Make Your Long-Distance Driving Safer (And More Enjoyable)

Let’s face it; there aren’t many of us who enjoy being in the car far for hours and hours on end. After awhile, it can get very repetitive and boring or else very stressful. And this is when you are more likely to lose concentration and things start to get dangerous. Before you head out on your next big road trip, there are a few things that you can do to make the trip safer, as well as being more enjoyable overall. And more most these tips should be fairly simple to put into practice, while also helping to give you peace of mind, which can be invaluable when you are driving. So, without any further ado, let’s get started.

Make an Emergency Kit

Unfortunately, many drivers aren’t carrying around the emergency items that they need with them which would come in handy if they find themselves in an emergency situation. A couple of the practical things that will be useful if you find yourself breaking down are some jumper cables and a tyre changing kit. You could also pack some traffic cones and a high visibility jacket if you happen to break down on a highway. If you are going to be driving in difficult icy conditions, kitty litter can be highly useful if you happen to find yourself stuck on the road. And, you should also double check your first aid kit to ensure that it contains everything that you need to cover a wide range of health emergencies.

Plan Your Route

Many of us are so reliant on GPS systems these days that if it happens to go wrong, you may find yourself in a difficult position. This is why it is so much better to plan out your route in advance. If you want to be very prepared, you could even print out the journey instructions in advance. Though satellite navigation systems are becoming more and more advanced, they will still sometimes take you on a route which is not the best – particularly if you are travelling on roads which aren’t well-marked. Not only is this a good idea from a safety perspective, you can also check out the potential stopping points along the way. If you are doing a very long road trip, this helps to break up your journey, as well as seeing something new and exciting along the way.

Check Your Vehicle Before Leaving

Many people don’t do the vehicle checks which should be second nature before departing on a long road trip. Typically, cars need to have their oil changed every 3,000 miles, and it only requires you to do a basic check to find out whether or not it is in need of topping up. You should also take the time to inspect your tyres (not forgetting your spare) for any obvious signs of wear and tear. Check the other essential car fluid levels such as brake fluid and windscreen washer fluid to see if any of these need topping up. If you are going to be travelling with children, it is worth investing in the proper equipment like a car seat. If you are bringing any larger pieces of luggage tied up to your car, take time time to make sure all of this is properly tied down so that it is not going to fall off at any point during your journey.

Pack Water and Snacks

If you are going to be driving for hours on end – particularly in hot and dry conditions – it is important that you pack plenty of water so that you stay properly hydrated. You should also pack plenty of snacks as this will help to give your body the energy that it requires when you are in the car for a long period of time. All of this is particularly essential if you are unlucky enough to break down at any point during the journey in a remote area which doesn’t afford you easy access to shops and facilities.

Make Your Drive More Enjoyable

Not only is boredom terrible for the overall enjoyment of your road trip, it can also cause you to lose concentration or even fall asleep. Some pleasant scents can help out with this such as a car air freshener. This is why it is so important that you keep yourself engaged on the drive. As well as having your music collection on hand and ready to go, why not download some audiobooks and podcasts? These will help to engage your brain a little more and keep you interested more than listening to the same song over and over again. If you are travelling with other passengers, make sure that you have the rules of some classic car games memorised so that you can enjoy these on the road.

Take Breaks on a Regular Basis

Even if you don’t feel that tired, it is still a good idea to take breaks every couple of hours or so – even if it is only to stretch your legs and get a bit of fresh air. Just the simple action of doing this helps to break up the monotony of a long trip, which can be very challenging to deal with after a while. If you feel tired, it is important that you either switch drivers or find a place where you can stop for a nap. Many people try to persevere through the tiredness, but this is certainly the most dangerous option that you can take.

Check with Your Insurance

Many people take out insurance policies without reading the small print, so they don’t know what they are covered for in the event of an accident. Even if it is only for your peace of mind, it is worth checking out your insurance details to find out if you have roadside assistance included or if there are any basic requirements which you have to fulfil before claiming. Though you obviously hope that you won’t need your insurance, it still helps to provide you with peace of mind simply to know that it is there as a backup.

Learn How to Use Your Car Safety Features

New vehicles now come fitted with a raft of safety features such as blind spot monitoring, responsive cruise control, and a drowsiness monitor. However, you need to take the time to familiarise yourself with any features that your car has. Otherwise, they will be going to waste. Similarly, if you are going to be renting a car, you should take the time to ask about how the features can improve the overall safety. It may be worth paying a little more if you want to have the peace of mind that you are properly protected in a wide range of potentially hazardous situations.

Don’t Use Cruise Control at Night

Driving during the night is an entirely different experience to motoring during the daylight hours – and this may be when you find that tiredness plays a big role in your driving. This is why you should avoid using cruise control as you seem to approach objects so much quicker at nighttime. Monitor your speed yourself and this will help you to stay awake and engaged on the road situation in front of you.

Brief Your Passengers About Improving Your Safety

As the driver, you are the one who is in charge, but this doesn’t mean that your passengers don’t play a big role in your overall safety. If you have another driver in the car, they can take some of the pressure off even if they are only going to be driving for a short distance. They can also help to monitor for any obvious signs of tiredness in you. Even if you are travelling with kids, they can help to alert you if they notice that you are drifting off the road or something similar.

As you can see, there are plenty of preparations which you can make before heading out on a long journey which will play a big role in improving your safety. First of all, you need to ensure that the vehicle is properly stocked up, but you should also make sure that you have done all the proper safety checks in and around your vehicle as well. Plan your route in advance and you are less likely to find yourself in a the situation of getting lost if your GPS system happens to fail you at any point along the way. If you car has any up to date safety features, it is important that you know exactly what these are and how they work.

Obviously, all of these car safety considerations are all highly important, but you also need to make sure that you have entertainment planned for the journey which is going to help break up its monotony a little more. And if you are travelling with passengers, they can help you out when it comes to keeping you engaged along the route, as well as taking over and doing any extra driving as necessary.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.