Tips to stay safe on the roads during school holidays
It’s that time of year again – school holidays. It means many of you could be packing up and heading out on a road trip from West Brisbane into the outback or interstate. Driver fatigue is a factor in as many as one in three road accidents. Poor tyres are a factor in almost as many road accidents. We want you and your family to stay safe, no matter whether you are on a shopping trip in West Brisbane or a family holiday to Perth.
In this article, you’ll read my tips to prevent driver fatigue and ensure your tyres will do the job they are designed for.
How do you know you’re getting tired behind the wheel?
Driver fatigue makes you a worse driver. Your reaction times are slower, and you’ll find it harder to concentrate on the road ahead. It leads to poor judgement. In the worst case, you could suffer a fatal accident.
There are some tell-tale signs that you are suffering from driver fatigue. These include:
- Heavy eyes and yawning
- Daydreaming behind the wheel
- Variable driving speeds
- Cramping in your legs and arms
- Impatience behind the wheel
You may also find that your braking becomes more lethargic, your steering less pronounced, and you change gears with a crunch. As tiredness increases, you’re likely to drift across lanes.
When are you most at risk of driver fatigue?
Many fatigue-related road accidents occur at night. However, contrary to popular myth, driver fatigue can happen at any time and isn’t confined to long-distance journeys.
Another myth is that it is the act of driving that makes drivers tired. It’s true that if you drive for hours upon hours, you are going to get tired. But most driver fatigue is a problem caused by lack of sleep before a road trip. You may work long hours or inconsistent shifts. You may have problems sleeping. Perhaps a newborn baby has been keeping you awake most of the night. There are many reasons why you could be tired before you sit behind the wheel.
How to avoid driver fatigue
When your body is in desperate need of sleep, your brain will shut it down. You get advanced warning of this – all those signs of fatigue we discussed a couple of paragraphs earlier. You should listen to them, and take a break. To avoid driver fatigue:
- Only travel for a maximum of ten hours in a day
- During a road trip, take regular breaks every couple of hours
- Share the driving if possible
- Avoid driving when you would normally be asleep
If you’re planning a long trip, make sure you sleep well the night before – and don’t drink alcohol before you go to bed. Alcohol stays in your system for 24 hours and makes you fatigued.
Now you’re fit for the road, are your tyres?
Okay, you’re ready to drive and fit for your family’s road trip. But are your tyres? When was the last time you checked the tread and tyre pressure? Here are a few basic tips to make sure your tyres are as fit for the journey as you are:
- A couple of days before you are due to leave, inspect your tyres. Make sure they don’t have bald patches, scuffs, bulges and scrapes. Legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. As soon as the tread reduces to below 3mm, tyre performance will be adversely affected. At 2mm, your braking distance is severely lengthened. If you are concerned about tread depth at all, bring your vehicle to our West Brisbane tyre shop. It isn’t worth the risk to do nothing.
- Before you leave, check tyre air pressures. Make sure they are at the recommended levels – you’ll find these on the tyre placard on the door jamb or in your vehicle owner’s manual.
- Make sure that each tyre valve is capped. It protects against dust and water.
- Don’t forget to make the same checks on your spare tyre.
- Don’t forget to check the tyres on a trailer or caravan if you are towing.
If you haven’t changed your tyres for five years or more, get them checked. Even if a tyre looks good, tyre rubber degrades because of the effects of weather. Particularly here in Brisbane, UV rays from the sun deplete tyre strength.
Be safe, not sorry. Don’t take any chances. Contact us today and book an appointment for a tyre check.
Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,