Road safety tips for school holidays

two girls in a car

Danny Baggs

Posted September 15, 2023

School holidays can often be a time to venture on day trips, weekend getaways, and road trips. Here’s how to stay safe on the roads these school holidays.

It’s important to stay safe on the road. Whether you’re headed interstate or sticking to Victorian roads, following the latest safety advice can mean the difference between a safe and happy road trip this summer, or a stressful one.

We’ve compiled a range of road safety tips to follow.

Road safety tips for the school holidays

Drive safely

To help stay safe on the roads, remove distractions like mobile phones and other portable devices. Using them while driving is not only illegal but very dangerous. If you have to take a call, pull over and park safely before answering.

As a general rule, drivers can use mounted devices for functions such as music and navigation, provided they are not entering text, scrolling, or viewing images, social media, websites, or videos. Read more about road rules for portable devices here.

You should also make sure you are well rested before embarking on a long trip. Plan to stop for 15 minutes every two hours, and take turns driving.

Finally, have patience with your fellow drivers. Patience and empathy with your fellow motorists will lead to safer driving decisions.

Get your car serviced

Cars are designed with safety standards in mind, and more new cars are including high-tech safety features like AEB systems. But the best way to ensure your car remains safe is to have regular car services at an accredited auto care centre, where mechanics can check your battery, brakes, tyres, oil and other service essentials.

Keep an eye on your last service sticker, which you will probably find in the upper right interior of your windscreen, and take your car to get serviced as soon as you reach the specified date or mileage, or whenever there is a problem with your car.


black car driving on windy rural road with kangaroo sign in foreground

Where will you drive these school holidays? Image: Getty


Understand how to perform basic car maintenance

Read our car maintenance tips to learn how to check your tyre pressure at petrol stations, check your car lights are working, top up your windscreen washer fluid, replace wiper inserts, and more.

You can also learn everything you need to know about car batteries, from how to avoid shortening your battery’s life to knowing when your car battery is failing. Tyre safety is another important maintenance task - learn how to buy new tyres here.

Seat children and secure pets correctly

Children should be seated in the back seat in a booster seat, or other appropriate child restraint until they are tall enough to wear a seatbelt. If they must sit in the front passenger seat, adjust the seatbelt to their height and make sure they aren’t seated closer than 30cm to the passenger airbag. Do not allow them to put their feet or knees up on against the dashboard, which is very dangerous should airbags deploy. RACV accredited auto care centres can also properly fit baby car seats and child restraints if you’re planning on a family road trip.

Pets are not currently required to be restrained inside your vehicle under the Victorian Road Rules, but keeping them restrained is far safer for both human and animal passengers. Consider using a pet carrier secured in the back seat, or a proper pet seatbelt. Dogs riding on a ute or trailer tray must be secured with a tether or crate to ensure they don’t fall from the vehicle in motion.

dog wearing pet seatbelt in backseat of car

Pets should be properly secured in the backseat. Image: Getty


Keep an emergency kit in your car

Creating a car emergency kit can help you navigate unexpected situations on the road. Here are some of the most useful items to keep together in your car emergency kit:

  • First aid kid – a basic first aid kit can help you solve many minor medical problems. Purchase a premade kit or make one yourself with bandages, dressing, alcohol wipes, disposable gloves, and so on.

  • Device chargers – you’ll need a charged phone to call emergency services, roadside assistance or your car insurer for help after an incident. Keep a phone charger to top up your device/s if they run out.

  • Spare tyre – while we don’t recommend changing a tyre yourself, keeping an inflated spare tyre in your boot will allow an Emergency Roadside Assistance mechanic to easily swap your flat tyre out.

  • Water – carry at least an extra water bottle or two full of water in your car just in case you get stranded or need to top up a radiator.

  • Car owner manual – always keep your car manual in your car, so you know how to properly troubleshoot car problems, perform basic car tasks, and answer roadside assistance questions about your car.

man placing phone away in car

Have a phone charger on hand to top up low batteries in an emergency. Image: Matt Harvey


Know what to do in an accident or breakdown

Car accidents and breakdowns can be scary, especially if you haven’t experienced them before. Unfortunately, they are sometimes unavoidable – for example, you might hit a pothole you didn’t see and get a flat tyre. Learning what to do if your car breaks down and what to do in a car accident can help you handle the situation calmly. Make sure to keep your roadside assistance up to date for peace of mind.

Read up on the road rules

Brushing up on your road rules before you go on that road trip is a surefire way to reduce the chance of an accident. Here are the most misunderstood road rules in Victoria, and how to get them right.


RACV Roadside Assistance provides help when you need it most.
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