Peppered with public holidays and long weekends, March and April are traditionally popular holiday months for South Africans, many of whom take advantage of the good weather on offer to head to the coast and bask in the last of the summer sun. However, this time of the year is also typically characterised by a high incidence of road accidents, with over 100 fatalities recorded over the Easter weekend of 2019 alone.[i]
While the road death toll dropped dramatically last year in light of the national lockdown enforced shortly prior to the holiday period, this year’s Easter break is likely to once again see South Africans hitting the road in their droves, particularly in light of eased lockdown restrictions and ongoing unease regarding air travel.
As such, if you are planning a getaway this year, take the necessary precautions, both in terms of your planning and your on-the-road conduct, to avoid becoming yet another unfortunate statistic.
Here are a few tips to bear in mind to ensure that your holiday is memorable for all the right reasons:
Ditch the distractions
Texting while driving makes you 23% more likely to be involved in an accident[ii]. Not only do these omnipresent devices reduce our field of vision, but they also compromise our ability to focus on the road and to react timeously to any unexpected circumstances.
A study indicates that texting on the road is every bit as dangerous as drinking and driving, reducing parietal lobe activity by 37% [iii]and making us 4 times more likely to become involved in an accident. While mobile devices are a must-have during any long-distance journey, enabling drivers to navigate seamlessly and providing a lifeline in the event of an emergency, they should strictly be used in hands-free mode or during planned stops.
Interactions or disagreements on the road also account for a high percentage of all accidents, many of which can be avoided by planning ahead. Instead of rummaging around for change to pay the toll fee or squabbling over the all-important road trip playlist, plan out your journey ahead of time, ensuring you are well equipped with snacks and entertainment to avoid unnecessary complaints from the backseat. Map out regular stops ahead of time, enabling you and your fellow passengers sufficient opportunities to take in some fresh air and refocus on the task at hand.
Get road trip ready
Flat tyres and breakdowns can leave you and your family exposed and vulnerable, particularly in isolated areas of the country where help isn’t always close at hand. Be prepared for any eventuality and ensure that you are fully equipped to DIY your way through any unexpected turn of events. Before hitting the road, make sure that your spare tyre is in good working order and that you’ve got all the necessary tools on hand to change it if necessary.
For further peace of mind, it’s worth double checking your oil and tyre pressure levels, as well as the functionality of your brakes, seat belts and windscreen wipers. By minimising risk factors ahead of time, you are far likelier to avoid complications and will be better equipped to deal with any that may arise.
Better safe than sorry
The effects of alcohol on driver concentration have been well documented over the years and the same rules apply whether you are on a national highway or a backroad in a quiet beach town. If you are feeling festive and looking to indulge in a drink or two, make sure to organise a cab or a driver assist ahead of time. Some insurance providers offer these services as part of your existing cover – make use of them rather than running unnecessary risks.
When it comes to road safety, planning is the most important tool at your disposal. By understanding and pre-empting the various risks and challenges you could face during your next getaway, you will be far likelier to avoid them and ensure that you and your family return home safe and sound.
By: Greta Goosen, Head of Customer Experience at MiWay Insurance
MiWay is a licensed non-life insurer and Financial Services Provider (FSP 33970).