5 tips to keep you safe on the roads this festive season

The festive season road trips beckon and the kilometres of memories ahead can remain pleasant and treasured in time to come, particularly if you prioritise safety throughout your holiday. 

1. It starts before you leave

Ensuring your car is roadworthy and that your tyres are in good working order should be crossed off your list before you even think of setting off. A car service is an added expense, but it can also help pinpoint any issues before they happen. Maintenance is also required by your insurer.  

Keep in mind that ignoring warning lights or driving despite concern that your car is getting damaged, can be problematic not just for your vehicle, but for your insurance too. A recent ruling by the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance sided with an insurer over a negligence issue.

There was impact and the vehicle’s oil leak sign became evident, but the client proceeded to drive on a gravel road. Once the car reached a tar road, the engine seized.

Image: Supplied

The insurer was within its rights to repudiate the engine repair claim as the policy states that clients should take all reasonable steps to prevent or minimise loss or damage, bodily injury and accidents, wherever possible. The client had ignored the oil leak warning, which caused a much bigger mess.  

If you’re travelling with a trailer, or a caravan in tow, roadworthy and tyre checks are essential too. The tyres on your caravan or trailer need to be replaced should the tread be below the legal minimum of 1.6mm.

You may think you’re not at risk if you only use your caravan once per year, but your tyres could have become damaged in the sun, for example, so you need to prioritise a check-up. 

No matter what vehicle you’re travelling with, be sure you have a pumped-up spare tyre travelling with you, and a vehicle emergency kit including a jack, wheel spanner and jumper cables. 

2. Preparing to go

Check your short-term insurance policy is up to date; that it includes the correct details, has All Risk cover in place for important items like electronics, and comprehensive car insurance.

If for example, an older child of yours with a learner’s license may assist in driving along the way, you need to let your insurer know to enjoy enough cover. 

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If you are bringing along your bicycle, surfboard or have a storage roof rack, these should be included in your insurance too on an All Risk basis. 

Whatever security measures you have noted in your policy (perhaps armed response linked to your alarm and a locking security gate), will need to be in force while you are away.

Be sure any instructions are conveyed successfully should you be using a house sitter too. 

3. Planning for worst-case scenario 

You may be travelling with clothing and supplies anyway, but be sure to pack a few light snacks, drinking water and some emergency supplies like a first aid kit, spare batteries, or a power bank as needed, just in case you get stuck on-route causing long delays. 

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Keep emergency response details, including your adviser or insurer noted for the journey. These could be stored in an obvious place in your vehicle, or wallet and could even include ‘Do not tow’ information displayed, provided you are registered for emergency assistance.

Dealing with dodgy tow truck companies can be nightmarish, so do your homework, or check with your insurance company. 

4. On the go

Lock up as you should and be cautious on the roads. The festive season is a busy time and vigilance is key. Following safe driving practices is always best, as is avoiding attracting criminal attention. If you stop along the way, your car needs to be properly secured. 

If you notice any problems with your vehicle while driving, try to stop as soon as possible. Pushing ahead can cause more problems than not, as noted above. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a safe place to pull over, or a petrol station, but do what you can, or call for help. Having a charged cell phone in this instance, can make all the difference.

5. You’ve arrived

Once you reach your destination, don’t let safety go out the door. It’s essential to lock up your vehicles, and secure wheels on trailers, or remove roof storage and bring it safely indoors.

It will depend on your unique circumstances as to how best you need to manage safety but make it part of your itinerary to avoid any regret later. Most of all, have a wonderful end of year holiday!  

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Image: Jo-Jo / Unsplashed