Murphy's Law and how to minimise its impact

By: John Mack

Before you hit the road on your adventure, ensure your van isn’t the only thing that's been recently ‘serviced’ - considering the human factors of a trip beforehand could prevent Murphy's Law striking.

You’re all set for the big trip – work on upgrading the tow vehicle is finished, the latest accessories are fitted and everything is checked and serviced. So what could go wrong?

The best way to find out is to ‘live in the moment’ and just bumble along until something does go wrong and then attempt to fix it. This is when it all becomes clear; sometimes the fixable is not ‘fixable’, because it is the ‘fixer’ that is broken and unable to perform. And this is where ‘Murphy’ steps in and creates more trouble.  

In getting our preparation right, we naturally focus on things that we think could break down, ie., mechanical, structural or electrical components. But we often don’t consider what could go wrong with us or how we could make things worse through our own lack of skills, experience, knowledge or attention to detail.

An obvious one that can send you into Murphy’s path is medical issues. Before you leave, how about getting the body fully ‘serviced’ as well as the vehicle and van. Do some ‘preventative maintenance’, such as undertaking a first aid (or refresher) course and getting the first aid kits checked and improved. Yes, that’s right, ‘kits’ – one in the car and one in the van. If you don’t have one in both you can guarantee ‘Medical Murphy’ will strike when the vehicle and van are in separate places.

And imagine what could go wrong when you’re miles from anywhere with little traffic and no mobile phone coverage. If you’re travelling in a pair, it’s worth ensuring you both know how to tow your rig, how to use all your equipment, where everything is – including potentially life-saving information like the satellite phone and a list of emergency contacts – and how to help one another in the case of an emergency, or if one person becomes incapacitated.

There are a myriad of other issues, not related to the typical mechanical or electrical breakdowns, which can lead you into trouble. Jacking, winching and using snatch straps are classic examples where a lack of knowledge or experience with the gear can result in serious injury or even death.

Working off ladders or at heights is another accident waiting to happen when not properly managed, as is working under or adjacent to loads that are not properly braced or supported.

So, when planning your next trip spend time to carefully consider all the ‘human factors’ that can stop you in your tracks as effectively as any breakdown or bogging. We need to look beyond the mechanical and electrical to focus on the areas where we lack skills and experience, and take steps to improve the quality of our human interventions, before Murphy has a chance to strike.

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