Seeing red: have your say on NSW’s worst roads

NRMA Seeing Red on Roads Annual SurveyHave you ever been behind the wheel and found yourself frustrated by congestion, a detour due to roadworks, pot holes or other delays?

More than 15,000 frustrated Members had their say last year in our annual Seeing Red on Roads survey. In 2013, both a federal election year and the third of our campaign, we want even more people to get behind the survey.

Over the last two years of the campaign, our Members have consistently flagged the Pacific and Princes Highways as the worst roads in the state. In response, we’ve seen record levels of funding committed by the government to start fixing both these roads.

In fact, since NRMA’s first Seeing Red on Roads campaign in 2011, governments have committed over $1.8 billion to fix the Pacific Highway and $240 million to fix the Princes Highway.

The NSW Government has also announced its WestConnex Project to fix the road NRMA Members voted as the worst in Sydney – Parramatta Road.

These major announcements show that our campaign works!

Although we’ve made a great start in getting these dangerous roads upgraded, there’s no better time than an election year to ensure NSW secures its fair share of federal road funding.

We encourage every NRMA Member to take part in the Seeing Red on Roads survey. With your support we can help make sure NSW gets much needed road investments.

Are the pot holes on your local street driving you nuts? Is the snail paced traffic during peak hour on your local motorway frustrating you? Whatever the issue, have your say here.

Will the Pacific Highway come out number one again or have the recent upgrades provided enough relief for North Coast motorists?

Below are the Top 10 Most Frustrating Roads in 2012 as voted by you. Click on the image below to enlarge.

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5 rest stops for your next family road trip

Road trips make for amazing family experiences and memories. In my family we’re known for just jumping in the car and driving for a spontaneous day out, as well as planned long road trips interstate or through the countryside.

A road trip isn’t the time to rush. Making plenty of stops is vital for safety and also, as parents around the country know, spending a little time keeping the kids happy will pay off during the long driving stretches.

Here’s how to make a rest stop work for the whole family:

Anyone on a road trip with children will attest to how difficult it is to drive past a country town’s local playground without dozens of requests to stop for a play.

Try timing meals and scheduled rests with towns likely to have playgrounds, and perhaps incorporate a picnic lunch with a play stop. If there aren’t any parks around (or if that isn’t your kids’ thing) grab a football, cricket bat or a kite, or even just have a family race on a local oval. Even a half an hour play means the kids will thank you – and you’ll be pleased you took the time to keep them happy.

Driver swap stop

It’s pretty tiring being in the same seat for an entire road trip, so if you have a long way to go you’ll need to give the navigator and music selector a break. I mean, the driver. The driver!

Seriously, the exhaustion of focusing on the road can creep up on drivers so you need to set a time limit on yourself rather than wait to feel the need to change gears from the pilot to the passenger. NRMA recommends stopping at least every two hours to avoid fatigue setting in.

If you don’t have anyone to share the driving with you’ll need to counteract the fatigue even more proactively. Some drivers are happy to take a quick power nap at rest stops, while others won’t have this option (when travelling with kids). In that case, sleep stops will mark the end of the day and a place to stay, and it’s time to get a good night’s sleep before heading off the next day.

Food stop

My husband prides himself on knowing the towns with the best bakeries, his specialty being great coffee, a good pie and a donut. Whether that suits your tastebuds or you’d prefer a fresh salad roll or a great café meal, stopping for food regularly is one of the best things you can do to rejuvenate the driver and keep the passengers satisfied.

Keep snacks in the car for in between meal stops – there isn’t a recipe for a miserable road trip truer than a backseat full of hungry kids – and make sure you let the family know when stops are planned so they can gear up their tastebuds for that perfect country bakery.

One tip, however: avoid rich foods and big milk drinks if you still have lots of driving ahead. No more details needed, just trust me on that one.

Dance stop

When my daughter was eight months old, we embarked on a road trip from Melbourne to Alice Springs. She was crawling around at the time – not a developmental stage conducive to being placed on the red dirt of the outback – and so we took to taking ‘dance stops’.

The dancing stop involves pulling to the side of the road, getting everyone out of the car and leaving the doors open. Then the music is cranked up and you dance with the kids; the young ones are spun around in your arms, and any older kids shake their thing alongside you. An amazing way to boost the fun mood of a road trip and get rid of any excess energy, and it also means you don’t have to push on to the next town before stopping for a break, which NRMA lists as one of the biggest potential dangers of country driving.

Sightseeing stop

Choose some things you want to stop and see along the way, and combine this with some spontaneous stops to see the sights.

This will not only get you out of the car – perhaps for a short walk, an exciting new sight, or even just a few snaps on the camera – but also keep you excited about the reason you’re out on the road. That is, to see new things and enjoy the experience. It’s easy to get caught up in getting the kilometres behind you, but don’t forget to stop and refresh the whole family with some views of our amazing countryside.

NRMA launches The Open Road iPad App

Open Road iPad app

Click to download the App

Since the NRMA’s foundation in 1920 as an independent advocate body for motorists, The Open Road magazine has been posted through Australian letterboxes for almost a century. During its lifetime, it has been renamed, chopped, changed colour, survived World War 2, demutualisation and a takeover attempt from News Limited. Today it proudly enters the digital age with the launch of the innovative new Open Road iPad App – the first digital motoring club magazine of its kind in Australia.

The app is an interactive publication with social sharing, live updates, more pictures, extra information and bonus videos – bringing to life travel and motoring stories and giving readers the ability to instantly enter competitions and send feedback to the Editor.

“This is an exciting, digital-age development for one of Australia’s oldest and most trusted magazines. The NRMA Open Road app will allow us to give our Members even more inspiring content in an entertaining and colourful way” said NRMA’s Head of Publishing Emma Cornwell.

The iPad edition of Open Road will be available from today, Friday, May 4. To celebrate the launch, both the March/April and the May/June issue will both be available together as a special package for Members.

Originally called Good Roads, the journal was first published in 1921 to ensure NRA (the M for motoring was added in 1924) members were reliably informed about the association’s activities. However by 1927 its literary standard had slipped and advertising revenues were falling so the journal was renamed the Open Road and a Sun journalist was appointed assistant editor to sharpen the content. With a shiny new colour cover, an improved layout, less reliance on copy from American ‘good road’ journals, and the inclusion of regular features like ‘The Care of Your Car’, the magazine was reborn as we know it today, albeit very much younger.

By 1939, all members continued to receive a copy fortnightly. However problems with finance and publication remained, so the magazine was cut from 16 to 12 pages and advertising rates were reduced. Then in June 1941, government rationing of newsprint due to World War 2, demanded the journal be published monthly instead of fortnightly.

In 2002, a boardroom power struggle threatened the Open Road as a group of directors planned that the magazine would cease to be an independent publication of the NRMA. Instead, a proposal was made that six Open Road magazines would be produced annually, including four quarterly magazines published by the Daily Telegraph and two Open Road travel magazines published by the Sunday Telegraph.

However, this proposal was roundly rejected and Open Road lived on to thrive into the digital age – today it is distributed to more than 1.6 million households predominantly in NSW and the ACT and is Australia’s fifth most read publication.

Editor of NRMA’s Open Road Suzanne Monks said the new NRMA Open Road Magazine App would be a great way to encourage Members to have conversations about content in the magazine.

“The print edition of Open Road is one of the most trusted and frequently read magazines in Australia,” said Monks.

“From today Members will be able to access not only a digital version of the magazine but also additional stories, videos and information through the NRMA Open Road app. It will be a one stop shop for every motorist and traveller.”

Members will have the choice to view Open Road either as an iPad app or to continue to read it in its print format.

NRMA Members will be able to download the app for free from the App Store by using their Membership number and surname. Non-members can purchase the digital edition for $4.49 per issue.

Let us know what you think of the app in the comments below.

Christmas holiday driving

family and car

What tips do you have for Christmas holiday driving?

If you’re one of the gazillion Aussie families that pack the car and set off for summer holidays once Christmas festivities are over, then you may appreciate these tips for stress-free holiday preparations.

Divide and conquer
Kids need to let off steam before being expected to sit quietly in a car for hours. One great trick we tried recently on the morning of our departure was to get one parent to take the kids to the local park, while the other concentrated on packing the car. The idea was that you run them ragged so they’ll have a nice long sleep on the journey. This tactic was so successful that we got uninterrupted, civilized conversation from Sydney to Newcastle.

What to pack

  • Toys and activities are critical
    However, it’s important not to release them all at once. You need to stagger them to sustain interest and get maximum mileage
  • Drinks and snacks are another essential.
    That is, of course, unless you fancy unbuckling the kids to go into a crowded fast food place every time someone gets peckish.
  • Entertainment – for young and old
    One thing I learned the hard way is that the All Time Favourite Nursery Rhymes CD can send grown-ups bonkers in a matter of minutes! Instead, try borrowing some audio books from your local library. Old classics like Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might appeal to all ages.

Are we there yet?
It’s not only Homer and Marg that get this question. So you’ll need a few tricks up your sleeve. We’ve already discovered that I Spy can be difficult in remote areas, so perhaps you could try an Alphabet game, such as running through all the foods you can think of that start with A, B, C etc. It can be quite interesting to see what creative youngsters come up with!

What tips do you have for making your Christmas holiday drive less stressful? 

Safe driving this Christmas

car driving on road

Drive safely this holiday season

This time of year is always one of the most high risk times on our roads, with Christmas parties, end of year celebrations and people taking to the highways as they head off for a well-deserved break.

In NSW drink driving is a factor in around one in every five fatal crashes. This statistic astounds me when you consider just how much information is out there on the dangers of drink driving.

Drink Driving
The message is plain and simple, having any amount of alcohol when driving increases the risk of being involved in a crash. You don’t have to be drunk to have been affected by alcohol, which is why if you are planning on driving, the best advice is to not drink at all.

If you are hosting a party this Christmas and new year here are some things you can do to look after your guests so they get home safely:

  • Make sure you provide plenty of food, soft drinks and water
  • Offer to let your guests stay over and
  • Don’t let guests drive home if they have been drinking.

Driver Fatigue
Tiredness is another major killer on our roads. At this time of year many people are driving long distances on unfamiliar roads and often people leave for their holiday in the early hours of the morning to avoid traffic – it means they are driving when their body is programmed to sleep.

The statistics show if you drive between 10pm and dawn you’re four times more likely to have a fatal, fatigue-related crash.

Some tips:

  • Plan ahead
  • Take regular breaks (see NSW Driver Reviver locations)
  • Share the driving
  • Don’t start a long trip after a long day’s work and never drive when you would normally be asleep. Fighting tiredness won’t work – the only cure is sleep.

Wear your seatbelt
It’s remarkable how many people still don’t wear their seatbelts. Many fatalities could have been prevented if only the driver and passengers were wearing their seatbelts. Often it’s not just you that needs to buckle up, so make sure your kids are properly secured in a child restraint.

Roadwork speed limits
If you’re driving along the Pacific Highway, remember roadwork speed limits still apply although works have stopped for the Christmas break. While there may be some inconvenience during this time, the NRMA is pleased that the Government is getting on with the project to deliver the Highway by 2016.

Travelling on country roads
For those of you travelling on country roads, keep in mind that the road conditions are not like local areas. Be extremely careful of:

  • Potholes and rough surfaces
  • Soft or broken road edges
  • Single lane bridges or road surfaces that change without notice
  • Livestock and wildlife  - they often cross country roads, particularly just near sunrise or sunset which is why it is crucial that you drive to the conditions.

Petrol Prices
The NRMA will be working over the Christmas period to monitor petrol prices and there will be no justification for any sudden Christmas price hike.

Please remember, each and everyone of us are responsible for keeping our roads safe this Christmas.

Have a safe and merry Christmas.