Your First Long Drive: Top 8 Things to Remember
Nothing says freedom to a young person like getting their driver’s license does.
Once you are a fully licensed driver, you are able to travel by motor vehicle to any place you wish, and you will probably take real advantage of this, at least until the novelty of being a newly licensed driver wears off.
Your First Long Drive: 8 Things to Remember
Always follow the rules of the road
If you want to arrive at your destination safely, it is important to make sure that you are always following the road rules. If you are traveling outside Ontario, you may want to learn what the rules are in other areas, in case there are some that are somewhat different. This way, you will not have to worry about being ticketed for driving infractions.
Drive safe and drive defensive
It is important, no matter how far you are driving, to always be a safe driver. Watch everything on the road around you, and obey all road signs you come across. One little mistake can turn into a lot of trouble if you are not being careful. You also need to be driving defensively. Not only do you have to be aware of what you are doing yourself when you are behind the wheel, you need to be aware of other drivers around you, and even try to anticipate what they will do so you can be prepared.
Pack a road safety kit
It is a good idea to always have a road safety kit in your car, but it is especially important if you are going to be going on a long drive. You never know what can happen, and things can happen in an instant. You could break down or get a flat tire. You could be stuck in a snow storm, and as we all know, Canadian winters can get pretty severe in most parts of the country. Make sure your safety kit includes road flares, a flashlight, a “Help” sign to put in your window, and a spare tire. You should also have some tools, such as a jack and a tire iron. Just in case, you should probably keep a blanket or sleeping bag in the car as well, so if you break down in cold weather, you will be able to stay somewhat warm until help arrives. Install some of these car safety devices to protect yourself, your passengers and other drivers. Make sure you always have a cell phone, but never use it while you are actually driving.
Bring another licensed driver with you
Long trips can get tiring, and it is always a good idea if you don’t plan to stop for a rest that you have another driver along for the ride. This way, if you do get sleepy, you don’t have to take the chance of falling asleep at the wheel, because there is someone to take over the driving for a while.
Take plenty of rest breaks
If you do not have another licensed driver with you, you should make plans to stop every so often for a rest. It is so easy to fall asleep while you are driving, and at the very least, you will probably go off the road. Or, it could even be much, much worse. There are plenty of rest stops around, and if you have to, pull into a parking lot and catch a few zzz’s before you continue on your way. If necessary, get a room at a motel and sleep for a few hours until you are refreshed enough to begin driving again.
Stop for meals
If you are new driver, you need to focus all of your concentration on your driving. This means not trying to eat while you are driving. If you are hungry, pull over and eat. It will only take a few minutes, and it could save your life because you will not be focused on eating rather than driving. Make sure that you do not go hungry just to get to your destination sooner. Being hungry can make you weak, and your driving skills may not be the best when you are not feeling right. It is alright to have a drink (non-alcoholic) if you are driving, but you should be very careful if you are going to do so.
Take it slow
You are not really in any hurry, even if you think you might be. It is better to arrive somewhere late than not at all, and if you are not driving at the posted speed limit or even a little bit below it, you are at a much higher risk of being in an accident. Slow and steady really does win the race, and if you are a little bit late, so be it. At least you are there, safe and sound.
Turn the music off, or at least down
Yes, good music can make a long drive go by much faster, but it can also be very distracting, especially to new drivers. You should not even bother with your car stereo when you first start driving, even on short trips. Once you are more experienced, you can turn on the music, but remember to keep it low. If you are singing and bopping along to some great tunes, you are not really paying attention to your driving.
Your first road trip should be one that you really enjoy, and if you use the above tips, you can be ensured that you will have a really great drive, and you will look forward to more trips just like this one.
Drive safe, drive defensive, and follow the rules of the road, and you will have no troubles on long drives, with the exception of possible car troubles that can’t be foreseen.
Andrei Zakhareuski is the founder of Find-a-driving-school.ca. He has been writing for beginner Canadian drivers for several years.
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