Home' The River News : December 24th 2014 Contents "RIVERLAND REAL ESTATE" Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - 13
Stay safe this Christmas
CHRISTMAS is one of the busiest times
of the year on Australian roads, and the
combination of soaring temperatures and
long distance travel can cause a range of
issues for drivers.
The Pioneer has compiled a list of tips
to keep your family safe on the roads these
holidays, with advice from RAA sen-
ior managers Mark Borlace and Charles
Mr Mountain said while motor-
ists require focus to drive safely all year
round, it was important to be extra vigilant
around the busy Christmas period.
"We can often end up driving on busy
roads, driving long distances and driving
at higher speeds on unfamiliar roads (over
the Christmas period), so it's important to
take extra care," he said.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Mr Mountain said it was important to
check vehicles properly before beginning a
"We commonly encounter overheat-
ed engines, flat tyres and flat batteries
in summer which obviously would be an
inconvenience on a holiday," he said.
"Taking time to prepare your car for a
holiday break is important, not only for
your safety but to also prevent unfortunate
DIY car checks
Tyres: Ensure you have at least 2mm
of tread on each tyre and that all tyres are
inflated to the recommended pressure, as
outlined in the vehicle owner's manual.
It is particularly important to check
tyres if you will be towing anything, as
carrying extra weight can accelerate tyre
Brake lights and indicators: Have a
friend or relative check that the car's lights
are working, or if you are by yourself,
garage and use the reflection.
Check that the headlights are correctly
adjusted and are at the right height so it is
not distracting to other drivers.
Air-conditioner: Run the air-condi-
tioner before you set off on a trip to ensure
Radiator hoses and drive belts:
Look for cracks or wear and tear, and wash
out any insects inside the hoses.
Fan belts: Ensure these are fitted
correctly -- a loud squeal from under the
bonnet on heavy acceleration or engine
starts could indicate a loose fan belt.
This could make the engine overheat
and will not keep the battery properly
Battery: Check that the battery and
terminals are secure and kept clean and
dry. A loose battery will vibrate, which
will cause damage to the battery plates.
Check battery levels, and use distilled
water to top it up if required.
Be careful not to over-fill the battery
fluid, as it could damage the car's paint
Engine oil: Levels should be
checked with the engine switched off.
Ensure the engine oil is filled to the
If you know the car uses oil during driv-
ing, be sure to bring extra to top it up.
Coolant levels: These should be
checked with the engine off and cold.
Check the coolant level in the radiator
and expansion tank, and inspect hoses for
any soft spots, bulges, signs of leaks or
corrosion, cracks and loose clamps.
Also check drive belts for correct ten-
sion, cracks or excessive wear.
Dashboard: Turn on the ignition
and check that all warning signs and lights
on the dashboard work properly. Warning
lights should illuminate when the car is
first switched on but disappear after a few
Carry spare hoses and belts if you
will be driving through remote areas, as it
could be difficult to source replacements.
Bring plenty of water, which can be
used either as an emergency drinking sup-
ply or to top up the radiator.
Pack different sized fuses, electrical
tape, electrical wire, torch, tow rope, basic
tool kit, and a first aid kit.
Keep car weight to a minimum, as
this will ease pressure on the tyres.
DURING THE DRIVE
When embarking on a long distance
drive over the summer, it is important to be
aware of some of the risks and hazards.
"It is important to be aware of the warn-
ing signs of fatigue and take regular breaks
or share the driving if possible," said Mr
"If you are going to any Christmas cel-
ebrations and intend to drink, it is a good
idea to plan an alternative to driving before-
hand, such as agreeing on who will be the
designated driver or arranging alternative
"If done beforehand, it removes the
temptation to drive, particularly if you
inadvertently drink more than intended."
Read on to find some of our top tips for
driving safely this festive season.
Sharing the road
When travelling behind a heavy vehicle,
such as a truck, remember: if you cannot
see its side mirror, the driver cannot see
If a heavy vehicle has a 'Do not over-
take turning vehicle' sign, it is allowed to
take up more than one lane when turning,
so make sure you allow enough room for
this to occur.
Avoid the blind spots of heavy vehi-
cles -- beside the truck's left door, by the
truck's right door, and directly behind or
immediately in front of the truck.
Make sure you are clear of the driver's
blind spot before overtaking, and never cut
in front of a heavy vehicle.
When overtaking a heavy vehicle, allow
plenty of time and clearly accelerate to
overtake quickly without exceeding the
The RAA advises a car travelling in a
110km/h speed limit zone will take about
one kilometre to safely overtake a 23m
B-double truck travelling at 100km/h on a
road with an overtaking lane.
On a two-way road, drivers need two
kilometres of clear road ahead to safely
overtake the same sized truck.
Motorists could receive fines of up to
$275 for unsafe overtaking, and could also
be charged with dangerous driving.
To ensure safe overtaking, follow the
You must not exceed the posted speed
limit at any time, even when overtaking.
Ensure the road ahead is clear and
there is enough distance to overtake the
vehicle without having to cut in front.
Take extra care on roads you are
unfamiliar with, as a slight bend or depres-
sion in the road could disguise an oncom-
Wait to overtake in an overtaking
lane if possible, particularly on highways.
If you are travelling below the speed
limit because of the vehicle you are driv-
ing, or the load you are towing -- such as
a caravan -- look for opportunities to pull
over and allow any built-up traffic to pass
Wear polarized sunglasses while
Ensure the windscreen is clean on
the inside and out, and free of any chips or
cracks. If the sun hits dirty glass, it could
cause stray light to dazzle and distract
Keep the dashboard clear and free
from any objects that could reflect the
Pull down the car's sun visors to help
block the sun.
When driving with sun glare, leave
extra space between yourself and the car in
front and turn on your headlights to ensure
you are visible to other motorists.
Driving in the December and January
holidays when the temperature is scorch-
ing can cause some problems for both trav-
ellers and the car.
The RAA recommends avoiding driving
during the hottest part of the day, but if
it is unavoidable be sure to carry plenty
of drinking water and screen passengers
from direct sun, while ensuring the driver's
vision is not obscured.
Keep an eye on the vehicle's temper-
ature gauge as the combination of hot
weather, additional car loads (particularly
if you are towing) and the constant use of
the air-conditioner will put extra pressure
on the vehicle's cooling system.
Before you begin towing a boat, caravan
or trailer, check its registration is current.
It is a good idea to keep the slip from the
bottom of the renewal notice in your car so
it is always easily accessible.
Check the tyres of the object being
towed, the same way that you would
check car tyres, and make sure all lights
are in working condition.
Ensure the load is correctly distribut-
ed, and does not exceed the tow vehicle's
maximum towbar weight or the manufac-
Ensure safety chains are attached with
approved load-rated shackles, which have
a yellow pin.
The RAA says staying awake for 17
hours straight produces the same level
of driving impairment as a blood alcohol
level content of 0.05, and doubles your
risk of being involved in a crash.
The Pioneer in conjunction with the RAA has compiled tips to keep you and your family
safe on the roads this Christmas.
In an emergency, it can be difficult to know what
to do. The Pioneer, with advice from the RAA, has
compiled a list of common emergency situations and
how to handle them.
If the engine suddenly cuts out, put the car in
neutral and brake gently. As the car slows, pull off
to the side of the road, stop the vehicle and switch
the engine off.
Be aware that braking and steering will require
much more effort than usual without the assistance
of the engine.
Quickly put your car in neutral, apply the brakes
and steer your car off to the side of the road.
Do not turn off the ignition until you have left
the road and stopped -- disengaging the ignition
while driving may cause the steering to lock.
Once you've stopped the car, switch off the igni-
tion immediately to avoid the risk of engine dam-
Shattered windscreens are more common along
unsealed roads as other vehicles may throw up
stones and rocks.
If the windscreen does shatter, stop the car in a
safe place and use a blanket or cloth to cover the
bonnet and any openings to prevent pieces of glass
falling in or on them.
Then, cover your hand in clothing or a rag and
push the windscreen out. Close all windows to pre-
vent through-winds and drive slowly to the nearest
windscreen repairer or dealer.
The RAA recommends wearing glasses while
driving to protect your eyes from insects or any
pieces of glass that may become dislodged.
Consider carrying a temporary windscreen that
can be fitted in place if you regularly travel on
Animals can sometimes wander onto rural and
regional roads, particularly during dusk and dawn.
The RAA advises avoiding driving during those
times, but if that is not possible, reduce speed and
If you do encounter an animal on the road, brake
slowly and do not swerve -- it could increase the risk
of losing control of the vehicle.
If you do hit and injure an animal, the RAA advis-
es to seek aid or take the appropriate steps to alle-
viate the animal's pain and suffering. For assistance,
contact the RSPCA or the nearest police station.
If the animal is killed, remove it from the road to
reduce potential danger to other motorists and con-
tact the Traffic Management Centre or the nearest
police station to have the animal collected.
If a tyre blows while driving, the car may try
to veer to one side of the road. If a front tyre has
blown, the vehicle will pull towards the side of the
Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and gently
ease off the accelerator.
Use the gears -- even in automatic vehicles -- and
handbrake to slow the car as you move to the side
of the road. Once the car has significantly slowed,
If the car breaks down, it is important to stop in a
safe place and wait for assistance.
The RAA says well-lit side streets and car parks
are often safer places to stop than a main road.
Consider if it is safe to wait inside your vehicle, or
whether you are safer waiting at a nearby location
where you can keep an eye on your car and wait for
Switch the car's hazard lights on and lift the bon-
net to alert passing motorists.
If you pass a broken-down vehicle blocking a
lane, pass with care and allow a wide berth. Adjust
speed to the conditions.
Remember that driver fatigue can occur at any
time -- even on short drives.
Signs of fatigue include poor concentration,
yawning, delayed reactions, memory lapses, micro
sleeps, tired or sore eyes, drowsiness, boredom or
daydreaming, and difficulty staying focused.
The RAA recommends taking a break every two
hours, even if you are not tired.
Do not wait for a petrol station or roadhouse to
take a break -- most major roads provide regular rest
When you do stop, get out of the vehicle, stretch
and breathe in fresh air, and drink plenty of water.
Set the air-conditioning to have fresh air continu-
ally circulating through the car.
Swap drivers every two hours if possible.
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