Driving on holiday folly or fun ?

As the latter part of the year arrives one starts thinking about that “End-of-the-Year Holiday”, and the long trek to the coasts or inland with thousands of other Gautengers to see family (and to get away from the crowds) for the coastal dwellers!

Try and remember that your holiday starts the minute you get into the car, and therefore should be a pleasant experience, rather than a mad rush to get there. It may be better to plan to leave a day or two after the schools have closed, to alleviate extra stress of sitting on congested roads, or to leave at midnight and drive though the latter part of the night if you are trying cover extremely long distances.

Only do this if you have more than one driver and can take turns napping while the other person drives. Otherwise plan to stop over – there are many smaller towns and places of interest where you could break your journey and get to see a bit more of our wonderful country.

If possible, try to change drivers every four hours. With our road system today, there are many different petrol stops along the major routes and the bigger brands all have accessible toilet facilities. It is when one goes “off the beaten track” that the facilities become less accessible and one has to plan carefully.

Please, do not just pull over in a deserted area to change drivers or “answer the call of nature” as this is not safe. Should you be travelling alone and require assistance to get out of your car at a petrol station, you can call ahead, but usually most of the petrol attendants are only too happy to assist you.

Here are a few pointers when planning your journey:

Do not take your vehicle on a long journey if it hasn’t had a service within the last 6 months. If it has – still take it in for a Safety Check.

Have your vehicle checked for the following:

  • Tyre tread and pressure. Do not drive long journeys on worn tyres, you will have endless delays should you have a puncture or blow out. Do not forget to check the spare as well.
  • Check the oil, brake fluid and automatic gear box fluid levels.
  • Make sure that your windscreen wipers are in good working order.
  • Check that your licence disc is valid. Make sure that you, and whomever else will be driving the vehicle has a valid drivers licence, and that they have it on them before setting off.

Make sure that you have enough change or your garage card handy for the tolls. It is always a hassle to have to be scrabbling around for cash whilst approaching a congested toll area.

Whilst driving, try and be aware of your posture and make sure that you don’t sit in one position for longer than 2 hours. Also check knees and elbows as these usually rest against the door, and can get pressure areas from the vibrations of the car and “bracing” yourself. Should you have a travelling companion, get them to give these areas a good rubbing, to stimulate the circulation.

Make sure that you take in regular liquids and eat good food along the way, as de-hydration and low blood sugar lead to lack of concentration and drowsiness.

Should you be on medication, make sure that this is handy and not packed into luggage stowed in the boot. Do not miss the times that you should take it as this will ruin the levels in your blood stream.

Should you have a cell phone, make sure that you have a hands free set so that you are able to be in contact whilst driving, and make sure that your battery is fully charged before starting off.

And lastly, BUCKLE UP – we don’t want more members!!

Remember my motto…. With a little planning you can have a whole lot of fun! Drive safely and return refreshed.

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