Easter death tolls are outrageous and are a stark reminder to anybody wanting to hit the road this coming weekend that caution is the name of the game on our roads.
According to Transport Minister Blade Nzimande, 510 people lost their lives on our roads over the Easter weekend last year, a massive 14% increase on the 2017 numbers. The highest number of fatalities occurred in Kwa Zulu Natal where a staggering 111 road deaths were recorded, followed by 89 on Gauteng roads.
Unsurprisingly 6 435 drivers were caught speeding but perhaps even more worrying were the 3 208 drivers driving unlicensed vehicles and 300 people driving without a license.
Despite numerous and ongoing campaigns to reduce reckless driving, particularly over the Easter and Christmas periods, South Africans appear to adopt a devil-may-care attitude behind the wheel. This rampant disregard for the law may stem in part from the state of the nation and alludes to a general population that is stressed and angry. The anonymity and power behind the wheel is an outlet for many that lead to driving behaviours that endanger other road users and their own passengers.
Take the following steps before you hit the road this weekend to avoid becoming a statistic:
1. Travel in the early morning hours as the sun rises to avoid unnecessary rushing. The psychological benefit of having gained some time will allow you to relax and take it easy behind the wheel. Try not to drive at night when visibility is poor and roaming animals and drunk pedestrians could lead to fatal accidents.
2. Rest before you travel. And regularly whilst you travel. Try to get some extra sleep in for a few days before your break so that you’re not exhausted and ratty when you travel. Not only will your passengers enjoy your company that much more but you’ll be able to savour the trip, take in all the special moments spent laughing together and stopping to soak up the natural beauty of our splendid countryside. Remember to stop every 200kms to stretch your legs and freshen up so that you remain fresh and alert behind the wheel.
3. Get your car checked and tyres changed now. Call your local dealership and arrange a holiday check (they’re usually free) and stop in at a tyre specialist to change, rotate and balance your tyres as necessary. Ask them to check your spare tyre too so that you’re not left on the side of the road.
Remember to stock your first aid kit too and save our number and the numbers of your doctor, insurance company and roadside assistance for worst case scenarios.
Travel safely and enjoy a very Happy Easter with loved ones this year.