Irish soccer fans will be all too familiar with Roy Keane’s withering line about what happens when you “fail to prepare”. However, as summer holiday season gets into full swing, it seems that many Irish motorists are falling into that very trap.
According to a survey by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a large proportion of Irish holidaymakers who are planning to drive their own car abroad this summer will not undertake even the most basic safety checks before setting off.
Equally, of those Irish people who plan to rent or drive another car abroad this summer, many will hop in and drive away from the airport not even knowing where all the controls are.
For Irish motorists who will be driving on holiday this year, the average distance they will cover is 612km. Of those holidaymakers, 65% will be renting a vehicle abroad while 21% are planning to drive their own car.
While much time and effort will no doubt go into logistics, accommodation and other preparation, however, it seems little thought is given to car safety.
Driving your own car – ignoring basic safety checks?
Of those Irish holidaymakers who’ll be driving their own car this summer, almost a quarter (24%) say they won’t bother checking tyre pressure levels – so important during the hot weather – while 23% won’t check engine oil levels and 31% won’t check water or coolant levels.
In this respect, the Enterprise research found that drivers in Spain, Germany and France are twice as likely to conduct basic checks as drivers from Ireland and the UK.
The survey also found that almost one in three Irish motorists won’t bother making sure they have essential safety equipment such as a jack (37%) or wrench (38%) while 39% of drivers will not check a that their spare tyre is safe and roadworthy. A further 47% won’t bring a warning triangle or high-vis jacket (51%), even though the last two items are legally required in several European countries.
But is all this surprising? Perhaps not. The research found that only two in five of Irish drivers (42%) regularly conduct car maintenance checks. Of the majority (58%) who do not carry out regular maintenance checks, almost one-third (32%) think their car will tell them if there’s a problem.
“No matter how new or reliable you think your car is, it is risky to drive away for your summer holiday without taking basic precautions such as checking your tyre pressure or making sure your spare tyre is 100% roadworthy. These basic safety checks don’t take long and can make a huge difference,” said George O’Connor, Managing Director of Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Ireland.
Renting a car abroad – know how the controls work?
Meanwhile, with the majority (65%) of respondents who’ll be driving during their summer holidays planning to rent a vehicle abroad, the Enterprise survey highlighted a somewhat casual attitude towards driving an unfamiliar vehicle.
When asked about their experience of operating a vehicle they have never used before, a full 42% admitted they have driven away without knowing how to operate at least one of the controls on the car. More than one-third (39%) do not check how to operate the lights, the petrol indicator (38%) or the rear-view mirror (34%).
23% of respondents said they have struggled to get an unfamiliar car into reverse gear because it worked differently to the car they’re used to, while 17% have put up with an uncomfortable or unsuitable driving position because they didn’t know how to adjust the seat.
A further 17% even said they have listened to music they hate because they didn’t know how to change the radio station!
“These figures are understandable to an extent, with people keen to drive away from the airport and start their holiday as quickly as possible,” said Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s George O’Connor. “However, driving abroad can be stressful due to the unfamiliarity of the environment, and again it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to familiarise yourself with the car you’ll be driving.
“Rental providers like ourselves are here to help, and our representatives will be only too happy to quickly show where the controls are and how they work,” he said. “Bear in mind too that all Enterprise cars go through a 25-point safety inspection before they’re handed over to the customer, for additional peace of mind.”