The Automobile Association (AA) South Africa is urging drivers to change their behaviour ahead of the festive season traffic rush in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last year’s increase in road fatalities.

In 2016, 14,071 people died on South African roads. Over the festive period last year (1 December 2016 – 9 January 2017) 1,714 people lost their lives.

“Every day seems to bring another story of a horrific crash somewhere in our country; these result in multiple deaths and injuries, and very often involve children or babies. With the festive season holiday traffic expected to pick up soon, motorists must improve their behaviour on the roads, or else our fatality statistics will simply grow,” the AA stated. “These deaths can no longer only be viewed as statistics. As a nation we need to be asking some serious questions about our driving behaviour, which seems to be the main reason for these high death rates.”

The AA says it is important for motorists to obey the rules of the road, ensure their vehicles are well maintained, and to drive with care wherever they are going. Other tips from the AA:

  • Wear a seat belt, and ensure all passengers are also buckled up. The law requires children under three to be secured in proper child restraint seats.
  • Check tyres (including the spare) to ensure they are in good condition and safe. Worn tyres are potentially fatal.
  • Prepare for a long trip by getting enough rest before leaving. Also rest every two hundred kilometres or every two hours to stretch your legs, and get some fresh air.
  • Don’t speed. Apart from this, drive to the conditions of the road you are travelling on.
  • Drive sober. Alcohol, drugs and driving are a deadly combination.
  • If you are a pedestrian, make yourself visible and walk in properly lit areas. Also cross busy roads at the designated crossing lanes, and never walk on, or cross over a highway.
  • Pay attention while driving. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. Put your cellphone away, and keep it in the car only for emergencies.
  • Be courteous to other drivers.