10 tips to keep the kids safe while driving these school holidays

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Charging devices, pre-loading movies, planning safe rest stops and counting NRMA Patrol Vehicles are among a new list of safety tips released by the NRMA ahead of the start of the NSW school holidays this weekend.

Almost 40 per cent (36%) of crashes caused by distractions occurred as a result of distractions from within the vehicle. As many as one in 10 fatalities in NSW have been attributed to driver distraction.

NRMA Senior Policy Advisor Dimitra Vlahomitros said bored children in cars could become an annoying distraction for drivers.

“Kids aren’t used to road trips as part of their normal routine so they’re more likely to become bored, agitated or fight with their siblings,” Ms Vlahomitros said.

“Parents need to remember: reducing the risk of distraction means reducing the risk of a crash that could result in a devastating end to the holidays.”

Road trip recommendations from the NRMA include:

  1. Load up fully-charged smart devices with family-friendly movies (in case of poor internet service) and make sure each child has their own headset so the only tunes the driver hears are the ones they choose to play through the radio
  2. Refreshments are also important for a stress-free journey. Pack healthy snacks and plenty of water.
  3. If packing toys, try to make sure they’re not sharp (crayons or pencils) as these can become dangerous in the event of having to stop the car suddenly.
  4. Play games to take the monotony out of the trip, these can include getting children to follow their route along a map, count windmills or even count NRMA Patrol Cars!
  5. Sleep is the only effective guard against tiredness: so don’t cut your sleep short to reach a destination sooner.
  6. Drive to the conditions of roads, not to the speed limit.
  7. Make sure you stop in a safe place every two hours and get out of the car; plan a beach stopover for the kids if driving on the cost.
  8. Pack plastic bags and baby wipes for unexpected spills or accidents.
  9. Pack a ball to encourage the whole family to actively enjoy rest stops.
  10. Make sure your child restraints are fitted properly and if you’re not sure, have them professionally fitted or inspected.

Ms Vlahomitros said sticking to these tips as well as applying a good amount of common sense can help make a family holiday a safe one.

“With the right preparation, long road trips can be enjoyable and safe for everyone,” she said.

What tips do you have to share?

Do you have Road Assist from The NRMA? Don’t get caught without it.

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Top 5 things to see at the 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival

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The 24th annual Parkes Elvis Festival will be held January 6-10, 2016, and if last year’s event is any guide, it will attract more than 20,000 excited visitors.

The main street is closed off for the duration becoming known as the NRMA festival boulevarde, and the local businesses get involved, decorating their shopfronts for that year’s theme. Each theme is based on an Elvis Presley movie – in 2015 it was Roustabout (with a carnival vibe); this year it is Fun in Acapulco, so sombreros are likely to figure highly.

As the festival has grown from humble beginnings in 1993, it has become more and more a family event. In addition to the ‘Elvis tribute artists’, there is a Priscilla Presley lookalike competition, a classic car show, a chance for married couples to renew their vows Vegas style, markets, a photography competition, and more Elvis inspired goodness. We’re excited to play a part in the Elvis Festival for the second time, so visit the NRMA stand at Cooke Park and check out our vintage vehicles.

The local motels are often booked out a year in advance at festival time, so if you don’t have a motorhome or caravan, you might need to stay in one of the neighbouring towns such as Peak Hill or Forbes.

Another thing that books out quickly is the Elvis Express, which departs from Central Station in Sydney and takes 400 enthusiasts out to Parkes via rail. Al and his offsider get on the Elvis Express at Orange to do a meet and greet with the passengers.

Top 5 things to see at the 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival

Wednesday January 6 6pm:
Elvis at the Dish: The Brightest Stars in Heaven
Parkes Shire’s two great icons are brought together again as Shakin’ Rick Mackaway and The Wilsonics perform the King’s greatest hits in front of the world famous CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope.
Where: CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, Telescope Road, Parkes
Admission: $15

Thursday 7 January 4pm: Elvis Express Arrival
See Al and his offsider emerge from the Elvis Express with all the mad Elvis fans who have made the trip out from Sydney.
Where: Parkes Railway Station, Welcome Street, Parkes
Admission: Free

Friday 8 January 10am: Screening of Fun in Acapulco Get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the Elvis film that inspired this year’s festival!
Where: Parkes Library, 25 Bogan Street, Parkes
Admission: Free

Saturday 9 January 10am: Northparkes Mines Street Parade Enjoy a parade packed full of Elvis-themed floats, Elvis and Priscilla look-a-likes, vintage cars and motorcycles, and marching bands.
Where: Clarinda Street, Parkes.
Admission: Free

Sunday 10 January 2pm: ‘The ’68 Special’ Travel back to June 1968 with US Elvis tribute artist Donny Edwards as he lights up the stage with his scorching tribute to The King. Where: Parkes Leagues Club, 194 Clarinda Street, Parkes
Admission: $66 This is just a small taste of what’s on offer during the festival. For the full rundown of events, visit parkeselvisfestival.com.au.

Are you an Elvis fan? Have you been to Parkes?

If you are driving to Parkes, make sure your NRMA Membership is up to date or join here! Or give your vehicle a free health check with NRMA Premium Care before you head off.

Travelling overseas? Your Membership Card could help

Did you know that your NRMA Membership can also be used outside of Australia to access Roadside Assistance as well as other travel information and discounts?  

FLIPSIDE: The rear of your Membership Card is your gateway to unlocking discounts overseas

The NRMA, along with all of the state based motoring clubs in Australia, each have an association with The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

Bringing together 237 national motoring and sporting organisations from 142 countries, the FIA is a non-profit organisation who are the governing body for world motor sport. 

Under the agreement, FIA clubs across the world agree to provide a broad range of services, including breakdown assistance to each other’s Members travelling abroad for a time frame of three months. These benefits will vary. However the International Driving Permit Directory provides a complete list of participating countries, including the United States of America along with their contact details.

As well as roadside services, many motoring clubs around the world are also active in AAA’s global discount and Show Your Card and Save Programs. This means that they may have partnerships throughout their countries where Members can obtain discounts on attractions, museums, hotels, retail and restaurants simply by showing their Membership Card. You can find a list of participating partners, for each international club

Has your NRMA Membership ever come in handy when travelling abroad? What have been some of the discounts or benefits you’ve used? 

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11 tips for safe towing

Four wheel drive towing caravan
Towing a caravan, trailer, boat or horse float can be daunting experience for first timers and experienced drivers alike. Keep these tips in mind next time you plan on hitting the road with something in tow.

  1.  Ensure your vehicle and towbar have the right towing capacity and consider using a weight distribution hitch if your trailer causes rear-end sag and lifts the front of your car.
  2. Ensure the vehicle and trailer are roadworthy (and registered!)
  3. Don’t forget the tyres – trailer tyres are just as important as the towing vehicle and may look better than they really are.
  4. Ensure wheel bearings, suspension, brakes and lights are all in working order.
  5. Make sure you know the height of your load – getting stuck in a tunnel is not fun.
  6. Practice driving with your trailer before hitting the road – get used to the way the trailer moves before you need to battle traffic or tricky roads.
  7. Practice reversing your trailer – particularly if you are towing a boat for the first time and don’t want to be embarrassed at the local boat ramp!
  8. It can take a 4WD and caravan over 25-metres stop from 60km/h, let alone 110km/h. Remember to leave at least 60 metres between your combination and heavy vehicles or other vehicles towing trailers, unless you’re overtaking.
  9. Avoid sudden lane changes. Allow longer distances for braking, overtaking and joining traffic.
  10. Allow time for more rest stops – not only is towing more tiring, but rest stops will allow you to regularly check couplings, doors, hatches and that your load is secure.
  11. Make sure your caravan or trailer is covered next time you hit the road. NRMA Road Assist Premium Care covers up to 3.5 tonnes including trailers and caravans and Premium Plus covers anything up to 10 tonnes including up to $3,000 in breakdown benefits.

Do you have any other tips?

- Read up on the full towing rules.
- Find out more about caravan towing
- Looking for a new towing vehicle? Check out some of our latest reviews

Driving interstate? Your NRMA Membership benefits explained

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Ever worried what happens if you’re driving interstate and your car breaks down? Here’s a rundown on interstate benefits and how to get assistance from across the border as an NRMA Member.

Wherever you are in Australia, NRMA Road Assist is arranged through the same 13 11 11 phone number, which diverts calls to the relevant state based motoring club. Each affiliate club will gather all the relevant breakdown information and contact the originating club to confirm a valid Membership.

The National Roads and Motorists’s Association is affiliated with all six state based Motoring Organisations, which include:AAA map

motoring clubs

Under the reciprocal arrangements, NRMA Members have access to affiliated clubs’ standard levels of Road Assistance Services.These benefits differ from the entitlements NRMA Members receive for breakdowns in NSW and ACT.

  • AANT and RAASA Standard benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles, 8km towing in metropolitan areas and 32km towing in country areas.
  • RACQ Club Care benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles, 10km towing in any direction or up to 40km towing to the attending RACQ Contractor’s premises.
  • RACT Advantage benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles, up to 15km towing in the city and up to 32km back to the nearest agent in the country.
  • RACV Roadside Care benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles, 20km towing in metropolitan areas and 120km towing in country areas.
  • RACWA Standard benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles and 10km towing in “Guaranteed Service” (city) areas, and 80km of travel to mobilise vehicles and 80km towing in “Non-Guaranteed Service” (other) areas.

Members can also receive free maps and discounted attraction tickets, when showing a current club Membership Card.

NRMA Premium Care and Premium Plus Members, are however entitled to receive the same towing entitlements Australia Wide, which includes 50kms metropolitan and regional towing as well as 100kms free remote towing. To arrange these benefits, a current Premium Care Member can contact the Premium Care hotline on 1300 772 273 from anywhere in Australia.

Premium Care and Premium Plus Membership holders can also access up to $3000 worth of Major Mechanical Assistance, including car hire, accommodation and passenger transport. These benefits are available to assist when a major mechanical breakdown occurs more than 100kms from home which cannot be repaired in less than 24 hours. This benefit is also available for Traveller Care Members.

Therefore, if you are regularly travelling greater distances, including interstate, or tow a caravan, Premium Care or Premium Plus may be a better suited option.

Have you ever needed to call Roadside Assistance when interstate? How would you rate your experience? 

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