Road safety tips for those travelling this Easter holiday

MARCH 23, 2016

The arrival of the Easter holidays signals a well-earned break for many families as they head off across the country. Make safety your first priority, using these safe driving tips from Midas

The Easter holidays represent a welcome respite for many families as they take a break from work and school to make the most of South Africa’s great summer weather before autumn arrives. However, it also means a marked increase in traffic volumes, particularly heading out of the major cities towards SA’s popular coastal towns and inland destinations.

Sadly, this also translates into a massive spike in road accidents and fatalities, with over 14 000 people losing their lives on our roads each year – most of which is concentrated around the peak holiday periods during Easter and Christmas.

Here are some great tips from Aftermarket Solutions to help make your travels safer, so you can enjoy the break and return home refreshed and invigorated.

Aftermarket Solutions, which is Africa’s largest replacement automotive parts company, has 300 Midas retail franchise stores across Southern Africa, offering quality guaranteed automotive parts and a wide range of travel accessories. This makes it the perfect one-stop-shop solution for all your motoring needs – particularly in terms of preparing for your vacation.

Vehicle

Ensure that your car is in tip-top condition before you hit the road. You will save a lot of time, money and frustration (and possibly even your life) by performing a series of safety and maintenance inspections before you depart. Essential items to check are:

o   Tyres: The legal tread depth limit is 1 mm across the entire width of the tyre, however tyres should ideally be replaced with no less than 1.6 to 2 mm of tread remaining. This ensures decent grip, particularly in the wet. Inspect the tyres for any bulges, cuts or abrasions in the sidewall, which could result in premature failure.

o   Tyre pressures: Adjust your tyre pressures according to the vehicle load. Additional weight in the car (people and luggage) or as a result of towing a caravan or trailer places extreme loads on the tyres. Increase the pressure according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations, and do this when the tyres are cold. Don’t forget the spare tyre!

o   Brakes:            Your car’s brakes are an essential safety feature, and need to be checked and regularly maintained. Have a look at the brake discs and pads – if they show excessive wear, or you notice the brakes are noisy or less effective than usual, then they probably need urgent attention. Midas stocks a vast range of brake components including discs, pads, drums, shoes and brake fluids. Aftermarket Solutions is the sole South African distributor for Brembo, one of the world’s leading brake manufacturers. Midas stores also stock quality brake components from Ferodo, ATE, Safeline, Deselra, BLN and the Midas private brand, MotoPart, which offers superb value for money and is backed a national warranty. The Aftermarket Solutions group also includes Clutch and Brake Specialists (CBS), with over 20 stores nationwide to assist with all clutch and brake-related services.

o   Lights: Check all the vehicle lights, and those of a trailer or caravan, to make sure you have maximum visibility – to light your path in the dark, and so that other motorists can see you. From simple light bulbs to spotlights and the latest range of sophisticated LED lighting systems, customers have a dazzling array of items to choose from at Midas.

o   Windscreen: If your windscreen is cracked or damaged, have it repaired or replaced. Check that the windscreen wipers are in order, and able to clear the water effectively – if not, visit your local Midas store for top-quality replacement wipers from trusted brands such as Bosch and Champion.

o   Engine bay: Check all the fluid levels, including engine oil, radiator coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and the windscreen washer bottle. Midas stores countrywide offer an extensive range of premium and Midas private-brand oils and lubricants to suit every need. For professional advice and vehicle servicing requirements, Aftermarket Solutions has over 70 Auto Care & Diagnostics (ACD) centres around the country, which offer a complete range of vehicle servicing and maintenance.

Driving: You may have had an extremely busy start to the year, and are longing for the peace and quiet that awaits at your holiday destination. But getting there in one piece is the first priority. Drive safely, and make the journey part of the holiday experience!

o   Rest before you drive: Have a good night’s rest before heading on any long journey. Around eight hours of sleep is ideal.

o   Stop every two hours: Take regular breaks throughout your trip, stopping every couple of hours to get out the car, stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Be sure to stop in a safe area well off the road. Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of accidents – so if you’re tired, stop to change drivers or have a rest.

o   Safety belts: Safety belts must be worn by everyone in the car (both front and rear occupants), at all times! It’s your primary safety device, so don’t take chances! Airbags are only effective when used in conjunction with safety belts. Young children should be strapped into an age-appropriate baby seat or a booster seat.

o   Speed: Stick to the stipulated speed limits throughout your journey. Speed limits are set with your safety in mind, as well as that of fellow motorists and pedestrians.

o   Following distances: Maintain an appropriate following distance from the vehicle ahead, timed to approximately 3 seconds, which allows for space to slow down or stop if necessary. During periods of poor visibility (night time, rain and fog) increase the gap significantly. And remember, a heavily-laden vehicle will take longer to stop than normal, so ensure you have a big enough gap from the vehicle in front in order to stop in an emergency.

Plan your route: Set out your intended route before departing to avoid unnecessary deviations. GPS units from Garmin, TomTom or those on most iPhone and Android devices are extremely useful, and provide navigation guidance and safety warnings.