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5 tips for safe driving over the school holidays

A young couple smile as they drive in the car

Our guide to keeping you and your family safe while driving

A young couple smile as they drive in the car

A boot packed to the brim, mountains of snacks, toilet stops every 30 minutes and an inevitable “Are we there yet?” from the backseat – school holidays are synonymous with road trips.

Unfortunately, they’re also among the most dangerous times to be on Australian roads. With more cars, more congestion, more fatigue and more drivers on unfamiliar streets, our roads are accidents waiting to happen.

Driving in the school holidays can be risky, but there are a few key things you can do to keep you and your family safe.

1. Put your phone away

You might think it’s harmless to keep your phone within reach and quickly glance down at it when a text message comes in; but consider this: taking your eyes off the road for longer than two seconds, doubles your risk of a crash.

To put that in perspective, if you look at your phone for two seconds while driving at 100km/h, you’ll travel more than 55 metres blind.

Travel speedMetres travelled in 2 seconds
40 km/h22.22
50 km/h27.78
60 km/h33.33
80 km/h44.44
100 km/h55.56

To avoid the temptation, it’s best to pop your phone in the glovebox or keep it out of sight. If you own an iPhone, the “Do not disturb while driving” setting is a handy feature – it sends an auto-reply to anyone who calls or texts letting them know you’re driving.

2. Check your car

Before you hit the road, make sure you give your car a quick once over. Even if you’re up to date with services, it doesn’t hurt to check the tyre tread and air pressure, lights, oil and brakes.
And, if you haven’t changed a tyre in a few years, watch a Youtube tutorial as a quick refresher before you set off. If you end up stranded with a flat tyre in an area without reception, you’ll be thankful you know what to do.

Credit: RAC

3. Get enough sleep

Everyone wants to get to their destination at a reasonable hour, but if you’re setting an alarm for 3:30am so you can arrive by lunchtime, you might want to reconsider. To give yourself the best chance of avoiding an accident, aim to hit the road after a solid night’s sleep. If you’re struggling to get enough sleep in the lead up to your holiday, your night-time routine could be to blame.

Winding your windows down, cracking open a giant can of RedBull and cranking up the volume of your Spotify playlist might seem like a good solution, but the only way to stop driver fatigue is with sleep. So, if at any point while driving you’re struggling to keep your eyes open, pull over as soon as you can for a rest.

4. Plan ahead

If your end destination is somewhere you’ve never been before, then plan ahead and research the best route to take. Despite popular belief, blindly trusting Google Maps isn’t a great strategy (just ask the woman who made a wrong turn in the Grand Canyon and ended up stranded for five days).

It’s also a good idea to map out your rest stops, aiming for a 15-minute break every two hours to stretch and rehydrate.

5. Check your eyesight

There’s a lot of preparation that goes into a school holiday road trip, but one key aspect that tends to be forgotten, but is still very crucial, is your vision.

When we drive, we process everything from speed limits to road signs and potential hazards through our eyes. Good vision allows us to judge the distance between cars safely and makes merging between lanes easier.

When you can’t see a hazard clearly, it’s difficult to avoid a collision, so if it’s been a while since your last eye test, book one in today.

nib Eye Care1 has extensive experience in vision testing, offering bulk-billed eye tests2 and the best in personalised care, equipment and lens technology. If your policy includes extras benefits, you’ll receive 100% back on a selection of contact lenses and single vision prescription glasses.

Book an appointment online today at one of the nib Eye Care Centres located across Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra.

1nib Eye Care Centres and the nib Eye Care website are owned and operated by The Optical Company (NSW) Pty Ltd ABN 32 153 741 970

2 Subject to Medicare eligibility

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