Women working towards safer roads this summer
Planning your trip
EVERYBODY is preparing and planning for the big days. The month of November is different in the sense that we are all looking forward to the upcoming holidays. As for this year, school will close earlier than expected later in the month.
November comes therefore with much excitement and high commitments. Towards the end of the month our beautiful country receives more visitors than usual from neighbouring countries either by road, air or by sea. These visitors, however, will only continue to pronounce our country pleasing and joyful when they have sensed safety across the land. This statement is a call upon everybody in all comers of our beautiful country to show hospitality in different ways towards our visitors.
The safety of our visitors and the safety of all road users must remain a priority. Road safety is a shared responsibility, thus it requires the cooperation of all road users. To ensure that we have ZERO road deaths, it is vital that all drivers and road users THINK and ACT safety.
It starts with preparing your vehicle for a long trip
Inspect the wheels: You need to measure remaining tread depth, the most convenient way to do this is to use a special accessory – a depth gauge. It’s advisable not to use the tyre with the remaining tread depth of 1.6 mm, a critical value. Specialists say that even when tyre tread grooves are 4 mm deep, the risk of hydroplaning increases significantly.
Always keep in mind that tyres can wear out unevenly, that is why you need to take measurements in different areas and then calculate the average value if you want to get an accurate result. Check the air pressure in the tyres and inflate them if necessary. Take into account that pressure values for a fully loaded car should be 10–15% higher than what is recommended by the car manufacturer. You can find detailed information about tyre pressure values in the vehicle’s operating manual. Remember: perform all the measurements only after the tyres cool down. Ensure that your wheels are aligned and balanced. This will improve your vehicle handling and reduce fuel consumption.
Inspect technical fluids. Before any trip, you need to check the levels and conditions of cooling, braking and windscreen washer fluids, oil and fuel. Top them up or replace them if necessary. The most common signs indicating that the working fluid needs replacement are its darkening or turbidity, colour change, suspended solids in the fluid. Moreover, you can buy special testers that analyse the quality of fluids used in a car.
Inspect your car’s underbody and engine compartment. It will help to detect leaks in your vehicle’s systems and units early on, for instance, in the hydraulic power steering system, engine cooling and lubricating systems or the gearbox.
Inspect the braking system. First, you need to examine discs and pads visually, then measure their thickness. The components are to be replaced if their thickness is close to the minimum value specified in the car manual. After this, you need to make sure that the system is leak-proof by pressing the brake pedal a few times while the engine is shut down. If the pedal is spongy, i.e. has no resistance, the brakes are faulty.
Check the air conditioner operability. High temperature is detrimental to the driver alertness: response time becomes nearly two times longer. That is why it is very important to have a comfortable microclimate inside the car.
Replace the air filter. This will help to use engine power with maximum efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.
Check your windscreen wiper blades. Clean windows are among the components essential for road safety. For this reason, you should make sure that wipers blades adhere to the windscreen surface tightly and do not leave stains and streak marks.
Clean and adjust the headlights, replace the bulbs. Over time, dust settles on the reflector and reduces light intensity. It is advisable to remove and clean the headlights once in 2-3 years. Moreover, you should check if all the lighting units function properly: dim, flickering or blinking bulbs are to be replaced. Also, you need to adjust the headlights: proper lighting is especially important when driving in an unfamiliar area.
Check and tighten bolts and nuts. For instance, if wheel fasteners become loose, the wheel may come off right during driving. No need to explain how dangerous this is.
Importantly check your timing belt. It should have no cracks, oil stains and abrasions. Moreover, the belt should be sufficiently tight. If this element slips, it will cause irregular engine operation, and its tearing will result in a total engine breakdown.
Replace the spark plugs. You can’t predict when they will stop working. So if you’ve been using these parts for long, it’s better to replace them before a trip.
The first priority before any trip is undertaken, is to check vehicle safety. All lights and indicators, windscreen wipers, brakes, steering, exhaust system and tyres should be carefully examined for faults. Motorists unsure or concerned about the roadworthiness of their vehicles, can have a pre-holiday technical examination done. Motorists are advised to always carry a spare fan belt and radiator hose in the boot – even if the vehicle has been given a clean bill in a technical inspection. These could save time and money in the event of a breakdown, and it is also advisable to carry a spare ignition key.
Families travelling an unfamiliar route must plan their journey. Get yourself maps, town plans, brochures and road reports. Individually planned itineraries are available to members on request. It also makes good sense to use major routes and not back roads – even if they cut travelling distance.
While traveling, motorists should ensure their own safety, and that of their families and other road users, by using seatbelts and maintaining a two second following distance. Following distances must be increased at night, in foggy or rainy conditions and when the road is wet.
Fatigue and eye strain can be avoided by making frequent rest stops. Driver changes at rest stops are also advisable. It is advisable to include safety breaks every two hours or 200 kilometres, as this will reduce fatigue levels.
Cars should be locked when unattended, with no valuables inside the vehicle where they can be seen by passers-by. Never leave children or pets in a locked car – the heat built-up in the interior can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke and can be fatal.
It is also important that motorists carry their drivers licence at all times. This is required by legislation.
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