The end-of-year holidays mean long road trips for loads of South Africans. Some are going to see the lions in the Kruger National Park, Some people are driving down to Durban to see family and others may be driving down to Mossell Bay for a quiet getaway. While this is a really exciting time of year, sadly, this festive season also brings an increase in traffic accidents.
Gumtree Autos’ Jeff Osborne says it is possible to make yourself safer on the roads by driving carefully, and by doing five basic safety checks on your vehicle before you head off.
Osborne says that ideally you should get your vehicle fully serviced in advance of the holiday trip. However, if that isn’t possible, it’s absolutely essential to give your vehicle a once-over in these key areas.
Not to alarm you, but a high-speed blowout can be fatal. Please take all precautions to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. A check at a tyre dealership is free of charge and it’s quick so there’s no excuse for not making sure that you don’t have dangerously worn tyres. Also, check the spare tyre, to make sure it is in working order (and that the wheel-changing equipment is all there and functional). Before and during the trip, please check that your tyre pressures are correct – if one is markedly deflated get it assessed immediately.
Brake failure is a cause of serious accidents. If you concentrate on them, you can tell if your brakes are in trouble. Is there more give in the brake pedal than before? Or a lack of sharpness in the response to braking? Or is there any unhealthy sound coming from the brakes? Any doubts at all should send you straight to a repair outlet for inspection. This is your life, don’t risk it.
Ensure that you repair any chips or cracks in the windscreen. Your windscreen needs to be structurally sound to ensure that it doesn’t shatter if hard debris hits it at high speed. Window cracks are usually quite affordable and could make a massive difference to your safety. You cannot put a price on your life.
Poor visibility is very dangerous during a road trip. Your wipers must work properly and so must your windscreen demisters. Also, make sure there’s water in the system for cleaning the windscreens. And check that both your side mirrors are in working order – they’re mission-critical for safe lane-changing.
Functional lights are imperative, both for you to see, and to be seen. Check all of your lights at night – that’s the only time you can find out if some of them are dim. Remember to check the brake lights. In most vehicles, it’s inexpensive and quick to replace faulty bulbs.
Wishing you many safe miles this festive season!