Are you busy planning for your December break? If you plan on travelling, these are some helpful tips to stay safe during the Silly Season.
South Africa (24 November 2023) – The annual December break is about to happen and if you find yourself about to set off on our country’s roads, it is vital to prepare yourself and your vehicle. December is called “Silly Season” for a reason, road users tend to be a little more rushed and careless so this is how to prepare for anything that may happen.
Take a look below at our top tips for road safety this festive season.
1. Check your route
Before your trip, become familiar with the route you are travelling. Navigation apps and tools have been developed to make this process easier, but they are not always reliable. It is also best to ensure that you are travelling through the safest possible area. Take note that apps like ‘Google Maps’ and ‘Waze’ often prioritise shorter routes, no matter the state of roads or the safety of the surrounding areas.
Google Maps even allows you to download sections of the map for offline use. This is vital should you find yourself without a signal.
2. Check engine fluids
Water and oil checks are often offered by petrol station attendants but skipped in the rush of everyday life. Next time you visit the petrol station, be sure to accept the oil check. Not only does this ensure a smoother ride and minimise the risk of breakdown, but low levels may indicate a leak which is a much more serious problem requiring immediate attention.
Make sure to check your vehicle’s brake fluid too. If this level is too low, your car is not safe to drive.
3. Check your tyres
With the introduction of the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI) in all South African Passenger Vehicle Tyres, tyre tread depth is an easy inspection that can be performed by anyone.
Once these rubber inserts are level with the tyre tread, tyres are no longer safe to drive on.
Remember to check the TWI across the entire width of the tyre, as the outer tread may be deeper than the inner. Any uneven tread wear could indicate poor wheel alignment which should be addressed by a professional.
Be sure also to check tyre pressures and adjust for heavy loads – but never to more than the recommended manufacturer specifications. It’s also a good idea to check your spare wheel’s pressure and tread while you’re at it.
4. Ensure you have basic safety tools in case of emergency
While proper preparation can minimise your risk of mechanical troubles during your journey, various roadside emergencies can still happen at any time. Do not be left unprepared for any eventuality. If travelling across the border to Mozambique, many of these items are required anyway.
Here is a checklist of the basic items every car should always have in case of emergency:
- Car phone charger,
- First-aid kit,
- Fire extinguisher,
- Hazard triangle,
- High Visibility Jacket (one for each passenger if travelling to Mozambique)
- Spare tyre,
- Tyre jack and lug wrench,
- Tow rope,
- Jumper cables and
- A flashlight.
On this note, we also feel it is important to have water in the car so that should you find yourself stranded, you have sufficient fluids to keep your hydration up. Heck, throw in some sunblock and an umbrella too! Nobody wants to be changing a tyre in the blazing South African sun!
5. Make sure you’ve saved important emergency numbers
There are many services and people who can help, should you be in an emergency. Make sure that you have saved all the relevant numbers for the following service providers below:
- Ambulance service,
- Towing service,
- Medical Aid,
- Road Side Assistance.
All emergency contacts should be saved onto your phone with the acronym ICE (In Case of Emergency) preceding their name. This makes it easy for emergency personnel to contact the right people on your phone.