According to road safety authorities across the country, the busiest concentrated period of time on the nation’s roads isn’t the annual Christmas and New Year season as you’d expect.
In fact it’s Easter.
For most people it’s just four days but for whatever reason, half the country seems to head out on the road for a short break … probably because it’s the last chance to do so before winter sets in.
With the roads so crowded it’s pretty obvious that you need patience with so many cars around and, let’s be honest, such a diverse range of driving skills.
Like most people, I find myself frustrated by the bad decisions or poor judgement shown by other drivers on the road, and especially so the lack of even basic courtesy … this stuff is what leads to road rage.
But you have to remember that to the majority of people with whom you share the roads, driving is a chore rather than a skill and most have no interest in being better at it … and they certainly wouldn’t imagine for a moment that it can be enjoyable!
So most of the time this lack of consideration of others or just downright bad driving, is down to a lack of interest … it’s not actually deliberate.
Best bet is to just chill out, take it in your stride, give yourself room to avoid the dodgy driving decisions of others, and enjoy your Easter break.
Another way to avoid any drama at Easter is to give your car a quick once-over before hitting the road.
It’s a 30 minute job at best and pretty simple, even for the most mechanically-challenged motorist!
Under the bonnet, check the oil level. Do it on a level surface and after the engine has been off for a least one minute. If the oil needs topping up, half a litre will usually do it … check the owner’s handbook for the correct type of oil to use.
Same goes with the transmission fluid, which is checked by a dipstick. The handbook will show you how. A burnt smell spells trouble, as does the need for frequent topping up or a dark colour … jobs for a mechanic.
Make sure that the radiator is filled to the correct level with coolant, when the engine is cold. These days it’s a coolant bottle that you fill, rather than the radiator itself, and you’ll need a specific type of coolant … again, check the handbook.
Give the radiator hoses an inspection too … you are looking for soft spots, cracks or splits, and that they’re properly clamped. If in doubt, get them replaced.
These days with modern sealed batteries, most people tend to overlook them. But you still need to check the terminals to make sure they are clean and making good contact.
Best bet is to loosen the leads, clean the terminal posts of corrosion (which is quite normal) with a wire brush, smear them with some Vaseline or petroleum jelly, then reconnect the leads and tighten them up – making sure you connect the positive to the positive first, then the negative.
Easter brings with it dodgy weather so check the wiper blades for cracks or splits while you are at it, and of course top-up the washer system bottle.
Lights too need to be checked, a car is unroadworthy without all lights and indicators working … so get one of the kids to check while you operate them.
And that leads us to the most important aspect of your pre-Easter vehicle safety check – tyres.
Inspect the tyres, checking firstly that they have sufficient tread depth … modern tyres have built-in tread depth indicators. Rule of thumb is, if you can see these clearly, it’s time to get new tyres.
Assuming that the tread depth is fine, check the sidewalls for cracking, cuts or bulges … again, time for new tyres if these are apparent.
Finally, inflate the tyres to the recommended pressures … you’ll find these pressures in the handbook or on the tyre placard which is usually on the end of the driver’s door.
Note too that inflation pressures are usually higher when carrying a full load of passengers, luggage, dogs, etc such as when you’re going away on an Easter trip.
Don’t forget to conduct the same inspection for the spare tyre, if your car has one, and the same goes for the caravan, campervan, motorhome, boat trailer or any other trailer tyres.
The more tyres have sat around for long periods not being driven on, the more likely they’ll have weathered and might need attention, so be thorough with your inspection.
Done all that? Now you’re ready for the annual Easter exodus.
Happy Easter everyone!