A little extra care goes a long way for a safe trip this Easter
With hundreds of thousands of Australians hitting the highway for Easter, four-day weekend is undoubtedly one of the busiest times on the road and for many drivers, one of the most stressful. However, according to leading GPS manufacturer Navman, there are some simple ways you can make your journey easier and safer.
"A good GPS these days can help plan the route and also help you plan stops along the way," says Wendy Hammond from Navman. "It will alert you to accident black spots and help you find petrol stations, cafes, parks and, of course, those much-needed public conveniences.
"We've put together six simple tips that will really help but the two most important things are to make sure you are well rested before you set off on the road, and choose the time of day you set off on your trip wisely - no amount of route planning and traffic alerts will help if you're setting off in peak hour," she says.
<>1. Familiarise yourself with your driving route
Take the time to get familiar and confident with your itinerary before starting your trip, taking note of important turn-offs and how long it should take to get from one point to another. Navman Platinum's 'Go' mode lets you view your driving route by typing in your destination and departure addresses. You can view this as a list, or follow the route simulation.
2. Schedule in breaks and share the driving if possible
Driver fatigue is responsible for many avoidable accidents, so remember to schedule in some breaks in your journey. Navman's route planning feature calculates the approximate time it will take for you to get from one turn off to another so you can plan your breaks, and where to divide the drive if there is more than one driver. Using the 'Explore' mode, you can plan good spots to break your journey, for instance, at parks or restaurants. With some models you can even connect, via Bluetooth, to TrueLocal to access rich information on literally hundreds of thousands of points of interest.
3. Petrol stations
Particularly on long drives to remote areas, it is important to know when and where to fill up your car. The 'petrol' function found on Navman's home screen lists out the petrol stations on your route. It even gives you a phone number so you can call ahead to check if the station is open.
4. Driver distraction and GPS units
Don't fiddle with your GPS unit while you're on the road. Always key in your destination and adjust the GPS to your needs before you drive. Ensure that your GPS unit is securely attached and placed in a spot that will not restrict your view of the road ahead. If you have to adjust your GPS unit en route, either get a passenger to do it or pull over.
5. Mobile phones on the go
It is against the law to drive with a hand held mobile phone. Minimise talking on the phone while driving as it leads to riskier decision making, slower reactions, slower and less controlled breaking, wandering out of your lane and not being alert to your surroundings. If you absolutely have to take a call, some GPS units like Navman allow you to connect your phone via Bluetooth, leaving both hands free to remain on the wheel. Never text or look up phone numbers when driving, and avoid taking calls in bad weather or poor road conditions.
6. Stay alert and take extra care at known black spots
Check your mirrors and be aware of what's going on around you. The National Black Spot Program targets road locations where crashes are known to occur and aims to reduce the risk of crashes by alerting drivers to the potential dangers of these sites. Navman Platinum helps drivers stay aware with premium safety features including national black spots and railway crossings alerts.
"Having a good GPS unit like Navman will make your driving life much easier and less stressful, and you won't be distracted by working out how to get to your destination or whether you are on the right track. You can put your full attention on the road and on your surroundings, and be a safer driver," says Wendy.
The ultra slim 13.5mm Navman Platinum is crammed with other useful features like sophisticated lane guidance - indicating exactly which lane to take, 3D landmarks and junction views as you approach many major turn-offs, exits and intersections, fixed speed and red light cameras alerts, world maps for overseas travel, a pinpoint function to tag your location for future reference and petrol saving features. Navman Platinum is light and small enough to slip into a handbag and can be switched from driving to pedestrian mode instantly.
There are three models in the Navman Platinum range - S100 ($349 RRP); S150 ($399 RRP) and the S300t ($599). Until June 2009, buy a Navman Platinum S100, S150 or S300t and receive Navteq® 2009 maps for free and get a lifetime subscription of SUNA traffic alerts at half price, $75 (RRP$150).