The Easter holidays are upon us and President Ramaphosa has just given us the green light to take a well-deserved, but cautious break. If you’re planning to travel over the Easter weekend, you need to take extra care due to the higher volumes of traffic expected during this period.
“This means not only driving more cautiously, but also making sure that your vehicle is in excellent condition as so many accidents happen because of cars not being roadworthy,” says Ricardo Coetzee, Head of Auto & General Insurance.
Auto & General offers the following advice for motorists travelling over the Easter weekend:
- Speeding: Speeding significantly impairs your ability to steer safely around corners and objects in the road and drastically reduces the time you have available to react to a dangerous situation, therefore increasing your chances of crashing. It not only increases your chances of having an accident but it also drastically increases the severity of a crash when it happens. Statistics from Arrive Alive show that a 10% decrease in speed reduces fatal crashes by 40%.
- Overtaking: Do not overtake on a solid line. When overtaking is allowed, make double sure that you have a clear view of oncoming traffic first. Avoid overtaking multiple vehicles in one go.
- Fatigue: Although typically associated with long-distance driving, fatigue can set in after a long day at work or a late night out. Emotional stress, illness, boredom and sun glare can also cause fatigue. Motorists should get at least seven hours sleep before a long-distance trip, and to avoid travelling during their body’s downtime, which for most people is between 2am and 6am. If you find yourself battling to keep your eyes open, day dreaming, or swerving into the centre of the road or onto the verge, find a safe place to stop and rest, or let another driver takeover.
- Car Maintenance: Many accidents on South Africa’s roads are the result of vehicle un-roadworthiness and vehicle component failure. Many motorists also find themselves stranded on the roadside at the mercy of potential criminals thanks to vehicle failure. No matter how you look at it, driving a car that is not properly maintained and fit for the road is compromising your safety. Tyre failure is one of the top contributors to vehicle component failure accidents. Driving with worn-out and un-roadworthy tyres is not only dangerous but it is against the law. So, if you are going to be travelling over the Easter weekend you must check that your tyres are in optimal condition and meet South African road safety specifications. If they don’t, they must be replaced before you embark on your journey.
Road safety is not the only thing South Africans should be cautious about and Coetzee urges homeowners to ensure that their home security is top-notch before going away this Easter.
“Having burglar bars fixed to all opening windows and security gates fitted to all external doors is no longer a nice to have – it’s become essential. Here are some other things you can do to ensure you find your home in the exact same state you left it in before going on holiday,” says Coetzee.
- First check that you are properly covered on your insurance policy for all of your household items
- The amount for which you have insured the contents of your home should be equivalent to the amount it would cost to replace all the items with new items, at today’ prices
- Make sure you have an up-to-date inventory list of all your household possessions
- Most insurance companies will also recommend that you have an alarm system installed that is linked to a reliable armed response company.
- Even with both of these measures in place, the lack of activity in your home is always obvious from outside. The best way to ensure peace of mind is to employ a house sitter. A house that’s occupied is almost always safer than a house that’s empty. See if you can get a trusted friend or relative to stay at your home while you are away.
- Curtains being opened and closed, lights being switched on and off and the presence of a car in the driveway are all signs that people are coming and going.
- If nobody will be house sitting, it’s worth your while to put your lights on a timer, and in several rooms. Set the timer to turn on the living room lights at sunset, as you would if you were home.
- Cut back any trees or bushes that obscure your front door or driveway. These could be used as hiding places.
- Clean up in the garden and be sure to lock away spades, rakes and other tools which could conceivably be used to break a window or gain entry into your home.
Coetzee also reminds homeowners that upgrading their home security could result in lower home contents insurance premiums. “The level of security in your home is one of the underwriting conditions that goes into determining your monthly premium. If your home is safer, your risk profile decreases and your premium could be reduced as well.”