NRMA Safer Driving‘s Mark Toole has some important advice for young drivers heading off on their schoolies road trip.
The end of the school is an exciting time and many young drivers travel long distances to celebrate. The schoolies road trip can be their first long distance drive without supervision and, in some cases, their first driving experience on highways and freeways.
It’s important to start with making sure seat belts are worn. According to the NSW Centre of Road Safety, one person loses their life each week on average in NSW from not wearing a seat belt. Despite all the sophisticated safety features now present in cars, the seat belt is still the only thing stopping occupants being ejected from the car in a crash.
Drivers also need to ask themselves how they are feeling. Excited? Nervous? Stressed? Recognising your emotional state is important for safer driving.
Ensure you get enough rest before every trip and, for longer drives, make sure there is more than one driver ready to take over. Try to stop at least every two hours for 15 minutes and take advantage of rest stops along the way. Remember: Stop, Revive, Survive.
Planning your trip is also helpful for managing personal tiredness and comfort. Spending a little time researching and printing out a detailed map or writing down where the driver reviver sites are located (and opening times) is a good investment.
A long road trip can make driving difficult for new drivers. Noisy friends, higher traffic speed, challenging weather conditions and road works can be difficult if the young driver is not prepared for them. Ask yourself: How long will this trip take? Do I have a contingency plan if it takes longer than I planned? What is the best way to go? And when is the best time to leave?
It’s important, as a driver, to feel confident on all roads you are driving on. Highways require practice so ensure this occurs and you are confident in lane merging, overtaking and speed management.
What to do if you are a passenger
If you are a passenger, be prepared to speak up if you don’t feel safe. As part of NRMA’s Live Learn Drive program we found more than 50 per cent of students didn’t tell a driving friend they didn’t feel safe. Often they are scared of looking uncool in front of their friends, but speaking up can save lives.
Ask yourself how you can help the driver to drive at low risk. Unnecessary noise and distractions make driving that much harder. Be considerate of the driver, share the driving, help navigate, and offer suggestions for departure times, rest and fuel stops.
Finally, do you have roadside assistance? If not, sign up for NRMA’s Free2go before setting off. Free2go Membership entitles you to free roadside assistance, even is it’s not your car or you are a passenger.