The first priority of any successful road trip (according to my mother) is safety. For a start, you need to make sure that your vehicle is worthy of the road. Obviously, if there are any serious mechanical (engine, transmission, et c..) you need to get them checked out before taking off on (or in) your odyssey. Additionally, you should make sure your vehicle is up-to-date on its routine maintenance schedule. That includes:
- Change the oil
- Replace filters
- Top up all fluids
- Check hoses, belts, and brakes
- Check tire treads and air pressure
In addition to taking care of your vehicle’s maintenance, you should acquaint yourself with its esoteric safety features. If you have blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, or something similar, make sure you understand how to use it. Over a lengthy drive, or a dark one, it can be easy to lose alertness. When that happens, all of your vehicle’s cameras and sensors become much more vital than during a ten-minute commute. Even if you don’t have any next-generation safety features, becoming familiar with all aspects of your vehicle is an important exercise.
Road trip playlists are more important than road trips. That doesn’t make sense, but I don’t care. To make it through a 12-hour drive, you must be entertained. Fix up a cassette, mix a CD, renew your satellite radio subscription, or build a playlist. If you use a service like Apple Music, make sure your playlist is download, so you don’t incur data overages or gratuitous roaming fees. Maybe even download an audiobook because you’re never going to read War and Peace with your hands and eyes like a savage.
These days, a fully charged smartphone is a pretty comprehensive safety net. You can get standard cell coverage, and even data coverage in relatively remote areas. But having a cell phone in the middle of nowhere still doesn’t make it easy to find the nearest mechanic or tow truck. To avoid the headache, and road trip interruption, you may want to become a member of a service like CAA, who can help you out quickly in the event of a mechanical failure or other problem. You can also invest in manufacturer roadside assistance or a service like OnStar support to make sure help is never too far away.
Road Trip Documents
It’s important to have your license and registration with you when you’re only a few minutes away from home. So, if you’re a few hours away, it’s even more important. If you get pulled over by the police or are involved in an accident, having essential documents with you can greatly expedite the process. Of course, you also should make sure that you have maps (yes paper ones!), tickets, and passports, or whatever else you need to make sure your vacation runs smoothly.
Get Some Sleep
Fatigue is one of the most dangerous, and underrated, driving impairments. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that, each year, 100,000 police-reported crashes are a direct consequence of driver fatigue. Of course, as there is no objective measure for drowsiness, the numbers reported by the NHTSA may be low. Regardless, it’s obvious that driving while tired is dangerous. A Starbucks blonde roast with an espresso shot will only keep the lights on in your brain for so long. So, get a good sleep (if possible), take turns driving with your passengers, and pull over if you can’t keep your eyes open.
Save Some Gas Money
Two drivers who drive the same distance, at the same average speed, in the same vehicle will have different levels of fuel consumption if one driver accelerated and decelerated more often. Maintaining a consistent speed is much more fuel efficient than jamming on the brakes routinely and then accelerating quickly. Slow and steady might not win at Le Mans, but it wins in the wallet.
Speaking of that consistent speed, try to keep it around 95km/hr. Why? Well, it’s because the rate of fuel consumption does not increase linearly with speed. In other words, the rate of increase in fuel consumption between 45 and 55 km/hr is not the same as the increase between 85 and 95 km/hr. Fuel consumption increases exponentially with speed. Roughly, every 10 km/hr above 90 km/hr will decrease your fuel efficiency by 10%. I care about your well being, so we won’t go into the engineering, math, or physics behind it, but you should know that everything is air density’s fault. Damn air.
Have fun and stay safe on the road this summer. If you have any road trip tips of your own, share them in the comments below,.