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Plan for a safe holiday on the road

If you're a member of one of the many roadside assistance plans you'll know that changing a flat tyre is something they do on call. But what happens if your cellphone is out of range, or your cellphone battery is flat, or heaven forbid, you're on a long, deserted road in the middle of nowhere. You don't want to stand around waiting.


It’s nearly that time of year once again. Will it be a mad scramble to realise your holiday plans with last minute preparation being the order of the day or will it be a safe and pleasant experience for you and your family this festive season? The AA gives some tips and advise on motoring safety.

The main mode of transport for most South African holiday makers whether they are going to the Bushveld or to Mozambique is their motor vehicle. As such it is imperative to ensure that the vehicle is in excellent working condition to make sure that holiday makers get the best out of their holiday time. The old adage of ‘prevention is better than cure’ is particularly pertinent here since it will allow motorists to identify and rectify technical as well as safety issues before they arise on the road and ensure trouble free motoring.





There are a number of vehicle items that should be checked and we will deal with them in a little more detail below:


With the significant amount of road maintenance & construction taking place many of the roads in South Africa are in less than desirable condition. Tyres will therefore play a key role in getting you to your destination safely.

First of all make sure that your tyres tread is legal and that it is even across its surface. Poor tread wear can be indicative of wheel alignment problems and this will not only cause premature tyre wear and increase your fuel consumption but is also dangerous, since under heavy braking the vehicle could pull severely to one side. In wet or poor road surface conditions this could prove fatal.

Tyre pressure is another area that should be carefully considered. That extra holiday gear, caravan or trailer all put extra weight onto the tyres. Tyre pressures must be adjusted according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for the vehicles load. Tyre pressures are usually increased above the normal for any significant increase in weight. This will prevent blowouts associated with under-inflation and high speed. Also check your spare tyre is in good condition AND that it is holding air at the correct pressure!

Visit a reputable tyre fitment and wheel alignment centre to have your vehicle checked out before you go.

Engine, brakes, steering and cooling system maintenance

A thorough service is a must before you set off on a long journey. The last thing you want is to be stranded alongside the road or worse at night because of a maintenance issue that you could have avoided.

Your dealer will on request check the vehicle for items that may not be included in the regular service schedule. Ask them to check the brakes (again if needs be), your suspension, your battery, your filters and your radiator for leaks and the coolant level. Your cooling system will be working hard with the extra vehicle load especially in the generally higher temperatures over the festive season.

Also get your power steering system checked to ensure there are no leaks and that it is functioning properly.

It is also important to be seen and to see where you are going, so get your windscreen checked for stone damage and make sure your windscreen wipers are in good condition. If you are towing a trailer make sure your electrical system (battery and towing socket compatibility) is fully functional. Being visible is paramount, especially in poor visibility conditions as is often the case with the rains in various provinces at this time of year so make sure all your lights are working.

Check out your trailer/caravan

The trailer or caravans tyres, brakes and electrical system must also be in good condition. A blowout or jack-knife on either is a hair raising experience for even the best drivers, as is the resultant loss of life and property for you and the other road users.

Book your vehicle service early to avoid the rush or worse not being able to get one done at all. The economic situation has not been kind to the consumer but it is vital to have your vehicles serviced beforehand. Your life is worth more than the money saved.

General Tips

Leaving for a holiday can be a very stressful experience, especially for the driver, what with everyone excited and anxious to get there yesterday. The key here is to prepare in advance, slow down and to enjoy the journey.

  • Make sure your vehicle AND trailer / caravan licences are displayed and up to date
  • Don’t leave without your drivers licence/s
  • Remember the toll fees along the way
  • Pack and check your vehicles emergency equipment i.e jack, wheel spanners, warning triangles and if you’re going to Mozambique or similar, the puncture kit, tow straps, compressor and basic tools
  • Be courteous and considerate towards other road users – road rage is not fun for anyone
  • Lastly plan your trip so that you have sufficient comfort breaks and rest stops included for you and your family. It’s NOT a waste of time and remember you’re already on holiday when you leave the house not only when you’ve reached your destination, dad!

[ automobile association ]


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