Ensuring Road Safety During the Christmas and New Year Holidays

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While Christmas and New Year
holidays are a time of joy and celebration for almost all of us, a significant
number of families has unfortunately endured great loss over this festive
period due to loss of loved ones in road traffic crashes. Every year,
the volume of road traffic crashes increases significantly in
December and January, with an alarming number of avoidable injuries and
Some of the leading causes
of road traffic crashes during the festive season include
inattention, speeding, driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs as
well as driving while tired.

Here are some of the very basic

things we encourage you to do to keep safe on the roads during this festive
holiday and proceed safely into the new year.

v Avoid
drinking and driving: driving when intoxicated is against the law and
lowers your inhibitions, making you less alert, with slower reflexes and more
likely to drive recklessly.  Around the
world, drinking and driving kills thousands of people each year, and the death
rate increases dramatically during holidays.

v Take a
break when you are tired: Falling asleep at the wheel has caused many
devastating crashes and taken far too many lives. If you are feeling tired
before getting into the car, delay your trip and get some sleep. If fatigue
sets in while driving, pull over somewhere safe, have a coffee and take a
break. You can also drive in shifts with the other legal drivers in the
vehicle. It is advisable to take safety breaks every 2 hours or 200km.

v Avoid
speeding: The risk of speeding and recklessly overtaking people on the road is
not worth the risk.
wet weather, if motorists around you slow down, do the same as well. Your speed
should be based on the conditions of the road and the vehicles around you. Even
if you are running late, take it easy on the roads and stick to the speed
limit. Speed is one of the leading causes of death on our roads and yet it is

v Always do

basic vehicle checks: Check your breaks, tyre pressure, oil, water and fuel
levels before leaving on a road trip. It is also important to never overload
your car. Adjust your tyre pressure accordingly depending on your vehicle’s
recommendations for loads. Make sure you have a spare tyre, a jack and wrench
in your boot along with a tyre sealant if the puncture is small enough. If you
do get a flat tyre, pull over somewhere safe where there is a wide enough
distance between you and passing vehicles.


v Avoid
driving in bad weather:
it is heavy rain, snowstorms, or fog, adverse weather conditions can significantly
impact road safety. The Christmas and New Year holidays coincide with the rainy
season and this makes driving a particularly important aspect of every road
trip. Before you hit the road, take the time to check the weather forecasts
along your planned route. This will give you a good idea of what to expect and
help you make informed decisions about when and where to travel. Adverse
weather conditions can slow down your journey, so it’s crucial to factor in
extra travel time. Leave earlier than you typically would account for potential
delays caused by inclement weather. By allowing yourself a buffer, you can
reduce stress and ensure a safer and more enjoyable road trip experience.

 v Do not

overload: Overloading is a safety hazard
that leads to unnecessary loss of life. When you overload a vehicle it puts
tons of strain on it. The tires can wear out quickly as well as overheat. This
leads to expensive tire failure and the possibility of a dangerous blowout.


v Expect
other drivers to make mistakes: Do not trust anyone but yourself. Be a
defensive driver, the one who “drives to prevent accidents, in spite of the
incorrect actions of others and adverse conditions”. A defensive driver is
always aware of the road, anticipating what other drivers could do, and
planning actions a few seconds ahead.

v Always
wear your seat belt and see that everyone in the car is wearing theirs.
Seat belts were one of the first safety features
for vehicles, but it continues to protect drivers and passengers alike from
sustaining graver injuries since it ensures occupants stay in place in case of
a collision. Unlike other sophisticated systems, a seat belt is the only
feature that is required by law and can truly save a life in the unfortunate
event of running into a car accident.

v Always
avoid distraction: do not let phones, radio, air conditioning, kids in the
backseat, or a heated discussion with your spouse distract you from your
responsibilities as the driver. Always pay attention to the road and your
vehicle. Driving requires full concentration.

v Always

avoid road rage: Since you do not know who might be behind the wheel of that
vehicle that just cut you off, it is wise to back away and overlook the
offense. Road rage may lead to murder; Be courteous towards fellow road users.
Keep your temper and resist the temptation to retaliate.


v Drive
during the day: driving at night can be dangerous, especially, during the festive
season. At night, visibility is not as far and wide as during the day, so your
reaction time to potential danger is inevitably slower. At night, it is also
harder to read road signs or see potholes, which can cause serious incidents.
It can also be impossible to spot pedestrians and animals crossing the road. If
you know you will be driving through an area you do not know with
less-than-optimal road conditions, stick to driving during the day if you can.

Most motorists who will be taking long-distance holiday trips may
encounter reckless drivers along the way. Safe driving during the festive
season not only depends on being a responsible driver but also on knowing how
to handle these reckless drivers. While it might be frustrating to encounter a
driver who puts you at risk, the best thing to do is to allow the driver to
pass. If a driver is pressuring you to move over so they can pass, but you can
see that there is oncoming traffic or you feel uncomfortable, continue driving
calmly and maintain your position until you feel that it is safe to do so. It
is very sad to see young and energetic people who could have contributed
immensely to the welfare of their families and the development of the nation
lose their lives through avoidable road traffic crashes.


Inserted by TSCZ, Operations
Research and Marketing Section

Readers can contact TSCZ on the following email: research@trafficsafety.co.zw

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe emerged from the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Board which originated from a voluntary organisation composed of area associations in Harare (then Salisbury), Bulawayo, Gweru (then Gwelo) and Mutare (then Umtali).

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