10 ways to avoid dying before you reach the coast

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READY STEADY, STEER – AND SURVIVE THE HOLIDAY RUSH: Nissan helped out with the road-safety tips and pre-trip checks listed below. Please read them – you could just save yourself a lot of problems on the annual Christmas lemming run. Image: Nissan SA

Thousands of families are about to hit the national roads for the annual Christmas-holiday lemming run to the beaches, game parks or free holiday accommodation with long-suffering family who chose to settle at the coast and, stupidly, bragged about their address.

Too many twits simply load up the family car with luggage and humans after its been used for a year just for commuting, Saturday shopping and the school run, point it towards some far-distance point, put foot – then wonder why things go wrong, usually in the middle of the Karoo or halfway along the N4 to the Kruger.

CHECK THE DAMN CAR!

Mind you, at least if that happens the kids will stop whining “Are we nearly there yet…?” and switch to “Are we ever going to get there?”

Dad (or, what the hell, Mom!), please just take the damn car down to your local garage for what is often a free safety check on tyres, brakes, cooling
system, lights and electricals. Even if you don’t do that, take a look at these simple ideas from Nissan SA that will improve your chance of reaching your holiday destination. The intention is to help you avoid traffic, save money, stay awake and, well, bluntly, stay alive.

It’s all in the shoes, baby!
Road-safety experts would rather you drive barefoot than in thongs (flip-flops) or high heels which can slip off the pedals. Ideally, drive in
comfortable shoes with grippy soles.

Carman’s Corner is a great fan of drinking and driving
… but make sure what you’re drinking is only water! Avoid fizzy sweetened drinks and junk food – they can cause a sugar crash and make you feel drowsy, which is not a good idea when steering two tons of metal and family flesh along a busy inter-city at 120km/h. Coffee can give you a lift but it’s only temporary… you might not notice, 20 minutes later, that your eyelids are trying to kiss each other. Then you will die..

Don’t be a “day-after” drink driver
Don’t be one of those people who go on a night-time bender, get a ride home, then get busted after collecting the car in the morning because they’re still over the blood-alcohol limit. Give yourself ample time for the alcohol to clear your system, even if you feel OK. Or you will end up in chookie. Or die.

Leave a message on your phone
If you have an Apple iPhone, add your emergency contact details and any allergies to the “Medical ID” section of the built-in Health app. It means
emergency services find your next-of-kin, blood type and allergies even if your phone is locked (providing you grant access to those details in the
locked screen and that a passing itinerant doesn’t nick it the phone from the wreckage). Or, for the duration of the trip, make sure the phone doesn’t go to sleep – emergency services won’t have to beat the password.

Headlights on, night and day
Turn on you headlights at dusk – just because you can still see where you’re going doesn’t mean other drivers can see you coming, especially if your car is grey or some other dark colour. The Corner is NOT in favour of daytime headlights: we believe they mask other oncoming cars that are NOT lit up and, worse, hide motorcycles which rely on their headlight to be seen in traffic – but that’s your call.

Don’t stand on diesel stains while refuelling
Diesel is oilier than unleaded petrol. Stand on a patch near the pumps and your shoe soles will pick up the oil; suddenly, later, you need to brake
sharply and – guess what? – your foot will slip of the pedal. You’ve survived so far, but now you will die.

Check tyre tread wear
If your tyre tread is less than the tip of a matchstick deep (one mm officially, but The Corner says it’s downright bloody stupid of you to have on your car or, worse, motorcycle, tyres with a tread depth less than two mm. They will be lethal on a wet road – ‘lethal’ is a synonum for ‘you will die’. Have your wheel alignment checked before you set off – you’ll save tyre wear and you car will be much easier to drive.

Check the spare has air
…that goes with the previous hint. If you do have a flat, pull well off the highway to change the wheel. If on a freeway, try to stop at the end of a
section of Armco barrier (left of the road only!!) and reverse behind it – it’s helluva easy for a passing car to clip you while your bum is stuck out into the road. Once again, you will die.

Don’t overload the roof, boot or glove box
Best not to store anything heavy on the rear-window shelf – if you’re in a collision whatever it is will fly forwards and, yes, maybe kill somebody. Put pets in a cage on the rear passenger floor. Don’t overload your roof rack. Better, hire a damn trailer… talking of which….

Get your trailer’s axles greased
If you own a box trailer or a caravan do us all a favour and get your axles and bearings checked and greased – or replaced. It’s probably been sitting
out in the rain and dust all year, got rusty, and the axle will seize when it gets hot and a wheel fly off into the bush. Once again, you could die when
you car goes out of control. Check the tyres, too.

It’s can also be difficult to find the errant wheel, which means you won’t be going anywhere for sometime. Which, of course, might be good news for the coastal relatives.

OK, now go and have a lekker holiday. Then do most of the above again before you set off home or, given that you haven’t been gored by an
elephant, eaten by a lion, fallen of a Drakensberg cliff, been eaten by a shark or simply drowned, you could, well, die.

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