The festive season is a time for family and friends. Each December thousands of South Africans take advantage of the long school holidays to flock to popular tourist destinations such as Durban, Cape Town and the Kruger Park.
For many, the festive season cheer is turned on its head due to the country’s alarming road accident statistics. The Road Traffic Management Corporation is on record that more than 1232 people died nationally in some 1000 road accidents during December 2011. And the death toll remains high despite a decade-long Arrive Alive campaign.
“Medical schemes see a marked rise in road accidents over the festive season,” says Damian McHugh, Head of Sales and Marketing at Momentum Health. “There are a number of factors contributing to the increase, not least of which that many more motorists are on the road during the period”.
On the road
How can you avoid becoming a road accident statistic? Before you set off on a long trip it is essential that your motor vehicle is in 100% roadworthy condition. You should check the tyres, wiper blades and shock absorbers for wear and make sure your lights and flickers are working too. It makes sense to get your vehicle checked out the week before you set out on your vacation.
You should abide by all the rules of the road while driving: Adhere to speed limits, maintain a sensible following distance, pay close attention to road signs and markings and exercise caution when overtaking. If you are driving long distances then plan frequent stops along the way, allowing time to rest and stretch your legs at least every two hours and if possible, alternate drivers.
Medical scheme issues
You should also take the time to find out how your medical scheme will care for you and your family in the event of an accident. At the very minimum you should make sure that you carry your medical scheme membership details with you before departing.
“It is a good idea to have your medical aid card somewhere in the car,” says McHugh. Momentum Health and most major medical schemes also provide members with stickers to apply to the smaller side-windows of their vehicles. “This is a quick way for emergency personnel to identify whether the occupants of a vehicle have medical aid cover or not,” he says.
Recent innovations mean that Momentum Health members can access their medical aid details from WAP-enabled cell phones. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with your medical scheme’s mobi-site before heading into the festive season rush.
Most of us make sure that our homes are secure, check that our short-term and life policies are in place and arrange for someone to look after our pets before embarking on a long trip. But we forget that the people we value most, our loved ones, will be in the motor vehicle with us. This year, in addition to securing your immovable property, go the extra mile to ensure that your motor vehicle and family are as safe as possible too.
(Press release from Momentum Health, December 2012)