Traveling by car? Here are some important precautions to keep in mind.
All Indians have felt the need for improved road infrastructure in most parts of India. Although improving roads and the traffic situation within the hearts of cities is proving to be difficult, thankfully new highways are being set up on the outskirts, linking various towns. The Delhi-Jaipur highway, the Bombay-Pune highway are just some of the examples.
These roads provide for smooth, easy riding, and make the journey so much more comfortable. As a result more and more families find themselves taking weekend trips to towns close-by, and this trend will only increase in the future.
It is, however, important to observe certain safety precautions when driving on highways.
The wide, smooth roads tempt you to drive faster than you normally would, especially when you see little traffic around. Always bear in mind that the faster you drive, the less control you have over your vehicle. Although you may feel comfortable speeding when you see a clear road ahead, try and resist the temptation to go too fast - especially at night. While you may be in control of your car, others may not be. It is not uncommon to run into drunk drivers on highways. Truck drivers often drink to compensate for the weariness of daily, lengthy driving, while many others are in a holiday mood, and could very easily be traveling with crates of beer. They may lose control, even if you don't, so always make it a point to slow down when other vehicles are around.
Don't drive very fast at night, even on an empty road. Visibility is a lot lower, and you may skid due to a sudden application of breaks or due to something slippery on the roads.
Choose the car you will be traveling in, with care. Always opt for a sturdy car - it's not a good idea to zip around from one town to another in a Maruti 800. Although SUVs are considered safer, they tend to topple over more easily than regular vehicles. The car is strong and should be able to survive a few turns without getting badly damaged, although passengers, especially small children, could get injured.
It is thus of prime importance that during all car rides on highways, passengers wear seat belts. If your car doesn't have seat belts at the back, and if you are thus unable to secure your children, consider taking another car on your trip.
Open jeeps may be a lot of fun, but they are not the safest option, again because they don't have adequate safety equipment, and you may just be thrown out of the car (which may or may not be okay, depending on where you land!) Your best bet would be a powerful, sturdy, regular car, like a Honda City. Make sure you buckle up your kids - and yourself.
More quick safety tips:
Never pile up snacks, sweaters etc at the back of the car, so as to block the view from the rearview mirror.
Always be alert when driving. It is easy to lose concentration because the drive seems so smooth and easy - but this is deceptive.
Give the designated driver some gum to chew, to help him keep alert. If you have a hired driver, insist that he let you know when he feels a little sleepy. He can then park the car on the side and take a quick nap, wake up feeling refreshed, wash his face, and you can set off again. Never compromise on safety just because you are in a hurry to reach your holiday destination.
If you are sitting up front with the driver, make sure you are awake and alert. Chew gum if you have to. If you start feeling sleepy, switch places with someone else.