Road Safety Tips for the Festive Season

Rocky Pretorius

While Christmas and New Year are a time of joy and celebration many families have unfortunately endured great loss over this festive period as a result of losing loved ones in car accidents. The volume of car accidents increases significantly in December and January with an alarming number of avoidable fatalities. The leading causes of motor vehicle accidents during the festive season is:

  • Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs
  • Driving while tired
  • Driving fast and recklessly
  • Driving a poorly maintained vehicle

It may seem like common sense but with the number of fatal or severe car accidents occurring every festive season, it seems people have very short memories or simply choose to take their chances. There are some very basic things you can do to keep safe on the roads this December and go into the New Year safe and unharmed.

  1. Nominate a designated driver

We are well aware that the festive season means many parties and social events which often are fuelled by booze. Drink responsibly by nominating a designated driver in the group to get you all back home safely. Driving when intoxicated is against the law and lowers your inhibitions making you less alert, with slower reflexes and more likely to drive recklessly. If your designated driver lets you down, leave the car there and call an Uber. Remember that causing an accident while drunk, especially if passengers or occupants are killed, can result in serious jail time and a criminal record. It is never worth taking the risk.

  1. Take a break when you’re tired

Driving tired is another leading cause of accidents on South African roads. Falling asleep at the wheel has caused many devastating accidents and taken far too many lives. If you’re feeling tired before getting into the car, delay your trip and get some sleep. If fatigue sets in while driving, pull over somewhere safe, have a coffee and take a break. You can also drive in shifts with the other legal drivers in the vehicle.

  1. Take it easy

The risk of speeding and recklessly overtaking people on the road is not worth the risk. Is it really worth risking your life or damage to your vehicle to get somewhere 2 minutes sooner? No! Even if you are running late, take it easy on the roads and stick to the speed limit. Speed is the leading cause of death on our roads and is so avoidable.

  1. Do basic vehicle checks

Check your breaks, tyre pressure, oil, water and fuel levels before leaving on a road trip. It’s also important to never overload your car. Adjust your tyre pressure accordingly depending on your vehicles recommendations for loads. Make sure you have a spare tyre, a jack and wrench in your boot along with a tyre sealant if the puncture is small enough. If you do get a flat tyre, pull over somewhere safe where there is a wide enough distance between you and passing vehicles.

  1. Avoid driving in bad weather

Rain and bad weather are the leading causes of accidents during the festive season. If you can delay your outing, avoid driving far in bad weather. If you cannot postpone your drive or get stuck in a storm on the road, stay calm and alert:

 

  • Turn down loud music to avoid distractions
  • Slow down
  • Keep a larger following distance
  • Turn on your lights
  • Turn on your hazard lights
  • If it gets so bad you cannot see, pull over somewhere safe and wait until it passes

 

  1. Drive during the day

Driving at night can be dangerous, especially if you’re on poorly lit roads or don’t know the area. Visibility isn’t as far and wide as during the day so your reaction time to potential danger is inevitably slower. At night it is harder to read road signs or see potholes which can cause serious incidents. It can also be impossible to spot pedestrians and animals crossing the road. If you know you’ll be driving through an area you don’t know with less than optimal road conditions, stick to driving during the day if you can.

 

If you or a loved one is very sadly involved in an accident this festive season and you make a claim to the Road Accident Fund, remember we offer RAF loans to get you the payout you deserve sooner.