Advice for Long Journeys

If you're planning a long journey, there are a number of things you should consider:

  1. Is the car up to making the journey?
  2. How will you prevent yourself from becoming tired?
  3. How will you keep your passengers (especially any children) amused?

1. The Car

You should make sure that your car is in good condition before setting off on any journey. Check the lights, battery, oil level, coolant, tyres and washer fluid; check out the Car Maintenance section to find out how.

2. Preventing Tiredness

Every year, there are thousands of crashes caused by tired drivers. These crashes are most likely to happen on long monotonous roads, such as motorways, between 2pm and 4pm (especially when the driver has had a heavy lunch) and 2am and 6am. Being tired will reduce your alertness, reaction time, concentration and decision making, making it much more likely that you will become involved in a crash.

  • Plan your journey to include a 15-minute break every two hours.
  • Make sure that you choose your in-car entertainment carefully. Slow music lowers your adrenalin levels and can make you drowsy, so you're better off picking something a little more upbeat, particularly if you're driving at night. You may also want to consider getting an audio book; especially if you and your passengers can't agree what to listen to. Audio books are a great way of keeping the kids amused (and quiet) too.
  • Using cruise control not only reduces the amount of fuel that you'll use, but as you don't have to accelerate and decelerate all the time, it will also stop you from becoming tired.
  • If you do begin to feel tired, bear in mind that opening the window, turning up your stereo or singing loudly will only work for a few minutes. Do not try to complete the journey - you might never arrive. Find a safe place to stop (not the hard shoulder), take a short nap and resume the journey 15-20 minutes later. Drink one or two cups of strong coffee or other high caffeine drink before continuing your journey. However, sleep is the only cure for tiredness, so it may be better to find somewhere to stay overnight.

You can find out more about reducing fatigue and stress here ...

3. Keeping the Kids Amused

  • Make sure that you bring plenty of entertainment for the children; this can be as simple as introducing a couple of car games (such as I Spy or 20 Questions) or as high tech as bringing along a portable DVD player.
  • Bring a cooler packed with fruit juices and water. You should also take some snacks along, such as sweets, crackers, raisins and fruit.
  • Be prepared to break up the journey to allow the children (and yourself) a chance to get out and stretch their legs. Plan to stop off and have a picnic or a scenic walk.