Stay alive with these long-distance driving tips

The general rule is that for every two hours of driving, you should have a 15-minute break. Picture: ROBERT BOTHA
The general rule is that for every two hours of driving, you should have a 15-minute break. Picture: ROBERT BOTHA

As we head into the holiday season, when many people are driving long distances to spend time with friends and family, many motorists may be undertaking the trip alone or be the only driver in the car.

Without the help of passengers or co-drivers, solo motorists face more than the usual challenges. 

Managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, said without other drivers to fall back on, avoiding fatigue was important.

"The general rule is that for every two hours of driving, you should have 15 minutes of rest. If, however, you experience more fatigue than 15 minutes can combat, rather consider stopping for longer. Eat something nutritious and stretch your legs before leaving again.

"Avoid caffeine or foods high in sugar, or unhealthy fats, as your energy levels will soon crash."

These are the other tips to follow if you are a solo driver this holiday period.

  • Ensure you get enough rest the night before and avoid leaving early if you did not get enough sleep.
  • If you can, avoid leaving early in general. Some road users travel at night in an attempt to avoid law enforcement, which creates another potential safety hazard for other drivers.
  • Know your limits. If you have an eight-hour trip ahead of you, but know that five hours is the most you can safely do in one day, rather book an overnight stay.
  • Keep healthy food in the car that will help maintain your energy levels. Examples include protein, like eggs, and healthy fats, like peanuts.
  • Pack plenty of water and make a point of staying hydrated.
  • Position the food and water so it is easy to get at, with minimal distraction.
  • Plan your stops to ensure you take a break around the two-hour mark. You do not want to skip a stop, only to find there is another hour between stops.
  • Ensure you keep your vehicle maintenance up to date and check your car before leaving to avoid being stranded solo.
  • Keep someone updated on your intended route and progress. This is one instance where it is advisable to keep your cellphone handy in case you run into trouble.

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