Do a thorough vehicle check before embarking on a trip

With the festive season officially underway, take time to check your car’s road-worthiness before setting off on your travels and save yourself hassles and heartache this holiday season.

Drivers falling asleep behind the wheel is a major cause of crashes, so even though it might be tempting to reach your destination a day earlier, it is vital that you pay attention to your body.

Your car’s road-worthiness could be the difference between a great holiday or a very expensive disappointment.

Make sure you are safe on the more than 22 000km of roads maintained by the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL).

Here is a handy holiday checklist to keep on hand this festive season, courtesy of Arrive Alive.

  1. Service your vehicle

Nothing ruins a holiday like a mid-highway blowout, so it is important to make sure your vehicle is inspected prior to a trip by an authorised dealership or auto-repair shop. They should pay special attention to mechanical and electrical systems, as these can be very costly to repair once broken.

2. Oil and water checks

It is important that you keep tabs on both your oil and water, as a lack of either can cause significant damage to your engine. In most cars, by the time the oil light comes on, the engine has already been compromised, so check up on this as regularly as possible.

   3. Weigh up the pros and cons of aircon

With many of us feeling the festive pinch, the temptation to conserve fuel by shutting off the air conditioner is probably strong. But while air conditioning does put added pressure on the engine, there is in fact very little change in fuel economy, particularly in modern cars. As such, it is probably best to go with what is most comfortable for you and your family, as this is likely to keep the kids quieter and enable you to remain more focused on the road.

    4. Tyre pressure

Correctly inflated tyres are not only a safety requirement, but can also improve fuel efficiency by 4%. It is also important to bear in mind that, should you be carrying a heavy load, you’ll probably need to pump them up a little bit more than usual. If you are unsure of the correct inflation pressures, look on the inside of the driver’s door jamb or under the fuel filler flap for a tyre pressure chart.

     5. Stay charged

While it is important not to use your phone while driving, your mobile device can be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency. Not only is it your lifeline to outside assistance, but it can also help you to navigate your way out of unknown or dangerous areas thanks to built-in GPS technology. So make sure to invest in a car charger for those long journeys – it could be the difference between life and death.

     6. Get tracked

Serious accidents can leave us incapacitated and unable to call for help, which is why a tracking device for your vehicle could make a critical difference to your road trip this year. Thanks to impact sensors, these devices can automatically send an emergency notification to your insurer should you find yourself in an accident, even if you are not able to do so. Be sure to check that your insurance cover also includes ambulance and towing services before setting off, as this could save you a lot of money in the long run.

7. Stay alert

Drivers falling asleep behind the wheel is a major cause of crashes, so even though it might be tempting to reach your destination a day earlier, it is vital that you pay attention to your body. Stop when you feel your eyes drooping. By staying alert, you will be better equipped to scan for potential dangers, and to keep your speed consistent according to the weather conditions. Ensure you take regular breaks to freshen up during the journey – and never compromise on a good night’s sleep.

   8. Keep the kids buckled up

In many instances, backseat passengers tend not to make use of a seatbelt, particularly when the kids are overexcited. Yet the reality is that, despite preconceptions to the contrary, they are just as much at risk as their front seat counterparts. So, do not make buckling up an adults-only priority this festive season.