The holidays are nearly upon us. Which means that most of us will be gearing up for a motorised trek to some semi-exotic location. Cape Town. Port Elizabeth. Durban. South Africa is our road-trip oyster. But before we all hit the N1 or N3 to frantic oblivion it’s best to take some basic precautions. Here are 12 tips that will see you reach your destination safely and in one piece:
1. Plan your route, including stops, and ensure you make provision to stop every 200-kilometers or every two hours to rest, refuel and refresh.
2. Look at the planning of 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 all the rules of the road, and drive to the conditions of the road. If the speed limit is 120km/h but visibility is poor, decrease your speed to ensure you properly see the road ahead.
5. Be courteous of other drivers. Remember everyone has a right to be on the road.
6. If you need to stay over make sure your arrangements are done before you leave.
7. Ensure your car is in good condition and roadworthy and ready to take you to your destination, and bring you home again.
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. Consider joining the AA for added peace of mind in the event of a breakdown (especially if you own an older car or a classic). Check out its offering here.
11. Put your cellphone and other electronic devices away while driving. Focus on the road and on other drivers. Distracted driving diminishes your reaction time.
12. 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.