THE Easter long weekend and family road trips go together like eggs and baskets.
With many holiday-makers setting out as soon as the school or work bell rings, it’s the perfect window for a four-night break.
While Easter holidays can be fun, many of us have at least one troubling memory of a road trip gone wrong.
Even the most infectious holiday mood can be dampened by car troubles, accidents, lack of provisions or a lack of planning.
To keep your holiday on track, the Auto Glass Association (AGA) president Murray McGrath advises motorists ensure their vehicle is ready for the trip.
“It’s easy to focus on where you’re staying, who you’re going with and what to pack when planning a road trip, but the most important thing to prepare – from a logistic and safety angle – is your car.”
Here are five things to consider before hitting the bitumen this Easter…
1. Window to safety
Up to 30 per cent of a vehicle’s structural strength is derived from its windscreen. Any chip or crack in the glass, especially in the area in front of the driver, poses a risk. Traveling at high speeds, over long distances and sometimes on roads that have seen better days, all increase the chance of a chip or crack turning into a break. In modern vehicles, the windscreen supports the airbag or its cover, so compromising the integrity of the glass could jeopardise its ability to activate. If you have a chip or cracked windscreen, have a specialist take a look at it in advance of your trip.
2. Check, check, check
Check your tyre pressure (preferably when the tyres are cold), and keep in mind under-inflation can cause tyre damage and impact fuel economy. Make sure your lights are working and clean the lenses for maximum visibility. Check your battery strength. Wiper blades should be changed twice a year anyway, so Easter is great time to do it. Seatbelts must be in working order and accessible by all passengers in your packed car. Double demerits are often in place across the Easter weekend for those not using proper restraints.
3. Film it
Who thinks of applying sunscreen for a car trip? But with temps on the rise – 2014 was Australia’s third-warmest since records began in 1910 – sun exposure in the car is becoming a real concern, especially when travelling for long periods of time. Solar control auto film, or ‘tint’, can be applied to your car windows to reduce as much as 99% UV radiation. Film will also control the heat and lessen the need for constant air conditioner usage. Always use a professional installer to ensure the film meets the VLT requirements of your state (relating to the darkness of the tint). Visit the Window Film Association of Australia and New Zealand (WFAANZ) website www.wfaanz.org.au to find an installer.
4. Mirror images
While your mirrors may work perfectly under normal conditions, will they be as effective when your car is packed with kids, luggage, bikes, sleeping bags, pets and an Esky? If you’re towing a trailer or campervan, a towing mirror will allow you to see beyond your load. Reverse cameras are also available if the back window is obscured.
5. Plan for the worst, expect the best
If you’re venturing off-road or just into unknown territory, packing an emergency kit is a smart move. Jump-starters, spare tyre, tyre sealant and a first aid kit could prevent a small hitch from becoming a momentous disaster. Remember, many shops are closed across the long weekend so pre-buying your supplies is advisable.
According to ANZPAA there were 19 deaths recorded on Australian roads during the Easter break in 2014.
By following these safety measures, even though they may seem minor, you help to mitigate the risk of an accident.
When it comes to windscreens, for example, it is easy to put-off fixing a small crack as it seems an insignificant problem. This is not the case attests the AGA.
“Occupant ejection and head injuries account for a large proportion of fatalities in road accidents,” Murray said.
“The windscreen helps keep passengers inside the car in an accident while supporting the roof and the airbags.
“We’re not just talking about visibility here, a lot more is at stake if the windscreen is damaged in any way.”
If you do have a mishap that leads to a chipped, cracked or broken windscreen on your journey, the AGA website lists reliable auto glass specialists around the country who abide by a code of practice and fit to all Australian Standards.