Driving long distances can be a challenge even to the most experienced driver. Tiredness can cause attention deficit, which can lead to accidents. As of 2009, 30,797 people died in car crashes in the United States alone, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drivers must take measures of accident prevention when driving long distances, to protect themselves and other road users.
Make the Most of Daylight
The reduced visibility and the high light contrasts of a road at night makes driving long distances after sunset a more tiring experience. When starting a long trip, make the most of daylight hours by leaving early, specially when you don't know the road. If you need more than a day, book overnight accommodation in advance. By doing so, you can avoid the disappointment of having to go extra miles in search for a place to sleep, after a whole day of driving.
Take Regular Breaks
Regular breaks are very important to relax your muscles and keep you awake and attentive to the traffic. Choose motorway services or a safe spot to park your car. Stretch your muscles, bend you knees, walk or perform a few jumping jacks before going back on the road. Have a drink of water, and splash it on your face to keep you awake. Taking several short breaks, about 5 to 10 minutes each, at least every two hours, can help you reduce mental and physical fatigue when driving long distances. When you can, avoid traveling alone and swap the driving seat with your companion if you feel too tired.
Drivers should avoid unnecessary distractions when driving long distances. If you take others in the car, don't let too much conversation distract you. In this situation, forget about body language: don't try to make eye contact and keep you hands on the wheel. Uncomfortable clothes and shoes can provide unnecessary distraction during a long trip, so dress accordingly. If you take small kids or babies with you, avoid traveling alone.
Ckeck the Vehicle's Safety
As well as you being fit and healthy to drive, check the vehicle's health before starting the journey. Check the tires for pressure and tread depth, as worn tires increase the risk of accidents in wet weather. Check breaks, engine oil and water/coolant levels, windshield wiper reservoir and wipers, and lights. Alternatively, you can use a service provider or garage, which can do all the car checks for you.
- "Driving Tips from Grampa: Prevent Tomorrow's Accidents Today by Reading"; Gerry Stewart; 2007
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: FARS Data Table
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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