Driving tips for long journeys

Long car journeys can take their toll on even the most hardened of drivers, especially if your car breaks down or you hit traffic jams and are unable to move for hour upon hour.

Whilst those who have recently bought new or used cars from local dealerships are less likely to suffer a breakdown, other factors such as tiredness, which often comes as a result of long car journeys, are a major factor in a lot of accidents.

So, with this in mind, we have compiled a list of tips for those who are driving long distances in the near future or on a regular basis.

Get a good night’s sleep

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in their Driver Fatigue Policy Statements study found that driver fatigue is a serious problem that results in many thousands of road accidents each year.

Get a good night's sleep

In fact, it is estimated that up to 20% of road accidents, and up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents are sleep-related accidents and that these types of crashes are about 50% more likely to result in death or serious injury.

So, if you know you are going to be driving a long distance, you need to make sure you are fit to drive.

RoSPA adds, “Do not begin a journey if you are tired. Get a good night's sleep before embarking on a long journey.”

Plan your journey

The saying ‘a little knowledge goes a long way’ is certainly true when planning your route.

Consider the time of day you will be travelling and whether you will be impacted by rush hour in busy towns and cities, as you should try to avoid rush hours if possible.

Planning journey

You also need to factor in the time for any stops along the way. Whatever you do, make sure you leave yourself enough time so that you will still be able to make your final destination in time should you hit any roadworks or accidents.

RoSPA adds, “Avoid undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6am, when natural alertness is at a minimum.”

Carry out a POWER check

Next you should make sure your vehicle is prepared by conducting a POWER check, which is when you check the Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics and Rubber or tyre tread of your vehicle.

If you have bought a new car in Poole or from one of our other dealerships, your vehicle is likely to be ok on this front, but you should still check these five things to be safe.

To save time on the day of your journey, try to carry out a POWER check the day before your long car journey.

Packing the car

If you are going on holiday then you should pack the car the night before, so make sure all the family are well prepared days before you depart. Spread the load evenly when packing the car and make sure all loose items are packed away as the driver or passengers could get hit by loose items if the brakes are suddenly applied.

It is also worth noting where your spare wheel is located. It is worth trying not to completely cover up the access point to the wheel just in case you need it during your journey.

Packing your car

Take plenty of breaks

Long journeys cause tiredness, so it is important to take sufficient breaks during your journey. Most experts suggest taking a 15-minute break every two hours of driving.

RoSPA’s Driver Fatigue Policy Statements says, “If you feel sleepy, stop in a safe place. Do not stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway.”

If you are getting sleepy then RoSPA suggests that the most effective ways to counteract sleepiness are to drink a couple cups of caffeinated coffee and to have a short nap of around 15 minutes.

The procedure to follow during a breakdown

Fingers crossed your car will not break down, but should it occur you need to be prepared. Firstly, breakdown cover is an essential and check that your breakdown company still covers you if you are travelling abroad.

If you breakdown on the motorway and your car is not driveable, then you should stop on the hard shoulder.

What to do in a breakdown

Stopping on the hard shoulder is dangerous, so be sure to park as close to the kerb as possible, switch your hazard lights on, get out of the car with your passengers and wait on the side of the road but a safe distance from your vehicle.

If you breakdown on a country lane or other type of road then try to get your car off the road, switch your hazard lights on and place your warning triangle 45 metres behind your car to make other drivers aware of your broken-down vehicle.

Image Credit: Tony Alter, mroach, XPeria2Day, Tyler Tate (flickr.com)

This content was written by James Dart. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.