Holiday driving tips
Key Word: Preparation.
Allow extra time for road works and wide loads
Well before your trip prepare your vehicle.
Have a full service done by a competent mechanic, when booking in, ask for a report on tyre condition, replace if in any doubt, or over five years old, including the spare. Check the tyre placard pressure for your car; add min. 4psi extra if loaded and a long trip.
Ask for the wiper blades to be replaced, they deteriorate when not used for a while.
Don’t try to book in a week before Xmas, its impossible!
The service applies for your Caravan, boat trailer or camper trailer, get the brakes and bearings checked, make sure the family dog hasn’t chewed the electrical plug, check the lights thoroughly in advance, and daily when towing. Tyre age is just as critical, get good advice on pressures, you may be surprised if they are light truck, they may need to be 50psi plus on heavy units.
Prepare your family.....
Don’t leave an hour after you finish a days’ work. Do not risk a fatigue crash. Fatigue can be caused by a hard days’ work, stress, heat, health, dehydration, sleep debt over a few days, add them together is a fatal combination, leave after a good nights’ sleep, stop every two hours, or when you feel tired, change drivers regularly if you can. Families must appreciate fatigue the dangers of fatigue and allow for the necessary breaks when planning the holiday.
Power Naps can be very helpful on long trips, especially as a lone driver. Approx 60% of fatalities are single occupant. Obey your instincts when feeling sleepy, pull well off the road at a stopping bay, power nap ideally for 15-20 minutes [day or night] Don’t exceed this time as you may go into a deep sleep which could compound your level of fatigue. After the power nap have a drink of water and walk around before recommencing journey.
Prepare on the Road.....
Prepare for the unexpected, drive at least 3 seconds behind the car in front on a good road in daylight, this is measured as the vehicle in front passes a fixed object, then count one thousand and one, one thousand and two slowly, this applies at any speed, practice it regularly.
The really important part is to double the distance on a wet road, when towing, at night or on a gravel road.
Keep your safety margin, i.e. always drive approx 300mm from the left edge line, or a little closer, keep as far from the centreline as possible. Be prepared, the driver coming towards you may drift over unexpectedly. They may be suffering from fatigue, affected by alcohol or drugs, or just distracted in some way , keep your safety margin between you, this also helps to see what is happening behind you, another motorist travelling too close, or emergency vehicles approaching, which means you can get off the road more quickly for them.
Obey the speed limits. We all know a long trip can be boring, but travelling at high speed increases your chances of a crash. In reality you don’t pick up much time, you use more fuel, and you endanger your family and other motorist.
Storm Season..... Driving needs special care be aware roads are slippery from the build up of road grime especially at intersections and roundabouts.
Be aware of dangers of aquaplaning on drenched roads, slow right down, be much more vigilant of fallen trees, power lines, washed out culverts, soft shoulders and edges.
LIGHTS ON AND LIVE....... When travelling turn your head lights on and make your vehicle more visible to other motorist. It may well prevent approaching vehicles from overtaking unexpectedly.
Or visit www.raag.com.au for links to statistics on road crashes.
These comments prepared by Graeme Ransley, Road Safety Coordinator.
Previous owner of large Tyre and battery business for 20 years, Accredited Driver Trainer, 4WD and Towing Trainer.
Endorsed by the RAAG Chairman and senior police.