Public schools across South Africa close for the end-of-year holidays on 6 December, and the Automobile Association South Africa (AA) is urging motorists to prepare now for hitting the road.

According to the AA, this time of the year through January is the most dangerous of year, with more people involved in fatal crashes than at any other time. For that reason, the AA is urging drivers to ensure their vehicles are in good condition, and roadworthy, and that their attitudes towards driving, especially over long distances, are also in a good condition.

“This time of the year it is important for families to reconnect, friends to come together, and for people to recoup from the long year,” said the AA. “To ensure the best possible experience on the road, we want to encourage all motorists to get their vehicles checked out in good time, and to make sure they are mentally prepared for their journeys.”

The AA says drivers should:

  • Plan your route, including stops, and make provision to stop every 200kms or every two hours to rest, refuel and refresh.
  • Look at the planning of your trip and avoid the rush days when there is bound to be heavier traffic on the roads. If possible, leave a day sooner, or a day later. Do the same for the return leg of your journey.
  • Buckle up. This includes all passengers, including toddlers under three who, legally, must be in a car seat, and children 1.3m or shorter need to be in booster seats.
  • Obey all the rules of the road, and drive to the conditions of the road. If the road is marked 120km but visibility is poor, decrease your speed to ensure clear vision of the road ahead.
  • Be courteous of other drivers. Remember everyone has a right to be on the road.
  • Make sure arrangements for overnight accommodation are done before you leave.
  • Ensure your car is in good condition and roadworthy.
  • Inspect the tyres (including the spare tyre) and make sure they have sufficient tread for the road ahead.
  • Check you have all the necessary tools to change a tyre if needed, including a red warning triangle.
  • Keep your AA membership card handy in case of emergency.
  • Put your cellphone and other electronic devices away while driving. Focus on the road and on other drivers. Distracted driving diminishes reaction time.
  • Plan a route off the beaten path and experience a bit more of South Africa than the regular routes. Take time and arrive at your destination calm and rested.

With just over four weeks before the start of the public school holidays, the AA recommends that motorists consider services and maintenance on their vehicles now, before it is too late, and to avoid last minute rushes.