The festive season puts many of us on the road to celebrate with family and friends. Whether you’re driving to a nearby Christmas party or on a long interstate road trip, safety needs to be a priority. Luke Donnellan, Minister for Roads and Safety has urged us to slow down and take extra care over the holiday season. Police will be focused on speeding, fatigue and distracted driving – which have been the leading causes of serious-injury crashes and fatalities this year. Here are four ways to stay safe on the road this Christmas:
1. Plan Your Trip
Identify the safest route, not the fastest. Traffic volumes increase during the holiday season and there are often larger, slower vehicles towing trailers or caravans. Remember that you’re sharing the road. Be aware of your speed and where you’ll stop to take a break. It’s also an important part of route management to identify potential hazards like roadworks and changing weather conditions that should be factored into your journey.
2. Pre-Trip Checks
Is your vehicle in fit condition for your Christmas road trip? Start by ensuring you have enough fuel to complete your journey or considering where you’ll stop to refuel. Make sure your brake lights are working, there’s plenty of window wash in the reservoir and your mirrors are clean. Do you have the correct air pressure in your tyres? Road safety begins before you get into your vehicle and attention to detail increases your chances of arriving safely.
3. Take Regular Breaks
A four-second micro-sleep while travelling at 100 kilometres per hour means you’ll travel the length of a football field before regaining control of your vehicle. Risks associated with driver fatigue are amplified during the holiday season, as many people travel long distances on unfamiliar roads and leave in the early hours to avoid traffic. This means driving when your body is programmed to sleep but there are ways to manage fatigue. Stopping for a break every two hours allows your body to reset. Getting out of your vehicle and going for a walk replenishes oxygen in your blood so you can avoid driving drowsy. This adds a little time to your journey but may save your life.
4. Avoid Distractions
Driving is not the time or place to send one of the 58 million text messages expected on Christmas Day in Australia. Texting behind the wheel takes your eyes off the road for up to 40 per cent of the time when sending or receiving a message – this means you’re not looking where you’re going for 12 out of every 30 seconds. Mobile phones aren’t the only culprit. Adjusting radios, talking to your passengers or eating and drinking are all potentially dangerous driving distractions. Turning your phone off, keeping music to a reasonable volume and stopping to enjoy your flat white in peace will all reduce risk.
Christmas and New Year is a dangerous time on Australian roads. By taking extra care and looking out for fellow drivers, you’re one step closer to making sure everybody arrives safely.