Once you have your licence, you have the keys to freedom and it’s time to head off on your first road trip. Exciting times. You’ve packed your bags but what about your car?
What should you check to prepare for your trip?
1. Tyre pressures
The most common problem that you are likely to have when you head out on a road trip is a flat tyre. A couple of days before you go, check the tyre pressures with a reliable gauge and fill to the pressure recommended in the owner’s manual or tyre placard on the vehicle. If you find that one tyre is lower than the others, have it inspected for a leak before setting off. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre too. There is nothing worse than changing a tyre by the side of the freeway only to find that there is no air in the tyre you just fitted!
2. Tools and Jack
Make sure that you know where the tools and the jack for the car are. If you have never changed a wheel, it is probably a good idea to have a go at jacking the vehicle up and removing a wheel before you head off. By doing this you can test and confirm that all the tools you will need are with the car and in working order.
3. Fluid Levels
Depending on how old your car is, you should check the fluid levels. Use the owner’s manual to identify where the following fluids can be checked:
Power steering oil
Windscreen washer water
If you find any fluids are low, top up the fluid and have a mechanic check for leaks.
Often on a road trip some of your driving may be at night. On the freeway or on country roads there are no street lights. You will need rely on the quality of your headlights. Make sure that your headlights are working on both high and low beam and also check that the lights aim where you want them. While you are at it, check all the other lights on the vehicle, they will help you to be seen!
5. Carry Water and Food
It is good practice to carry some water and food with you out on the road. The amounts will vary depending on how remote you are heading. 10L of water and some food is good to have with you. The water can be used for hydration if you are stranded or can be used to top up overheating cooling systems to get you a bit further down the road.
Lastly, make sure that you have enough fuel for the trip. If there is an accident or a natural hazard like a flood or bushfire, you may have to take a detour. If you only have enough fuel to get you to your endpoint, you may end up stranded on the side of the road.
You will need to do kerbside stops in the driving test.
This often overlooked skill is essential to gaining a licence.
Often it will be done on an uphill grade, especially for manual learners.
You will also need to perform the same manoeuvre as part of a reverse park or three-point-turn. Getting the kerbside stop wrong will make it difficult to pass your driving test.
Getting the kerbside stop wrong will make it difficult to pass your driving test.
Where can I do a kerbside stop?
When practicing kerbside stops, you will need to consider the road and surrounding area. Start on a quiet road so you have plenty of time.
You cannot park across a driveway, in a clearway or a bus zone. All parking signs need to be checked to ensure that you are parking in the appropriate place for the length of stay.
An often forgotten parking rule is that you need to leave at least three metres from any double unbroken center line to leave enough space for cars to go past.
For more parking rules see: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/roads/safety-rules/road-rules/parking.html
How to do a kerbside stop?
To master kerbside stops, you will need to be proficient in the use of:
- Accelerator and brakes
- The gears
- The clutch
- Starting and stopping the car
- Hand-over-hand steering technique
- Safety cushion
- Blind spots
When practicing your kerbside stop, find a suitable place to pull into the kerb; be aware of all the traffic and pedestrian activity around the vehicle.
Once a good spot has been found you can start to drive towards kerb. The aim is to be 20-40cm from the kerb once you have stopped, with the wheels parallel to the kerb.
If you are parking behind another vehicle, leave about a metre gap.
TIP: If you are having trouble judging the size of your vehicle, a transit line can be set up from your eye through to a point on the windscreen or bonnet to the kerb. This will help you repeat your position. LTRENT Driver Trainers can teach you this trick if you are unsure.
When the vehicle is parked, apply the park brake, select park in auto vehicles or first gear in a manual.
When you are leaving the kerb, the first step is to get the vehicle ready to go.
Start the motor and select drive or 1st gear. Make sure that there is enough room for you to the clear the car in front of you. Reverse a little bit if you need more space.
Check the mirrors to find a space to pull out into. Signal your intention to other road users with your indicator. The indicator needs to be on for five seconds before pulling out.
Just before you leave the kerb, check your blind spot in the direction that you are moving. There could be a car pulling out of a driveway that you cannot see in your mirrors. If your blind spot check comes back clear then you can leave the kerb.
How do will you know when you are an expert at the kerbside stop?
At the highest level, you should be able to pull into a space that is about 2 car lengths long and be parallel first go in a busy traffic situation. You will also be able to pick and take an appropriate gap in busy traffic up a hill with cars parked either side of us.
More on manoeuvres: ANGLE PARK