When you are young you’re told that the world is your oyster, so it is understandable that you want to jump into your car and explore the open roads.

But with all that freedom comes responsibility so before you go, it is best to be prepared in case things go wrong while you are on the road.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe on your travels.

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1. Make sure that the car you are travelling in is roadworthy. Also, refuel as soon as the fuel light goes on – don’t overestimate how much fuel is left. You do not want to be stuck on the side of the road, especially in a quiet area or at night.

2. Know where you’re going or have the destination entered into your chosen app before heading off on your journey to avoid distractions en route or having to stop on the side of the road.

3. Be alert and on the lookout for suspicious persons or vehicles when leaving or arriving at your home or destination.

4. Drive defensively. In other words, drive with the sole intention of avoiding a collision. This means adhering to the speed limit and other road rules, practising courteous road use, avoiding distractions such as using your mobile phone, and not driving while impaired whether due to tiredness, alcohol or medication.

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5. While driving, be vigilant about where you are and your surroundings at all times. Minimise distractions from gadgets, music or other people in the car. This will help you to avoid a dangerous situation, such as a hijacking or an accident.

6. Always keep the car doors locked and windows closed.

7. Limit the amount of cash and valuables you have with you, and avoid driving with valuables in sight – they are better kept in the boot or under the seats.

8. Do not offer lifts to strangers and be careful of engaging with street vendors, because with your car’s window down you are more vulnerable to attack.

9. Be wary of stopping on the side of the road, particularly if you are alone, in a quiet area or at night. Rather drive to a place of safety, if possible.

10. Always park the car in a secure, well-lit area and make sure that it’s properly locked before walking away.

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11. Be aware of who might be watching you or following you when leaving shopping centres, fuel stations or other public places.

12. Try to travel with another person. Being alone makes you more vulnerable, particularly at night.

13. Let someone close to you know of your movements and your anticipated arrival time, so that they can alert the authorities if you don’t check in. Some tracking services have apps that you can use to share your location with such a person.

14. Ensure that you have all important and emergency contact numbers saved on your phone and written and stored in your car. Also, make sure your mobile phone is charged.

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15. Always have a back-up plan in case of an emergency.

These tips were from Duma Ngcobo, the Chief Operating Officer at Tracker South Africa.

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