Holiday travel tips to avoid traffic jams and arrive safely

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It is one of the busiest times on South African roads and by default, one of the most frustrating times for motorists.

As thousands of people embark on their well-deserved Christmas holidays, traffic jams occur, impatience mounts, leading to irritation, road rage, reckless driving and ultimately, road accidents.

If you look at the numbers, an increase in traffic volumes almost always equals an increase in deaths on the roads.

So, how do you steer clear of the gridlock to avoid the dangers of holiday traffic? Here are some holiday travel tips to stay safe on our roads:

  1. Have a good attitude

Besides adhering to the rules of the road, one of the most important holiday travel tips is to maintain a positive attitude. Exercise patience, tolerance, courtesy and even graciousness. Give other motorists a gap where you can and avoid aggressive driving at all times. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Plan your route

Traffic volumes on all of South Africa’s major routes increase over the December holiday, especially on the N4, N3, and N1 and N2 to Cape Town, as holiday-makers go to various destinations. Always have an alternative route planned and stay up to date with road conditions and traffic issues on your route.

  1. Get your timing right

If possible, stagger your travel dates to avoid the peak times. Traffic usually picks up in the week that school closes, which is 12 December this year. Expect heavy traffic on Friday 14 December, just ahead of the long weekend. Also, Christmas falls on a Tuesday, so traffic should start peaking on the previous Friday, December 21. And because New Year’s Day also falls on a Tuesday, and public schools reopen on January 8 (also a Tuesday), this will more than likely mean that traffic will peak on the Mondays before.

  1. Keep your car in tip-top shape

Apart from having the right attitude on the roads, you also need to ensure that your vehicle is in excellent condition as breakdowns lead to even more congestion. Another holiday travel tip is to have your car checked sooner, rather than later, as there may be a rush from many motorists wanting to make last minutes repairs.

  1. Stay sane in the city 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re heading to Cape Town (the most congested city in South Africa), Durban or Port Elizabeth, not everyone is on holiday and there’s still such a thing as rush hour. Try to plan ahead to avoid morning and afternoon peak traffic and not lose your cool in the city.

Remember: going on a long journey is not a race. Arriving safely is more important than reaching your destination in record time. Plus, preparing for a road trip by having the right attitude, a clear mind, and well-maintained car is as important as the holiday itself.

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