The recent 2015/2016 preliminary festive season report released by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters shows a staggering 14 per cent increase in road deaths in South Africa, compared to a similar period in the previous year.

The recent 2015/2016 preliminary festive season report released by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters shows a staggering 14 per cent increase in road deaths in South Africa, compared to a similar period in the previous year. With the Easter holidays approaching these results serve as a critical lesson for road users around the country to exercise safe and reliable practices on the road.

The fact that almost two thousand people died on South African roads while commuting to and from their holidays further emphasizes the importance of vehicle and road safety. Lizette Erasmus, Head of Insurance Expertise at IntegriSure says, “The results from the report have once again highlighted the critical issue of road safety in South Africa and the need for more people to practice vehicle maintenance in order to avoid becoming another statistic.”

This year, the analysis of the festive season road death tolls revealed new contributing factors to the released results. Un-roadworthy vehicles and negligent driver and pedestrian behaviours, such as caught driving outside the speed limit, overtaking into oncoming traffic lanes, driving under the influence of alcohol and texting and talking on cellphones while driving, have become a serious cause for concern.

Luc Fayolle, Marketing Manager at Michelin South Africa says, “It is distressing that a major factor in the increasing number of road accidents is un-roadworthy vehicles – seeing multiple accidents caused by a range of vehicle malfunctions, such as tyre bursts, faulty brakes and loss of control due to smooth tyres. This resulted in 34.9 percent of road deaths being pedestrians and 38.3 percent being passenger deaths.”

Erasmus adds, “While you can’t control reckless drivers you can ensure your vehicles’ safety on the road. It is crucial to ensure that your tyres are in good working condition before departing on long trips. This will also affect your insurance claim should something unforeseen occur. If your tyres don’t meet legal requirements you risk repudiation on your claim as it indicates care wasn’t taken to minimize risk on the road.”

“Tyres need to be checked to see that they are filled according to the correct air pressure, as well as rotated or replaced based on their condition and properly balanced – not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year. To ensure that your vehicle claim adheres to general insurance standards, regular maintenance on your car is key. Tyres experience the most wear and tear – it can also be the biggest safety risk if it is worn down. If a tyre doesn’t have a stable grip on the road’s surface, it can easily lead to accidents, especially in wet conditions. The law states that each of your tyres must have a tread of at least 1 millimeter. If you are unsure of the state of your tyres, we suggest that you visit your nearest tyre outlet,” explains Fayolle.

There are various preventative measures you can take in terms of your car, which will not only increase your level of safety while driving, but can also lower your insurance premiums. “Contact your insurance company to find out about security features such as anti-theft devices and tracking devices. Driving a car that has built-in safety features (airbags, anti-lock brakes) will also increase your safety behind the steering wheel,” says Erasmus.

“One of the main problems outlined by the Transport Minister was that people do not take the law seriously. It is not only your life you need to protect, but the lives of other people on the road as well. Therefore, vehicle and tyre safety should not be taken lightly and especially this if you are planning holidays away this Easter. Ensure that your vehicle is in proper working condition for your safety as well as your passengers, and other road users, you will reduce the risk of ruining your holidays due to negligence” says Fayolle.