With the northern hemisphere summer holiday season rapidly approaching, and driving being a major part of many trips, now is a good time to focus people’s attention on safe and happy holiday travel.
By applying the following simple guidelines before traveling and en-route, holiday driving should be safe, stress-free and enjoyable.
Before traveling, make sure your vehicle is roadworthy: even the slightest doubt about how its running needs checking. Make sure that vehicle maintenance is up to date, and if in doubt have it serviced.
Then, check the following at least daily (especially if the vehicle is hired or loaned):
- Tyre tread and pressures.
- Oil, water and fluid levels.
- Head-, brake- and indicator-lights.
- Safety equipment including torch, first-aid kit, sunglasses and maps.
- Extra requirements for foreign driving, including correct documents, bulb kits and warning triangle.
Plan the route beforehand, and travel during off-peak periods if possible leaving ‘more than enough’ time to negotiate the holiday congestion. Check the weather forecast and travel news before and during journeys.
Vehicle overloading is dangerous. If luggage doesn't fit, use an appropriate roof rack or trailer. Before towing a trailer or caravan, you have the appropriate licence, make sure the vehicle is properly equipped and that you know how to operate it. Check the owner's manual and ensure that your mirrors give a clear view of what’s behind. Keep your distance when driving a heavily loaded vehicle or towing.
On the road, make sure everyone is buckled up, including children and backseat passengers, and drive defensively by:
- Being prepared for unsafe actions by others or for poor driving conditions.
- Obeying the road signs and signals.
- Never ever use alcohol and driving. Don't relax your guard because you’re having a good time.
Keep calm. Frustration won't get you there quicker. Keep the radio on ‘traffic news interrupt’ mode for up to date traffic information. Make allowances for different regional or international driving standards, styles and rules. Be extra careful in the early morning or at dusk and during the night, when animals are most likely to be on the road.
If driving a van, truck or four-wheel drive:
- Take extreme care reversing. Check carefully for obstacles and children.
- Increase your braking distance.
- Never intimidate smaller vehicles.
Driving a small car:
- Keep out of others’ blind spots.
- Be seen: don't let larger vehicles hide yours from view and use daytime running lights.
On holiday we often travel long distances. Don't give in to the temptation to ‘push on’! When you feel tired, have a good sleep. Rest breaks every 2 hours keep drivers alert by promoting blood circulation, make trips more pleasant for passengers, let the vehicle cool down, and are a must for children.
It’s unsafe to leave children, vulnerable people or pets alone in a vehicle, which can quickly become an ‘oven’.
Have a good summer, but please put safety first on your travels.