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Road safety tips for the 2018 Human Rights 'long weekend'

2018-03-21 07:00

South Africa - Many families might take advantage of this week's public holiday (Human Rights day) by booking two additional leave days, netting you a long weekend.

There will definitely be an increase of cars on the road, so we've put together a list of practical tips to assist you drive right and avoid becoming a statistic this long weekend:


Before you take to the road, be sure to check your vehicle’s lights and electrical system, windows and wipers, wheels and tyres, brakes, suspension, battery, belts and chains, cooling system, filters and fluids, exhaust system, body panels, mountings and accessories, safety and warning equipment and child seats.

Most dangerous roads in SA: Routes by the RTMC

Good driving practice:

• Plan your trip carefully and use the technology at your disposal to avoid problem areas.
• Keep a safe following distance.
• Stick to the speed limit. According to the Dialdirect Insurance App, almost 30% of motorists exceed 140 km/h at least once every 10 trips. A 10% decrease in speed reduces fatal crashes by 40%.  
• Avoid tailgating and sudden, erratic movements, minimise lane changes, signal early, accelerate and brake gradually and keep pace with traffic. If you need to overtake, do it only once it’s legal and safe.
• Accommodate other drivers. With lane mergers, a ‘zipper’ structure should be followed.
• Make sure that your load is within your vehicle’s capabilities and that it is properly secured. Tie a red piece of cloth to the ends of any object that protrudes past your vehicle’s edges. All trailers are required to have a safety chain, which helps in the event of tow bar failure. 


• Rest. Motorists should get at least seven hours sleep before a long-distance trip, and avoid travelling during their body’s downtime, which for most people is between 2am and 6am. 
• Plan breaks into your trip and do not drive when you’re tired. Avoid having sugary or fatty snacks, energy drinks and caffeine to keep you going. Drink lots of water, eat healthy foods and pull over to rest and refresh properly when you need to.


• Distracted driving could be as dangerous as driving under the influence. 
• Bear in mind that even hands-free solutions divide your attention. If something cannot wait, rather pull over to the side of the road.

Bikes and heavy duty vehicles:

• Always 'think bike' and also keep a special lookout for heavy vehicles. If you’re behind a truck and you can’t see the mirrors, then the driver can’t see you. 
• A truck with a trailer needs two lanes to turn. 
• Heavy vehicles need a long distance to stop, so avoid cutting in front of them. 

If you car breaks down:

• Switch on your hazard lights and, if possible, pull into the emergency lane. 
• Make sure that your vehicle remains visible – make use of your emergency triangle.
• If you get  stuck in a dangerous spot, get out of your vehicle when it is safe to do so and walk carefully to the side of the road. Ideally, you should remain in your car with the doors locked.
• Immediately call your insurer for assistance. 

Driving under the influence:

• SA’s legal limit is a breath alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1,000ml, or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml.  This means that, as a general rule, 2 drinks in one hour will put you over the limit. Also bear in mind that, after a night of partying, you could still be over the limit the morning after.
• ?Alternate the alcoholic drinks you do have with soft drinks or water.

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