A road sign signalling a rest stop area ahead

Keeping your cool: Summer driving tips

Four key tips for staying safe on the road during the summer holiday season.

By Shell on Dec. 14, 2021

There’s no shortage of incredible summer holiday destinations in Australia, but the reality of getting there often means long distances, high-glare conditions and heavy traffic, which can put extra pressure on drivers. Long distances, heavy-cargo loads and hot weather can put a lot of extra pressure on your car, too, so it pays to do a bit of preparation to avoid a highway breakdown or traffic incident. Here are four tips to help you reach your summer holiday destination safely this year.

Always check your vehicle before a trip

A car with hidden or developing issues is a recipe for disaster on a long, hot drive, so make a pre-trip check a mandatory part of your holiday prep. If your car is up to date on service, you just need to do a quick check of your engine’s fluid levels (oil, coolant, wiper fluid etc.) and check that your tyres are at the correct pressure (and have a good amount of tread with no obvious damage). If your car hasn't been serviced in a while, make sure to book one in ahead of your trip. The same applies for trailers, boats and caravans – axle bearings can dry out, unrotated tyres can weaken and other hidden issues can develop – so have whatever your towing checked by a professional if it’s been a while since it was on the road. For more information, check out four quick car checks before hitting the road here.

Don't overpack

Cars are designed to operate in a specific weight range and exceeding that can be detrimental to your vehicle’s economy, reliability, roadholding, braking and ultimately your safety.

To ensure you're not overpacking, look up your car's maximum payload in the owner's manual (this tells you how much weight you can carry) and never exceed it. The weight limits of roof racks or roof boxes should also be religiously followed.

If you're towing a trailer or caravan, you have even more to think about when packing to ensure road-legality and your safety, not least adhering to your car's gross combination mass (i.e. how much your car/trailer combination can weigh). For more information on how to pack your car like a pro, check out these tips here.

Make sure you have clear visibility

Glaring sun, an overpacked boot and kilometres of insects can each affect our front and rear vision. Always keep a set of sunglasses handy and your windscreen-washer bottle filled with a mix of water and commercial detergent (water alone won't cut through the muck). And make sure suitcases aren’t blocking your rear view.

Take your breaks every two hours

We hear the warnings and we see the roadside signs, but driver fatigue is not something to be complacent about. Never try to go straight from point A to point B in one epic slog – plan your journey with regular breaks and take them even if you feel perky. If you feel drowsy behind the wheel, find somewhere safe to stop and take a nap before heading on later.


Viva Energy Australia Pty Ltd (“Viva Energy”) has compiled the above article for your general information and to use as a general reference. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken by Viva Energy in compiling this article, Viva Energy does not warrant or represent that the information in the article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use.