Way to have safe journeys for the long break
By the time this piece comes out, many of you will likely be in the midst of Holy Week activities.
Although Fast Times won’t delve into the debate of whether or not to go out-of-town during what many consider a period of religious reflection, we are duty-bound to cater to those who may be driving long distances to our country’s many wonderful destinations. We spoke to Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership Secretary-General Alberto Suansing to get advice on what drivers need to do to travel safely for those long drives. Here they are:
Check your car. Long-distance driving puts a lot of stress on your car, especially on the tires, brakes, suspension and cooling system. Suansing said it would be best to have your car checked weeks in advance by a professional, like in the free inspections offered by carmakers and service stations, so that worn-out parts and dirty fluids can be replaced. Also, never forget BLOWBAG – or to check Brakes, Lights, Oil, Water, Battery, Air and Gas.
Check yourself. Your car could be fit enough to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but if the squishy life form behind the wheel (meaning you) isn’t in tip-top shape, expect to find yourself (and possibly your passengers) covered in newspapers on the side of a provincial highway. Suansing said drivers should get enough rest before hitting the road and must absolutely avoid driving while intoxicated. If you are feeling tired, pull over for a break or, better yet, swap with another driver.
Follow driving rules. In a country that considers the Land Transportation and Traffic Code as a “suggestion,” this is quite possibly the most difficult piece of advice to follow, especially on clear provincial highways where drivers get to live out their racing driver fantasies. But Suansing said leisurely driving is the way to go because you’ll have a far greater chance of getting to where you’re going without injuring or killing yourself (or worse, others). Suansing also said road-crash data shows that a majority of crashes occur when overtaking in curves, where road users driving opposite each other can’t see very far ahead (let’s not forget the Adventure driver who smashed into a motorcycle along a curved highway). In addition, many provincial highways don’t have adequate lighting or proper road markings, so seeing obstacles and maintaining your lane can be very difficult, especially at night.
Learn about roadside-assistance programs in areas you’re going to. Let’s say your car is fighting fit, you’re wide awake and sober, and you’ve memorized the Traffic Code as if you were taking a law-school midterm on it. However, things can still go wrong. It could be something minor like a blown tire to, heaven forbid, a major collision. Suansing said it’s vital that you get the numbers of the emergency services in the areas you’re driving through because different areas may have different emergency-service coverage. One source of help that Suansing recommends is the Philippine Red Cross, which can dispatch chapters to help you out. Also, read your insurance policies and vehicle warranties to see if you can avail 24/7 nationwide roadside assistance, which often comes free with your coverage.