Finally, the year 2021 is at the tail end. Despite the initial uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic, nations have risen and heeded the WHO call to control the pandemic. No more lockdowns, businesses have picked up, and the “new normal” way of life is back. This calls for celebrations, and what better time than the end-year festivities. However, another danger that lurks is road traffic crashes.
Global reports indicate that road traffic accidents are a leading cause of disabilities, unwarranted deaths, and lost productivity. Holidays carry an even greater risk of road traffic accidents from sleep-deprived drivers, alcohol consumption, excessive speeding, recklessness, aggressiveness, and non-compliant with traffic rules. It is not unusual to find a car upside down just a few minutes after passing you with hair raising speed. But despite all these, we can safely travel and enjoy our holidays without mishaps if we adhere to a few ground rules. With this in mind, let’s explore how we can travel and vacation safely.
9 rules to abide by for a safe drive
This year the roads are likely to have more traffic when compared to last year because Covid-19 rules have eased a bit, and people can travel. When you travel, abiding by these 9 rules can prevent unwarranted accidents on the highway;
- Plan your trip in advance
A good holiday vacation is planned. Map out your travel route to your holiday destination even if you are only going to be away for just a few days. Allow yourself adequate time to travel to avoid hasty driving. Have enough sleep before the travel date. Strive to achieve at least six hours of sleep, wake up refreshed, ready for the long journey. Make sure you have a valid drivers’ license, the car is comprehensively insured and in the best condition. Do not overload the vehicle. Carry the recommended number of passengers according to the car model.
2. Put your car in the best roadworthy condition.
Service your car, check oils, water, and fuel. Check that all lights are working, indicators are functional, braking system, and wipers. You do not want to run into a storm, yet your wipers are worn-off. Confirm you have extra accessories (water, jumper cables, spare wheel, reflective safety triangle kit, and towing cord). Adhere to allowed load weight. Observe speed limits as you transverse between different geographical areas.
3. Familiarize yourself with the weather forecast.
When crossing through counties; rain, windy, heat can disrupt your journey. To be safe, try and understand the likely weather conditions you will pass through. Some counties have mapped up accident-prone areas, be aware and exercise caution when driving through such places.
- Start your journey early.
It is always advisable to start your journey early in the morning. This way, you can get to your destination when it is still day. Darkness increases the risk of accidents. You do not want to be on unfamiliar roads at night. Throughout the journey, maintain an appropriate speed. Do not over-speed or drive very slowly. Both actions will inconvenience other road users and can even lead to accidents.
- Exercise defensive driving
Recognize potentially dangerous drivers along the way and stay clear of them. Show courteousness to other road users. Be patients with rogue drivers and do not retaliate, maintain a friendly temperament. Look out for drunk drivers, aggressive drivers, reckless drivers, and those who drive with excessive speeding. Festive seasons bring out different characteristics in people, and some drivers act carefree and nuisance to other road users.
- Avoid distractions
The use of mobile phones while driving is known to increase the risk of road traffic accidents. Keep off your handheld phone, and in case you must use the phone, stop the car and attend to the call. Do not be tempted to read or write text messages on your phone during the drive. Texting as you drive will divert attention and can lead to an accident. Train yourself the essential skills; focus your mind on driving, put your hands on the steering wheel, and your eyes on the road.
- Be extra alert
Before starting the journey, ensure proper sleep of at least six hours. Wake up refreshed and ready to drive. Your body and your mind must be in sync. A point of caution, do not drink and drive. Alcohol is associated with diminished alertness. If you must drink, in any case, assign another driver to take over the journey. Make sure to take a brief break after every 2 hours’ drive. Some prescribed medication can increase drowsiness check with your doctor before embarking on the journey.
- Be aware of the unprofessional behavior of other drivers.
Look out for unprofessional road rage drivers. Recklessness is a cause of road accidents. As you drive, observe the surroundings and your fellow road users. Some drivers are in great haste, and they can be very annoying. Remember, you are the most professional driver on that road, do not lower your guard and allow others to distract you. Give way where you can.
- Do not be complacent, adhere to road safety measures.
Often drivers get comfortable after driving for a while and tend to forget how dangerous distractions can be. Do not get comfortable yet, until you arrive at your destination. Remain focused, know when you are tired and give yourself a break to relax and recoup.
Other safety considerations to enhance your travel
- The Covid-19 pandemic preventive measures
Traveling safely during the Covid-19 pandemic is possible, especially for those who are fully vaccinated. Try and avoid crowded public places like restaurants, always have a mask covering your nose and mouth while outside, and only unmask when you are eating or drinking. Keep a safe social distance, wash hands regularly or sanitize. If a non-family person is in the car, everyone should have masks on, and the window pulled down if the weather is favorable to allow adequate ventilation.
It is advisable to have prior knowledge of Covid-19 risks at your holiday destination. Plan how to interact with others to maintain appropriate preventive measures.
- First Aid precautions
You can never be 100% sure of the journey, have a first aid kit in the car. Be conversant with the first aid contents and how to use them.
- Children in the travel plan
When children are part of the travel arrangement, make sure that they are catered for also. Children should travel securely in their car seats and buckle properly. For older children, ensure that they have appropriate safety belts and are secured. Carry prepacked healthy snacks that they can enjoy on the way. In the restaurant, choose food that is fresh. Keep the children well hydrated. Water is the best alternative.
- Medication regime
If you or a passenger is on medication, carry enough medicine for the holiday. It is advisable to have extra medication to cover a few more days if you get delayed. Always check the expiry dates of all medicines before use.
- Public transportation
Public transport is a cheaper means of locomotion. During festive seasons, public transport is in high demand, book your transport early enough to avoid last minutes struggle.
Due to a large number of travelers, public transport is a good breeding place for infection transmission. If you cannot afford to maintain the recommended social distance, practice basic principles to keep yourself safe. The use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers is a great idea, sanitize the hands often. Keep your hands from touching all over surfaces. Avoid touching things inside the vehicle like door handles, rails, and bars, they are a good source of infection. Keep your face mask covering the nose, mouth, and chin properly and only remove it when you eat or drink. Do not go to overcrowded shops and restaurants.
Lost luggage is a common complaint in public transport, ensure your luggage is labeled and secured in the carrier; handbags and other small purses should be handheld to avoid losing them. When children are traveling together with you, pay extra seats for the children. Hold tightly those who cannot stay on their own. Try not to sleep during the journey, you can be a victim of pickpocketing.