There’s nothing like a fresh new year to help us take stock of our habits and inspire us to work towards a happier life. With so many South Africans hitting the roads, stress, anger and impatience can take over – especially if you forgot what it feels like to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Here are our top tips for a safe and stress-free 2021 on the road:

1. Drive defensively

The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations defines defensive driving as, “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” Here’s how to do it:

  • Stay focused. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t fiddle with your phone or radio while driving, but focusing also means not letting road rage get the best of you. When you get behind the wheel, driving should be the only thing on your mind.
  • Stay alert. If another driver breaks suddenly, an accident happens, or a traffic light goes out, your reaction time will be faster if you’re already aware of what’s going on around you.
  • Tell the future. This one is tricky for new drivers, but experienced drivers can often tell what other cars on the road are going to do before they do it. Pay special attention to anyone not using their indicator, driving too slowly or too fast, or driving erratically.

2. Learn on the go

It’s easy to listen to the same playlist for the 100th time – but you can actually get smarter while you drive! The digital age has given us access to thousands of podcasts, along with audiobooks from publications and authors, for your listening (and learning) pleasure.

  • Ologies: Alie Ward speaks to a new “-ologist” each episode to deep-dive into topics like anthropology, entomology, oceanology and more. Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
  • Stuff You Should Know: Learn about everything from narwhals to Frida Khalo to Pompeii and Ponzi schemes with this podcast that releases three episodes a week. Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
  • The Science of Happiness: Learn research-tested techniques for a happier and more meaningful life through mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude. Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.


3. Be picky about driving

You might think it’s inevitable: Having to drive alone in an unknown area at night, powering through a hailstorm on your way to work, or hitting the road after you got zero winks the night before.

2021 is your year to become more selective about not putting yourself in unnecessary danger – so don’t be scared to tell your boss, friends, or family you’ll be a late in order to wait out bad weather, or that you need to leave a function early to avoid late night driving.

4. Take it slow

If you have a habit of driving fast, you can interpret this tip as literally “slow down” – but even if you aren’t a regular speed racer, slowing down in life can save you endless stress on the roads.

Little things like preparing your work outfit the night before, packing lunch in the evenings, and waking up a little earlier can help you beat the morning blues (and rush).

There will always be incidents where traffic is heavier than usual and you’ll be under pressure to make it on time, but starting off on the right foot makes all the difference.

5. Put your phone away

Most people think they don’t spend time on their phones while driving, but the little glances add up – a peek at the GPS here or skipping a song there are all distracting behaviours, even if you think you’re safe because they’re only momentary.

Next time you drive, put your phone somewhere inaccessible, like your boot or your cubbyhole, to resist the temptation to have a glance when you hear a notification come in.

Bonus tip: Nothing stops a stress-free year in its tracks faster than a car accident or bumper bashing! Start the year on the right foot (or wheel) with car insurance. Name Your Price™ and get premium insurance that suits your budget and your lifestyle. Get a free online quote in under 5 minutes today!