According to statistics released by the Department of Transport, more than 1370 people were killed over the 2013/2014 festive season. With the number of accidents traditionally increasing over the holiday period, it crucial that extra caution is taken by anyone intending on going on a road trip or planning to travel over a long distance during this period.

This is according to Christelle Fourie, managing director of MUA Insurance Acceptances, who says that December holidays are just around the corner and millions of South Africans are expected to hit the roads on the way to their travel destination.

“Unfortunately, it also one of the most dangerous times of year on the roads with huge numbers of fatalities. Therefore, proper planning ahead of the holiday drive is essential this festive season.”

Fourie says that in addition to there being more cars on the roads, people often tend to deviate from their normal road usage patterns during this time of year – often resulting in an increase in the number of accidents. “While people are on holiday, there is also a rise in the level of drunk driving, speeding and generally more erratic driving.”

To ensure that the festive season is a happy one, Fourie provide the following tips for those planning on driving anywhere during the holidays:

Review your insurance policies

Before you embark on your journey, ensure all insurance policies are in place. Despite additional demands on your pocket during the festive season, it’s vital to ensure all your motor vehicle, life and disability insurance premiums are up to date. Also ensure that any additional drivers are added to the motor vehicle policy and that there is adequate insurance in place if you are travelling outside of the South African borders.

Breakdown assistance

A good motor policy should provide assistance services such as jump starts, flat tyres, unlocking vehicle and fuel delivery. If you break down more than a certain distance from your home, your insurance should provide overnight accommodation or 24-hour car rental.

Road and weather conditions

It is important to always look at the weather forecast for the destination you are going as well as the route you will be taking to get there. Take note of any weather risks, such as rain, as these may increase your chances of an accident.

Ensure your car is roadworthy

Always make sure that your car is roadworthy before travelling by checking brakes, steering, tyres (including the spare), wheel alignment, exhaust system, possible fuel leaks, headlights, indicators, stop and tail lights and windscreen wiper blades. It is also a good idea to service your car before taking a trip -most service centres usually provide a holiday safety check during the holiday periods.

Have an emergency contact number

It has become a common protocol for emergency personal to check a person’s phone for a contact called ICE [In Case of Emergency] should the victim be unable respond following an accident. It is a good idea to save an emergency contact under the name ICE ahead of travelling to ensure someone can be notified of the situation.

Buckle up

The most important lifesaving device in the vehicle is the seatbelt. Everyone, including back seat passengers, should remain buckled up throughout the journey.

“When on the road it is important for motorists to remain vigilant at all times, especially over the festive season. With proper preparation, drivers will be able to reduce their chances of being involved in an accident and emergency situations can be dealt with quickly,” concludes Fourie.

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