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Road Trip Safety 101: Essential Tips For Your Road Trip 

Jan 2, 2024 | Car, Tips & Tools

As the year draws to a close, we’re guessing that those of you planning on trekking across South Africa’s beautiful landscapes are gearing up for when it’s finally time to hit the road.  

Part of those plans include making sure you’ve booked your accommodation, bought the snacks, decided on entertainment for the kids, and figured out the route you’re taking. You may even have decided to split the trip up and put it on your list to secure some mid-trip accommodation.  

But what you also need to do is factor in a few important checks. That’s why we’ve put together this road trip safety guide, which includes a pre-trip vehicle safety checklist, safe driving tips, and what to do in case of an emergency. This way, you can be assured that your vehicle is safe and that you are prepared for any emergencies that may arise.  

Pre-Trip Vehicle Safety Checklist 

We’ve listed the most important things that you should look at before you drive off, but nothing beats booking your car in with a professional to have a little once over. That’s where true peace of mind comes in, however, like we said, if you don’t have the time or budget, then please use our guidelines below. 

  • The Tyres: Start with making sure the tyres are inflated to the recommended pressure and then look out for the condition of each tyre – including the tread (a minimum of 1mm depth), and no cracks or bulges. Don’t forget the spare! 
  • The Brakes: When it comes to your brakes, it’s best to get a professional to check that they’re working properly, so book an appointment before your trip. 
  • The Lights: Test all the lights, including the headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals so you can be sure everything is working. 
  • The Fluids: Check the oil, coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid levels, and top up anything low. 
  • The Battery: Note any warning signs, like if your car starts sluggishly, and if you’re concerned, go to a battery centre and check its charge. 
  • The Wipers: You’re looking for the 4 S’s – signs of streaking, skipping, slipping or squeaking – and if you see any of this, it’s time to replace. 

Safe Driving Tips 

We all know to avoid using our phones, keep the chaotic music to a minimum, and steer clear of aggressive road users. But there are a few other tips that will keep you safer during the actual drive.  

  • Keep it Clean: Dirty windows increase glare from the lights of other vehicles and are more prone to steaming up, especially at night, so clean them up. 
  • Don’t Overload: Your car has a maximum weight capacity and exceeding this makes your car less stable, sluggish, difficult to steer, and longer to stop – putting your safety at risk. 
  • Map Your Route: Familiarise yourself with your route and be aware that traffic volumes on all South Africa’s major routes increase over the school holidays, making it wise to have an alternative route in your back pocket.  
  • Buckle Up the Kids: Kids don’t love being in car seats or having seat belts on, but it’s for everyone’s safety, not only in case of an accident but little people can be quite distracting if they’re allowed to roam freely. 
  • Take Breaks: Take regular breaks to rest and stretch your legs, because fatigue can seriously impair your driving ability. 
  • Safe Distances: Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles on the road so you have enough time to react in case of an emergency. 

What To Do In Case Of An Emergency 

We really hope that nothing happens on your trip, but if there is an incident then there are three basic things that you need to know. Any more steps than that and you’re unlikely to remember what to do if you’re stressed or injured. 

First, if you’re able to do so, pull over safely. You might have hit a pothole, road debris, an animal, or you may be experiencing strange sounds and smells with your car. Maybe there’s just something in your gut telling you that not everything is alright. Just pull over to a safe location so you can decide what to do next. 

And what you do next is call for help. If you are unable to fix the issue yourself, call for roadside assistance or emergency services. 

Lastly, make safety your utmost priority. Stay in your car with your seatbelt on until help arrives. If you need to exit the vehicle, do so on the side away from traffic. 

Feel informed?  

Lastly, make sure you’re covered for any eventuality on the road. In the first instance, you can use the AA Insurance Supermarket, where you can compare up to 7 quotes and choose the right car insurance to cover your car. We also urge you to look into getting a car warranty. The right warranty can help pay for mechanical, electrical, and electronic failures that may happen to your car – which tends to happen when you least expect and can’t afford it.  

If you’re interested in checking out our range of AA Warranties

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