Playing it safe

20 September 2017 / Words by Mel Keller

Talk to anyone about driving an MX-5 and it won’t be long before you hear the words "wind in my hair". Yet, long, tussled tresses can be a distraction on the road. Here’s how a little bit of careful can give you a whole lot of carefree when driving your convertible.

This article appears in "MXX-5" a new feature section in the Winter issue of Club Torque magazine. MXX-5 is dedicated to the MX-5 motoring interests of female drivers and is supported by Major Club Sponsor ACDC P/L.

1 Everything in its Place
Keep your cabin tidy or those petrol receipts, lolly wrappers and (ahem) parking tickets will be throwing you a ticker-tape parade the moment you hit the highway. Taking an empty Mars Bar wrapper to the face is distracting and unbecoming not to mention bad for the environment. Be mindful of your personal safety by always locking your handbag, laptop and other valuables in the boot and deter any unexpected guests by keeping your doors locked when driving.

2 Say What?
Always use your wind deflector. Loud wind buffering is not only distracting and tiring, in heavy traffic the noise can easily reach 85 decibels or more; potentially causing long term hearing damage. For long trips, consider disposable, foam earplugs. These will reduce noise levels by 30 decibels while still enabling you to hear your passenger, your engine and emergency vehicles. Disposable earplugs are available from the work safety section of your hardware store.

3 Fun in the Sun
Top down driving may be a great way to top up your Vitamin D but it can leave your eyes and skin at risk of UV damage. Category 3 sunglasses that conform to Australian safety standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 offer the best protection for driving. Consider wearing a firm brimmed hat and long sleeves and make sure to apply sunscreen regularly – not forgetting the tops of your ears and backs of your hands. For winter cruising; avoid bulky jackets that restrict your freedom of movement and scarves that can work loose and become entangled in your controls. Keep yourself warm with layered thermal wear and a woollen or polar fleece motorcycle buff.

4 Park It
Always put your roof up in carparks, especially at the beach. Because seagulls. UV exposure can damage and crack the moulded plastics and leather of your interior and the summer sun can make your controls too hot to handle. On a more serious note, a fully enclosed parked vehicle offers greater personal protection from harassment or theft. For the same reason; keep your roof up when travelling alone at night.

5 Keeping it Together
It can be so tempting but driving with an elbow on the window sill is not only dangerous, it could be expensive. You are not fully in control of the steering wheel if you have one arm out sightseeing on the sill and your elbow is at risk of injury from an overtaking vehicle. Get caught in NSW and it will cost you $298 and 3 demerit points for drivers and a fine of $298 for a passenger. Lastly, should traffic congestion threaten to prolong your stay in any of our State’s fine tunnels and only if it is safe to do so, come to a complete stop and return your windows and roof to their upright position. Then turn your climate control to recirculate, your radio to the emergency channel and your mind to calming thoughts.