As drivers prepare to set off on their holiday trips, one thing they should be planning for is changed driving conditions.
You may have become accustomed to short trips, gridlocked traffic, advanced road networks and limited time spent driving in bad weather. This, however, is unlikely to be the same for your long-distance trip and you should be ready for this.
A full load
Your car will likely be fully loaded with luggage and passengers and you may even be towing a trailer or caravan. This changes various aspects of driving:
- Your power and manoeuvrability will be reduced.
- It will take longer to stop requiring you to leave larger following distances.
- Children watching movies in the back or getting rowdy may present more distractions. Ensure you have enough activities to keep the kids entertained throughout.
- Avoid reducing your visibility with luggage and pay extra attention to blind spots, mirrors and using the indicator.
While driving on quieter roads in remote areas may be more enjoyable than gridlocked traffic,it still has its own challenges. Keep the following in mind:
- Your are likely to encounter more trucks. Do not pressurise them to drive in the yellow lane if it is not safe.
- Do not get frustrated with slower moving traffic and consequently make a dangerous overtaking pass.
- Keep an extra eye open for hazards such as potholes, cyclists, animals or pedestrians as you near towns.
- When you do return to roads with a higher density, do not get frustrated with gridlocked traffic and other stressed drivers and lose your cool.
If there are bad weather conditions when you leave, you will be stuck in this much longer than you would be on your usual commutes. Follow these tips to stay safe:
- If visibility is severely reduced stop at a petrol station or other safe places for refreshment s and give the weather some time to clear up.
- Increase following distances in all adverse weather conditions.
- Switch your headlights on – if not on already. Do not switch them on bright in fog where lights on bright can reflect off the fog.
- Take regular breaks as this driving requires more concentration. As a rough guide plan to stop every two hours.
Many routes require you to drive through mountain passes. This is what you should do:
- Stay hydrated on high mountain passes to avoid altitude sickness.
- Take regular breaks as it is often more strenuous driving – pull over at a safe place and enjoy the view.
- Be careful that the scenery does not distract you so much that it becomes dangerous.
- Increase following distance as sudden stops can be more common.
- Hugging the centre line can be dangerous on curves.
- Ensure you have more than enough space to pass vehicles on the ascent as the power of your vehicle will be considerably reduced.
- Allow for broken down vehicles and be cautious when negotiating bends through which the road ahead is not visible
Your holiday is just as much about the journey as what it is the destination. Endeavour to enjoy the trip so that you arrive feeling calm and ready to start the holiday on a positive