It costs less than $10 and could save your life and, if RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding, had his way every motorist would have one in their car.
It costs less than $10 and could save your life and, if RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding, had his way every motorist would have one in their car. Valerie Horton

Christmas gift that could save your life

It costs less than $10 and could save your life and, if RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding, had his way every motorist would have one in their car.

In the lead-up to the busy Christmas rush on our roads, Mr Spalding is encouraging everyone to invest in a hi-vis vest and a torch in case their car breaks down.

He said a hi-vis vest (make sure it has reflective stripes for night use) cost less than $10.

"If other motorists can see you, you have a much better chance of not being struck by a passing car," he said.

A torch was another must-have.

The RACQ’s Steve Spalding says a reflective vest is a must-have in the cars of Queensland drivers.
The RACQ’s Steve Spalding says a reflective vest is a must-have in the cars of Queensland drivers.

"You do not have to be far away from the suburbs to find that lighting is fairly weak," he said. "It does not need to be an expensive torch, it just needs to be one that you can shine down at the ground so that you don't trip over something on the side of the road or the kerb.

"And it is also always good to have a bottle of water in the car because even if you are just waiting around for roadside assistance to come, it does not take long to get dehydrated."

Mr Spalding is also encouraging motorists to check their spare tyre.

"There would be thousands of instances where the spare tyre is as flat as the tyre that you are trying to replace," he says. "So always make sure that the spare is pumped up."

He said if you do break down, it's important to position your car clear from passing traffic.

"This is particularly relevant if you have a flat tyre," he said. "It is better to drive with a flat tyre for 100m and wreck the tyre and possibly even a rim, than stop in a vulnerable spot and get struck at high speed.

"If you are hit by a car, let alone a truck at 100km/h, there is a fair chance you won't survive that impact.

"Think about where you are going to position the car almost as if you are trying to land it safely, and then, if it is safe to do so, get out of the car as soon as you can and cross over the barrier so you are safe from a high-speed impact."

He recalled a close encounter recently between a truck and one of RACQ's breakdown vehicles stopped on the side of a 100km/h motorway just north of Brisbane.

"The rumble could be felt as it (the truck) went by less than a metre from the roadside assistance vehicle, other trucks passed equally close or even closer," he said.

"And our vehicles have highly visible signage, flashing warning lights and illuminated front and rear message board, they also use warning cones to identify a hazard ahead. Had our vehicle's driver's door been opened, it would probably have been torn off.

"The sad reality is that if struck, even if the motorists stayed within their vehicle, the impact would not be survivable."

He said this why the RACQ was lobbying for a 'move over' safe passing law that protects motorists similar to the minimum one metre passing law when passing cyclists.

 

SAFETY TIPS IF YOU BREAK DOWN ON A
HIGH SPEED ROAD

 

Attempt to position the vehicle clear of passing traffic and out of danger, it's better to drive a short distance at a safe speed with a flat tyre than stop in an unsafe position.

Always use hazard lights to alert other drivers.

If it's safe to do so, leave the vehicle and get behind a safety barrier.

Exiting via the left doors is safest.

If you cannot safely leave the vehicle, always stay seated in it with the seat
belt on.

Don't delay in calling for assistance.



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