Our top tips for long drives
There’s nothing quite like the open road and the simple joys of a long drive. However, all trips have risks, and the more prepared you are, the more likely you are to enjoy the journey. Avoid accidents and make better time with these safe driving tips for your next long road trip.
Plan your route and pit stops
These days, most of us have GPS apps that take us exactly where we want to go. However, this convenience has a hidden drawback: if we don’t plan our route in advance, we aren’t prepared for construction, roadblocks, or other events that could change our course. What happens if your GPS-enabled device dies or you lose data coverage?
Also, it’s well worth your efforts to plan out where you will stop for fuel, food, rest, and other amenities. Your GPS only gives you directions from point A to point B, but on a long trip, your route looks more like A to B with detours and stops at points X, Y, and Z! Don’t get caught running on empty because you can’t find a fuel station. Know where you will stop and the approximate time you will arrive. (And of course, always drive safely. Never speed to try to make up lost time.)
Check your vehicle before you leave
Most vehicle breakdowns happen due to minor vehicle issues that could be prevented by routine maintenance. A weak battery, low oil levels, and incorrect tyre pressure can all lead to issues. To avoid getting stranded on the side of the road, always perform a basic inspection before departure (or have a professional do it).
At a minimum, you should ensure that your tyres are at their recommended pressure and that they have sufficient tread. Old or under-inflated tires can easily pop, causing an accident or at the very least an unfortunate delay in your itinerary. Also make sure that your engine oil has been recently changed and your battery is in good shape. We recommend getting a professional inspection to see if your engine’s belts and other key components are in good shape.
Be rested and schedule breaks to avoid fatigue
Driving while fatigued is just as bad as driving while intoxicated. Always get a good night’s rest before your journey. That means no heavy meals or alcohol before bed. Aim to get a full eight hours (or however many you need to feel rested).
If you have a traveling companion, take turns driving. This will allow each of you time to rest your eyes and brain. You should take a pit stop every two hours or every 200 kilometres. As mentioned above, make sure that you plan out your stops so that you don’t find yourself getting exhausted as you look for a fuel station or rest area.
Finally, plan to drive no more than ten hours per day. Ideally, you and a driving partner split this time between you. If your destination will take multiple days, plan in advance to find nightly accommodations that you can reach after ten hours on the road.
Take care of your health and comfort
It’s tempting to load up on fast food and candy during your road trip, but these foods can make you feel bloated. Plus, high-carb and high-sugar foods can cause an energy crash — which can make you feel sleepy behind the wheel. Instead, bring healthy, lightweight snacks such as low-calorie crisps, fresh or dried vegetables and fruits, nuts, etc. Drink water rather than caffeinated beverages or sugary drinks.
Sun protection is important, too. Yes, you can get sunburned through your car windows! We recommend applying sunblock and wearing sunglasses during your drive.
And of course, the more comfortable you are, the less likely you are to be distracted while driving. Wear loose, lightweight clothing with layers that you can adjust as necessary. Always wear flat-soled shoes, and avoid anything tight or binding that would cause you to fidget.
Bring an emergency kit
On long trips, you may drive many kilometres before finding a store or fuel station. Be prepared for anything by packing an emergency kit. This should include, at the bare minimum:
- a first aid kit: bandages and wound dressings, alcohol wipes, ice packs, painkillers, etc.
- basic automobile supplies: spare fuses and bulbs, a tyre pump and pressure gauge, jack, spare tyre, engine oil, jumper cables, etc.
- a flashlight or battery-powered lantern
- emergency signals: small traffic cones, road flares or glow sticks
- blankets and/or spare gloves, hats, sweaters
- rain gear: poncho, rain boots, umbrellas, etc.
- a crowbar or life hammer (look for one that contains a seatbelt cutter and window breaker)
- a shovel (helpful if you get stuck in snow or mud)
- an ice scraper
- an atlas and compass
- battery-powered device chargers (to keep your smartphone charged if your car’s battery dies)
- battery-powered or hand-crank radio
In general, you should be prepared for snowy or icy weather as well as very hot weather. Anticipate your needs in case you end up stuck on the side of the road for an extended period of time. Stock some basic, non-perishable foods such as granola bars, protein bars, or trail mix. Always keep extra water on hand!
By following these simple steps, you can make your next long road trip both safe and enjoyable. The key takeaway is to anticipate any situation and plan ahead. This will help you avoid delays, accidents, and discomfort. Remember to take things slow and don’t be afraid to take breaks as you need them. It’s better to arrive late than not at all!
If you need a reliable, professionally vetted vehicle for your next long trip, consider a rental van or car hire! Reach out to Knights Van Hire. We ensure that all our rentals are optimised for long trips, so you can focus on the journey rather than worrying about your car. Contact us today to learn about our van and car hire options.Back to Latest News