The Easter weekend is one of the busiest—and most dangerous—times on our roads. Whether travelling by car or taxi, most people worry about their safety or the safety of loved ones on the road at this time. The good news is that there are several common-sense actions we can all take to improve road safety during this holiday period.
At the same time, toll concessionaires like Platinum Corridor Concessionaire (Pty) Ltd (Bakwena) are also taking steps to ensure the routes they operate are safe. Bakwena manages 385 km of the N1N4 route from Pretoria northwards to Bela-Bela on the N1 (95km) and from the N4 Pretoria westwards to the Botswana border (290km). It is partnering for the eighth year with the Motus Corporation and Hyundai SA where an additional six patrol vehicles have been added to the Bakwena N1N4 route to provide more visible policing, assist at crash scenes and motorists who require roadside assistance while travelling the route. The vehicles have made a discernible impact on bringing down the number of fatal crashes on these popular routes.
To stay safe, bear the following in mind:
- Most road accidents can be avoided: check your vehicle’s roadworthiness. You read this every holiday season, but that’s because it’s true: poorly maintained vehicles cause many of the accidents on our roads. Brake failure, tyres (smooth, poorly aligned, improperly inflated) and faulty steering account for most accidents. According to statistics from Road Traffic Management Corporation, vehicle factors contribute 14.1% of all accidents and of the 14.1% of vehicle factors, 74.3% are allocated to burst Desiree van Niekerk, Brand Manager for Supa Quick says tyres should be regularly checked for alignment and rotated; they should also be replaced when necessary. When it comes to brakes, danger signals include a soft, spongy feeling when the brake pedal is depressed, there is a scraping sound, or the pedal needs to be pumped. If the car pulls to one side when the brakes are applied, the brakes could be about to fail.
- Choose travel times carefully. The more traffic, the less safe, so it’s worth finding out when the peak times are expected to be on your route. Bakwena advises that the peak times for the N1 northbound and N4 westbound are Thursday 18th April between 12:00 and 21:00, and Friday 19th April between 06:00 and 12:00. Other concessionaires will publish similar statistics for other routes.
- Take regular breaks along the way. Encourage the driver—taxi drivers included—to stop and take regular breaks at least every 2 hours or after travelling a distance of 200km. Bakwena will be distributing coffee vouchers at the Carousel toll plaza northbound to highlight this important safety tip. If you’re in a taxi, maybe the passengers could club together to buy the driver a double-shot coffee!
- Drive smart. Aside from taking regular breaks as noted above, drivers should check their driving habits. Driver error is responsible for around 1.6 million accidents a year. Alertness is key to safe driving, but especially when there is lots of traffic. Cell phones increase the risk of an accident by four times, according to the World Health Organisation. Other safety tips include knowing where your blind spots are and sticking to the speed limit: Arrive Alive’s slogan Speed kills is perfectly true. Finally, driving while under the influence of alcohol increases the risk of an accident significantly.
- Take care of passenger safety. Drivers, be they private individuals or commercial operators, have a duty of care to their passengers. This includes the roadworthiness of their vehicle and their driving style, but they also need to ensure that passengers are buckled up and that luggage is safely and securely stowed—those vehicles with ultra-heavy and/ or poorly stacked loads are much more likely to break down or veer out of control. Children, in particular, need to be properly restrained at all times while travelling. For children under 1.4m in height the appropriate car seat must be used to ensure their safety and comfort.
“You can’t control road conditions or the actions of other drivers, but you can make sure that your driving is as safe as possible. Following these safety tips is a must, and before you set out, get your vehicle checked for free at your nearest Supa Quick outlet, or spend some time on the Quickademy website, a source of information and a fun online learning centre for car owners.” concludes Supa Quick’s Desiree van Niekerk. “Let’s make this Easter the safest ever.”