BE PREPARED: Heavy traffic is expected on SA's roads later in July as mid-year school holidays come to a close. Image: News24
Johannesburg - As the July school holidays come to an end, heavier than expected traffic is expected on major routes in South Africa as holidaymakers return home.
As school terms resume from July 18, the Automobile Association (AA) has warned motorists to be vigilant on the road, to obey all the rules, and to drive safely.
Traffic volumes on the N3 to and from KwaZulu-Natal, the N4 to and from Polokwane, and the N1 and N2 to and from Cape Town are expected to have increased volumes this week ahead of Monday’s return to school.
Grim reality of SA’s roads
According to figures from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), 1185 people died on South African roads in July last year. Although this was marginally lower than 1196 fatalities in 2014, the AA believes the figure is still tragically high, and cause for great concern.
RTMC figures show that nearly 13 000 (12 944) people died on the country’s roads last year, with December (1449 fatalities), August (1309), May (1186), and July (1185) being the months with the highest number of deaths.
Read: Violent window-washer attack: 8 ways to keep safe in SA
Although these months record higher deaths, it must be remembered that fatal crashes, and deaths, occur on South African roads daily. While road safety initiatives intensify over holiday periods, poor driving behaviour, and the associated consequences, are part of everyday life that needs urgent attention.
Top 14 defensive driving tips:
1 Follow the rules of the road at all times.
2 Minimise distractions – don’t use your cellphone while driving
3 Keep your eyes held high and focused on the road ahead – don’t focus only on the car in front of you.
4 Minimise lane changes – pick a lane and stick to it. Also, anticipate and plan escape routes.
5 Keep an eye out for drivers changing lanes. Regularly monitor your rear and side-mirrors for cars darting in and out of lanes and watch out for absent-minded drivers meandering across lanes.
6 Be attentive at intersections – when the light turns green be extremely aware of your left and right side traffic as you make your way through.
7 Move away from bad drivers – put a healthy distance between yourself and bad drivers such as those who appear to be drunk, speeding, tail-gating, changing lanes erratically, and even those who are driving too slowly.
8 Keep a safe following distance – this will enable you to react if the car in front of you suddenly turns, swerves or stops.
9 Signal well ahead of time if you intend to turn.
10 Brake smoothly and gradually.
11 Maintain pace with traffic.
12 Adjust your speed and position to avoid potential hazards.
13 Be on the look-out for brake lights in adjacent lanes. This could be an indication of vehicles hoping to cut in front of you.
14 Be on high alert at intersections, pedestrian crossings, parking lots and areas where children are such as outside schools.
Change in attitude
The AA said: “We wish to remind all motorists that their, their passengers lives and the lives of other road users, are literally in their hands. We call on all drivers to avoid risky overtaking, speeding, ignoring the conditions of the road, and being distracted while driving, to ensure that they and their families arrive home safely.
“We have said many times before that more needs to be done to curb fatalities on our roads. While we acknowledge that road users need to change their attitudes, a more concerted effort is also needed by authorities. Our fear this year is that the number of fatalities will not change significantly enough and that, as a country, we will simply continue to accept this as our normal.”.
The AA said that delays in the implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) system, inefficient and static policing, the lack of meaningful consequences for road offenders, and a disregard of traffic laws by motorists, all contributed to the high death toll.
Read: Where is Aarto? Justice Project SA, AA responds
Arrive Alive editor, Johan Jonck, shares his top 5 defensive driving tips: