Road Trip Safety 101 UPDATE: Hijack-hotspots, busiest roads and safety tips for Easter

2017-02-24 06:45 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - The Easter break is around the corner, and if you've planned your annual leave days well, you should be looking forward to a real mini-holiday during April this year. 

SEE: 2017 Public Holidays: How to score all the days for a little leave

The best part of the holidays is spending time with family and in South Africa, this means travelling great distances to be together. 

SA's road fatality statistics, unfortunately, often mar the beauty of our holidays. 

This upcoming Easter break, however, you can be smart about road safety to ensure the smoothest possible trip for you and your family. 

SEE: SA Insider Guide: Easter school holidays top weekend events across SA

Reducing road deaths 

On Friday, 31 March, South Africa's Deputy Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Lydia Chikunga announced that the Department and its roads entities have developed National Road Safety Strategy, which will aim to reduce road fatalities by 50% over the next decade. 

The announcement came as part of the national Easter Road Safety Launch on Friday, urging road users during this time especially to exercise extreme caution. 

"For far too long," Chikunga says, "our people have been dying on our roads, largely due to human error." Pedestrian fatalities, she says, also constitute a large percentage of the vulnerable road users that die during this period.  

Check out our complete guide for road trip safety in SA - 

First things first - Vehicle safety 101 

Whether you’re driving a short distance or across the country, road safety start with you - so be sure to double check your vehicle before taking the family on a road trip.

Here are some tips to ensure that your car and your family are prepared for your next adventure:  

Have your car serviced and given a proper safety check up
Map out your trip – make sure you allow plenty of time to get to your destination, including rest stops
Take regular breaks (at least one every two hours) and pull over for a power nap as soon you feel tired or fatigued.
Share the driving if possible
Never drink alcohol, not even small amounts, before or during a long trip
Have a few good nights' sleep before heading off
Stay within the speed limit and always choose an appropriate speed for the driving conditions – whether city, country or night time driving
Make sure all passengers wear appropriate seatbelts or child restraints - including pets
Make sure all luggage is properly secured and won't become projectiles in the case of sudden braking.
Avoid distractions – don't use mobile phones and keep young passengers occupied with games for children when driving.
If driving refrain from  using your cell phone – even if it is hands-free – as it is a distraction
Keep an adequate following distance – 3 to 4 seconds behind the vehicle in front
Be careful if pulling over into the emergency lane ( yellow lane) as it would be unsafe to do so before cresting a rise 
Give trucks  plenty of room – remember they take longer to stop than a car
Keep your headlights on for entire trip – see and be seen.
Be patient – enjoy the drive

Check out this handy step-by-step guide on how to check your vehicle before going on a road trip: 

Hijacking Hotspots - places to avoid

The National Hijack Prevention Academy (NHPA) has released a list of hijacking-hotspots in some major SA cities.

The organisation's latest list shows hotspots in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.

Carjacking has increased by 14.3% in all provinces, according to the 2015/16 annual crime survey released by the South African Police (SAPS), with the number being the highest in Gauteng.

The following hijacking hotspots have been identified by the NHPA: 

Traveller24 Tip: Beware when travelling under highway bridges in cities, and as far as possible, do not travel in problem areas at night. 

Peak Traffic 

The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) has announced the expected peak travel times for the upcoming Easter Holiday season. 

Southbound roads, especially, are expected to be highly congested going into the peak holiday season, as holidaymakers will once again make their way to SA's coasts for the last bit of summer.

These major SANRAL routes will experience very heavy traffic: N1 North and South, N3, N4, N7, N2 Cape Town to PE.

Check out the busiest roads during holiday periods: 

NOTE: The information is based on historical data and traffic modelling. 

Toll Gates 

Toll Gates are situated at the following spots, with the following tariffs. You can use the tool below to calculate what your road trip will cost you in toll gate fares:  

Border Crossing 

If your road trip is taking you outside the borders of South Africa this holiday, you'll need to be clued up on all the details of SA's land-based ports of entry and exit.

South Africa is surrounded by coastline of 2 500km, which explain why there are eight harbours in the country. Other than maritime travel, SA has 10 International Airports and 54 border control point for travellers on land.  

According to official SA Tourism data, most travellers using the land-based ports of entry originate from SADC countries, including Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia.

Most South African travellers visiting these aforementioned SADC countries also do so by land, often trekking thousands of kilometres with camper vans and 4x4 trailers to explore places like the Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Caprivi strip. 

If you're planning a road trip to a SADC country, you should keep in mind the various ports of entry you might have to travel through. Here is the DHA's comprehensive list of SA's land-based ports of entry. 

Who to call In Case of Emergency 

Report incidents to either the South African Police Services (10111) or the National Traffic Call Centre (NTCC) on 012 665 6075

Arrive Alive can be contacted on 0861 400 800 to report cases of bad driving, as well as poor road conditions.

The Automobile Association Rescue can be reached on 080 001 0101

For emergencies, you can call 112 from any cell phone in South Africa. You will then reach a call centre and they will route you to an emergency service closest to you.

Traveller24 Tip: Download and install the new emergency resonder app MySOS. It's a one-stop solution for access to the closest and most appropriate emergency services in South Africa. Be sure to link up your family and friends to strengthen the network of assistance. Read more about MySOS and how it works.