Alert drivers get there safely

By Liz Dobson

Road rules are made for your protection so stick to them

You've packed the car safely, the trailer or caravan is secure, and the kids are settled in their car seats - now the fun begins as you join the queues leaving the cities for the Christmas holidays.

But no matter how long the journey is - be it a weekend away or a month at the beach - it pays to drive sensibly this summer.

Remember also that over the public holidays police will reduce the over-the--limit allowance from 10km/h to 5km/h so stick to the right speed. And if you're towing a vehicle your maximum open-road speed is 90km/h.

Here are some tips to make sure your trip is safe:

<strong>*</strong>Unless you can leave early and have allowed extra time, avoid leaving on the last workday before a holiday when the roads will be congested.

*Be courteous and remain calm when driving, even if provoked by other drivers' behaviour.

*Maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front. Use your indicators.

*Keep left unless passing and pull over to let others pass you.

*If you need to pass a slower vehicle, wait for a passing lane or until you can see enough clear road ahead to overtake safely. Don't cut in too closely, especially in front of larger vehicles that take a longer time to brake and could hit you from behind.

*Make sure you and all your passengers are buckled up - there is a $150 fine for each person not buckled up.

*Don't be distracted when driving by eating, drinking or yelling at the kids.

*If you encounter sunstrike or heavy rain, or are unsure of the road, slow down.

*Driving smoothly and avoiding unnecessary acceleration will reduce fuel consumption and be less stressful. Reduce drag by keeping your windows up and not using a roof or bike rack unless you have to, and use air-conditioning sparingly.

*If the trip is more than three hours long take 20 minute breaks - and make sure to stretch. If needs be, take a 10 minute nap, but not on the side of the motorway as it's illegal to stop on the hard shoulder except in an emergency.

*Hayfever can be bad in the summer and if you sneeze at 100km/h you lose your vision for as much as 100m. Don't take medication that causes drowsiness or get someone else to drive. Put on some sunglasses if the sun is too bright.

- Hamilton News

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