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Is your car road trip ready?

With camping season ramping up in the Northern Territory and thousands of people hitting the open road, preparing your car and planning ahead could save lives.  Whether it’s an Aussie beach getaway or a holiday to a waterhole, road trips are quintessentially Australian.  For generations, we’ve packed the car with everything but the kitchen sink and hit the road in search of relaxation and adventure.  While we’re often focussed on getting out the door, or keeping the kids entertained for the journey, it’s important we plan for the drive itself.  With 31 deaths on Northern Territory roads last year – the highest per capita for any Australian state or territory – it’s vital we take the time to check our vehicle is safe before setting off.  From packing the boot correctly to strapping in pets, these simple steps can go a long way to make sure you arrive safely at your destination, and no one gets hurt on the way.


Service your car

It’s easy to put off booking in your car for a service but ignoring your vehicle’s warning lights could leave you stranded. In more serious cases, it could even prove fatal.  Whether it’s worn brakes, bald tyres or an ageing air conditioner, accredited mechanics can quickly spot minor faults during an inspection before they become major problems.  Ideally, you should get your car serviced every six months or at 10,000km intervals – whichever comes first.  If you don’t know when your last service was, check your logbook as most mechanics will make a note of when it’s due next.  Performing your own basic checks, such as topping up the oil, coolant and windscreen washer fluid, before hitting the open road can be lifesaving.


Pack the car

Packing the car for summer holidays can be a headache for anyone, even the most qualified car Tetris experts.   Boogie boards, bikes, bags – the list goes on. That’s why it’s so important you take the time to load your car properly before setting off.  Whether they’re stored in the boot, trailer or caravan, heavy items such as eskies or large suitcases should be placed in a secure position, low to the ground.  This way, they won’t slide around when turning and affect the stability of your vehicle.  These items should be placed level with the rear seats or behind a cargo barrier to make sure they don’t fly through the cabin during a crash.  Even ordinary items like laptops, handbags and water bottles can turn into dangerous projectiles when you suddenly slam on the brakes.  While it’s tempting to pack your car to the rafters, you should ensure you always have a clear view out the rear of your vehicle.  If you’re caught by police driving without a clear view out of the rear of your vehicle, you could end up in court charged with driving offences.  If you choose to strap luggage onto your car, only use roof racks which are approved by your manufacturer.  You should also avoid placing heavy items on the roof as they can disrupt your car’s centre of gravity, which can affect the way it handles.


Strap in your pets 

For many of us, a road trip doesn’t quite seem complete without taking along our furry friends.  But some drivers will routinely put their pets at risk by securing them incorrectly in the car.  It doesn’t take much to get distracted or knocked by your pets when driving, which can result in a serious accident.  Not only is it disruptive, but an unrestrained pet could be seriously injured or killed if they’re suddenly thrown around a vehicle.  Ideally, you should use a purpose-built safety harness in combination with the car’s seatbelt to make sure your pet is safe and secure in the back seat.  Smaller dogs or cats can also be transported in a pet crate that’s properly secured in a vehicle.  While there’s no official requirement to restrain pets in the car, there is a law against driving with an animal or person on your lap.  Under Australian Road Rules, a driver mustn’t drive a vehicle if a person or an animal is in their lap. If they’re caught by NT Police, they could find themselves in court, charged with several offences.


Plan ahead

After a long week at work, it can be tempting to jump straight in the car and head on holidays.  But taking the time to stock your car with essential items is a must before any road trip.  And we don’t just mean swinging past the servo for some chips and a bottle of water.  It might sound over the top, but emergency items such as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and torch should be the first things you pack.  Double checking your spare tyre is in good condition is another must-do before switching into holiday mode.  You never know what situation will arise while on the open road, so it’s essential you have this equipment on-hand and ready to go.  While you’re preparing, plan regular rest stops and check if there are any weather or fire warnings in the regions you’re travelling through. It’s also important that snacks, drinks and entertainment for the kids are stored in an easily accessible space.  You don’t want to be rummaging for the iPad or a juice box while you’re on the road.


Another key to a great road trip is roadside assistance, AANT has three levels of cover, Premium, Plus, and Standard.

CLICK HERE  to compare the plans - giving you the peace of mind to go out and enjoy your trip.

Still not sure what cover is best for you? Call us on 8925 5901 and we'll be happy to assist.

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