Driving Tips for the Long Haul
18 December 2013 - Wheels News
The year-end holiday season always brings an alarming death rate on South African roads but it is the drivers who should take responsibility for the collision rate.
Motor Industry Workshop Association chairman Les McMaster said the major contributory factors to crashes were speeding, unsafe overtaking, fatigue, overloading and tyre bursts.
McMaster said: "The first issue that needs to be addressed is vehicles that have not been serviced and are not roadworthy attempting to make long road trips. These vehicles are a hazard not only to the passengers but to other road users.
“A tyre blow-out, for example, can result in pieces of rubber flying on to the road, hitting other vehicles and causing crashes as drivers swerve to avoid the debris.”
Vehicle owners should get their vehicles checked and serviced before their holiday trip. "Important checks include tyres, oil, brakes, windscreen wipers and water spray, and the engine cooling fan and belt.
"Drivers need to be aware of the dangers of driving long distances. Many crashes would not have happened if drivers had been alert, patient and considerate of other road users.
“Rather give yourself extra time to get to your destination so you don't feel the need to rush. Keep calm; don't take chances, do take breaks."
Before you leave
Plan your route
It’s important to plan your route, including refuelling points, rest points and any overnight stops if necessary. Also ensure you get enough sleep the night before your trip to ensure you are not tired when driving.
Check your car
Before departing it is essential to check that your car is also properly prepared for a long road trip - double check the headlights, indicators, shock-absorbers, brake lights, tail lights, windscreen wipers, mirrors, brakes, steering, tyres, oil and water levels. Remember to ensure that your spare wheel is in good condition.
Charge the cellphone
Remember to properly charge your cellphone,so you can contact emergency services should you need to, or have a mobile charger in your car.
On the road
Seat belts a must
Using seat belts is important for any road journey - front and back. Children under 12 should be secured in a back seat.
Rain and slippery roads
During rainy weather, drivers can expect that slippery roads, traffic slowdowns and decreased visibility will make driving hazardous, even at moderate speeds. Drivers need to allow extra following distances, not slam on brakes but instead apply a steady, light and firm pressure; to drive in the centre lane and avoid the outside lane as water often collects in these areas and to use their headlights.
Drivers and passengers should be aware of any signs of fatigue. If the driver is drifting from lane to lane and jerking the vehicle back again, is daydreaming, constantly yawning, having difficulty focusing or keeping his/her eyes open - it is time to stop and take a rest. Don't rely on the radio or fresh air from an open window to keep you awake, rather pull off into a safe area, drink some coffee and try to have a 20 - 45min nap.
Stop in a safe spot
If you do need to rest, avoid suspicious areas and keep all your doors locked. Where possible, rather pull over at a designated rest stop.