South Africans will soon be hitting the open road as the Easter holiday season approaches. Busy roads and an increase in collisions are regular features over this period, but there are simple measures that drivers can take to mitigate the risk of road accidents and costly breakdowns.
Ensuring your car is in tip-top shape before you go on holiday is not only a sensible thing to do, it can save you money too. This is according to Vera Nagtegaal, the executive head of Hippo.co.za, an insurance and financial comparison platform.
“Neglecting to check whether the tyres on your car are worn, for example, places you at greater risk on the road.
“To make matters worse – if you are in an accident, your insurance company could reject your claim on the basis that the car was not roadworthy to begin with.”
Ms Nagtegaal said something as simple as checking the tread on your tyres could save you money in the long run.
“It doesn’t have to be a tedious and time-consuming exercise; comparing quotes from major tyre brands can also be done online in just a few clicks — saving you time and cash.”
Aside from maintaining your tyres, it is wise to do the following checks before heading on holiday:
* Check the vehicle’s fluids such as oil levels, brake fluid and coolant.
* If the car is due for an oil change, it’s best to get it done before you head out on a long trip.
* Do a brake inspection.
* Ensure the lights are in working order.
* Check whether the windscreen wipers are in good working condition.
* Make sure you haven’t missed a routine service.
The Automobile Association has compiled a guide on determining if your car is roadworthy. They explain for example that the tread for all tyres (including the spare) should be at least 1.6mm deep, brakes must be in good working order, and all lights and indicators must be in working order. This guide can be accessed online at https://www.aa.co.za/insights/how-do-you-know-if-your-car-is-roadworthy.
Ms Nagtegaal said an unroadworthy car is a major reason why insurance companies repudiate claims, resulting in clients being forced to pay out of pocket.
“Servicing your car regularly helps to avoid the risk of accidents or mishaps related to wear and tear. It also preserves the vehicle’s condition, thus reducing devaluation,” she said.
Adopting good driving habits, Ms Nagtegaal said, would save you money all year round.
“Insurance companies evaluate risk and set premium rates accordingly, so cautious drivers could benefit from lower monthly premiums.
“Some insurance companies reward drivers with incentives such as cash-back to spend on fuel or a discount on their premium,” she explained.
Telematics or smart apps are used to monitor whether policy-holders are speeding or breaking suddenly when they’re behind the wheel.
This type of technology also provides the insurance company with information about how and when the client is driving.
Reckless driving is another reason why claims can be rejected, Ms Nagtegaal pointed out. It is also one of the main causes of accidents, in addition to drunk driving and speeding.
There are also a high number of collisions involving pedestrians recorded each year because of several contributing factors including jay-walking and poor visibility on dimly-lit roads. There was a 51% increase in fatalities on the country’s roads over the Easter break in 2017 compared to the same period the previous year.
“If everyone does their part to maintain their cars and practice safe driving habits, the roads will hopefully be a little safer this Easter holiday,” said Ms Nagtegaal