Art of Long Distance DrivingJuly 25, 2010 | in Defensive Driving Online
The key to successful long-haul driving is really a matter of finding what works for you. Today, I’m going to offer a mixture of my own observations and other pieces of advice I’ve been given over the years, both by road safety experts and other regular road-trippers. Overall, the secret to a successful drive is probably similar to the secret of a happy and healthy life: don’t stress. Plan and execute your trip to minimize stress.
First, prepare for your trip:
· Have your car serviced.
· Check weather forecast to avoid bad weather.
· Time trip to avoid night driving and rush hour.
· Plot your route in advance.
· Sleep well and drink plenty of water the day before.
Once you do get on the road, attitude is key. Try to enjoy your time on the road and approach the trip from a mature driving perspective. Break your trip into manageable chunks, so you don’t get too exhausted. In general, 500 miles per day is a good limit for a solo driver; 600 is possible, but pushing it.
Also, don’t be afraid to take breaks. Set goals for yourself along your route; splitting up the trip this way will help you feel that you’re making concrete progress, rather than tackling a huge and unmanageable distance.
As you drive, beware of drowsiness! Fatigue can creep up on you unexpectedly, so make sure you stay aware of how you feel. To keep alert and energetic, try turning on the air-conditioner, opening the windows, or listening to fast-paced, upbeat music. Avoid eating too much sugar, as a sugar “rush” will end in an energy low, and be wary of eating heavy meals, however, as these can make you pretty drowsy.
If you do become fatigued, don’t push yourself. Even if you aren’t in immediate danger of falling asleep at the wheel, your reaction time is significantly slower when you are tired. Try to stick to your normal sleep schedule. If you normally go to bed around 11 pm, then don’t drive late into the night. I often find that I hit an afternoon low between 3 and 5 pm, so I’ll try to plan a stop during this time.
On the highway, practice safe and courteous driving:
· Find a comfortable speed and stick with it.
· Stay in the middle lane.
· Check your speedometer to keep speed from “creeping” up.
· Don’t tailgate.
· Avoid distracted driving.
For some people, cruise control can be a useful tool, but opinions on this are mixed. Some driving experts believe that the use of cruise control decreases driver awareness, making it a danger. Personally, I find it very helpful. Notice how you drive with and without cruise control and then choose the option that makes you a safer and more comfortable driver.
Above all, take care of yourself, respect your limits, and enjoy the experience.
To learn more about this topic, our driver programs or a broad range of subjects from “How To Change A Tire” to “How To Jumpstart Your Car”, visit DefensiveDriving.com’s Safe Driver Resources page!
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