The Easter long weekend is always a popular time for Aussies to hit the highway and head off on a road trip. So, to make the most of your time on the road, it’s a good idea to prepare both yourself and your car. Avoid the danger on the road, with tips to help ensure that you arrive alive and in good spirits.
Before you go
Ensure that your oil and coolant are topped up. Even better would be to drain your oil and coolant and then top them both up with fresh fluids.
Head to the servo and check your tyre pressure. A handy tip: when taking a long road trip with a loaded vehicle, fill your tyres to around 4psi above the recommended maximum pressure. It’ll help with handling and save you money on fuel.
It may sound silly, but fill your car with fuel at your local service station – or the one you know has the best petrol prices. Leaving home with a half tank of fuel will mean you’ll then have to fork out five cents a litre more at a fuel stop in Gundagai.
Have you got roadside assistance? Well, maybe it’s a good time to get on board. It’s way cheaper than having a breakdown and needing a tow to god knows where.
Get a good night’s sleep and leave at a reasonable hour. If possible, don’t leave at a time when you would usually be asleep, but then don’t leave during peak hour either.
On the road
The first thing to remember is that it’s not only your safety that should concern you, but the safety of thousands of others you’ll encounter on the road.
Have regular breaks, even if it’s a five-minute leg stretch and a breath of fresh air, or a quick cup of coffee at a driver reviver site or petrol station. And try to share driving duties after each break.
As soon as you feel any sign of fatigue, give yourself a break. Don’t try to power through; have a power nap instead. Often, all it takes is a microsecond of concentration lapse for a fatal incident to occur. Just think: at 100km/h, you’ll travel 111m uncontrolled during a four-second micro sleep. Scary, huh?
Limit distractions while driving. That could mean turning your phone off while you drive, and switching off that fancy DVD player on the dashboard. Remain alert, don’t be distracted from the road and know what is in front of you and behind you at all times.
If you’re driving in the country
When overtaking a large truck, always position yourself so that the truck-driver can see you passing. That way, he (or she) can help you out by letting you know it’s safe. They’ll usually do this by putting on their right-hand indicator.
On the other hand, if a truck wants to pass you, don’t slow down. Drive at a steady speed and the truckie will find the right time to pass you.
Drive with your lights on – even your parking lights. It will help you be more visible in all weather conditions.
Leave at least two to three seconds between you and the vehicle in front. If you’re towing a trailer, boat or caravan, four to five seconds will give you more time to react to a dangerous situation, should the need arise.
When passing or being passed, a smile and a wave never goes astray.
Also, speed kills. Remember, the point is to get there alive, not how quickly you arrive.