Long weekend travel tips

This past weekend marked the first of a number of long weekends to come over the next few weeks. With lockdown restrictions lowered to level one many South Africans may take advantage of this by travelling to a holiday destination during one of the upcoming weekends. This time of year is also traditionally one of the busiest times on the road.

Here are our top five suggestions for staying safe on the roads during this time.

Avoid distracted driving: pre-plan your trips to remove as many distractions as possible. Subscribe to an app, like ping, that reads your messages out loud for you, preselect your road trip music, plan your journey or add it to your vehicle or cellphone GPS before leaving, think of ways to keep the kids entertained beforehand and prepack easy-to-eat snacks.

Avoid late night travel: while it may be tempting for various reasons, avoid breaking curfew and travelling at night. Your biological clock puts you at higher risk of fatigue, visibility is unavoidably lessened at night and the quiet hours tend to attract drivers who may wish to avoid authorities. Rather leave after a good night’s rest.

Go easy on medications: whether you are recovering from an illness or tempted to take painkillers after long hours behind the wheel, be careful what you consume whilst driving. Much of these medications cause fatigue and impaired driving. If you need to take such a medication, rather get someone else to drive for the next portion of the trip. It also goes without saying that a night of drinking before you leave is a definite no.

Rest easy: as mentioned, ensure you leave after a full night’s rest. Additionally, stop every two hours for at least 15 minutes to stretch and give your mind a rest from driving. If you have a co-driver alternate driving shifts every two hours. Despite all these precautions, you may still feel fatigued, at which point you should take a break from driving and select a way to revive yourself that works best for you.

Vehicle maintenance: ensure your car is as prepared for the trip as what you are. Check your tyre pressure and condition, ensure your vehicle is up-to-date with services and check that items like windscreen wipers have not perished.

Keep these tips in mind if you are about to travel to a holiday destination whether near or far away. “As simple as these tips may be, these basic principles contribute to the avoidance of a large percentage of accidents.

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