Long weekends and school holidays are periods of high traffic on the roads. So that long journeys by car remain safe and serene trips, focus on some practical advice!
Anticipate your journey by car
- Locate the route and if necessary, program it in the GPS;
- Check the weather forecast and delay your departure in the event of heavy rains or thunderstorms;
- Find out about the traffic conditions to adapt to the conditions, such as, for example, in the event of heavy traffic jams, leave a day later, cut the journey in two or take alternate routes;
- Do not set an imperative time of arrival.
Journey by car: hours to avoid!
- Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., the human organism is “programmed” to sleep. Conducive to drowsiness at the wheel, these periods should therefore be avoided when driving.
- Also, to be avoided, the hasty departure after a day of work without sufficient rest. After 17 hours of active vigilance, the reflexes decrease as much as with 0.5 g of alcohol per liter of blood.
Check the condition of the vehicle
Several checks do not necessarily require the intervention of a professional but remain essential before any long journey by car.
- Windshield washer fluid;
- Brake fluid (if necessary, consult a mechanic).
Under-inflated tires are a real danger. The tires should be inflated, preferably cold and the car unladen, to the pressures recommended by the manufacturer. These instructions are often visible on the edge of the front left door or on the fuel filler flap of the car. Be careful, the tire pressure may differ if you are driving loaded, or with a caravan, a trailer, etc.
If the tires are hotly inflated, 200 to 300 grams must be added to the recommended pressures.
Inflation stations are available to motorists in certain service stations.
The tread depth of a tire must not be less than 1.6 mm to ensure good road holding of the car and to avoid the risk of aquaplaning in the event of rain. If in doubt, do not hesitate to have the condition of the tires checked by a professional.
Lighting, signage and visibility
Dirty lights and headlights decrease lighting efficiency by up to 30%. Before departure, it is, therefore, useful to clean the windshield (exterior and interior) and all other glass surfaces (mirrors and lights) of the vehicle.
Wiper blades that are more than a year old or which no longer wipe the windshield perfectly in the event of heavy rain should be replaced.
Efficiently store luggage in the vehicle
Loading luggage is often a headache. This is why it is preferable, if the safety of the vehicle allows it, to carry out this task the day before rather than the morning of the departure.
3 tips for loading luggage without negative impact on driving
- Distribute the heaviest luggage in the boot, as low as possible to lower the center of gravity and improve road holding.
- Secure objects in the passenger compartment to prevent them from becoming dangerous projectiles for the passengers in the event of sudden braking.
- Secure the luggage securely to the roof bars using straps. Check before departure and regularly at each stop that the straps are tight and that they do not flutter in the wind.
Ensure safety on board the vehicle
Driver and passengers must fasten their seat belts before departure and throughout the journey by car. The use of a restraint system, approved and adapted to the child, is compulsory until the child is 12 years old or until he can use the seat belt (height between 1.35 m and 1.50 m), so make sure you have the best travel booster seat available for the journey ahead.
It is also necessary to activate the “child safety” to lock the rear doors. Finally, if family animals are also traveling, they must be tied up or locked away so as not to roam freely in the passenger compartment.
Driving on the highway
The highway is the preferred road network for most when it comes to long-distance travel and as one can reach the destination more quickly. Even though it’s safer than other roads, we still must remain vigilant:
- On the highway, the speed at the wheel is involved in 7 out of 10 accidents: learn to reduce your speed at the wheel.
- One-third of highway crashes are caused by drowsiness at the wheel: learn how to prevent drowsiness and identify signs of fatigue.
- Respecting the safety distance saves lives, here are some tips to identify the safety interval to respect.
- The cell phone is responsible for 16% of fatal accidents on the motorway. Decode the true from the false on the risks of the telephone while driving.
- Motorway driving requires vigilance on basic safety rules: how to prevent the risks of motorway driving?
- Don't neglect the 15–20-minute breaks every 2 hours!