Industry NewsMotoring

Wesbank’s final word on travelling over the festive season

Driving across the border is not as simple as having a valid passport and driver’s license.

It’s been another tough year filled with home and family responsibilities, work commitments and the ongoing stress and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. Taking some time off to relax and have fun is a definite must as the holiday season approaches.

Restrictions on global travel present the perfect opportunity to explore our beautiful country with your family and friends. However, it is also the time when our roads become congested as people leave for their vacations.

It is important to prepare well for the trip, whether you’re travelling for just a few hours or embarking on a long road trip with overnight stops.

To ensure both you and your vehicle are road-ready, WesBank has outlined some road safety tips to take note of before you set off:

Are you road-ready?

It is important to plan your route. The use of online maps will assist you to plan stops and determine the safest and best route to take. Be sure to have some backup directions as a contingency. Print a copy of your route, save it for offline use, and share the location of your trip with a trusted person, for precautionary measures.

Should you pass through tollgates, make sure you have sufficiently budgeted for these costs. Compile the perfect road trip playlist ahead of time. Scrolling through your phone to find your favourite artist or genre while driving is both dangerous and illegal. Also, you’re bound to drive through a few areas without radio coverage or cell service. Have a few playlists downloaded and be sure to include upbeat and fun songs as well as some family favourites.

To break up the monotony of the drive, you may want to pick out and download a few podcasts too. Whether you want to learn a new skill or listen to a documentary, there is something for everyone.

Driving cross-border?

Having a clear plan of where you and your loved ones are going and an itinerary for the trip is always top of the list. But you could find yourself in a sticky situation if you’ve missed a crucial bit of paperwork, such as a border letter if you are leaving the country.

“Even the best-made plans can be ruined if you’ve forgotten to get your border letter and certified copies of your vehicle registration,” says Kutlwano Mogatusi, WesBank communications specialist. “We’ve made the process of getting these letters as easy as possible, but sometimes motorists just aren’t aware of what is required by the officials at the border posts.”

Driving across the border is not as simple as having a valid passport and driver’s license. Any driver who crosses the border in their car is required to have a certified copy of the vehicle’s registration (or license) papers. Drivers who own their cars can take their original registration documents to a Commissioner of Oaths to get a certified copy.

Financed vehicles can only be taken out of the country with permission from the financing bank. WesBank has simplified this process through its online self-service portal. Here, drivers can download copies of their vehicle registration papers as well as digitally request a border letter. Border letters will still need to be certified.

Drivers who are not the registered owner of the vehicle they’re using will need all of the above documentation, plus two additional letters: a police affidavit and a letter of authority from the registered owner, granting permission for the vehicle to cross the border for the agreed timeframe.

Drivers of rental vehicles must have a letter from the rental company giving full consent for the vehicle to be taken out of the country. Drivers should also contact their insurance companies to establish that their comprehensive policy covers cross-border travel. They may need to include details of the country they are traveling to.

Failure to do so places the driver at risk of no cover should the vehicle be stolen or damaged outside of South Africa’s borders. Additionally, laws in that country might hold the driver financially liable for any damage caused.

Is your car road-ready?


Before you set off, remember to check the tread on your tyres, and the tyre pressure, which should be adjusted for heavy loads – but never to more than the recommended manufacturer specifications, which are usually found inside the filler flap or on a sticker on one of the front door jams. It’s also a good idea to check the spare wheel’s pressure and tread before you embark on your trip.


One of the most important (and cheapest to replace) items on your pre-travel checklist should be your car’s lighting system. Ask a friend or family member to help in ensuring that all lights including headlights, taillights, brake lights, hazard lights and indicators are working properly. It is recommended to drive with your lights on at all times on a long journey, as another safety measure.


Effective brakes are crucial on all vehicles, not only during long-distance driving but in general. Brake pads should be inspected by a qualified technician. Any squeaks or scraping sounds are signs that brake replacements are probably necessary. Vibrations on your pedal when braking is a sign of warped discs, which indicates that the brakes either need skimming or replacing.


It is also important to have your battery checked by an authorised dealer. This is a simple and relatively quick test and, while a battery replacement can be relatively pricey, so could the cost of a tow truck needed to come to your rescue.


Any streaks or smears on your windscreen is a sign that your wipers may need to be replaced. Driving through rain or a thunderstorm with worn wiper blades is an extremely dangerous and unnecessary risk, even more so on long drives.


Most modern cars make the inspection of fluid levels such as coolant, power steering and brake fluid quite easy for the average driver. If you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, have them checked by your dealer or at the filling station. If the car is lacking the required fluid, this could lead to overheating during the drive.

Ready to hit the road?

Make sure that you are well-rested and sufficiently nourished and hydrated for the drive. It is advisable to stop every 200km or two hours of the drive to avoid drowsiness and to be in the best shape for the drive.

Getting out of the car to stretch and walk around is also a good idea. If you are planning an overnight stop, book your accommodation well in advance to avoid disappointment.

If you’re traveling with children, ensure that you have a car seat best suited to the age of the child. Their safety is paramount. Make sure there is enough entertainment to keep them occupied, including a supply of healthy snacks and drinks. Avoid foods with high sugar levels while on the road.

Prepare a physical list of emergency and roadside assist numbers with the membership numbers of programmes you subscribe to.

Don’t forget to pack chargers for all electronic equipment and cell phones; a fully charged power bank is useful too if you have one. A double adapter or multi-plug is also essential as not all places have these. Ensure the car’s first-aid kit is well stocked and check the expiry dates on all medicines.

Pack healthy travel snacks and drinks to avoid the risk of an energy crash. Besides your drinking water, store a big bottle of water for general use, and also remember a good torch, a reflective emergency warning triangle sign and battery jumper cables.

“Driving for long hours on busy roads requires patience, staying alert and focused concentration, especially if you’re traveling with young children.

Be aware of other cars on the road at all times, drive within the speed limit and remember, safety first. Be mindful at all times. A little respect goes a long way on the open road.

“We encourage everyone to be well prepared for their safety and that of their loved ones. Remember to stock up on sanitisers, masks and wet wipes to stay safe from Covid-19 during the holiday season,” concludes Mogatusi.

Source: Wesbank

Related Articles

Back to top button