With so many spectacular long-distance holiday destinations in South Africa, staying safe on the road is essential for you and your family. A ‘long distance’ trip is generally a trip of 300 km or more, or longer than three hours. Here are ten long distance driving tips that will help you this holiday season.
1. Plan ahead
Know where you are going. This will ensure your drive is relaxing and enjoyable. Plan your route, and the roads you are going to take, using GPS or maps. Also know where you will be able to stop for fuel, food, ablutions and safe resting spots along the way. Ensure the route you are planning to take is driveable and in good condition.
You should also look at the weather reports for the areas you’ll be driving, so you know what to expect on the road.
For added safety, stay in touch with someone at your destination throughout your journey, so they know where you are at all times. Make sure your car is fuelled, checked, and ready to go, in advance. Use our guide as your pre-trip checklist.
2. Sleep the night before you leave
Fatigue on the open road is dangerous, so make sure you get a good night’s rest before you leave. If you’re leaving early in the morning, ensure you go to bed earlier than usual to get enough sleep before your journey. Do not consume alcohol or any other intoxicants the day before you leave.
3.Take a break every two hours or 200 km
Taking a break from driving every two hours or 200 km is recommended for a long distance trip. Stop to fill up, grab a bite to eat, use the bathroom or simply to stretch your legs. Taking a break will give you a boost until the next stop.
4. Share the drive
If you are able to share the driving with someone else, you’ll be less likely to get tired behind the wheel. It is recommended that you do not drive more than a total of ten hours in one day.
5. Allow ample travel time
You’re in holiday mode, so what’s the point of rushing? Plan your trip properly and allow plenty of time for the drive as well as rest stops and refuelling. You’ll also enjoy a more relaxing drive if you don’t need to rush to your destination.
6. Dress for comfort in the car
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes especially, and take a pillow if your back tends to ache when you’re behind the wheel for an extended period of time.
Be sure to apply sunblock before you leave and re-apply every two hours. Driving during the day means your arms or legs are exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time, and as much as you may not feel the sun on your skin through the windows, especially if they are tinted, you still run the risk of sunburn...
7. Don’t rely solely on cruise control
Cruise control can make a long trip a lot more bearable, although lack of driver involvement may lead to laziness and a loss of concentration behind the wheel. If you have cruise control, use it for short periods only.
8. Eat light and stay hydrated
Heavy meals or fast food, aren’t a good idea in the car. They’ll leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Eat snacks and small portions of healthy food at regular intervals. Drink water to keep you hydrated.
9. Fresh air is a must
Even though your car might have air conditioning, fresh air is essential to keep you alert. Open the windows intermittently to let fresh air into the car.
10. Obey the rules of the road
Driving requires your full attention, especially so when driving long distances. Don’t be distracted by cellphones, rowdy children in the backseat or eating while you are driving. Importantly, obey the speed limit, don’t overtake dangerously and ensure everyone in the car is buckled up properly. Finally, be courteous and considerate to other drivers and enjoy the trip.