It’s the silly season! Holiday madness time is upon us when sun seekers flock to different aquatic locations either inland or at the coast with their boats in tow. It is during this period that the rate of road fatalities and accidents spike dramatically, and for this reason, we all need to be extra careful on the road, especially with our boats in tow.
TOW WITH THE FLOW
CHECK YOUR VEHICLE
Before departing for your holiday destination, check that all the components of the trailer such as the coupler, hitch, safety chain and lights are all functioning correctly. Remember, towing a trailer and boat requires extra attention when on the road. Your tow vehicle also needs to be checked thoroughly and be in a roadworthy condition before embarking on the trip. Any defective parts should be renewed before the trip.
Your trailer, more particularly any goods stowed and secured in your boat on the trailer, should enjoy an even weight distribution with the centre of gravity adjusted more towards the front of the trailer, but not overly so, as too much pressure on the tongue of the trailer can also cause problems. Basically, the perfect weight distribution is dispersed evenly on either side of the trailer with slightly more weight positioned towards the front. All towing and weight capacities for the tow vehicle and the trailer can be found in their respective handbooks. If you have misplaced your handbook, simply consult your local dealer for the necessary advice.
The trailer and boat should always be visible in the side mirrors and added attention needs to be extended when overtaking, especially on inclines, declines and corners. Your vehicle will also take longer to overtake due to the added load of the trailer and boat, so make sure you have more than enough room and space to pass when viewing the oncoming traffic. Stopping distances also increase when towing a boat.
TAKE A BREAK
It is important to take a refreshment break and stretch your legs every two hours during the trip to and from your holiday destination. Many accidents are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Fatigue on the road is a killer.
Before your trip, make sure your battery is fully charged and topped up to the correct level with distilled water.
Unforeseen problems can easily crop up along the way, and for this reason it is important to be properly prepared with your own car kit. Let’s look at some suggestions as to what should make up your kit.
• First-aid kit
• Multipurpose knife
• A charged mobile phone
• Toilet paper
• Bottled water to drink
• Spare water for topping up the radiator
• Puncture repair kit
• Reflective triangle
• A pint of oil
• A basic selection of tools
• A functioning jack and wheel spanner
• A road map.
Over the holiday period, motorists are often tired after a full year of work and when this is coupled with all the activities, late nights with little sleep over the festive season, it can have a detrimental effect on their driving abilities.
Drive as smoothly as possible during your trip and avoid excessive acceleration as this increases fuel consumption. You can easily reduce your fuel consumption on the entire trip by 25% by reducing your speed from 120 km/h to 80km/h. What’s more, at the slower speeds you’ll be able to take in the beautiful countryside along the way. TOP TIP: Driving after only five hours of sleep can be likened to drunken driving.
THE AA’S TOP 10 TIPS FOR SAFE DRIVING THIS HOLIDAY PERIOD
2. Reduce speed to within the speed limit and slow down in adverse weather conditions.
3. Maintain a safe following distance at all times with greater following distances being realised in rainy or foggy conditions. Stick to the twosecond rule in normal conditions and the four-second rule in low visibility or adverse weather conditions.
4. Check your rear view and side mirrors regularly.
5. Wear your seat belt at all times, as it will save your life in the event of an accident. This applies to all passengers as well.
6. Get adequate rest the night before your trip to minimise fatigue when travelling anywhere.
7. Share the driving with others who are less fatigued.
8. If you’re the only driver, pull over for refreshments or a 20-minute power nap to revitalise yourself.
9. Never ever drink and drive.
10. Do not text and drive, it is a major cause of accidents and equally as dangerous as driving under the influence. If you get a call while driving, use the hands-free option or get someone else in the vehicle to handle the call.