The spate of accidents on our roads lately must be a very worrying situation to us, motorists, more especially around the Easter festive season which begins tomorrow.
Therefore the carnage on our roads should start the alarm bells ringing to warn us all about the looming dangers of careless and reckless driving on our roads today.
This piece of bad news should be enough to caution all motorists about these clear and present dangers lurking on our roads like highway robbers, waiting to pounce on us, as we travel to our various destinations to celebrate Easter with family, friends and loved ones.
As a motorist and road safety enthusiast myself, I want to take this opportunity to sound this message very loud and clear, so that we can all take a cue and help prevent these unnecessary road accidents in order to save precious lives during the Easter festivities.
For most us, traveling out of town has become a routine in times of festivities and occasions such as to funerals, picnics and especially during the coming Easter holidays, and perhaps the excitement obscures the one question we all assume will be happily answered at end of the trip.
Is the vehicle road worthy?
For far too many motorists, the answer will be a resounding “No.”
For these occasional-time road travelers, what often begins as an exciting and well-deserved break from the normal routine becomes a very costly nightmare which spoils the best laid vacation plans, because we simply do not pay much attention to the proper maintenance of our vehicles.
A little planning and preparation can go a long way towards a safe and happy motoring vacation.
Always make a pre-Easter visit to a trusted mechanic before your trip. This should be most important for all drivers and vehicle owners, because even in an age where technology has enhanced automotive performance, the old road adage still implies: “Having faith is good, but checking is better.”
So before your next trip, take the following safety tips seriously in order to prevent any traumatic road mishap.
1. Inspect your vehicle’s vital fluids, particularly the engine oil and coolant solution in the radiator. A trusted mechanic will give the recommended grade and service classification of oil that best suit your vehicle. Keep the oil level at the “full” mark for proper lubrication. A proper coolant solution is important for hot weather protection, which is more prevalent in our environment. Also check your transmission, brake, clutch, and power steering fluids and be sure to stick to the right type recommended by the manufacturer, particularly with transmission fluid, because the wrong type can damage your vehicle’s transmission.
2. Tune-up your engine only if you have an older vehicle, as most new models have electronic fuel injection and sealed carburetors that need little or no adjustment at all. Consult your auto-mechanic for schedules on recommended tune-ups. This could save you a lot, on precious fuel. Remember the price of petrol went up recently by about 5% only a few weeks ago.
3. Check the vehicle tires carefully, including the spare one. Most people forget to check the spare tire only to find out that they now have to fix two tires in the event of a puncture in the middle of nowhere. Uneven wear could indicate alignment, suspension or wheel-balance problems. Consulting a good vulcanizer could guarantee a good solution to this problem. Under-inflation can dangerously increase the heat build-up in tires, so keep tires properly inflated. Worn tires need to be replaced before the trip. Always check the tire pressure when the tires are “cold”, before driving at high speed. Also carry the required weight recommended by the vehicle manufacturer and avoid exceeding the regularized speed limit even when driving on a good stretch of road in a new vehicle.
4. Always adhere to the speed limits on the road. Do not exceed 70mph (100km/h) on the highway because it is considered okay by international standards. Otherwise you will only help to make the following equation true: Overloading + Over-speeding = Accidents and Death.
5. To ensure proper vision, especially when driving at night, always check the headlights and taillights for alignment and brightness. Replace any burnt-bulbs. Make sure the vehicles’ brakes, trafficator, and hazard lights are working properly. Check and replace worn windshield wipers, and make sure the vehicles wiper fluid system is full of clean water and in proper working order. Also check and clean the rear-view and side-view mirrors.
6. Avoid the temptation to drink before or while driving as the saying goes: “If you drink don’t drive, and if you drive don’t drink”. It is a very serious traffic offence and furthermore, it could cause accidents leading to the loss of precious lives.
7. Drivers should avoid playing very loud music in their vehicles, because this loud music will muffle any unusual noises that may be coming from the engine or tires. Most accidents occur, as a result of this and so drivers should please stick to this rule.
8. Don’t drive tired. Stop and stretch your limbs a little from time to time when traveling long distances.
9. Drivers should also make it a point to obey road and traffic signs to the letter. Furthermore, speeding through towns and villages could cause serious accidents and injury to people who may be crossing the road as well as domestic animals. Drivers must slow down at such points. A speed limit of about 30km/h will be okay.
10. Don’t answer your mobile phone while driving at high speed. Let the front passenger answer your calls for you and if it is an emergency, then stop the vehicle to answer or make that call.
11. Always carry emergency tools and materials for unforeseen trouble on the road. These should include a flashlight with spare batteries, a jack, fire extinguisher, a knife, a set of spanners and screwdrivers, battery cables, a spare fan and timing belt, reflectors, a blanket, and a gallon of water. Also keep a spare set of keys on you to prevent getting locked out of your vehicle.
12. Unless your battery is “Maintenance Free”, check the water level frequently, and always keep a spare bottle of distilled water.
13. Checking the vehicles’ electrical system, especially the alternator and fuses is advisable before traveling since most breakdowns are caused by electrical faults.
14. Always keep enough cash on you for such eventualities during your trip.
By following these tips before embarking on your Easter travel or any other related trip, you can be assured of a safe and hassle-free road travel.
Always remember that a well-rested driver and a properly maintained vehicle should make sweet music on the road, with or without your favorite CD or MP3 music player.