Planning your route:
• Plan your trip route and if you do not have a GPS navigation tool use a road atlas to plan your trip in advance.
• For peace of mind, try to stick to major routes or toll roads.
• If you are going to travel on the ‘back roads’ identify the towns along the route and what the distance is between them, as
• you will need to plan where to re-fuel.
• Plan rest stops along the way and if you are travelling with kids it is a great way to let them know when and where you will be stopping.
• Always ensure that a friend or family member, who is not travelling with you, is aware of the route that you are planning to travel. Ideally you should also update them on your progress of the journey and let them know when you have reached your destination safely.
• Try and avoid peak travel periods if possible.
Rules of the Road
• It only takes a few seconds, but buckling up can save a life. Did you know that when a vehicle collides or suddenly brakes at a speed of 50km per hour, the weight of passengers or objects in the car multiply 30 – 60 fold? If your child weighs 10kg, at the moment of impact it accrues a mass of 300kg.
• South African law requires each passenger being transported in a motor vehicle to make use of the seatbelts and strap themselves in. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all passengers are strapped in mains strapped in while travelling. It is a criminal offence for an adult to allow a child younger than 14 years to travel unrestrained in a vehicle equipped with seatbelts or a car safety seat.
• Infants and children under the age of 12 should travel in the back seat of a vehicle and should be buckled up, either in a car seat, booster seat or using the cars seatbelt, depending on the age and weight of the child.
• Infants between 0 months and one year of age, or up to 10kg in weight, should travel in a rear facing car seat in the back of a car. In the event of an accident, the impact will be on the seat and not on the infant.
On the Road
• Keep your driver’s license and identity documents with you at all times
• South Africa has a zero tolerance policy towards ‘drinking and driving’. If you intend to consume alcohol make alternative arrangements so you will not be behind the wheel.
• Keep to the speed limit
• Be aware of pedestrians
• Be alert when approaching robots and intersections
• Avoid fatigue and eyestrain by stopping frequently for breaks and to stretch
• Don’t rush and try to remain patient.
• Be cautious when driving alone, and avoid stopping in remote areas.
• Always place your valuables in the boot of your car and never leave items such as cell phones and wallets in open sight, unattended, or on the seat of a car
On the Open Road
• Be aware of pedestrians and animals on the open road specifically near more rural areas.
• If it is raining, turn your headlights and windscreen wipers on. Try to reduce speed and try not to brake suddenly. Often there is oil and petrol on the road, which can cause you to skid out of control.
• If there is fog, reduce speed, turn headlights on low, or use fog lamps. Use the road markings or the verge of the road as a guide and be very alert for sudden looming obstacles.
• Avoid stopping on the highway, rather take the next off ramp to stop in a more public area where you can stretch, refresh yourself and/or take a break from driving; and have numbers for roadside assistance and other emergencies close at hand or saved on your cell phone, so that you are well-prepared for any eventuality.
• Keep essential roadside equipment with you as many breakdowns are caused by relatively minor problems. Items include a first aid kit, tow rope, warning triangles, torch and fire extinguisher.
• In the event of an accident, determine the extent of the damage or injuries and assess whether or not medical attention is required and contact 10111 if an ambulance or assistance is needed. Take a picture with a camera or mobile phone and file an accident report with the police as you will need a case number for your insurance company to file a claim. Remember to get names, addresses, telephone numbers and ID numbers of everyone involved in the accident. If you are in a rental car you would need to notify the rental company to arrange help in organising a replacement vehicle. Make sure your car rental company has a hotline where you can get help. Tempest, for example, has a 24/7 emergency hotline where you can get assistance.
Are We There Yet?
Travelling with your family by car can be memorable. However, travelling with small children can be a challenge. Small children can get bored and irritable on long trips so make sure you pack a variety of their favourite snacks and toys such as portable DVD players, colouring books and crayons.
If your child tends to suffer from motion sickness and complains of dizziness or nausea, this can be helped by getting out of the car for a bit of fresh air. Alternatively, there are over the counter drugs available for treating motion sickness, which need to be taken before embarking on your journey.
Drawing Money En Route:
• When stopping to use an ATM , remain alert while approaching and making your transaction at the ATM. If you notice anything suspicious or feel uncomfortable, stop your transaction immediately and leave.
• Find an alternative ATM if the one you found originally was poorly lit.
• Never accept assistance from a stranger while at the ATM and only count your cash in a secure location away from the ATM.
• Remember when on holiday to avoid carrying large amounts of cash or displaying flashy jewelry, watches or cell phones. Never leave valuables in a shopping trolley.
Can you add anything valuable to these safety tips? If so, then share it with other readers in the box below.