Schools across South Africa close for the festive season break on 15 December and traffic on the country’s major routes is expected to increase significantly from then on, says the Automobile Association (AA) of South Africa.
The group said it expects traffic volumes to pick up on the following major routes:
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
The N7 from Cape Town through Namaqualand to the Namibian border
“Roads will be busier and that always means there’s an increased risk of incidents occurring. All road users must remain as vigilant as possible and focus on the road, whether they are drivers, passengers, riding a motorcycle, or a pedestrian.
“We must stress that while our country’s traffic law enforcers work exceedingly hard over this period to ensure everyone is safe, road users have a major responsibility to themselves, their passengers, and to other road users. Any attempts to reduce our country’s horrific road fatality numbers will amount to nothing without a concerted effort from everyone on the road,” said the AA.
The national traffic department has also issued warnings for several hotspots which have proven to be high accident zones over the festive period in previous years. These hotspots are largely on main routes across all provinces, but are particularly concentrated in the Eastern Cape, they include:
- Idutywa on the N2 in the Eastern Cape
- Mbizana on the R61 in the Eastern Cape
- Mount Alyliff on the N2 in the Eastern Cape
- Mzamba on the R61 in the Eastern Cape
- Bityi on the N2 in Eastern Cape and
- Libode on the N2 in the Eastern Cape
- Butterworth on the N2 in Eastern Cape
- Mqanduli on R411 in Eastern Cape
- Mthatha on R61 in Eastern Cape
- Mount Frere on the N2 in Eastern Cape
- Mankweng on R71 in Limpopo
- Musina on the N1 in Limpopo
- Mecklenburg on the R37 in Limpopo
- Westernburg on the N1 in Limpopo
- Modimolle on the N1 in Limpopo
- Harrismith on the N3 in the Free State
- Middleburg on the N4 in Mpumalanga
- KwaMhlanga on the R573 in Mpumalanga
- Potchefstroom on the N12 in North West
- Nongoma on the R66 in KwaZulu Natal
“Statistics from the previous festive season campaigns show that pedestrians are the most vulnerable road user group in South Africa. 41% of fatalities on our roads are pedestrians,” the department said.
“This reality calls for increased efforts to improve the safety of this vulnerable group. Our efforts will target visibility and walking, jaywalking, distracted walking and crossing on freeways.”
The AA has outlined the following tips for travellers over the busy festive season:
- Keep left, pass right. A simple rule which should be followed by all moving vehicles. It’s also courteous to drivers to make way for them if they are moving quicker than you. Driving too slow in a lane when there are faster vehicles behind 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. Don’t police other drivers, leave that to the authorities.
- Take a detour, get off the beaten track, and explore our beautiful country. Make the journey part of your trip.
- Ensure everyone in the vehicle (front and back) is buckled up.
- Drink or drive. If you are going to be doing one, don’t do the other, simple as that. It’s the same if you are walking: drink or walk.
- If you are walking, be visible at all times, especially at night, and at dawn or dusk, and in poorly lit areas.
- While on the road, take a breather every two hours or every 200kms; this will help you stay alert behind the wheel.
- If you’re a biker, or riding on a bicycle, wear a helmet and other necessary protective gear.
- Drive to the conditions of the road not necessarily to the indicated speed limit.
- Distracted driving is dangerous, and means you aren’t 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.
- 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. Don’t’ discover mid-way through your journey that they don’t work properly.