If you are going abroad this summer to make the most of the school holidays and the glorious weather, there are a number of holiday driving safety tips you should be aware of. Knowing how to drive safely while abroad is essential to making the entire holiday more enjoyable and stress-free, so keep reading to find out more!
Important holiday driving safety tips you need to know
The excitement of going on holiday can be slightly dampened if you have been given the all-important role as the designated driver. Driving in unfamiliar areas can be a daunting experience, and you want to make sure the safety of yourself and your passengers is a priority. With a combination of personal preparation and vehicle maintenance, you can feel confident that your holiday will be a success. If you are planning the ultimate road trip for your holiday by bringing along a caravan, you may want to attend our caravan towing training course in Luton. Our courses provide you with all the knowledge and practical experience you need to legally and safely tow a caravan. We understand what a popular Great British pastime caravanning is, which is why we also offer trailer training courses in Bicester and towing training in Milton Keynes. No matter what type of holiday you are going on, or where in the world you are going, it is of utmost importance to drive safely. So, without further delay, here are our top holiday driving safety tips:
Perform a short car maintenance check
Performing a car maintenance routine before hitting the road will allow you to identify and address any safety issues easily. Without making the necessary checks, you are at risk of driving a faulty vehicle which could result in a breakdown – definitely not what you want while on your holidays! When conducting your own car maintenance check, we suggest you do the following:
Check tyre pressure and tread depth
No matter where in the world you are driving, the conditions of your tyres is critical for your safety. Being the only part of the car which comes into contact of the road, you want to ensure they are functioning properly and meet the legal requirements. Although it is recommended that you check your tyre pressure every two weeks, if you don’t know how to do it, follow this easy step-by-step guide.
The legal minimum tread depth for most cars is 1.6mm across three quarters of the tyre’s surface from the centre line and must be consistent around the whole tyre. To check that your vehicle has sufficient tyre tread depth, use the simple 20p test.
Check oil and coolant levels
Whether your car’s ‘Check Engine’ light is on or not, it is always worth going out of your way to check your coolant and oil. Especially if you are travelling in a hot country, it is vital to have a sufficient amount of coolant as it will help keep your car from overheating. Knowing how to check your vehicle’s coolant is easy, and you can easily purchase new coolant from your local automotive products retailer. Your vehicle’s oil is just as important as the coolant because without it, your engine can burn up and seize in a matter of seconds. You can find the right oil for your vehicle by entering your registration plate here.
Fill windshield washer fluid reservoir
As well as ensuring you have ultimate visibility when driving, washer fluid also acts as a lubricant for internal components such as the washer fluid pump and the hoses. Being such an important feature of your car, you should always check to see you have an adequate amount of screenwash before beginning your journey. It may also be worthwhile to keep a spare bottle of washer fluid in the boot of your car in case you start to run low while out and about.
Test your car battery
A flat battery is a common cause of car breakdowns, and you want to avoid this at all costs, especially when you are in a location you aren’t very familiar with. While there is no specific rule as to how often you should check your car’s battery, we advise testing it at least once a month for peace of mind. To make sure your battery is functioning as it should be before your holiday, all you need is a multimeter and to follow the steps in this handy article.
Learn the local rules of the road
While driving at home may seem like second nature as you know all the laws and regulations, you may feel our of your comfort zone slightly when driving abroad. If you are taking your own car on holiday, you are at a slight advantage as you are already familiar with the setup. However, if you are driving a hire car you will need to take some extra time to adjust as the gear stick and handbrake may be on your right as opposed to the left. In the UK, motorists are required to drive on the left side of the road, but not all countries adhere to this rule. You can find a list of all left and right driving countries here.
It is also important to remember that driving laws vary across Europe and between neighbouring countries, so you should make sure what they are before you get behind the wheel. For example, in France, you must always carry a breathalyser and in Poland, Bulgaria and Serbia, you need to have your headlights on at all times. You can learn all the essential driving advice for more than 40 countries with The AA’s touring tips.
Make an emergency road kit
In the unfortunate case of a breakdown, you want to be fully prepared, which is why you should take the time to make an emergency road kit. This is especially important if you are driving around France as warning triangles are required for all vehicles with more than two wheels. We advise putting the following in your kit:
- A properly inflated spare tyre and wheel wrench
- Jump leads
- Torch with spare batteries
- Warning triangle
- Drinking water and nonperishable, high-energy food
- First aid kit
- Portable phone chargers
Check the weather
If you are used to driving in the UK, you will be accustomed to the weather conditions and can drive accordingly. However, when driving in a country with extreme heat, heavy snow or other harsh weather conditions, you will need to adapt. When driving in hot temperatures, your car is 50% more likely to overheat, which is one of the leading causes of breakdowns in the UK. As well as overheating, punctures and clutch problems are also more common in extreme heat. On the other hand, if you are going to a snow-covered paradise for a skiing holiday, you will also have to be cautious when driving. Cold, wintry weather can put undue strain on internal components beneath your car’s bonnet and create dangerous driving conditions. For useful tips on how to drive safely in adverse weather conditions, read here.
Time to relax
Although learning the local laws and driving in unfamiliar surroundings can be stressful, knowing how to do so safely is key to a successful holiday. Don’t forget that your holiday is a time to chill out and enjoy yourself, so try to limit your time behind the wheel when you can. You can easily soak up the culture of the country with a walking tour and making the most of local cuisine and activities.