With many of us heading off on a road trip to our favourite getaway location this Easter, our roads become busier and often, more dangerous. The increased traffic on our roads; including trailers, campervans and caravans, as well as the longer drives can lead to an increase in accidents and fatalities.Often a number of these accidents and fatalities are preventable.
How can these accident risks be reduced, and what can you do to make sure you arrive safely at your Easter destination?We have listed a number of our top road trip tips for safe travel, at any time of the year. Many of these are within your control and can help you plan any journey with safe arrival in mind.
- Plan your journey, but be flexible with your timetable
- Be alert to changes on the road, including the weather
- Drive to the conditions – dropping speed where necessary
- Be fatigue aware and don’t drive if you’re too tired
- Check your car, trailer, campervan or caravan, before you set off
1. PLAN YOUR JOURNEY, BUT BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR TIMETABLEBefore you start your road trip plan your route and rest stops. Knowing when and where you plan to stop can help calm everyone in the car as well as give the driver a chance to stretch their legs every 2 hours.
If you’re taking an especially long road trip, you can plan more exciting rest stops like local attractions and historic sites.
Fatigue and distraction are major contributors to accident rates, so take the time you need to stop, stretch your legs, have a rest and arrive alive.
2. BE ALERT TO CHANGES ON THE ROADCheck weather and traffic information when planning your journey and again the day that you leave. This will help you avoid time wasters (and heavy traffic) around road works or other major delays.
Unfortunately, sometimes road works are long projects and are unavoidable, however getting an early start could help you beat the heavier traffic at later times of the day.
There are also a number of apps that can help you keep an eye on real-time road changes or incidents. If you are travelling with passengers, consider making one your navigator and having them keep an eye on these apps.
Some GPS systems also access this traffic data, such as google maps on your device, which shows red sections of road where congestion is heavy.
3. DRIVE TO THE CONDITIONS:Conditions can mean a number of things, typically weather but also the state laws, road conditions and passengers in your car. These are all things that affect how you drive, and distractions in the car can dictate how often you may need to stop for breaks.
If you are driving with Learners or P1/P2 drivers, conditions will also refer to the laws that govern these drivers in each state. For example, in NSW the speed limits differ for these different license types, and even interstate drivers must adhere to these.
What about the driver? Are they on prescription medication? Fatigued? Have they been drinking? All these things will affect their ability to drive, and more specifically their reaction time.
We would recommend checking any medication, to ensure you can drive while taking it and limit your drinking to when you arrive at your destination. This means you can drive those long distances with a clear head and quick reaction times.
Lastly, the weather. When possible we always suggest to avoid driving in storms or heavy rainfall. While light rain may simply be an annoyance, heavy rain can impact your vision, bring down branches and scare wildlife onto the roads. Especially when driving through unknown areas, if possible, it is best to pull over and wait out the worst of bad weather.
4. WATCH OUT FOR FATIGUE:Long drives, especially with younger passengers, can be tiring. This fatigue can be deadly. Plan for a solid nights rest before you set out, and if driving for a number of days plan your rest stops to allow for good nights of sleep. While we all want to get to our holiday destinations, limiting our sleep to do so can have deadly consequences.
Getting enough sleep, and stopping for rests and meals throughout the day, can keep you and other drivers refreshed, alert and prepared to drive.
Fatigue is a major concern on our roads. A large percentage of fatal traffic accidents are single vehicle crashes, with fatigue often the major contributing factor.
5. CHECK YOUR VEHICLE AND TOWING EQUIPMENT BEFORE YOU TRAVEL:Before you set out, spend some time checking over your vehicle and anything you will be towing, like campervans or trailers. It’s advised that you check things like: tyre tread and pressure, lights, brakes, engine oil, coolant and power steering fluid.
When towing you should also check all attachments, including chains and plugs. You should also ensure all lights, like braking and turning signals, are working.
Depending on the length of your journey, you could also consider having your vehicle properly serviced before you head off.
When packing your vehicle, make sure that everything is secure and that your heaviest items are packed in down the bottom and can’t go flying. Small items are also important to pack in tightly to ensure nothing goes flying in the event of a sudden stop or crash.