17 December 2021
Your ultimate holiday driver safety checklist
We’ve put together some helpful tips to help you prepare before you go away and drive safely in holiday traffic.
Be prepared and stay safe in holiday traffic
According to Destination NSW, around 78% of Australians are either planning, booking or considering taking a trip in the next 12 months. With 50% of us doing so over the summer break, things are going to get busy.
After a lot of staying home this year, many of us will enjoy some long-awaited freedom these holidays. Whether it’s packing the car to spend Christmas with loved ones or hitching up the caravan to get out of town for a week or two, it’s fair to assume Australia’s roads are going to be well used this festive season. But increased traffic also means an increased risk of accidents. So, we’ve put together some helpful tips to help you prepare before you go and drive safely in holiday traffic.
Do your vehicle safety checks
Before any road trip, it’s wise to get your car serviced to ensure everything’s working as it should. Check your tyre pressure and tread, top up your engine oil and coolant and check your brakes and lights. Clean your windows inside and out and your mirrors so you can see what’s going on around you.
Make sure your car has a breakdown kit including a spare tyre, jack, tyre gauge and jumper cables. That way, if something does go wrong, you have the tools to fix it. And of course, keeping a first aid kit in the boot and plenty of water is always a good idea.
Also check your insurance is up to date before you head off. Hopefully you won’t need to call on it, but you don’t want to find yourself without cover if something should go wrong and you need help. NRMA Comprehensive Car Insurance protects your car for accident damage, theft, severe weather and can help you get back on the road. It’s protection for both your car and your peace of mind.
Know the conditions
In the days before you’re due to head off, check the weather forecast. If storm activity or heavy rain is forecast, consider postponing your drive for a day or two. If you can’t, then drive to suit the conditions. Slow down in wet or foggy conditions and keep a safe distance between you and other vehicles.
At the other end of the scale is bushfire season. Christmas falls in the middle of our hottest and driest months which increases the threat of bushfires. Bush and grass fires can quickly leap over roads and even main highways. They generate enormous amounts of smoke and can reduce visibility to almost zero, resulting in road closures. So, if you’re heading into bushfire-prone regions, get the advice of your local fire authority before you set off.
And while it is bushfire season, we are experiencing wetter than usual conditions this year so make sure you are well informed about possible detours or road closures.
Start your trip refreshed
A good night’s rest is important before you take on a long drive. Try for a full eight hours if you can, so you’re not getting behind the wheel fatigued. Stay hydrated by taking a refillable water bottle with you and pack some nutritious snacks to keep your energy up along the way. If coffee is your thing it can be a pick-me-up but remember, the only real solution for fatigue is sleep.
Watch out, kids about!
So, the car’s packed and you’re all set! Before you even back out of your driveway, be sure to have a good look around for children. The summer holidays are an exciting time for kids and they’re more likely to be outdoors and running around your neighbourhood.
Some might be trying out their new bike or skateboard from Santa or playing handball in their driveway. But remember, kids can be unpredictable and forget about road safety if they get distracted. If they lose control of their new wheels or their ball rolls into the street, little ones can suddenly end up on the road with devastating consequences. Small children can be hard to see from inside a car, so keep watch, slow right down in residential areas, and drive safely to protect our young ones.
Take the safest roads
Most of the time, new highways and well-designed roads make the smoothest and safest drives. Use voice command sat-nav if you’re following directions – either through your car’s GPS system or through the Maps app, so you aren’t tempted to reach for your phone. The Maps app can also alert you to any delays or traffic obstructions ahead on your chosen route.
If you do need to use the map on your phone, always make sure it’s secure in a phone mount towards the centre of the windscreen to avoid dangerous distraction.
Watch your speed
Most states and territories increase police patrols and enforce double demerit penalties over busy periods like Christmas, Easter and long weekends to deter drivers with a lead foot.
Sadly, speeding is still the biggest single contributor to death and injury on Australian roads. By exceeding the speed limit, even by 10km/h, you won’t get to your destination much sooner, but you will dramatically increase the risk of an accident.
Take a break
Driver fatigue is another major cause of accidents, so take regular breaks every two hours and, and if you can, swap drivers.
Plan your trip to incorporate regular food and drink stops to refresh and reset your concentration. In between meal breaks, use the numerous rest areas around Australia to stretch your legs and give yourself a well-earned break.
Restrain your pets
Our pets are important family members so ensure they’re safe on the road, too. Never travel with your pet in the front seat. Either harness or crate your pets for their safety and yours, as they can become a dangerous projectile if unrestrained and you need to brake or swerve suddenly.
Of course, it goes without saying that passengers, including yourself, should also be properly restrained with a lap sash and shoulder seatbelt any time you’re in motion.
Everyone wants to arrive safely at their destination. So, it pays to take it easy, drive carefully and be courteous to other motorists so everyone can enjoy the holidays. You’ll also rest easier knowing your car is fully insured. NRMA Insurance offers a range of options to suit your needs, so go online 24/7 to get a quote, or call 132 132 to speak to our customer support team – we’re here to help.