Summer road trips are a fun way to travel and get to know an area that you’re visiting. It allows you the freedom to travel to destinations unknown and stop at local roadside curiosities at your leisure. However, safe driving is no accident and takes careful planning and attention to detail. Here are three tips for staying safe behind the wheel.
Know Where You’re Going
When navigating to lesser-known remote destinations, it’s important to know how to get there as well as the types of road conditions to expect. If you are planning to rent a car, then knowing your location can help you choose a model. As Budget explains, certain vehicle types are better suited to outdoor terrain and driving within certain climates. It will also help if you familiarize yourself with any obscure road rules that are applicable along your route. In the U.S., driving laws such as those that apply to freeway speed limits or highway signage systems can differ from state to state. Familiarize yourself with directions to your destination in advance to avoid making a wrong turn and getting lost.
Get Comfortable with What You’re Driving
Each car is constructed differently with controls in slightly different positions, different maneuvering dynamics and different blind spots. While you might be used to reaching for the radio dial on the dead center of the middle console, your rental car may have it off to the side, and you may accidentally turn on the AC instead. Turn signals and windshield wiper controls are also swapped in countries that drive on the left side of the road instead of the right. As Dolman Law suggests, when you’re driving, you want your focus to be on the road and not on trying to figure out how to work the different features in the car.
Plan Your Breaks
Many rural roads lack the convenience of gas stations and rest stops. In some places, it’s possible to go for more than fifty miles without seeing a place for roadside assistance in case of emergency. Additionally, remote areas in mountain regions may lack sufficient cellular network signals, and you won’t be able to rely on your phone’s GPS or place a call in case of emergency. Other tips for long-haul road travel suggested by I Drive Safely include not driving while drowsy, stopping to eat for meals instead of eating behind the wheel (to avoid distraction), and switching drivers every few hours.
Avoiding accidents and staying on schedule can make or break your excursion. Stay safe by knowing what to expect on your drive to your destination. If possible, rent a similar vehicle to the one you typically drive and take time to familiarize yourself with the controls. Lastly, scout out gas station locations and plan breaks or driver swaps ahead of time, especially on long-distance drives.