Driving while fighting sleep can put you in as much danger as driving under the influence, yet it’s not a risk that’s talked about as often. With longer drives, such a road trips, drowsy driving is even more of a danger.
SIGNS YOU SHOULD PULLOVER:
– You’re having difficulty focusing
– Your eyelids are growing heavy
– You’re having trouble keeping your head up
– You’re daydreaming a lot
If you experience any of the above, you should pull over as soon as convenient. Otherwise, your reaction speeds could be much slower than they should be, leaving you at a serious risk of an accident.
Make sure everyone takes turns driving, allowing the other to take a nap.
Drinking caffeine can help you stay alert for a little longer, but when in doubt, find a safe place to park the car and take a nap. It’s even better if you’ve brought your camping gear with you.
3. ENSURE THERE ARE NO DISTRACTIONS
Not having your focus on the road is one of the greatest risks while driving and the reason this is on of our top road safety tips.
Keep your attention 100% on the road at all times. Trying to multitask can put you in severe danger.
Road trips and long drives are often made in groups. If you have people in the car with you, then lay some ground rules before you set off.
Talking can be just fine, but if there is any shouting, jostling, or otherwise distracting activity in the car, be ready to stop the car at the earliest convenience and cut it out.
Others in the car can help you avoid distraction, too.
For instance, someone can be in charge of the map, another in charge of the music. You want to avoid taking your hands from the wheel and gearstick as much as possible.
4. BRING AN EMERGENCY KIT WITH YOU
Even if you’re driving as safely as possible, it’s always wise to be prepared for the event of something going wrong. This is a severely underrated road safety tip.
First of all, a subscription to any roadside assistance plan is critical when going on longer drives. After all, you can end up out in the middle of nowhere and find yourself needing help.
Enter Your Postal/Zip code here to find your local AAA/CAA club.
Check out Money Supermarket to compare policies.
Otherwise, your emergency kit should include:
A fully charged phone and a list of essential numbers
High visibility cones and jackets
This emergency kit will mean that you can keep the group safe, warm, and hydrated in case you’re left out in the middle of nowhere. The phone means that even if you’re out of battery, you can still reach your emergency contacts and get help.
It might sound like common sense to some. To others it might sound like one of our road safety tips you don’t always necessarily need to follow.
Many drivers think that pushing over the speed limit a little is perfectly acceptable to shave a few minutes off the length of the journey.
Speeding, even when it seems relatively safe, is always a danger.
The faster you’re going, the longer it takes your car to slow or come to a stop, meaning you have less time to react appropriately to a dangerous situation.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR SPEED
When driving long distances, it’s easy for distraction or a loss of focus to cause your speed to creep up without you noticing.
How to keep track of your speed:
Check your speedometer on a regular basis,
Keep an eye out for traffic signs
Avoid distractions where possible
SET OFF EARLIER
In many cases, people speed because they’re worried about being late to a certain place. If that’s a habit you seem to have, then you should plan around it and leave earlier to ensure you stay safer on the road.
6. PRACTICE DEFENSIVE DRIVING
Defensive driving is an excellent road safety trip that could keep you from a collision.
WHAT IS DEFENSIVE DRIVING?
Effectively, defensive driving is all about being aware of what other drivers on the road are doing and being prepared for the potential of an accident or collision at all times.
If another driver is speeding or looks like they are attempting to cut you off, then the defensive driving approach is to extract yourself from the dangerous situation as soon as possible.
HOW TO DRIVE DEFENSIVELY
ALWAYS keep your eyes on the other drivers on the road.
Learn about your blind spots and be aware of how to safely check them
Watch out for signs of other drivers behaving erratically
Back off and keep your distance when other drivers act in this way
Defensive driving can be difficult.
Don’t rise to challenges from another driver, even if you’re in the right. Being safe is much more important than getting into a conflict with another driver on the road.
7. KEEP ENOUGH DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU AND THE CAR AHEAD OF YOU
Another of our road safety tips to do with safe driving practices is to make sure that you always have a cushion of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
This is also frequently called the “second rule”.
You might have heard of the “three second rule”, which means you should slow and count to three to get enough space behind another driver. This can be enough to give you space and time to react and safely evade hazards on the road.
But don’t stop there.
You should take into account different vehicles and driving conditions when you’re creating space. For instance, large trucks and other big vehicles with severe blind spots behind them necessitates a four second rule
Similarly, you should make it a six second rule when the weather is bad or there are other unsafe driving conditions, like ice on the road. For any condition that might add a little extra risk, you should add a little extra time.
THE ‘THREE’ SECOND RULE
IN ALL CONDITIONS
Leave at least 3 seconds between yourself and the driver in front
Leave at least 6 seconds between yourself and the driver in front
8. STORE YOUR ITEMS APPROPRIATELY
If you’re on a long drive or a road trip, then you’re likely to be bringing a significant amount of cargo with you.
The majority of it might be safely locked in the trunk, but you should consider items that are aren’t as well.
For instance, if there is any cargo that might be at risk of moving around while you’re driving, then you should take whatever measures are necessary to secure them and keep them in place.
If something falls to the floor while you’re driving, don’t reach down to try and grab them. This can easily lead to you being caught off guard should a risky situation suddenly arise.
Lastly, make sure that any necessary items, such as your ID, are kept in close reach. It’s a good idea to have someone else in the front passenger seat who is responsible for finding and using any items that you’re likely to need while driving.
Lock EVERYTHING down
Keep important items close by
Don’t reach for fallen items whilst driving
9. PLAN YOUR ROUTE AND REST STOPS AHEAD OF TIME
On longer trips on the road, you should be aware of the risks of long periods of uninterrupted driving.
As we mentioned in one of the earlier road safety tips, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence.
It also puts your vehicle under greater pressure, meaning that malfunctions and wear and tear are more likely to rear their ugly heads.
When you’re planning your trip, make sure that you’re also planning times to stop for food, where you’re going to refuel the car, stops for any calls you might need to make, and even just general stops to rest.
When you’re choosing a route ahead of time, take note of the different rest stops and fuel stations along the way. As such, if you need to make an unplanned stop, you can at least be aware of where the nearest one is.
You’ll also want to use navigation apps for your route and finding your way. You can see a breakdown of such apps in this article on what we think is the best road trip planner.
For reference, these are our favorite:
10. DON’T USE YOUR PHONE, NOT EVEN ON HANDS-FREE
Some figures suggest that texting and driving can increase your likelihood of getting into a fatal accident by almost 900%.
If that isn’t the clearest possible indication for avoiding using your phone while driving, then perhaps nothing may be able to convince you of the importance of this road safety tip.
Most of us are well aware of the risks of using the phone, whether it’s texting, making a phone call, or navigating apps, while driving.
However, in some surveys, only one-in-three people never do it.
In part, hands-free phones have caused many people to mistakenly think that they are now safe when using the phone. While it makes it more convenient to reach the phone, it does nothing to combat the distraction that they cause.
If you have others in the car with you, make sure that they are the ones in charge of using the phone.
Otherwise, set up any podcasts or map navigation apps you need to ahead of starting to drive. Ignore any phone calls and return them, if you need to, when you have the opportunity to safely pull over.
11. ACCOUNT FOR BAD WEATHER AND CHANGE YOUR DRIVING HABITS WHERE NECESSARY
As mentioned, the weather you’re driving in can affect your driving habits.
If the road is wet, for instance, you add three more seconds of distance between you and the vehicle directly ahead of you.
However, that’s not the only change you should make in bad weather:
Reduce your speed by 5-10 miles per hour to improve your reaction times.
Don’t make any sudden changes in direction or speed as you can lose control of the vehicle more easily.
Use your headlights and turn on the wipers as soon as it starts raining.
Use your fog lights in low visibility but be careful about oncoming drivers.
If you’re anticipating bad weather for the trip ahead, consider changing your tires to ones that can better deal with it.
ROAD SAFETY TIPS – FINAL THOUGHTS
Driving safely isn’t rocket science, by any stretch.
It is, however, a set of road safety tips and rules and reminders that can be rather easy to forget.
If you’re going on a long trip, keep the above safe driving tips in mind. As far as a road trip goes, you might be doing it for fun, but safety should be the number one priority.
Do you have any other road safety tips for drivers?