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Good driving behaviour crucial to road safety this festive season, says AA

Here are driving tips from the Automobile Association to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Traffic volumes are expected to pick up across the country in the next few weeks as schools and business close and people make their way to vacation destinations across the country.

The Automobile Association (AA) said this period is particularly dangerous as the increased traffic leads to increased crashes and fatalities. Schools across South Africa close on December 15 and reopen on January 11 and traffic volumes are expected to pick up on major routes such as the N1 from Polokwane to Cape Town through Gauteng and Bloemfontein, the N2 along the Indian Ocean coastline, the N3 from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal, the N4 through Mpumalanga, and the N7 from Cape Town through Namaqualand to the Namibian border.

Statistics from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) indicate that there were 1 395 fatal crashes and 1 808 fatalities during the festive period from December 1, 2021 to January 11, 2022.

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“South Africa has a massive road safety problem and the government and its agencies responsible for road safety must do much more to improve this situation. Among the steps they need to take are to increase the number of traffic law enforcers across the country, improve road safety awareness and education campaigns, and ensure better prosecution of offenders,” said the AA.

“But, at the same time, we must also acknowledge that road users must improve their attitudes and driving behaviour. We therefore encourage all road users to ensure they have a calm, conscientious and courteous attitude on the road, not only during this festive period but throughout the year.”

The association said road users, drivers, passengers, those riding motorcycles and pedestrians, must focus on the road and obey all road rules and regulations.

“Road safety cannot be the responsibility of the authorities alone; every road user has a role to play. Traffic law enforcers work exceedingly hard over this period to make our roads safer, but these efforts are thwarted by motorists who drive recklessly, who do not obey the rules, and who believe they are above the law.”

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The AA offers the following tips for travellers:

• Keep left, pass right. A simple rule which should be followed by all moving vehicles. It is also courteous of drivers to make way for other vehicles if they are moving quicker than you. Driving too slow in a lane when there are faster vehicles behind you is dangerous and could lead to road rage incidents. The correct approach is to allow faster vehicles to pass when it is safe to do so. Do not police other drivers, leave that to the authorities.

• Ensure everyone in the vehicle (front and back) is buckled up.

• Drink or drive. If you are going to be doing the one, do not do the other. It is the same if you are walking: drink or walk.

• If you are walking, always be visible, especially at night, dawn and dusk, and in poorly lit areas.

• While on the road, take a breather every two hours or every 200km; this will help you stay alert behind the wheel. Take the time to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and to be relaxed for a few moments before continuing your journey.

• If you are a biker, or riding on a bicycle, wear a helmet and other necessary protective gear.

• Drive according to the conditions of the road, not necessarily to the indicated speed limit.

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• Distracted driving is dangerous, and means you are not focused on the road ahead. Put your cellphone in the boot and use it only in an emergency.

• Ensure your tyres (and spare) are in a good condition and properly inflated. Do not discover that your spare tyre is flat at the side of the road.

• Ensure your windscreen wipers (front and back) are in good condition. Even relatively new wiper blades may deteriorate quickly if left in the sun for long periods. Streaking, skipping, slipping or squeaking wipers are telling you they need attention. Do not discover midway through your journey that they do not work properly.

• Be prepared for any roadside, medical or security situation by downloading the AA Rescue Me app (available on all platforms).

• Take a detour, get off the beaten track and explore our beautiful country.

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