The essential road trip safety checklist

The essential road trip safety checklist

This is the time of year when South Africans hit the road enroute to their annual vacation or to visit family who live far away. For many of us, planning starts at least a month before the trip – whether it’s booking time off work, securing accommodation or planning the route. If you’re doing a road trip, don’t forget to make sure your car is ready for the journey.

“It’s good to keep this important checklist in mind, to ensure a safer drive, and to prevent further damage to your car if there’s currently something wrong with it,” says Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options.

Check that your car services are up to date. “There are so many additional expenses at this time of year and it might be tempting to skip your next car service. However, this poses significant risk not only to the vehicle but also to your own safety,” advises Barend. “If your car is out of its motoring plan and car services end up being nasty surprises to your budget, it might be worthwhile considering taking out a service plan with a third-party provider, such as MotorHappy. A service plan offers a convenient way to budget for vehicle expenses throughout the year.”

So your car services are up to date – but are you still hearing odd noises or unusual vibrations? Trust your senses and get your vehicle evaluated in case there is something wrong. Rather get it sorted now than when you’re on the road, and potentially in a remote area where you won’t have access to repair services.

Other considerations before hitting the road:

  • Ensure that the following are in working order: headlamps, controls, switches, windscreen wipers (check that the blades don’t need replacing), brakes, handbrake, seatbelts, indicators and cooling system.
  • Check that all fluids are at their recommended levels.
  • If your car battery is older than a year, get it tested.
  • Check your tyres – they should have at least 3mm of tread. Make sure your tyres are properly inflated, and take your car for wheel alignment and balancing.
  • Check that your spare wheel is in good condition, and that you have the correct tools to change a tyre if necessary.

When it comes time to pack for the journey, Smit shares some tips on items to keep handy in your car. “There are some items that you should always keep in your car for safety and convenience,” says Smit. “The best-case scenario is that you never need to use them, but for peace of mind and for responsible and safer driving, you’re better off being well stocked.”

These are the items you should always have in your car:

  • Phone charger and a portable battery charger
  • Emergency contact details
  • Cash
  • First-aid kit
  • Reflective warning triangles and safety vest
  • An inflated spare tyre and jack
  • Air pump so you can fix your tyre quickly if need by
  • Tyre repair kit
  • Tyre gauge
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Duct tape, in case a rear-view mirror or window breaks or shatters
  • Jumper cables
  • Torch and extra batteries
  • Multipurpose utility tool

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