Let this not be your last summer Drive safe with these 14 tips A A- It’s the one week millions upon millions of Pinoy Catholics have been waiting for all year: the Lenten break. Starting last Monday, families had been activating their vacation plans, and many of them have opted to travel by land to their Holy Week destinations. According to NLEX Corp’s assistant vice president for Corporate Communications Kit Ventura, a 20-percent increase in traffic is expected in the North Luzon expressway during this time, or up to 240,000 vehicles every day. Manny Bonoan, president of Skyway Operation and Maintenance Corp/Skyway, the daily average for ordinary days is about 330,0000. “The reason why it is lower during Holy Week is because traffic is low on Good Friday and Saturday,” said Bonoan. He added that “the numbers are all exit transactions.” If you happen to be taking part in this mass exodus, remember these 14 driving tips for a safe, hassle-free trip. 1. Be aware of the risks of driving, and don’t take driving conditions for granted. Every driver faces the same risks, whether they’re new to the skill or have been long-time veterans of the road. The contributing factors leading to road collisions and mishaps include differences in speeds among vehicles, unfamiliarity with others vehicles, especially at night, and poorly maintained warning signs on the road way. The causes of crashes include the driver’s inability to know other drivers’ intentions—whether they’re about to shift lanes or turn—and when a driver’s vision is blocked by a large vehicle in front. These are instances when motorists cannot often see the features of the highways or the roadways that would help them anticipate other drivers’ intentions. Heavy tints also give a false sense of security and comfort inside a vehicle, which is oftentimes dangerous. These tints make a driver relaxed, and therefore less alert for things that are unexpected or things that may crop up in the course of driving. 2. Seatbelts are a must. There’s a reason why these were invented. It is also ideal for even middle passengers to wear three-point seatbelts (instead of just two-point lap belts). 3. Make sure that all your lights are working (not just the headlights). Your vehicle’s visibility will prevent crashes. Regulatory colors of taillights are amber and red only. On provincial roads, watch out for kuliglig (farm tractors), bicycles, motorcycles, or tricycles that have neither taillights nor headlights. When there’s no oncoming vehicle, switch your light to high beam to give you farther and wider visibility. 4. Get all your papers in order. Check your plates, registration, and insurance information to make sure they are all valid. Be sure to place your insurance company’s emergency contact number in your car. 5. It’s better to have a trusted alternate driver on long trips. Sure, you can drive solo for that 500-km trip, but if you’re driving with someone who can share the driving load, it would be so much easier for you and for the other passengers who may appreciate a rested driver behind the wheels. 6. Don’t drive for too long. Stop and rest or stretch at regular intervals. A good benchmark is to take a 10-minute break after every two hours of driving. Taking a break refocuses your concentration while driving. 7. Finalize maintenance procedures ideally one week before the trip. Visit a dealer early for preventive maintenance service. 8. Drive early in the morning. Better yet, leave a day or two before the mass exodus (which typically occurs the night before Maundy Thursday). Leaving early puts less stress on the vehicle. There is also less traffic, and visibility on the road is better. 9. Wear light clothing, and rehydrate. Keep your travel outfits as cool as possible. Bring plenty of drinking water in the car. Use sunglasses and sun block. And since you’ll be traveling during the Holy Week, expect to come across processions of the “Stations of the Cross” on the country roads, so keep your cool, and try to smile as you wait. While at it, check for delectable meatless dishes (as Holy Week for many is meatless, but you don’t have to miss your meat when there are restaurants that can proximate the taste of meat, even better). A list of vegetarian restaurants nationwide that are open during the Holy Week break can be seen at Pinoyvegs or TessDrive Facebook pages. 10. The summer heat is no picnic for your car. With the dry season, hoses and plastic parts are vulnerable to absorbing heat and going through heat cycles. The more heat cycles they go through, the more brittle they become. This can lead to many problems, like engine overheating if a radiator hose fails. After using your car for the day, open the hood for a few minutes to allow the components in the engine bay to cool down quickly. 11. Pay special attention to your tires. Is there enough tread depth left on all tires, even for the spare one? There should be at least 4 mm of tread depth left for a safe holiday trip (even if the law requires only 1.6 mm). Are there visible damages, such as cracks, cuts or bulges? If so, replace them right away with new tires, even if the treads still look good. Your car will most likely be traveling heavy, so increase the tire pressures. This practice would have a favorable effect on grip, driving stability and braking efficiency, as well as improving fuel mileage. 12. Use Waze or Google maps. Of course, that goes without saying that your pre-trip preparation meant you already reviewed your maps, and you already did some research (such as locating ongoing major road constructions). Check your GPS as well, if you have one. Waze can estimate your travel time. This way, you’ll have an idea when you’ll be at certain points on your trip. This also helps you to plan rest and meal stops. It will also help you plan to avoid traveling through a major city or area of road construction during rush hours. 13. Don’t forget the motion sickness meds. It should be in your first aid and medicine kit. 14. Prepare for some on-road entertainment. If your car comes with audio/video entertainment systems, bring CDs of music and/or audio books.