Regular servicing and preventative maintenance are critical to ensure increased vehicle safety over the holiday period
Federal-Mogul Motorparts is advising all motorists who are travelling during the Festive Season to ensure that their vehicles have been serviced and maintained to deliver maximum safety on the roads during the busy holiday period. This is the time of year that South Africa’s road network is not only the busiest but, unfortunately, also records the greatest number of fatal accidents.
One way to promote road safety this Festive Season, according to Federal-Mogul Motorparts Technical Advisor Albertus Steyn, is for motorists to carry out a simple test of a vehicle’s headlights, indicators, and taillights to ensure that these are all in proper working order. Wipers should also be checked, as these are essential in ensuring visibility during inclement weather.
Apart from the road-safety benefits, regular service and maintenance can also add significant value and life to a vehicle, Steyn stresses. “A vehicle in roadworthy condition is not only safe and reliable, but has a greater resale value as well.”
A lack of attention paid to vehicle maintenance is endemic in South Africa, where the average age of the vehicle parc is 8-10 years, much higher than most developed countries. Many vehicle owners clock up more than 300 000 km, without taking preventative maintenance into account. “This is not only dangerous, but costly in the long-term,” Steyn warns.
If an owner is unsure about the roadworthy condition of their vehicle, the best option is to have it inspected at a specialist centre. “Many centres offer free checks to encourage road safety, and a team of professionals will be able to ensure that the vehicle is entirely roadworthy before it begins its journey,” Steyn explains.
Once on the road itself, road users can reduce the risk of accidents by following basic road safety tips such as adhering to the speed limit, ensuring all occupants are wearing a seatbelt, and that no one in the vehicle consumes any alcohol. It is also recommended to use headlights even when driving during daylight hours, as 60% of South African road deaths involve pedestrians. “Headlights make the vehicle more visible not only to pedestrians, but also to fellow motorists from opposite lanes.”
Even passengers have an important role to play in terms of road safety. Passengers should always buckle up, and must also hold the driver accountable for road safety, by regularly checking if the driver is displaying any signs of fatigue. This is especially applicable to taxi passengers, who are statistically at higher risk than passengers in personal vehicles.
A lack of basic road courtesy among drivers is another major contributor to the high accident rate over the festive season. Drivers should leave a three-second gap between themselves and the vehicle in front, providing enough reaction time in the event of any emergency. “Unfortunately, this gap is often filled by harried drivers, who inadvertently make the route more hazardous for all motorists,” Steyn points out.
Both drivers and occupants should take a break every two hours or 200 km. “Even when obeying all the rules of the road, drivers can become tired and lose focus when travelling for extended periods. Regular stops play an important role in keeping everyone in the vehicle alert,” Steyn concludes.