Take the safe op­tion

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - FEATURE -

may only be a short trip from the camp­ing ground to the fish and chip shop on the cor­ner but se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents reg­u­larly hap­pen in sub­ur­ban set­tings. Po­lice re­port far more in­ci­dents of driv­ers — and chil­dren — not buck­ling up dur­ing hol­i­days.

cars are in­cred­i­bly re­li­able but it still pays to check the ba­sics. Oil and wa­ter are a good idea but tyres are the sin­gle most im­por­tant item. Make sure they have enough tread and re­place them if you have to. Bald tyres and wet roads are a deadly com­bi­na­tion — check the spare while you’re at it. Check your wipers are clear­ing the wind­screen, not just smear­ing wa­ter on it.

some­thing does hap­pen to the car and you need to pull over, make sure you’re well off the road. Same for un­sched­uled pit stops for the kids. Travel as far as you can as slowly as you need to avoid pulling over on a nar­row free­way shoul­der, es­pe­cially if you’re go­ing to change a tyre on the road side. breaks may be the en­emy of the im­pa­tient driver but it pays to drink plenty of wa­ter en route. Try not to overdo the caf­feine and sugar — they may work for a while but after the high comes the crash. Also try to eat well. Drive-throughs are time­ef­fi­cient and pop­u­lar with the kids but di­gest­ing greasy ham­burg­ers can make you sleepy.

you don’t feel com­fort­able driv­ing at the speed limit, there’s no law against go­ing slow. There is, how­ever, a law (and a fine) for stay­ing in the right-hand lane if you’re not over­tak­ing. Those big signs at the side of the road that say “keep left un­less over­tak­ing” ap­ply even if you’re do­ing the speed limit.

not as silly as it seems. More and more Aus­tralians are choos­ing a much faster and safer form of travel these days. Fly­ing may seem an ex­pen­sive op­tion, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing hol­i­day peak pe­ri­ods, but once you’ve fac­tored in the real cost of driv­ing it re­ally isn’t that bad. Add up the fuel bills and meals along the way and driv­ing isn’t as cheap as it seems. It also takes time — put a dol­lar value on it. At the av­er­age hourly wage of roughly $40, the dol­lars be­gin to add up.

what is the point? You’re on hol­i­days. Chances are all you’re do­ing is rush­ing to the next traf­fic snarl. Use the time in the car to be­gin the un­wind. Play some music, call the rel­a­tives (hands-free), talk to your kids. It’s the same story on the way back — why rush home to the rat race. If you al­low your­self to get wound up, you’re more likely to take risks, in­clud­ing over­tak­ing when it’s not safe and driv­ing too close to the car in front.

not only im­pedes your vi­sion, it can change the han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics of your car. Pack it to the roof, and your ve­hi­cle will have a higher cen­tre of grav­ity, will re­act more to sud­den changes of di­rec­tion and will take longer to stop. If the back end is sag­ging, that will lift the front wheels and steer­ing could be af­fected. Add a trailer to the equa­tion and you have a com­pletely dif­fer­ent beast to the one you drive to work each day. Are you re­ally that in­se­cure that you have to tell ev­ery­one at the camp­site you took 10 hours to com­plete a trip that took them 11? Would you be boast­ing if you’d knocked off a cou­ple of beers on the way? Fa­tigue can have the same ef­fect on driv­ing as al­co­hol — and we’re pretty sure drink driv­ing isn’t a badge of hon­our. Take reg­u­lar breaks and stretch the legs.

you’ll beat the traf­fic but too lit­tle sleep be­fore a long drive is a recipe for dis­as­ter. You need all your fac­ul­ties for hol­i­day driv­ing, so why send your body clock out of whack be­fore you even start? Hal­fawake driv­ers have longer re­ac­tion times.

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