Safety reminders for a hassle-free Holy Week road trip

By Charles E. Buban Philippine Daily Inquirer April 17,2019

Now that Holy Week is upon us and majority of us have filed our much deserved vacation leaves, you may be thinking about what kind of adventures are on the horizon.

If you’re in the city, this is the perfect chance to get out on the open road and explore the countryside. Whether you’re going on a quick weekend road trip or a longer one, here’s how to do it right.

Come to think of it, long drives can take one to some pretty amazing places and driving is often cheaper than flying. And if you have friends or family or see interesting things along the route of your drive, it’s easy to stop, visit, and take pictures. What plane lets you do that?

The problem is that sitting in a vehicle for six, eight hours or more quickly becomes uncomfortable. The driver also becomes more susceptible to micro-sleep—temporary episode of sleep that occurs for a fraction of a second, up to 30 seconds—which can prove to be dangerous and even fatal.

Route planning

Route planning is an essential part of your travel preparations. If done properly, it will ensure that your road trip is hassle-and stress free.

One handy road trip planning app is Waze. The self-proclaimed “world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app” could link you to fellow Wazers who share real-time traffic info.

Along the route, you’ll get alerts on excessive traffic or even police lying in wait for speeders (so it’s best not to go over the 100 km/h speed limit).

Through Waze’s Planned Drives, you’ll also be able to set the time when you want to reach your destination. This feature will then alert you as to when you should leave, while taking into consideration things like expected traffic conditions, aggregated traffic history, and more.

Because there isn’t mobile phone service everywhere, be sure to bring a paper road map, as well as a guide book.

Pack your meds
Now that you have decided the route for your road trip, it’s time to pack your bags. Don’t forget to take some safety precautions before leaving by packing an Emergency Kit, complete with your maintenance medicine.

If you need to bring insulin (if you’re diabetic), you may need a canister or ice box that could keep the insulin pen cool (but not frozen) for at least a day.

Check the tires

Another part of the vehicle that tends to get overlooked are the tires. They are arguably the most important component of your vehicle especially if you are going on a road trip.

According to the United States Rubber Manufacturers Association, only 15 percent of drivers know how to properly check tire pressure. Why is this important?

Underinflated tires cause drivers to waste fuel: the US Department of Energy found that underinflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.2 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure on all four tires.

But more importantly, driving on underinflated tires can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout (tire burst), one of the most dangerous automotive emergencies one can ever face.
Heat is created inside a tire as its sidewalls bend and grab the road surface while driving. If the tire pressure is correct, the heat generated is minimal. However, if the tire pressure is low, then the sidewalls tend to flex even more, creating excessive heat in the process. Add daytime heat, and eventually the underinflated tire can break down and burst.

Remember to check the pressure when the tires are cold meaning, the vehicle has not been driven for at least three hours (recommended tire pressure can be found in the vehicle owner manual or on the driver’s side door edge).

Also remember that while most vehicles require the same tire pressure on all four tires, there are a few—like pickup trucks—that require a different tire pressure for the front and for the rear.

Don’t forget the spare!

The most neglected safety device your vehicle is equipped with is perhaps, your spare tire. It hides in your trunk or under the back of your vehicle, and you don’t give it a second thought until you suffer a flat tire.

Check the tire pressure of your spare and make sure it meets manufacturer’s specification. If the tire is severely under the recommended air pressure, don’t take your chances driving on it.

It can be years, or even decades, before a spare tire needs to be used in an emergency, but since tires are not meant for use beyond five years from the date they were manufactured, have your spare tire replaced.

You may be wondering why we put more emphasis on the tires. This is because, when it comes to safety, tires are one of the most important components and in fact, play a significant role in the vehicle’s braking, acceleration, steering, traction, handling, and ride comfort.

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