The festive period is nearly upon us and with it, road-trip season. After a difficult year due to the global pandemic, many people have put off major travel plans and looked closer to home for their annual festive getaways.
This means, more vehicles taking to South Africa’s roads.
Road-trips – like everything else this year – are going to look a little different than what we’ve become accustomed to. Safety precautions to ensure we stay healthy and adhere to the necessary guidelines are now an added detail to the road-trip checklist.
Here are a few tips and tricks to ensure you remain safe on (and off) the roads this festive season:
Once you know where you’re headed the next step is to check the roadworthiness of your vehicle. Do this as close to the trip as you can arrange. To avoid unwanted pit stops, have a mechanic thoroughly look over your vehicle before embarking on your road-trip. Important factors to inspect include; brakes, oil, water, coolant, hooter, wipers and wiper fluid, car battery, tyres and the vehicle’s lights – from your brights to your brakes. Also ensure you have the necessary tools in your vehicle – and know how to use them – in case of an unforeseen circumstance such as a flat tyre.
Include a visit to a professional tyre fitment centre to check that the tread depth across the entire breadth of the tyre is above the legal limit of 1.6mm, that your tyres are inflated to the correct tyre pressure, there is no damage on the sidewalls and whether or not your tyres need to be rotated. A quick visual inspection at home is not enough to ensure that your tyres are safe for a long-distance trip, where the risks of being stranded by the roadside outweigh the time cost of a proper, professional inspection. Download the Dunlop MyTyres app to find your nearest Dunlop accredited fitment centre, wherever you are.
Before heading back home from your trip, do another check – turn your steering to the far right so that you can check your front tyres, and do a sidewall check. Do a visual inspection of the rear tyres too. Visit a filling station to check the tyre pressure, especially if you have reduced the pressure of your tyres for driving on sandy beaches or roads. If you have hit a pothole, or gone over extremely rugged terrain, and your tyres are not suited for those conditions, a visit to a professional fitment centre is advisable before hitting the tarmac on your return trip.
Research, research, research
Taking the time to research and prepare before your trip is key – more so now with the added restrictions to promote health and safety in an environment under pressure from COVID-19. Take the time to look into your accommodation – do they have the necessary COVID-19 procedures in place to ensure the safety of you and your family? Will you be required to undergo COVID-19 testing in order to stay over? Is social distancing in place in their dining facilities? These are things to consider before committing. Need ideas on where to go? Click here to see the new and exciting places Dunlop Grandtrek Uncharted has put on the map, or take at look at the IOL travel blog here.
Much like with your accommodation, a hired vehicle passes through many hands. In addition to confirming the roadworthiness of the vehicle, make sure the company you are working with has advanced cleaning measures in place. These should be detailed on their website, if not, give them a call and ask about their COVID-19 safety procedures.
Stay on Route
Technology is your friend – until you’re out of signal range. It’s best practice to double down when it comes to travelling to parts unknown. While your internet connection is strong, download your route so that it is readily available offline and print out the map / directions as well to ensure you’re on the right track.
Have a detailed look at your route beforehand on Google Street View. Are there tolls? How many are there? Have your cash / card, mask and hand sanitiser at the ready to avoid delays and prolonged contact. What do the road conditions look like? Is your car suited to the terrain and is it fitted with the correct tyres for the journey?
When packing for a road-trip, one item should be at the top of the list – the First Aid Kit.
Drop in all the essentials – plasters, painkillers, antihistamines, cotton swabs and sanitiser/ medical alcohol.
Mask up this holiday season. Aside from the reusable cloth masks which need to be washed after every use, consider also purchasing a batch of disposable masks for your trip so that one is always at the ready when needed.
Pack the Padkos
Stock up on food and clean water for the trip before hitting the road and pack more than you think you will need. Doing this will reduce non-essential stops and avoid potential crowds. Having extra, clean water also allows you to wash hands after eating or to rinse off items without having to wait and use hotspots such as public bathrooms. Stand a chance to win a Dunlop cooler. Find out how here.
Don’t go it alone
If you’re planning long distance trips, share the driving load. Driving tired can make you irritable and easily distracted, accounting for a large number of accidents on our roads. Have a buddy driver and work in shifts of – at most – two hours each. Get other families on board for long adventure trips, and travel in convoy so you always have a back-up should something go wrong.
Fuel your Savings
While it’s important to take the essentials with you, remember to pack economically. Overloading your vehicle can have an effect on fuel consumption. The heavier the car, the more fuel is used. Another tip to keep in mind to make your fuel go further, is to keep at a consistent speed – especially when taking to open roads – and staying on a higher gear where possible.
Don’t speed! This forces you to brake harder and stopping and starting also has an adverse effect on consumption. Ensuring that your tyres are in good condition, have good tread coverage and are inflated to the correct pressure will also enhance fuel consumption.