Road trip in SA: 11 essential holiday tips

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 PLAN AHEAD: It’s that time of the year again when South Africans across the country are putting the final touches on their annual holiday plans. Here are 11 essential road-trip tips. Image: iStock ~ iStock

Cape Town - It’s that time of the year again when South Africans across the country are putting the final touches on their annual vacation plans.

This means thousands of people will be travelling along the country’s roads and, sadly, a high rate of crashes and fatalities.

The Automobile Association (AA) urges all motorists to also prepare themselves and their vehicles for this period.

'Be extra vigilant' 

The AA said: “The annual summer holidays are a great time to relax and recover from the past year. But it is also a time when motorists need to be extra vigilant on the roads. Along with plans for the perfect holiday, motorists also need to ensure their vehicles are in tip-top condition for the road, and that their attitudes are similarly in good shape to negotiate the journey.”
The AA said it is important that anyone who will be travelling by road later this year follows a few basic rules to ensure their journey, and their holiday, is safe.

11 road-trip tips:

   1 Plan your route, including stops, and ensure you make provision to stop every 200kms or two hours to rest, refuel and refresh
  2 Plan your trip and avoid the rush days when there is bound to be heavier traffic on the roads. If possible, leave a day sooner or a day later. Do the same for the return leg of your journey
  3 Buckle up. This includes all passengers, including toddlers under three who, legally, must be in a car seat
  4 Obey the rules of the road and drive to the conditions of the road. If the road is marked 120km but visibility is poor, decrease your speed to ensure you properly see the road ahead
  5 Be courteous towards other drivers. Remember everyone has a right to be on the road

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  6 If you need to stay over make sure your arrangements are completed before you leave 
  7 Ensure your car is in good condition and roadworthy 
  8 Inspect your tyres (including the spare tyre) and make sure they have sufficient tread for the road ahead. If they are worn replace them before your leave. Remember there is no excuse for worn tyres; it is more expensive not to replace them than to keep in them bad shape
  9 Check that you have all the necessary tools to change a tyre if you need to
  10 Put your cellphone and other electronic devices away while driving. Focus on the road and on other drivers. Distracted driving diminishes your reaction time
  11 Plan a route off the beaten path and experience a bit more of South Africa than your regular route would take you to. Take your time and arrive at your destination calm and rested

High crash, fatality rates

The AA said: “Too often drivers think it’s simply a question of getting in their car and driving off, when in reality proper preparation is needed. We are entering a period known for high crash and fatality rates and everyone on the road during this period needs to do what they can to stay safe.” 
The AA said this includes improving driver attitudes. 
The AA concluded: “Drivers who don’t obey the rules, who drive as if they are the only road users entitled to be there, are a danger to everyone else. Drivers need to calm down, and realise that the roads will be busier now. Everyone wants to have a happy and incident free holiday but this can only happen if everyone respects the rights of other drivers.”