” he added.
Coetzee said fatigue could set in, especially after a day at work, emotional stress, illness, boredom and sun glare. So rest, take a break and stretch when required.
“Motorists should get at least seven hours sleep before a long-distance trip, and avoid travelling during their body’s downtime, which for most people is between 2am and 6am.
“If you find yourself battling to keep your eyes open, daydreaming, or swerving into the centre of the road or on to the verge, find a safe place to stop and rest, or let another driver take over,” he said.
Taking turns to drive is also advised, and avoiding sugary drinks or fatty snacks, energy drinks, and caffeine to try to keep you going.
“Rather drink lots of water, eat healthy foods and pull over to rest and refresh properly when you need to,” Coetzee said.