Weekend getaway: helpful tips before you hit the road

Warm spring weather encourages people to take to the road. It is a good idea always to check your own vehicle prior to making even only a short journey, including a careful inspection of the state of the tyres

Home road Weekend getaway: helpful tips before you hit the road
Weekend getaway: helpful tips before you hit the road

Warm weather and longer days are on the horizon and as a result people will be looking to their cars as a ticket for a few well-deserved days of holiday. On these occasions, it is important that the engine, the mechanical parts and, in general, every aspect of the car should be in an excellent condition to deal with various journeys in complete safety. Naturally, the tyres too play a role which can only be described as essential. However wonderful the mechanical elements of the vehicle may be, a car can never be 100% efficient without fully functional tyres, whether from the point of view of safety, or from the perspective of the quality of the brand.

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How to check the condition of your tyres
Above all, you need to check the wear of the treads. The manufacturers underline the fact that with a remaining tread thickness of 3 mm it is already advisable to turn to an expert to get the tyres replaced, even if already at 4 mm the tyre might start to fail to guarantee sufficient road holding on damp or extremely wet asphalt. Therefore it is not advisable to take the tread lugs down to their extreme limit. 
In order to check that your tyres can still guarantee on an ongoing basis an appropriate level of efficiency, it is possible to carry out a simple verification, let us say twice a month, using a rapid technique which is also quite good fun. All you need is a 2 Euro coin if you still have winter tyres fitted, or a 1 Euro coin for summer tyres, and to place it inside one of the tread grooves. If the outer band of each coin is still visible, the groove could be too worn and it would be advisable to take the car to a tyre specialist to have the tyres replaced.
Furthermore, despite the fact that in certain countries the temperatures are beginning to feel more pleasant at this time of year, you should remember that the fitting of winter tyres can remain obligatory even in March, depending on regulations which can vary from country to country. The use of these tyres can sometimes be extended beyond the official limit, provided that the speed limit inscribed on the tyre shoulder (e.g.: Q=160 km/h; W=270 km/h) is equal to or higher than the one indicated on the vehicle registration certificate. In any event, winter tyres are recommended for anyone who decides to spend the Easter period in a mountain venue.
Before leaving, it is advisable to think about other key factors. Above all, you should not compromise the general well-being of the vehicle in which you are travelling. Checking the quality and quantity of the engine oil is just as important as verifying the braking system or the vehicle's tracking. No less important than all these factors is, of course, the physical and mental state of health of the person who will be driving.

Prudence and a little common sense
Notwithstanding the state of health of the car, it is nevertheless our own behaviour which will make all the difference. Do not eat and drink to excess (and avoid alcohol in particular), take several rest breaks during a long journey and certainly stop for a rest if you begin to experience the early symptoms of tiredness - all these are highly recommended warnings. In the event that there are several members of your party who are qualified to drive, it would be a good idea to agree to take turns. Before setting off, finally, it is your duty to check that all passengers have fastened their seatbelts and that small babies, or young children, are suitably protected inside their appropriate child seats, and that the latter have been carefully attached to the car using the requisite fastenings. 
You should also pay particular attention to how luggage is stowed, so that it does not impede visibility. The same applies if you are transporting animals.
During the journey, ensure that you maintain a speed which is always appropriate and which respects the relevant speed limits; always use the lane furthest to the right when you are driving on a motorway with several lanes, overtaking in a prudent and correct manner, without annoying other drivers. Correct behaviour on the road is also linked to a respect of the necessary braking distance from the vehicle ahead, and use of the emergency lane, when there is one, only in the event of extreme necessity.
If you need to stop because of a puncture, for example, and it is not possible to reach a technical assistance centre quickly and safely, it is advisable to park the vehicle in the nearest lay-by, emergency lane, or designated safety area. After having checked that all the occupants are healthy and calm, it is advisable to warn other vehicles of your position by turning on the hazard lights, to turn off the engine and to put on your reflective vest, if you are outside a built-up area. You are required to warn oncoming drivers of your position by setting up your emergency triangle around a hundred metres ahead of the point at which you have been forced to stop, and to await the roadside emergency assistance services you will have contacted.

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