Long distance driving tips for summer

Posted by: Cal on 11/02/2014

Category: General

Although Christmas and New Year may be drifting further and further away, it's still clear the hot and sunny weather is going nowhere fast, which means the time for road trips and summer holidays is still ripe.

Planning a road trip can be exciting - from choosing where to stop to eat, creating that perfect summer playlist to purchasing magazines or books for some passenger-seat entertainment, getting to your destination can be almost as exciting as the rest of your holiday!

But if you're heading off on a late summer road trip before the cooler autumn weather creeps in, it pays to put the hype aside for a moment and consider what it takes to be safe when driving long distances.

Here are our best tips for summer road trip safety - whether you're travelling a few hours or a few days.

Check your vehicle

When setting out on a road trip, the most important item on your checklist should be the vehicle that's going to get you from A to B. If your vehicle isn't road-worthy, you may not be travelling very far - or, it could place you in severe danger.

On top of your list should be quality car tyres. Ensuring your tyres are not worn, meet legal tread depth requirements (in Australia, this is 1.5mm) and have the correct air pressure are all vital to road safety.

Getting your car checked by a professional mechanical company is the best way to ensure that your car is suited to make the trip and get you and your passengers to your destination safely.

Take regular breaks

If you're driving more than a few hours to get to your destination, taking regular breaks is necessary to ward off driver fatigue. Long car trips can be surprisingly tiring, and sleepy drivers are not safe on the road.

If you can, swap to the passenger seat with another fully licensed driver every few hours, and have a nap if you feel the need to. The Government of South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure recommends that 20 minutes is great for a "power nap".

If you don't have someone who can share the responsibility with you, pulling over and taking a break will refresh you - and gives you a chance to grab a quick coffee or admire the landscape! The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure recommends drivers take 15 minutes break after every two hours they travel.

Keep hydrated

Becoming dehydrated can be a large contributor to fatigue while driving. Keeping a bottle of fresh water on hand means you'll be less likely to forget to drink, and will ensure you are alert and ready to go.

Avoid distractions

Distracted drivers are another reason many fatal crashes occur on Australia's roads. Ensuring you stay focused on what's in front of you means you'll be ready to react if you need to. Hazards like wandering farm stock, cars pulling out in front of you and uneven terrain are all more easily dealt with if your eyes are on the road.

However, road trips are still meant to be fun, so use your good judgement when deciding what's okay. Singing along to your favourite song isn't a problem, but leaning down to change the radio station is - so get passengers to deal with responsibilities like that.

Plan ahead

Nothing ruins the holiday mood more than running into unexpected travel troubles, so make sure you plan ahead to avoid disappointment. Some stretches of road can go for many kilometres without food or petrol stations, so ensure you have a full tank of fuel before you set off.

Pack some light snacks to keep you going until you reach somewhere where you can eat a substantial meal. Nuts, lollies and seeds are all good options.

Other handy items that you could end up being thankful for include a map, torch and sunglasses.