25 Safe Holiday Driving Tips
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 1
Mobile phones and holiday road safety don’t mix. Talking, texting, tweeting and driving is as dangerous as drink driving. If your eyes are off the road while you're driving these holidays, or your mind’s just not on the job, you’re a rolling holiday road safety liability. You’re on holidays, right? Catch up on those vital calls, tweets and texts next time you stop for coffee.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 2
Holiday road safety hell is ‘are we there yet’, chanted from the back seat. Keep the kids occupied and you’ll arrive with your sanity intact. This is the one place where non-stop electronic games and responsible parenting coexist. If motion sickness is a worry, medicate susceptible kids before you drive off.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 3
The temperature inside locked car in summer can skyrocket to unsurvivable levels in just a few minutes. So never leave kids or pets trapped inside – no matter how briefly you think you’ll be away. Always unload the kids and the pets whenever you get out. The alternative is unthinkable – you would absolutely never forgive yourself.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 4
Driveways are the second most common place for accidental death in children. So a vital holiday road safety tip is: don’t move the car unless you know where the kids are. You can always throw them in the car … it’s impossible to run them down in there. Walk around the vehicle before driving, and back up slowly, with the windows down and the music off.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 5
Driver fatigue attacks by stealth, so don’t start driving if you’re already tired – and don’t drive at times when you’d normally be asleep. If you’re on the road and losing the battle against fatigue, stop somewhere safe, rack the seat back and grab some shuteye. A half-hour powernap will make all the difference to staying safe on the road these holidays.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 6
If road safety is important to you, pump up your tyresd before the big holiday trip, because under-inflated tyres are a deadest road safety liability. And it’s an easy one to fix. The correct pressure is listed inside the driver’s door frame, and the compressed air at the servo is still free. Check all five tyres – because having a flat spare can be somewhat inconvenient...
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 7
Road safety depends on how far ahead you're looking. Plenty of drivers don’t look further ahead than the car in front, so they can’t react in time when something goes wrong. To maximise road safety yYou need to look as far down the road as possible because it gives you more time to sort out the chaotic behaviour of drivers around you. It’s a simple road safety trick that might just save your life.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 8
Not staring at the problem is a great way to boost road safety. 'Target fixation' is why drivers often have avoidable crashes. When you stare at something, you generally hit it – even if you really, really don’t want to. In that critical instant when something bad happens on the road, get your eyes off the target and look for the gap. It’s the only way to avoid the crash.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 9
Road safety and how you hold the wheel are directly linked. Have a look at the steering wheel. Pretend it’s a clock face – now put your left hand where the nine is, and your right hand on the three. And leave them there. What a coincidence – it’s right where the thumb-rests are. You can’t swerve, avoid and recover control if you hold that wheel any other way.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 10
Your car might contain six or more explosive devices. But relax: it’s probably not Al Qaeda – they’re airbags, designed to protect you in a crash. Don’t get in their way. Never put your arm across the steering wheel, and if you’re a passenger, keep your feet off the dash – that’s where your airbag is.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 11
Important holiday road safety factoid: Half of all road trauma happens at intersections. All it takes is someone not seeing a red light. So, if you’re approaching a green light, look both ways. Make sure everyone else is giving way before you put yourself in the firing line. Make it a habit, and you’ll cut the risk of becoming a crash victim in half. This is one of the most powerful road safety tools there is.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 12
Joining the freeway’s not that hard, but plenty of people get it wrong. Speed up to match the prevailing traffic flow while you’re driving down the on-ramp. Once you’re up to speed, position yourself alongside a gap between two vehicles, indicate right and merge. Joining the freeway way too slow is extremely hazardous.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 13
Boost holiday road safety to the rear by adjusting your mirrors correctly. Here's how: Most people drive with a nice, clear view of the side of their car in the wing mirrors. That’s insane, because you probably can’t crash into the side of your own car – even if you try. Wind the mirrors a lot further out: It eliminates blind spots – and makes changing lanes much safer.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 14
Plenty of crashes happen because Driver A just doesn’t see Driver B. That’s a minor mistake with major consequences. One of the easiest ways to cut crash risk and boost road safety is to make yourself more visible to others. And the best way to do that is simply to flick your headlights on – low beam – for all daytime driving. Be seen = be safe.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 15
Most breakdowns are preventable. Get your car serviced twice a year by a reputable mechanic. Then, before you depart on holiday, check the vital fluids, all the lights, replace worn wiper blades and pump up your tyres. It’s either that, or spend hours waiting for roadside assistance, a long way from the nearest espresso machine.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 16
Luggage can become projectiles in a crash, but this road safety problem can be sidelined by smarter packing. Packing your car is a bit of an art form – especially station wagons and hatches. Basically, you want to make sure heavy items don’t fly forward and hit you in a sudden stop or a crash. Pack all the heavy stuff down low, against the back of the seat, with lighter gear on top. Much safer.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 17
Drop back from the car in front and you'll boost your road safety. Don’t crowd the car in front – especially on the freeway. You need to be able to stop safely if they hit the brakes. Drop further back, and you get more time to react. A three-second gap is ideal. If someone tailgates you, slow down gradually and let them go past … so they can be somebody else’s road safety problem.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 18
Despite its name, the breakdown lane is one of the most dangerous places you can ever stop. Boost your road safety by giving it a miss. The breakdown lane is a dangerous place to stop. If you must stop on the freeway, get into an emergency stopping bay. Better still, pull into a proper rest area. If you actually break down, get way over to the left, hit the hazard lights, and get everyone out of the car and safely away until help arrives.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 19
Animals can be a major road safety problem. Even if you don't hit one, you might swerve, lose control and crash. Roadkill is a major problem. If you hit a kangaroo it’ll do thousands of dollars damage to your car, and put a major dent in your holiday. It’s not much good for the kangaroo, either. Most animal impacts can be avoided by simply not driving between dusk and dawn, when animals are more active – and hard to spot.
Watch a real-world kangaroo near miss on video, and learn more about it on our sister site.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 20
The roads are safer when people keep out of the fast lane. When you’re driving up the highway, get yourself in the left lane – unless you’re overtaking. In some states that’s the law, but even when it’s not it’s still a great idea. If you’re out of the way, you won’t be holding up the world, so you’re much less likely to make anyone else angry, and fall victim to road rage.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 21
Holiday road safety is about keeping the kids occupied. A car full of kids, phones and electronic entertainment, plus the need to navigate in an unfamiliar area – it’s a recipe for driver distraction. Get all that stuff sorted every time you stop. When you’re driving, concentrate on road safety and the prevailing traffic conditions. Maximum concentration means maximum holiday road safety you and your family – it’s that simple.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 22
Patience is a holiday road safety virtue, especially on the highway. People do dumb things on holidays, and the highway system absolutely groans under the pressure of all that holiday traffic. It’s pretty easy to get angry, but what you really need to do is stay calm, and just go with the flow. Because your primary responsibility is to get there safely, in one piece.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 23
Road safety and fog lights: Are you driving around with your fog lights on? It’s illegal. (Unless it’s actually foggy, of course.) The cops can, and do, book drivers for fog light abuse. So you better check your fog lights are off, and drive instead with your headlights (low beam setting) on during the day to make yourself more visible to other road users.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 24
Pedestrians and road safety: Pedestrians don’t always do everything they could to stay safe on our roads. Some are drunk, or plugged into an iPod. Others are five years old and they just don’t understand the danger. It’s a real issue these holidays. Drive slower in high-pedestrian environments, because small reductions in speed slash metres from emergency braking. It’s that simple.
SAFE HOLIDAY DRIVING TIP 25
Any alcohol has road safety implications. Most people don’t know that 0.05 – the legal blood-alcohol limit – was selected because that’s the level that doubles your crash risk. Alcohol impairs your ability to cope with emergencies. So the safest thing to do is just don’t drink if you’re going to drive a car. Do one or the other. It’s really not that hard.