Taking your new car for its very first long-distance drive as a new driver can be exciting. There is no denying the independence having your first set of wheels can give you. But before heading out onto the open highway, what do you need to know to make sure you are not only driving safely but you are also prepared for the event of an accident or an emergency on the road.
What exactly are the best ways you can be prepared before taking your first road trip or long-distance journey as a new driver?
A good night’s sleep
Before you go anywhere, you need to make sure you are fully rested and alert enough to take on the drive. You need to be at your most responsive to help you navigate the road and drive safely. Part of the dangers of long road trips is the strain it can put on your body even if you don’t realize it. Tiredness can be a killer when traveling long distances, and you need to make sure you have had enough rest to help you complete our journey.
Tips such as talking rest breaks if needed, keeping windows open, listening to upbeat music, and standing adequately fed and hydrated can help you stay alert when driving.
The thing with emergencies and unforeseen problems is precisely that. You never know when they will pop up. Be as prepared as possible by keeping an emergency car kit in the car to help you out should you need it. Think blankets, water, snacks, torch, warning triangles, reflective clothing, or items, a spare gas can and, if possible, keep your cell phone charged or have an in-car charger to avoid a flat battery. Also, keep in the car a list of emergency contacts, your roadside assistance details if you have them, or the number for companies such AAA, Emergency Locksmiths, and you’re insurance details – which should be in your car at all times when in use. A small first aid kit could come in handy too.
These small details can make all the difference should you experience an accident or emergency on your trip and will make the situation a little bit more bearable and more comfortable to remedy.
It may be worth checking in with family or friends at regular intervals and letting them know our expected time scales and route. This will help them to locate you should you fall behind schedule or have an accident. It will be easier for people to direct help to your location if they know how far you are travelling and when you were expected between two checkpoints. Use rest stops, gas stations, or landmarks to track your journey and make it easier to locate you if you need third party assistance.
Essential car checks
Sure, this may be mundane, but just as you need to be healthy when it comes to driving long distances, so does your car. To avoid the risk of problems when driving, doing necessary checks on your vehicle will help you make sure your vehicle can cope with the journey too.
- Engine Coolant
- Water Levels
- Screen Wash
- Tire Tread
- Windscreen Wipers
- Tire Pressure
On newer cars, things such as topping up engine coolant may be redundant as they may have a closed cooling system. However, if you have an older car, you will need to check most of these by hand manually. Warning lights in newer cars can alert you to a multitude of issues, but by testing them yourself before setting on your journey, you can drive safely in the knowledge that everything is working as it should be.
Top up water levels, oil, and engine coolant to the maximum allowed levels as failing to do so could cause damage to our engine and ruin your trip. This will be an expensive fix all for the sake of skipping out on checking them before driving off.
Check your lights are all working correctly before setting off. Test them by getting someone to stand next to our car as you turn your lights on and tap the brakes to check your brake lights are working. If any of your lights aren’t working, you run the risk of being stopped by police and risk a fine for knowingly driving with broken lights.
If you are unsure of the correct products to use or how to check your car for any or all of the above or more, refer to your handbook and make sure to follow the guidance.
This is one of the most essential things to top up before you head out onto the open road. Leaving yourself low on gas will inevitably cause you issues and make your journey time longer. Know how much fully you have, approximately how far it will get you and where the gas stations are along your route. You can set up alerts on most cell phones for this.
If your car is a hybrid or fully electric, make sure your car is filled correctly and has enough charge to withstand all or as much of your journey as possible. Newer electric cars can drive for longer without needing charging, but making sure you know where charging points are on your route along with the time required to charge and distance between charging points is essential.
In conclusion, planning road trips can be fun, and for new drivers, taking the appropriate measures to protect yourself, and your car can help to ease the worry about the drive ahead. Be it for fun, vacation, or work purposes, there are many ways you can plan a safe trip as well as enjoy your time driving and the destination when you arrive. Build your confidence on the road by being a safe and prepared driver and enjoy our time behind the wheel.