South Africa’s sixth democratic elections is here and election parties are wholly focused on securing their last few votes. Meanwhile, there is another consideration we need to take cognisance of and that is the extra traffic and challenging road conditions that we may encounter.
The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says certain voting stations can be extremely busy. He said: “If you will be voting at one of these stations, plan your route the night before. On the day, use traffic apps to double check that route is still one of the best. While it may be tempting to avoid the queues, do not leave everything until last minute so that you need to rush to the voting station and take chances you would not normally have taken.
“For voters who did not register in their current area of residence but who will be travelling to where they are registered, all the extra precaution you should take on a normal public holiday apply. Avoid reckless drivers, do not drive recklessly yourself, such as speeding and tailgating, drive looking 12 seconds ahead of yourself and just generally keep an eye open for drivers who pose a risk.”
Frustrated with queues
Parking areas also become rife for mistakes, with Herbert adding: “There may be more reckless driving in these confined spaces in a rush to join the queue or because voters are frustrated with the queues. As schools are closed most parents will have their children with them, and a child running out unexpectedly is a high possibility.
“Keep this in mind when entering or leaving voting station parking areas. Even if your frustration levels are high drive cautiously and be ready to react should something unexpected happen. Reverse park to reduce the chances of not seeing a child behind your car when leaving that parking space later on.”
While, in general, there was minimal violence during the past few elections, you should still be ready for violence that may spill over into the roads.
Herbert concludes: “KZN and the North West have the highest risk of violence during elections this year. If you encounter it on the roads, safely turn around and take another route. Be aware of any volatile situations on the roadside so you are not caught unaware. Remember, while it may be tempting to protect your vehicle, your personal safety takes priority. Listen to law enforcement as they are best equipped to remove you from the situation safely.
“We wish all South Africans a successful and peaceful voting day. Stay safe, aware, and ready to respond while driving.”