Feature article

Top five driving tips for the holiday season

Getting set for some holiday season driving? Here’s our five top tips for a safe and successful trip.

Hot weather, the holiday season, road trips – these are some challenging combinations, and at this time of the year they’re an inevitability for most of us. Here are some top tips for safe driving during the holiday period.

1) Plan ahead

Heading home for the holidays or taking the kids to share the festivities with their grandparents? You’re not alone! The roads are certain to be busier than usual, so it’s a good idea to plan your travel to avoid peak holiday traffic periods. Even if you manage to avoid the worst congestion, you should still factor in plenty of time to complete your journey.

Fight driver fatigue by scheduling regular stops and little breaks. We have a beautiful country – doing this will give you a chance to really take in NZ and enjoy it!

2) Check before you leave

If you’re about to drive a long distance, you want to ensure your car is in the best possible condition. Start by making sure the WoF and rego are bang up to date, then check the following:

  • Tyres – the hot summer sun takes its toll, so check wear on the tread isn’t too heavy and air pressure levels are good.
  • Washers – top up the washer bottle and check wiper blades to ensure visibility won’t be impaired if summer rain strikes. 
  • Belts and hoses – if the fan belts are looking frayed, they’re likely to need replacing. And you want crack free hoses so they continue to pump coolant to the radiator. A mechanic can check and, if required, change these for you. 
  • Filters – to keep the air conditioning system functioning and the engine cool, the air filters under the window screen need to be cleared of all debris. 
  • Oil check – to keep your engine sufficiently lubricated in the hot weather, conduct an oil check before you set off. 
  • Battery – get a mechanic to check for any built up gunk that could hinder performance, and make sure all connections are secure. Keep jump leads in the boot for emergencies. 
  • Lights – you’re legally required to have all headlights and brake lights working, so check if any need replacing before you head off. 
  • First aid kit – it’s a good idea to have a first aid kit available in case of injury or emergency whilst travelling.

    3) Dress suitably

    Jandals are a Kiwi summer institution but, sadly, they’re not a good choice of driver footwear. The flexible soles can get caught under pedals or one might slip off at the worst possible moment. Comfortable but secure shoes are a better choice for driving.

    Light, breathable clothes are the best option for both comfort and safety. You’ll avoid getting too hot in the NZ summer sun and will stay feeling fresh and alert on the road.

    4) Stay cool

    We mean this in both ways possible: physically and attitudinally. If you’re worrying about how much you’ve been using the air-con, don’t be afraid to crack a window instead and let some lovely, cooling airflow in. Windows down on a summer day are a joy on the open road.

    Stay alert, but try to relax and enjoy yourself. The more cool, calm and collected you are, the smoother your journey will be – making for a more pleasurable experience for all holiday motorists. Which brings us nicely to our next tip...

    5) Be courteous

    It’s the season of goodwill, so embrace this by going out of your way to be friendly and courteous to your fellow motorists. We’re all sharing this motorway space, for better or worse, so let’s go out of our way to get along. Be the caring, sharing type by:

    • keeping a safe distance between yourself and the car in-front 
    • being alert around road users with less protection than you: motorcyclists, cyclists, and nearby pedestrians 
    • letting others merge into traffic and remembering to indicate before turning or changing lane
    • rising above it and not being provoked if another motorist is acting aggressively and impatiently 
    • overtaking trucks and towing vehicles safely when you have adequate time and space.

      Have fun

      That’s your top five driving tips for the season, but here’s an extra one – remember to enjoy the ride! It’s the summer and holiday season, you’re probably travelling somewhere for festive fun and frolics – don’t stress it. Stay safe and have a wonderful holiday season. For more advice, check out our motoring must-haves for a family road trip.