Make your school holidays road trip a safe one

Snacks and the perfect Spotify playlist are all you need to think about when you’re hitting the road on the school holidays, right? Not exactly.

With Easter marking the beginning of the school holidays in most states, the roads are likely to be crammed. Tempers can fray and vehicles towing caravans, horse trailers and boats can make it slow-going. Throw some bad weather into the mix and you have all the right ingredients for everything from driver distraction to disaster. If you want your road trip to run smoothly and safely, start by doing some solid prep. Here are four ways to make sure you – and your car – are ready to go the distance.

Plot your course

Tempted to drive with barely a break to your destination? Think again. Scheduling a stop every couple of hours not only ensures you arrive fresher you get to have some fun along the way. So, plan that leisurely lunch or a stroll around an interesting town or coastal village, and enjoy the journey. Planning your trip well might also mean thinking ahead about fuel stops if you’re heading to the outback. Be aware of road conditions if the weather is turning sour and daylight hours if you’re heading to regional areas where wildlife might be on the move at dusk and dawn.

Check your vehicle

Beginning a holiday with a breakdown is no laughing matter. Before taking off on a road trip have your brakes, tyres, engine, and electrics checked. Getting a mechanic to give your vehicle the once-over can save you from an unscheduled stop on the side of the highway. If you plan to tow a caravan, boat, or trailer double-check your vehicle’s carrying and towing capacity. Whenever you change drivers make sure the seat is comfortable for a long trip; your back supported; and the rear vision mirror adjusted.

Pack once and well

When you’re in a last-minute panic trying to get out of the house, you can end up shoving everything into the car and hoping for the best. Here’s why that might work against you: at best the rattle of a poorly packed car can be a distraction; at worst a bike or kayak that’s not properly secured can cause an accident. Throwing luggage, sporting equipment, and food supplies into the boot can also make it difficult to find anything. To avoid the frustrations and complications of an overloaded car take the time to pack once and well.

Stay alert

Yawning? Rubbing your eyes? Drifting in and out of your lane or your speed going up and down for no reason? Making mistakes? Seeing things jump out from the side of the road? These are some of the warning signs of fatigue and pressing on towards your destination is one reason why crashes happen. If possible switch drivers when you’re getting fatigued; or pull over for a cat nap. Make sure you’re well-rested when you set out. And keep everyone in the car hydrated and prevent attacks of the ‘hangries’ by having healthy snacks at the ready.

Be safe and enjoy your break.

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