December is here with all its usual vigour, and with it, your holidays are hopefully in hot pursuit. At this point, if you haven’t already made holiday plans, you are possibly chomping at the bit to book a Europcar rental – or any other rental, to spend a few languid days road tripping to your favourite destinations with your favourite ‘persons’! But, as romantic and adventurous as this sounds is this really the right time to be driving on SA’s roads?

South African roads have a reputation for being both bumper to bumper and dangerous during the festive season and you need to put some thought into which dates you choose to be on the road in your Avis, Budget or Europcar rental.Travelling by road during the December holidays in any country can be treacherous, but in South Africa,some days that are most certainly worse than others.

The silly season, aka the festive season, is sadly a time when we see a significant increase inroad accidents. Some are due to reckless driving and road rage, while others are from drunk driving and simple carelessness (you know; holiday mode brain).

Whatever the case may be, you don’t want to be on the roads during the busiest or statistically most dangerous times if you can possibly avoid it. To minimise your accident chances, try to be strategic about when you travel.

Stay off the roads on the following dates this December

With a bit of forethought and planning,you can avoid some of the busiest days,which will reduce your risk and help to put your mind and frustration levels at ease. Here are the days when you really should try to stay off the road:

  • Friday 13th December – Monday 16th December

On the 16th December every year, South Africans celebrate The Day of Reconciliation with a public holiday. Whenever this date falls on a Friday or a Monday, many people use this as the perfect opportunity to have a pre-Christmas long weekend.

If you are not a fan of deadlocked traffic and busy roads that offer few safe over-taking opportunities, why don’t you do things a little differently? Instead, go to work on Friday the 13th of December and take off Tuesday the 17th of December. This means that you can potentially run your long weekend from Sunday to Tuesday.

  • Saturday 21 December to Tuesday 24 December

Many holidaymakers only get the week leading up to Christmas off work, and you know what that means? It means that it is time to pack the bags, load the trailer and head to their favourite festive season destination, before the 25th of December.

Some of the busiest SA roads in the week leading up to the 25th of December are:

  • The N3 heading into Durban, KwaZulu Natal. This major highway is the main road between Johannesburg and Durban and passes through 3 provinces on the way. Most holidaymakers living in Durban are heading north, while holidaymakers from Gauteng are heading to the KZN coast. It is a busy time on these roads, for sure!
  • N2 to KZN North Coast. The KwaZulu Natal North Coast is a vastly popular holiday destination over the festive period. These roads are often plagued with maintenance interruptions and have also been the host of many fatal head to head vehicle accidents.
  • N4 to Maputo. This road is the connector between the North West, Mpumalanga, and Gauteng with Mozambique. Mozambique is a highly sought after holiday destination over the festive period, and the road is often fraught with road works.

Solutions to travelling the week before Christmas

So, what if you only have the week leading up to 25 December to travel and what if these are the only roads you can take? Why should you sit at home and go nowhere simply because there is a higher than normal risk or because you might be delayed.

Well, there is a way to remedy the problem. Try to adjust your work and travel schedule ever so slightly. Try to leave mid-week (18 or 19 December) instead of on the weekend. Or leave very early in the morning on Sunday the 22nd of December. Sundays tend to be quieter.

If you can delay your holiday escape a little, you will find that the roads are at their quietest on Christmas Day (25 December) and on Boxing Day (26 December) as these are the days that holidaymakers love to spend with their families.

Safe Festive Travels

Whether you are booking a Europcar rental and road tripping to spend time with the family and loved ones for Christmas or simply going on a much-deserved holiday, make sure that you are vigilant on the road, well-rested and aware of the possible risks involved. Happy (and safe) travels!