Road trip family
You should check your car during the daytime before going on a road trip, advise experts Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: With the long Eid Al Fitr break getting underway, residents are sure to embark on long inter-emirate road trips with friends and family.

Experts, however, have a word of caution. Here’s what they have to say as they share some practical tips to ensure that your journey is smooth and safe.

Naser Shashaa

Naser Shashaa, vice-president, Michelin Middle East and North Africa, told Gulf News: “Expect this Eid to see a large number of road travel to be with family and loved ones. For ultimate safe journey and peace of mind, we highly recommend checking your vehicle a couple of days prior to the road trip. Avoid checking your car the night before to avoid surprises.”

Start with tyre check

Shashaa also shared some practical tips — with a focus on tyre check — prior to the journey: “Start with a visual examination of the tyre condition. Check the tyre tread depth as a worn-out tread can result in loss of traction.”

“Also make sure to check the spare wheel and have it in top shape. The spare tyre is often overlooked, but in an emergency situation, it can make the difference between being stranded and delayed,” he added.

Shashaa advised: “No matter how long the trip is, keep an eye on how much you pack and how much weight it will add on. An overloaded car might not be able to take the extra weight and perform at its full capacity, while also impacting the tyre performance.”

It is always advised to carry a puncture-repair kit with a tyre inflator. It is fairly easy to use and can be a saviour in an emergency situation.

Before the long road trip, go for a short drive the day before to make sure the car is not feeling odd in terms of handling. While on the drive, check if the car is pulling to one side. If it is, the alignment might be out of place. You need to get it checked and fixed.

'Be extra careful, always'

P.M. Abdul Razak, operations manager at Emirates Driving Institute, has one cardinal rule while on the road: “Be extra careful, always.”

P.M. Abdul Razak

“The Eid holiday season is here. Our roads are expected to witness peak traffic as thousands of people from other emirates or countries take a break to spend some quality time with their loved ones. It is a time when drivers need to be extra careful on the roads. There is a significant surge in road accidents and fatalities during almost every holiday period,” Razak noted.

He continued: “Some of the causes of these accidents include heavy volume of traffic; drivers having fun with co-passengers while driving; people visiting from other emirates not being too familiar with the city and its roads. Another reason could be drowsiness and stress due to the long drive.”

Here are the safety reminders from Razak to enjoy the holiday trip:

1. Prepare the car

Perform a basic check to ensure the car is ready for a long drive. Check oil levels, wiper fluid, fuel level, and tyre condition. All passengers must buckle up and use an appropriate child safety seat for children.

2. Plan the trip

Leave plenty of extra time on your trip. Delays must be anticipated when driving long distances. Having extra time can help you stay relaxed. Remember, the shortest route is not necessarily the fastest route always. Aim to avoid roads that are prone to congestion during peak hours. 3. Pack smart

Make sure you have enough water, food, basic medical supplies and toiletries.

4. Share the task

Driving long distances can be tiring. So, try to take breaks and share the steering. Some are good at navigating, others may not read a map that well. Know who does what well and share the tasks by talent and preference.

5. Stay alert

Be aware that some drivers are unfamiliar with your city and its roads. These drivers may act surprisingly at the last moment, just before a junction or exit. Keep sufficient distance from vehicles.

6. Follow the rules and regulations

Strictly follow the rules and regulations, drive according to the road traffic condition within the speed limit, maintain safe distance always and stop your vehicle always at a safe place.

Tyre safety

Did you know tyre-related accidents contribute to around five per cent of UAE’s total traffic death toll? This is why it is very important that tyres must be procured, fitted and maintained properly.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) recommends replacing tyres no later than five years, or earlier if the remaining tread depth is below 1.6mm. Tyres must also be replaced if there are other signs of wear or damage, for example, cracks or cuts in the sidewall, parts of the tread band are damaged, etc.

It is highly recommended that all four tyres are replaced at the same time, especially on permanent four-wheel drive vehicles to avoid mechanical damage. If only two tyres are replaced on a two-wheel drive vehicle, it is recommended that the new tyres be fitted to the rear axle for vehicle stability and safer handling.

Keep in mind: Use only reputable branded and certified tyres. Avoid fitting tyres that may be substandard and therefore potentially unsafe. Use the correct tyre type and dimension for your vehicle (refer to the vehicle owner’s manual or ask for expert advise if not sure).

Check tyre pressure at least once a month using a reliable or calibrated gauge. The recommended pressures are quoted in the vehicle owner’s manual or on a sticker usually attached to a door frame or fuel cover. Make sure that the pressures are checked when the tyres are ‘cold’, i.e. driven less than 3km before the check.

Avoid driving over or near hazardous objects that could damage the tyres and make them unsafe or unfit for service, for example, rocks, glass, potholes, kerbs etc. Regularly check the age of the spare tyre, condition and air pressure to avoid having a spare tyre that is unfit for use.