Tips For Safer Long Distance Driving

A white van driving on a road next to a sea side

Heading into the Christmas holiday season means that roads are only going to become busier. Unfortunately, this increase in traffic results in more accidents, injuries, and in some cases fatalities. So whether you are planning a long trip to visit family or are heading on a road trip any other time of year, read through our tips to help you arrive at your destination safe and sound.

Prepare your vehicle

Prior to starting your long distance drive ensure your car has been recently serviced. You can usually do this by checking the mechanic’s service sticker on your windscreen or on the inside of the door. If your due date is coming up, book your car in for a service before you leave.

Even if your car is within the service period, it doesn’t hurt to perform your own safety check as well. This includes checking the engine oil, transmission fluid, windscreen washer liquid, radiator coolant, and brake and clutch fluid. If you are not familiar with the appropriate fluid levels for your car then check your car manual for advice.

Regular checks of your tyre pressure are important and that is especially true if you are going on a long journey. You can use a pressure gauge of your own or head to your local petrol station to check tyre pressure. Make sure you also check the pressure in your spare tyre and inflate if necessary. Again, if you are unsure what the ideal PSI is for your vehicle, check the user’s manual. While you are at it, check the tread of the tyres to ensure they are in good condition.

Finally, you will need to check that all indicators, headlights, and warning lights are properly functioning. If you are towing a trailer or recreational vehicle (such as a boat/jetski trailer, caravan etc.), perform a light check once the trailer is connected.

Expect the unexpected

Thorough preparation for your trip also means being prepared for the unexpected. There is even some planning you can do in case of an emergency or breakdown. It is recommended by car safety bodies that you carry an emergency kit in your car at all times. These can be purchased from auto part stores or you can make your own by following our guide.

Check that you are carrying a car jack in case you have a flat tyre. You should only attempt to change a flat tyre if you know how and you are in a safe location. If you are unsure about either of these, call your roadside assistance provider and wait for help. Prior to travelling, check your insurance is up to date and that you are covered for emergency temporary repairs, emergency accommodation, transport and towing costs for cases when your car cannot be driven.

Plan your route

When preparing for your journey look up your destination on a map and plan out the distance and route you are wanting to take to get there. Ensure your planned route accounts for 15-20 minute breaks every 2 hours as well as potential traffic delays (especially around peak holiday season).

Ideally, you will need to pick a departure time which will ensure you arrive at your destination at a safe and reasonable hour. Travelling when you are tired is extremely dangerous at any time of day but especially at night. According to the Queensland Department of Transport, most sleep-related vehicle accidents occur between 2am and 6am.

Share the drive

Driver fatigue is a major contributing factor to the current road toll. Often the exact number of accidents involving fatigue are under-reported (according to Queensland Transport). Therefore, it is extremely important that the primary driver is well rested prior to departure.

Fatigue-related accidents occur most when the driver is alone, so when possible it is best to share the drive with others, and if you can, rotate frequently. If you are sharing the drive, ensure your insurance policy covers all drivers of the vehicle in case any issues arise when on the road.

Eating, drinking, or navigating while driving creates unnecessary danger, so if these tasks need to be completed then pull over and have a rest stop or swap driving duties with a passenger.

As a driver or passenger in the vehicle, it is important you are aware of the warning signs indicating when the driver needs to take a break.

  • Drifting within the lane or over lane lines
  • Inability to maintain the speed limit without reason
  • Yawning
  • Blinking more than usual
  • Notice your eyes closing for a moment/going out of focus
  • Feeling drowsy, tired or exhausted
  • Having trouble keeping your head up
  • Not remembering the previous few minutes of driving
  • Experience slower reaction times
  • ‘Microsleeping’

Stay entertained

Driving long distances doesn’t need to be boring. Whether you are travelling with friends or children, staying entertained can help the driver stay more alert and keep everyone entertained.

Music is a great driving companion but can sometimes lead to disputes. Overcome this by creating a playlist which incorporates everyone’s favourite music and turn it into a game where players are required to name the song title and artist.

There are also plenty of entertaining podcasts which are easy to listen to, aren’t distracting for the driver, and are often highly engaging. From comedy, true crime, modern and historical documentaries, fictional, quizzes, talk shows, and so much more. If you can’t decide on a podcast, audiobooks are also interesting and engaging.

Safe driving for you and your family is made easier by having the right car for your needs. While your hatchback may be perfect for travelling to and from work, if you are heading out on an Aussie adventure, something bigger and tougher might be more practical and more comfortable. If you are in the market for a new car for your adventure or if you have just returned from a road trip and realise it’s time for an upgrade, contact Car Search Brokers today. Our friendly team can help you find the best fit for your budget and lifestyle.

Posted on October 19, 2018 in Driving Tips, Owning A Car