Tips For Headache Free Staycation Road Trip
For many of us, summertime usually means vacation travel. Even though pandemic precautions will undoubtedly affect your travel plans again this year, now is still a good time to review these summer driving safety tips. Prevention and planning may take a little time up front, but will spare you from dealing with the consequences of a breakdown—or worse yet, a crash—later
Now that lockdowns are easing and Ireland is opening up, the prospect of road trips and staycations has got us all excited. But, for many of us, we haven’t driven a long distance for some time.
Coming back to driving can be a strain for cars and drivers. If a vehicle has been parked for a while, it’ll likely need a bit of maintenance, while drivers may feel anxious about long journeys.
Safety is not just about driver behaviour out on the road.
Noel Gibbons, Road Safety Officer, Communications Department, Mayo County Council said "One of the key things you really need to have right for your staycation road trip is your vehicle - the safety of your vehicle,".
"Is it in tip-top condition?
Prepare your car
- Clean all your windows and mirrors, fill your windscreen washer bottle and do oil/water/tyre checks.
- Check your seat is in a good position for driving.
- Plan your route beforehand so you know where you’re going.
- Check where the rest stops and petrol stations are along the way.
- Check tyre pressures, and don’t forget to also check the spare. Under-inflated tyres use more fuel and therefore cost more money. You can quickly measure tyre tread by using a euro coin; measuring from the bottom of the coin to the silver inner edge is approximately 2mm. If you have this depth of tread you are within the guidelines, but you’ll need to get them replaced soon, as 1.6mm is the minimum legal depth to pass a NCT. Cracked tyres also typically won’t pass a NCT. Run your hand(wear gloves) around the circumference of the tyre to check for cuts, bulges and uneven wear. If unsure, consult a tyre professional to help ease your mind - you may even need a wheel alignment and balance if you’ve not had one in the last 12 months.
Tyres are the main thing keeping you on the road, so don’t neglect them
Checking lights, tyres and wheel bearings also extends to trailers, boats and caravans.
Trailers, boats and caravans aren’t normally used as frequently as vehicles, and things can deteriorate while they’re not being used. Always check the wheel bearings of your trailer or caravan to make sure they’re not loose or noisy, and make sure you’re carrying a spare tyre for them. Also ensure that all lights and indicators are operating correctly.
The maximum legal speed limit for a vehicle towing/trailer a caravan or trailer is 80km/h. If the speed limit displayed is lower, for example on certain roads or where there are road works, you must obey the lower speed limit.
Check the engine oil level and top it up if required before heading off on a long road trip. If the distance you’ll cover on your road trip will take you into your next service interval, arrange to have your vehicle serviced before you head off.
Stay safe on the drive
- Have plenty of drinking water ready in case you breakdown.
- Charge your phone and always store your roadside assistance or mechanic details in the car.
- Slow down and reduce your speed for the conditions (i.e. on different road surfaces such as gravel).
- Take breaks along the way. Should you feel tired at all, pull over straight away.
- When overtaking a slower or larger vehicle (or one that blocks your vision), hang further back so you can see further ahead. This should give you more room to smoothly accelerate and move your vehicle to the opposite side of the road to start your overtaking.
- Don’t overtake unless it’s safe to do so.
- Limit your use of cruise control until you are an experienced driver. If using cruise control, you still need to remain alert and ready to take over around bends, going up or down hills or when conditions change.