Long Distance driving 101

Are you ready for the long drive?

With the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays, expect the roads to be jam packed to the brim with folks all wanting to return to their hometowns down South, up North or to either East or West sides of the country. It's going to be chaotic out there, cars bumper to bumper, traffic police lurking at every corner and with the recent announcement that speed limits are going to be reduced by 10km/h throughout the holiday period, it'll challenge your patience as well and sanity.

But fret not, RNR has a few pointers to help ease the pain of long distance travel during the holidays.

Ensure your car is in tip-top condition. Send your car for a service early and make sure everything is in good order. The last thing you want is for the car to breakdown in the middle of your road trip leaving you stranded, hood (or bonnet depending on where you're from) up, all hot and sweaty waiting for AAM to rescue you. Imagine the horror if you had your entire family with you too, the dark moody face of the missus and constant bickering of hot sweaty children. *Shudders*

Inspect your car yourself and make sure the mechanic didn't miss anything. Inside the car, the engine bay, the undercarriage, everything. You know your car best and sometimes even the professionals miss a thing or two. Doesn't hurt to check. Every. Single. Thing. Those who maintain their own cars would greatly appreciate where I'm coming from.

Check those brake pads. If it's anything less than 30% left, have them changed! Expect to use your brakes very often during the trip back home. Last thing you want is a failed braking system. Rotors, brake pads, calipers, brake oil, brake lines, check them all. Replace if necessary and take nothing for granted. The brakes is the only thing that'll save you from being a pancake or a car (okay not entirely true but you get the idea).

Have your tyres inspected and changed if necessary! I've personally had my tyres explode whilst driving down the North-South highway. The thread was still quite good but the tyres were over 4 years old. So if you have old tyres on your car, consider driving slow or change them out. Old tyres don't like heat and driving fast will generate loads of heat. Other than that inspect the thread depth of your tyre - if the tyre indicator is less than 3mm ~ 4mm in depth, change the tyre, it's no longer safe for use. When selecting tyres, consider the wet-grip type tyres. Malaysia is expected to have a 'cold' spell (meaning loads of rain I suspect) so it wouldn't hurt to have some decent grip in the wet.

Get lots of sleep the night before. Driving when tired is bad for everyone - yourself, your family, other road users and the car. Oh heck no, heaven forbid you fall asleep on the wheel and damage the car in the process!

When stuck in traffic - chill. No point fretting over slow moving traffic because the only thing that'll go up apart from your water temperature is your blood pressure. Crank up the A/C, listen to some tunes and just follow the traffic until it eases up. Accidents happen when you lose your cool and don't pay attention. And accidents causes traffic build-up. If there were no accidents, there'd be no traffic-jams. Without traffic-jams there'd be no irritated drivers. Without irritated drivers there'd be no accidents.

Don't be a jackass. Whilst it's common in Malaysia for people to break the law and drive (at speed) on the emergency lanes, you're not supposed to do that. You can and will cause accidents and your jack-assery will cause traffic buildup when you decide to cut back into the main road. Swerving in and out of traffic is pointless and dangerous too. It's not going to get you to your destination quicker.

If you're not going fast, don't hog the right-most lane. Stick to the middle lane if you're going at the speed limit or the left lane if you're going slower. The furthest right lane is for overtaking and much-faster-than-you cars. So don't be a road-hog. Having said that however, if there's traffic up ahead, don't be a moron and keep flashing the car ahead to move aside. The reason he/she can't go any faster is because of traffic ahead. Why would a good citizen-driver be driving 80km/h on the fast lane otherwise right?

Lastly, enjoy the holidays. Take it easy. It's called a 'holiday' for a reason!

- Izso