How to tackle gridlock traffic at the beach this summer holiday

Janine Van der Post
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 PREPARE AHEAD: Avoid beach traffic madness this summer by getting to your destination early, or using public transport as an alternative. Image: ~ iStock

Cape Town - The Western Cape has announced two more deaths on Thursday (Dec 8.) of people who have drowned in just one week, bringing the tally to 8 already in December.

Schools have only closed in the Cape on Wednesday (Dec 7), yet two of the 8 deceased were two 9-year-olds who had drowned in a lagoon in Hermanus. On Thursday, two women drowned in the Strand, while a third was saved.

Beaches during summer mean gridlock traffic, whether you're down in Camps Bay, Gordon's Bay, Knysna or Durban, the coastal cities are guaranteed to cause havoc in traffic.

It's imperative to keep safe during these holidays. Know where your children are at all times, and always make sure you observe any conditions around you.

But first you'll have to reach your destination, and this alone might be overwhelming me stuck in bumper traffic, and not being able to find any parking. Also, consider using public transport such as MyCiti buses or even Uber to pick you up and drop you at home!

Also, if the beach is a regular holiday destination in your area, or on your holiday, scout for alternative parking spots in the vicinity prior to the dreaded trip. Often there are side roads or parking areas that are hidden or the public are just unaware of. Rather walk a short distance than spend an eternity wasting time trying to find a good parking.

Keep cool

MasterDrive SA's Eugene Herbert says: "Keep a cool head in traffic. There are a lot of aggro people out there and the last thing you want to do is to “react” to irritable motorist = road rage. Keep your space cushion – allow some room to move if the car in front breaks down (overheating or other mechanical issues). And, keep the air conditioner  blowing – makes for cool heads."

"Knowing that  it is holidays plan to spend extra time in the traffic so keep bottled water in the car (more than one bottle and stored in a cool place – no direct sunlight). Hot cars don’t work well with cool tempers. Have some snacks, and car games for the kids – you don’t need distractions where you are focussed on driving.

Herbert also advises to be sure that your car is in good condition – an overheating car will cause problems. "Not only for you but other motorists who are held up if your vehicle breaks down," he says. "Also make sure your car is clean – being in a clean environment makes for a more relaxed drive." 

Arrive Alive shares some great tips for holiday traffic.

1. Plan your drive. Even though not all instances of heavy traffic may be predictable, there are often advisories, alerts or signs that could point towards the conditions to be expected.
2. Set your tone at home. Safe and defensive road behaviour begins even before you get on the road.
3. Driving in heavy traffic requires increased focus and attention, placing more strain on the body - a good rest before the drive would help prevent driving tiredness.
4. Check weather and road conditions in advance to help plan a route and offers more awareness about what to expect along the way.
5. Plan in advance - do not be the cause of your frustration and need to rush!
6. Often leaving fifteen minutes before the start or after the end of peak hour can dramatically decrease the flow of traffic on your drive.
7. Plan to avoid the worst holiday peak traffic periods when many highways become congested.
8. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination and don’t set yourself unreasonable / unattainable targets for estimated time of arrival.
9. Schedule regular rest stops.
10. Call ahead. Rather stop along the route to call people at the holiday destination and inform them of delays than taking risks to arrive at a specified time.
11. Anticipate delays. Keep in mind that road crashes, road works etc. could add additional time as well as frustrations to your travel.
12. Listen or browse for travel advisories on the radio and social media portals such as twitter.
13. Use technology - Traffic apps on your phone and radio reports could reveal insights into congested areas
14. Always be alert to possible alternative routes to your destination.
15. Some of the modern GPS devices have “live traffic” capabilities re-directing traffic away from heavily congested roads.

READ: More safe driving in heavy traffic tips