Make Sure Your Holiday Gets Off To A Flying Start, Even If It’s A Staycation
Get your summer holiday off to a flying start with some helpful tips from Mayo County Council’s road safety team. With travel restrictions easing there are more caravans and campervans on the road, which has highlighted the need for driver awareness. Motorhome dealers, classified advertising websites and manufacturers have all said that coronavirus killing off the traditional foreign holiday has seen interest in campervans and caravans skyrocket.
According to Fáilte Ireland, their recent consumer sentiment research shows intentions to take a short break in Ireland have picked up nicely in recent weeks with 57% of Irish consumers now planning a staycation in the next six months. Holiday journeys are generally much longer than typical day to day trips but with a little pre-planning you can make sure they are just as safe.
A planned journey is a safer journey. Avoid distractions while driving by programming the sat-nav/smart phone before setting off and pull over somewhere safe to make any route changes. It’s also a good idea to keep a road map in the vehicle in case of technical issues.
Another issue is that it seems holiday makers are so keen to take in the gorgeous landscapes that of Country has to offer, unknowingly they are putting the safety of themselves, others and the nature of this incredible country at risk; through a misunderstanding of road safety. The local authority is concerned for the safety of tourists who stop their cars "anywhere" to photograph the dramatic scenery. They often stop in places that are not easy to see, and when everyone in the car gets out to take photographs, dangerous situations for traffic can result.
Noel Gibbons, Road Safety Officer, said “For many families, the family car is only ever required to do the school or work commute with, perhaps, only the very occasional longer run every few months. Car owners who are intending to drive upwards of 300 km in their vehicles for a break in Ireland really need to think about getting their car in shape for such an unusually long run”
Make sure the vehicle is safe and legal to drive by doing a few simple maintenance checks before setting off. Think FLOWERS:
F (Fuel): Ensure there is enough for the journey.
L (Lights): Clean all the lights and ensure they are working properly.
O (Oil): Check the oil level.
W (Water): Check the coolant level and top up the windscreen washer fluid.
E (Electrics): Problems with the battery are one of the most common reasons for a breakdown so ensure it’s in good working order.
R (Rubber): Check tyres to ensure they have the correct pressures, tread depths and for signs of wear and tear. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm but we recommend getting tyres changed at a minimum tread depth of 3mm.
S (Self): Ask yourself: ‘Am I fit to drive?’ Illness, fatigue, alcohol, illegal drugs and legal medications can all affect your ability to drive safely.
Don’t overload the vehicle and make sure everything is packed securely. Heavy loads can affect steering and braking while unsecured objects shifting around while travelling can cause distractions and the vehicle to handle erratically.
And make sure the driver is fit and ready to drive a long distance. Long journeys, especially on motorways, can lead to driver fatigue, which affects concentration and reaction times. A rest break of at least 20 minutes for every two hours driving is recommended and remember to stay hydrated.
Follow these helpful hints and tips to help ensure that you ‘tow the line’ when it comes to towing:
- We recommend that before you start your trip you make sure you have checked both your car and caravan or trailer. Especially check your tyres as they should be inflated to the correct pressure, have a good amount of tread (no lower than 1.6mm) and be free from damage.
- The caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller unbraked trailers) should be in good condition and connected correctly. If you have a caravan or a large box-shaped trailer you will almost always need to fit extension mirrors - these will help make sure you have a good view behind you and comply with the law.
- Remember when loading your caravan or trailer to make sure it is not overloaded as this can put you at additional risk of instability, and mean you’re breaking the law. Ensure your heavy items are positioned correctly over the axle, low to the floor with lighter items higher up.
- Maximum speed limits for a car towing a caravan/trailer are as follows: 80km/h (providing no lower speed limit is in force)
- Be sure to allow more space between yourself and the car in front. With a trailer in tow, stopping distances increase by an average of 20%; so, keep your distance, and give yourself plenty of time to react
- Check your driving licence to find out the size of caravan/trailer you are permitted to tow
- Be extra vigilant on downhill stretches as your speed can easily creep up and get too high - this is a common contributory factor to your caravan/trailer losing stability. Remember, you will need more room to stop when towing and you should always have a big enough gap to be able to slow down and stop in an emergency.
- Towing in high winds needs additional care and perhaps a change of route should be considered. However it’s not just windy days you need to be mindful of. Overtaking large vehicles can place you in their “bow wave” and this can cause instability of caravans which are badly loaded and/or being towed too fast.
- Be mindful of other drivers, particularly if you’re travelling at peak times, such as bank holidays. On a single lane road, traffic can build up quickly behind you; so, keep an eye out for safe stopping places, such as laybys, and pull over when appropriate to allow other vehicles to pass.
The Cathoirleach of Mayo County Council Cllr Richard Finn “I know that local businesses of all sizes across the sector have been working extremely hard preparing to welcome visitors back and to give them a safe and enjoyable experience.Many jobs and local economies depend on tourism right across the country and the industry needs all of us to make sure it gets back on its feet, The County is looking forward to welcoming you back and we want all to be able to travel safely on our road network in Co. Mayo. Coronavirus has changed the way we live our lives in so many ways and there’s no doubt this will extend to our holidays.
‘Many are unlikely to want to quarantine themselves for 14 days after a holiday abroad, so we’ll be seeing our beaches and other hotspots abuzz with Irish holidaymakers this summer. Caravan holidays in particular will shoot through the roof, so we are appealing to all to be road safety conscious.’