How to Stay Safe on the Road this Easter

3 min read 03 April 2023

The Easter weekend is approaching, which means many South Africans will be hitting the roads to see family or go somewhere scenic with their loved ones. While this may be a beautiful time, the country’s roads can become unpredictable. So, taking the necessary precautions to ensure you get there safely is essential.

Attie Blaauw, Head of Personal Lines Underwriting at Santam, says, “While a road trip is certainly the best way to explore our beautiful country, it also means that there will be more cars on the road and more risk of accidents.”

Blaauw provides four tips below to help you keep your car and family safe on your road trip with careful checks and clever planning.

  1. The checks to make before you go:

If you’re going to be driving long distances, ensure your car is in the best possible condition.

Tyre maintenance: Ensure that wheel alignment and balancing have been carried out, that tyres are in good condition, that the tyre tread is within legal limits and that your tyre pressure is according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Don’t forget to check if you do have a spare wheel and that is in a workable condition.

  1. Check the oil and coolant of your vehicle

Windscreen and wiper check: Ensure your windscreen is free of cracks and stone chips, which can influence your visibility. Your front and rear wipers should be in good working order to clear rain and debris from the glass. Remember to fill up your windscreen wash.

Book a service: To avoid the inconvenience and expense of a mechanical breakdown, it’s a good idea to stick to the service intervals as prescribed by your vehicle manufacturer. Ensure that your vehicle has been serviced before embarking on a road trip.   

How’s your paperwork? Getting caught with an expired driver’s licence card or licencing disk is a hassle you can do without on your holiday so adhere to legislation. Before hitting the road ensure that all your paperwork is in order.

Stock your emergency supply: Invest in a first-aid kit to help you deal with road trip headaches like motion sickness and cuts. A torch, glow-in-the-dark triangles and plenty of water and wet wipes are always handy to carry with you in the car.

  1. Planning your journey

Deciding beforehand which routes to take and at which spots to rest will make your drive a less stressful experience - especially if you have little ones in the car! Don’t try to cover too much distance in one day - tiredness and lack of concentration often lead to accidents. When you plan your trip:

“Keep an eye on the news, listen to radio reports or check Twitter (e.g., @TrafficSA or #Traffic) for weather predictions, route updates and traffic alerts. Use apps such as Google maps to plan your routes and to see where the most congested areas are.

Share the responsibility of driving so you can take turns driving long distances,” said Blaauw.

  1. Driving tips for your road trip

Some things are non-negotiables when you’re driving, such as drinking and driving or driving under the influence of alcohol - the biggest cause of road accidents in South Africa – and texting or talking on your cellphone while driving.

Always wear a safety belt and make sure all the passengers in the vehicle do too. If boisterous children are distracting you, don’t hesitate to stop to calm them down, and pack lots of games to keep them entertained.

Don’t overload your vehicle. It is not worth being the camper with the coolest gear if it makes your car top-heavy and unsafe on the road.

Look out for road hazards, always expecting the unexpected. Advance driving instructors will always tell you to think and look as far ahead as possible, anticipating what fellow drivers - and pedestrians - might do next.

Never disobey the speed limit and keep a safe following distance: Accidents often happen when cars overtake one another, misjudging distances and timing.

Lookout for obstructions like potholes or animals, especially in rural areas.