Driving safely during the school holidays
With the school holidays coming up, it is important to ensure you are traveling safe when you're driving towards your holiday destination. Here are some safety pointers and checks you should keep in mind if you plan on going on a family road trip.
It is that time of the year when the kids in Malaysia look ahead for a holiday. Holidays are meant to be fun. When driving during holiday season, think about the safety of your family. The checklists and safety tips provided below will help ensure you arrive at your holiday destination and return home safely.
Making your car safe for driving
No matter where you're going, it's important to make sure your vehicle is in a good condition. Before going on a long trip, it is advisable to have your vehicle checked by a mechanic. It's also advisable to run through the following checklists before you go.
- Tyre condition and tyre inflation - including spare.
- All electrical connections are secure
- Rear view mirrors are adjusted correctly.
- All lights (headlights, brake lights and indicators) are in working order
- Wipers, washers and horn operate properly
- Brake and clutch fluid levels and battery water level
- The cooling system and hoses
- Oil levels, check for any leaks
- Car number plate and registration stickers are not obscured
Safety tips for long-distance driving
Keeping safe while driving long distance for a holiday is easy, by following a few instructions offered below.
Get a map so you can estimate how long it will take to get there and plan your route. Program your GPS with your destination before departures. Make sure you and all passengers put on the seat belt. Make sure you get enough sleep and don't drink alcohol the night before you set off. Avoid driving under medications by consulting with your doctors.
If you're holidaying somewhere new, you may not be familiar with the local streets. Observe local speed limits. Check websites for a live traffic report for any info on diversions or road blocks.
Safe others safe you
During holidays, children spend more time outside, so be extra cautious. When you're driving past parks or along suburban streets, take care and look out for kids playing on the streets, riding bikes, or walking.
Be aware of and obey school zone signs once school returns. Speeding through school zones risks children's lives – police will be out in force, so don't risk losing demerit points and getting a fine.
Driving at night
Driving at night requires more concentration due to your restricted vision. Oncoming headlights can obscure your vision and pedestrians can be near impossible to see. Leave a bigger gap between you and the car in front to allow for your reduced vision and reaction time.
If another driver makes a mistake don't get angry just concentrate on your own driving. Drivers often react by driving too fast, making aggressive lane changes, failing to yield right-of-way, and generally disregarding the needs and safety of others. When another driver is courteous towards you, acknowledge the good deed with a wave.
Alcohol affects your driving skills and can put your family in danger too. Make sure you're aware of the legal alcohol concentration limits. Driving at some places is restricted to a zero alcohol limit.
Stress free driving
Share the driving if possible. Check for any signs of driver fatigue and stop for a break. Take a 15 minute break every two hours to rest your eyes and refresh yourself. Don't drive for more than 10 hours in a day. Stop by snack joints on the way for light refreshments and a gentle stretch.
During peak holiday periods it's important to be patient, as there is likely to be extra traffic on the road. Don’t be tempted to speed up to catch up on any lost time. It's simply not worth the risk. Apart from increasing your chances of having a serious crash, you also run the risk of receiving a hefty fine.
This includes driving while using cell phones for both talking and texting messages to friends, coworkers and family. It also includes driving while checking out store hours and locations using a smartphone to surf the web.
Tips for traveling as a family
While traveling with children, it's a good idea to pack some 'boredom beaters' like movies, books, toys and puzzles for the trip.
Also, make your journey more comfy by keeping the following items handy:
- Plastic cups with their own lids and straws to avoid unnecessary spills
- Sufficient supply of food and drinks – but nothing too messy
- Blanket, in case your children feel like having a nap
- Pack a rubbish bag so you can easily dispose litter without staining the car.
Follow these tips to help ensure you arrive home from your holiday safe and happy. After all, the only regret you want to have after your holiday is that it went too quickly. Wishing you a happy and safe holiday!