Take the safe option
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.