What’s the most critical thing to remember when preparing for an epic road trip? Clue: it’s one word that begins with the letter ‘s’. And no, it’s not snacks, though we do agree these are also important for great road trips. It’s safety. Understanding how to be safe on the roads is paramount because you can risk so much more than a ruined holiday with unsafe driving. Here are our top road safety tips to help you prepare for and enjoy a safe driving holiday.
Road safety tip #1: Check your car before you head off
Your car’s tires, battery and fluids are some of many things you’ll want to check are working before your road trip. Anything off should be fixed before you set off, or you may find yourself waiting hours for a patrol to rescue you and your disappointment from the side of the road. Most importantly, ensuring your car is in good shape can help you avoid dangerous situations like unexpected blow-outs.
Don’t forget to pack jumper leads and a spare tire too, so you can bail yourself out of certain troubles if it is safe to do so. Be sure your boot contains a first aid kit, should it be you rather than your car in need of care.
One excellent way to reduce your risk of road-trip ruin is to hire a car, as usually they’ll have been fully serviced by a qualified mechanic before you hop in. Just saying…
Road safety tip #2: Rest often
If you think it’s unlikely you’d ever fall asleep at the wheel, let it be known that even just driving when you’re tired can seriously affect your concentration, judgement, performance and reaction times. This can be just as deadly.
Sadly, driver fatigue causes several crashes in Australia each year. And despite what you may have heard, caffeine and a window down is not a remedy. Likely, this will just leave you cold and with false confidence that you can continue.
No, the only fix for a tired driver is sleep, so take care to ensure the driver has had enough of it (8-9 hours) the night before your trip, as well as along the way. Daily, a driver should take a break every two hours, and drive for no more than ten hours.
If you can, share the driving among your passengers.
Road safety tip #3: Drive to the conditions
See and be seen; it’s a great campaign slogan for fashion labels, yes, but it’s also a great mantra to drive by.
If visibility worsens during your drive due to, for example, heavy rain or fog, then you must adjust your driving accordingly. This usually means slowing down, switching on your fog or headlights, avoiding lane changes and being extra cautious as you make your way. It might also mean that you safely pull over while you wait for the storm to pass.
Bad weather can also cause slippery roads and high winds, which can hinder the control of your vehicle. Again, driving to suit the conditions is critical; just because the speed limit says 80 km/h doesn’t mean you have to meet it.
If you can, avoid driving at night. Understandably, our ability to see is somewhat limited when that giant ball of gas is brightening the other side of the planet, and statistically more accidents do happen after dark. Our vote is for getting some good shut-eye instead.
Road safety tip #4: Properly secure your luggage
I spy a surfboard on the side of the road?! Both heartbreaking and hazardous, luggage that’s not properly secured can be a real danger to both you and those sharing the way with you.
We’re not just talking about the items on the roof, either; insecure luggage within your car can also do significant damage in the case you have to brake suddenly or if you’re driving on unsurfaced roads.
Luggage straps are your best friend here, and so is YouTube if you need guidance on the best ways to secure your luggage for safe driving.
Road safety tip #5: Avoid distractions
Now, we won’t judge anyone for their affinity to their iPhone or heavy techno tunes, but some things are a big no when you’re behind the wheel.
Not only can using your phone while driving earn you a huge fine, but it can also put you and those around you at serious risk. Authorities liken the act to drink-driving and say that mobile phone use is to blame for rising road fatalities. So, we’re sure the cat GIF you want to send to the group chat can wait.
Music that’s too loud and that draws your attention from the road is another big no. I mean, we know you’ve probably got the moves, but it’s better for everyone if you save them for a dance floor, perhaps one that’s dimly lit…
Like your music, your passengers shouldn’t distract you either. If you’ve got young ones in the back, ensure they can be safely occupied and that you’ve mastered repeating ‘we’re almost there!’ without letting your blood pressure rise.
On any road trip anywhere in the world, safe driving is paramount. If you’d like to learn more or are interested in hiring a car for your next driving holiday in Australia, talk with the team at Alpha today.