With Easter just around the corner, many of us make the most of the extra-long weekend and head away for a quick break.
Of course you’ve booked the accommodation and packed your clothes, but have you forgotten the most important thing of all?
Staying safe on the roads.
Road trips can be fun, but not if you end up stranded in the middle of nowhere. That’s why it pays to be prepared before you hit the road. To ensure your safety you should:
- Get your car serviced beforehand
- Ensure you have a spare tyre and that it is not flat
- Pack a first-aid kit and torch for emergencies
- Ensure you are well rested before driving
- Tell someone where you are going, and when you are due to arrive back home.
When you’re on the road
If you’ve ever travelled over the Easter period, you know the roads are extra busy. While everyone is keen to get to their destination, it’s no time to forget basic road safety. Follow these tips to reduce your risk of an accident.
- Leave enough room
Maintain a two-second gap between you and the vehicle ahead, regardless of the speed you are driving. If it is raining or foggy, double this gap to four seconds.You should be able to clearly see the bottom of the rear tyres of the vehicle in front of you when you stop in traffic.
- Keep left
Stay on the left hand side of the road unless you are overtaking. Generally, the right hand lane is for overtaking or turning right.
- Indicate early
Indicate 30 metres before turning or changing lanes, to let other drivers know your intentions.
- Stop when required and obey signs
Stop at all stop lights and signs, ensuring your car remains behind the thick stop line. Obey all road signs, including speed limits. Even going a little over the limit increases your risk of a collision or accident.
- Take care when overtaking
When overtaking, ensure you have plenty of room to overtake. Don’t cut off other drivers when moving back to the left. Instead, go well past the overtaken vehicle before moving to the left. Never overtake on blind corners, or on double lines.
- Drive smoothly
Avoid sudden braking, accelerating and lane changes. These things increase the risk of having accidents and make the trip quite unpleasant for your passengers.
- Be alert
Everyone makes mistakes sometimes (e.g. forgetting to indicate, or failing to give way). Expect the unexpected and constantly monitor traffic flow, as well as what other drivers around you are doing.
- Respect others
Be patient and courteous on the road. You are not the only one using it. Be aware of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and heavy vehicles while driving.
- Stay off your phone
Avoid using your phone unless you can do so without touching any part of it. Doing so while driving is illegal. Instead, ensure your phone is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle.
- Do not drive under the influence
Never drive a car while intoxicated or under the influence of hard drugs. Remember, some medications can make you drowsy so avoid taking them, or get someone else to drive if you need to take them.
Travelling with kids
Family road trips can be an opportunity for some quality time together — or they can turn in to the trip from hell. Here are some ideas to help the trip go smoothly.
- Take regular breaks and allow plenty of time for toilet stops.
- Remember, small children often need to go to the toilet ‘immediately’, so ensure you keep asking if they need to go, particularly when you are in the vicinity of public toilets.
- Restrain children and pets appropriately.
- Pack healthy snacks and plenty of water for the trip.
- Prepare a few games you can play together as a family.
- Drawing, writing or reading in the car can cause car sickness, so avoid those activities if your children are prone.
- If your children do suffer from car sickness, administer travel medicine BEFORE you leave. Speak to your pharmacist for the most appropriate medication.
- Have a bucket handy — just in case!
- Set up some DVD players so children can watch DVDS, particularly on a long trip.
- If your children are becoming restless or bored, pull over and let the kids stretch their legs. Throwing a Frisbee and getting them to burn off some energy is a great idea.
- Stay calm and avoid yelling at kids while driving. If things have gone pear-shaped, pull over and calmly talk to them or just take a break for 10 minutes.
Take extra care on the road this Easter. Your primary concern should be to get to your destination safely. Happy travels!