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Going on a road trip this school holiday? Use this safety checklist

Going on a road trip this school holiday? Use this safety checklist
27-06-23 / Shelly Nxumalo

Going on a road trip this school holiday? Use this safety checklist

Johannesburg - South Africa’s road fatality rate was described as a ‘national disaster,’ with the country’s roads being found to be among the most dangerous in the world. And although much progress has been made across several provinces to curb the annual incidence rate, a number of dates on the calendar remain notoriously associated with dramatic spikes in road accidents and fatalities.

One key example of this is over long weekends or during school holidays – with road trips being popular over these periods, motorists are at a higher risk of being involved in accidents on the road. Keeping you and your family safe on the road should therefore be a top priority as you look to hit the road to make memories, and there are practical ways to do this.

Offering insight into how South African drivers are impacted in these periods is Youlon Naidoo, Executive Head: Claims & Procurement at MiWay Insurance. He explains that MiWay typically sees an upsurge in claims during these times, due to increased road accidents.

“These periods see larger volumes in traffic, with more South Africans opting to take advantage of the extended time away from work and embark on domestic travel experiences with their kids. The unfortunate reality, however, is that with more motorists on the road being caught up in the excitement, the potential for reckless behaviour and driving under the influence increases significantly. It is therefore every motorist’s responsibility to put safety first and find ways to prepare for and mitigate the risks that lie ahead,” says Youlon.

According to MiWay roadside assistance (MiHelp), calls for roadside assistance made through MiWay are mostly related to car breakdowns, followed by battery jumpstarts and flat tyres, locksmith assistance and fuel needs.

In light of these common issues, and to help road users to be as prepared as possible for their long-haul road trips with family and friends, Youlon shares the following tips:

  1. Life-saving checks

Ensuring that your vehicle is roadworthy before heading out is an effective safety measure. In addition, the following checks should become standard practice before taking a road trip: tyres should be checked for the adequate degree of tread, and wiper blades should be checked for functionality at all speeds. In addition, all front and rear lights need to be tested as well as brake lights and indicators.

  1. Driver health checks

The physical condition and mental awareness of the driver is also very important on the road. For this reason, when travelling with children, plan a few in-car activities to keep the kids entertained and definitely don’t forget the lekker padkos. Furthermore, it’s important for drivers to plan regular breaks along the way, ensure good airflow through the car and to stay hydrated. A great road trip also requires an epic playlist, so make one with the family or friends to ensure an enjoyable and memorable journey.

  1. Don’t forget your boot essentials

All drivers should invest in their own set of jumper cables, which should also be tested before heading out on the road. Youlon urges motorists not to use damaged jumper cables and to always ensure that both vehicles are off before connecting the battery terminals (the positive and negative elements).

Motorists should also ensure they have a light-reflecting warning triangle in their vehicle before hitting the road. “If at any time your car should break down and you need to pull onto the shoulder of the road to attend to it, you need to place the warning triangle no less than 45 metres from the vehicle to warn approaching drivers of the potential hazard,” he explains.

  1. Peace of mind

Furthermore, having car insurance as a safety net in times when the unexpected occurs is another effective way of managing risk on the road. As Youlon concludes: “we would like motorists to think of the benefits of comprehensive car insurance in this way – for as little as R28 a day, motorists can get 24/7 cover 365 days a year, which includes roadside assistance, emergency alert, a crash or impact detection feature, towing and medical benefits as well as a range of other safety features. If you consider that R28 is less than the cost of a cup of coffee these days, this is a very small price to pay for peace of mind, financial security and a happy road-trip in the long-term.”

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