Route planning is essential for safe holiday journeys. This is according to tyre maker Bridgestone, which has advised motorists to ensure they choose the best route for their needs. Although the majority of travellers used the country’s major routes during holiday periods, many often headed for more remote or unusual destinations which could only be reached using secondary or gravel roads.
“South Africa has a fairly good road network by international standards,” said PR Manager Mandy Lovell, “but some of our secondary roads are not maintained to the standard that drivers from the bigger urban areas might be accustomed to. The same often applies to roads in rural municipalities, and it’s also easier to lose one’s way on unfamiliar routes.”
A road which appears on a map as a major secondary route may be a lot more deserted and under-maintained than its designation might suggest. Numerous online mapping websites are available for drivers to inspect the route to their destinations, and many can offer directions with a choice of routes. Local inhabitants can often give travellers the low-down on the condition of roads in their area, and Lovell advised motorists to make contact with their hosts, or the hotel at which they plan to stay for advice, especially when visiting an unfamiliar region for the first time.
Satellite mapping and viewing tools like Google Earth can assist in locating landmarks along the route, with Street View being particularly useful for ensuring drivers can identify turn-offs in remote areas which may not be well signposted, or on gravel roads which are sometimes not signposted at all.
“Portable or in-car GPS navigation systems are always useful, but drivers should avoid relying on them exclusively, there have been occasional reports in the media of drivers being led into dead-ends or incorrect routes as a result of following the instructions of a GPS without having checked the route beforehand,” she added.
It is important for drivers to ensure that their GPS does not unknowingly direct them over a route with poor road conditions or crime hotspots. Pre-trip route planning can help you make the most of your GPS, and ensure that the holiday drive to an unfamiliar destination doesn’t become a nightmare.