School’s out soon and if you are lucky enough to be heading out of the city for a much-needed holiday, read on for our top tips to ensure the trip is as safe as possible.

6 Tips for a Safe Winter Holiday Road Trip

1. Take it Easy

Yes, we know you are in a tearing rush to get to your destination and forget about work and the daily grind, but do not exceed the speed limits in your efforts to do so. Apart from the financial implications of being caught speeding, you are endangering yourself, your passengers and other road users. Speed limits are not arbitrarily assigned; research and planning have given us specific speed limits for specific stretches of road. Worldwide, speeding accounts for between 20 and 30% of all fatal road accidents. The faster you drive, the less time you have to react to situational changes, making your ability to manoeuvre yourself out of a dangerous situation smaller.

2. Don’t Drink and Drive

As obvious as this sounds, it still needs to be said: alcohol drastically reduces your reaction time! Do not even be tempted to crack open a frosty beer as you first spy the sea. According to the Department of Transport here in South Africa, speeding and driving under the influence are the main causes of road accidents, costing our economy R164 billion a year, 3,4% of the country’s GDP, and 1,4 % above the international benchmark. And that is just the FINANCIAL cost.

3. Keep Hands and Eyes off the Phone

Research shows that although people are aware that it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, over 20% of drivers continue to do so. Reading and responding to a text message while driving distracts you for at least nine seconds. A lot could happen on the road during that time.

The International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Annual Report revealed that 25% of road accidents are a result of texting and driving and that the likelihood of having an accident increases 23 times when you text and drive.

4. Stay Refreshed

Driving tired is almost as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Do not drive for more than a few hours without stopping for a break. A person’s reaction time is impaired when drowsy. Staying awake for 18 hours straight can lead to you driving as if you have a blood-alcohol level of 0.05, just 0.03 below what is considered a drunk state.

5. Keep the Headlights on

Most modern cars have automated headlights, allowing you to keep the headlights switched on at all times without risking battery failure. Keep the lights switched on – not just in dark or low visibility times – but at all times so that you can see and be seen better. Remember that the sun rises later in winter, so you might want to set out a bit later to avoid too much dark driving.

6. Have your car checked

Book your car in for a routine safety check before you take a long trip! Most important to check are tyres and brakes. Winter driving can be particularly tricky if temperatures are low and the roads become icy, so your tyres and brakes need to be in perfect condition.

If you tow a trailer or caravan include them, well in advance for the safety check. It’s important to all the lights and features work as they should!

Buckle up and enjoy the winter road trip!

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