As the weather warms up, many people plan summer holiday road trips out of their hometowns. Whether it’s just down the coast to visit friends or family or out on an extended road trip, summer is a great time to get out and explore Australia. If you are planning on beginning your journey this summer, be sure to keep these top 10 summer driving tips in mind for your safety and the safety of others.
1. Watch Your Speed
Keeping an eye on your speed is one of the most important factors for road trips. Driving within the legal limits for both city and highway speeds ensures that you don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk. Studies show that driving even 5km/h over the limit can double your risk of crashing. If you find yourself stuck behind a slow driver, rather than tailgating them and potentially causing them to brake suddenly, pass when it’s safe and then go back to the speed limit. For most highways in Australia, this is 110km/h, and for city streets, it’s usually 60km/h
2. Watch the Weather
The weather is constantly changing, and forecasts are most often correct. If you’re planning a road trip with multiple destinations along the way, check the weather at each one to ensure your day goes as planned. You don’t want to make a four-hour journey take six hours due to rain or get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no way of getting home if severe weather comes through.
3. Check Your Routine Maintenance
During winter, it’s common for drivers to neglect regular car repair and maintenance – but spring is the time to check things like car brakes, diesel engine problems and windshield wipers. Running the defroster and heater at full blast while driving in winter or inclement weather can severely reduce visibility, so be sure to keep your windshield clean during a storm.
4. Pack a First Aid Kit
Carrying a small first aid kit in your vehicle is always a good idea, just in case you have an accident or come across someone who needs help. Items you should include are scissors, tweezers, band-aids and gauze pads, as well as rubber gloves. If you’re ever in doubt about what to do after an accident, don’t hesitate to call emergency services – but for everyday issues like minor cuts, the first aid kit can be a lifesaver.
5. Stay Alert and Avoid Distractions
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents, so it’s important to be alert at all times during a road trip. Avoid eating while driving, having loud conversations on your phone or even putting on makeup – instead, use these times as rest stops where you can take a break from the road and your responsibilities.
6. Watch the Sun
Many car accidents happen during the summer when it’s bright outside, simply because drivers can’t see very well. Park in a shaded area if possible – or at least in the direction of the sun so that you won’t have to deal with any harsh glare while driving. This is especially important if you have children or other passengers – giving them something to do during the drive will take their minds off how bright it is outside. If you can’t take a break, consider investing in polarised sunglasses to help take the stress off your eyes.
In addition to the natural elements, heat from the sun may cause significant stress for driving if your air-con isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Look into ways to keep your car cool in the summer so that you and your passengers are comfortable during the trip.
7. Use Your Seatbelt
Seatbelts are not just a legal requirement, they’re an essential safety measure that can save your life. Simply put, seat belts help keep all passengers in and debris out. Whether you’re the driver or a passenger, wearing your seatbelt at all times is critical for avoiding injury in an accident.
8. Have a Toilet Break
Just like humans need to take bathroom breaks every once in a while, so do dogs and other pets! If you have furry friends in the car, take the time to stop for them at least once an hour. If you have a child in the back seat, do this for them as well. A 10-minute break here and there can be beneficial for everyone onboard – plus, it gives you a chance to stretch your legs and start feeling refreshed again.
9. Keep an Eye out For Wildlife
Australia is known for its dangerous animals, and many people have suffered severe injuries from encounters with them. Kangaroos, emus & wombats are especially common around the country – so be on the lookout while driving at dusk or dawn. If you do end up hitting an animal of any kind, don’t risk getting out of your car. Call for help and wait for it to arrive, no matter how long it takes.
10. Have Fun!
The most important tip of all is to enjoy your time on the road – if you’re looking forward to whatever destination you’re headed to, you’ll get there faster and more safely than ever before!
If you’re going on a long road trip, make an appointment with Southern Cross Automotive Repairs right now to ensure that any unpredicted delays or car breakdowns don’t mar your summer vacation!