Safe Travels: 5 Tips For Driving In New Places
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, it’s exciting to see new parts of the country – but when you’re behind the wheel on unfamiliar roads, danger is around every corner. While at home you know where every stop sign is and how the road acts in bad weather conditions, new terrain presents unforeseen risks and can lead drivers to make mistakes.
When traveling in unfamiliar areas, then, beware of these five common missteps. It’s easy to let your new environment challenge your driving skills, but by preparing yourself, you can remain in control.
Research Your Rental
If you fly into your destination and don’t have your own car, it’s important to choose the right rental for your new environment, so do your homework before you sign the contract. When driving in an urban area, for example, you may not want to drive a larger car that will make it hard to maneuver through small spaces, while in rural areas it can help to have four-wheel drive and a car that can handle tough road conditions. Check the weather and your routes and ask the rental provider what they recommend for your travels; they likely know the area well.
Dodge Every Distraction
Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents, and when driving in unfamiliar areas, you’re far more likely to take your eyes off the road. Maybe you’re checking the GPS or texting someone at your destination for an update. Whatever’s caught your attention isn’t as important as your safety, though, so make sure you stay focused. If you struggle to put your phone away while driving, consider using an app that makes it inaccessible while in motion and choose a car that has built-in GPS.
Leave Extra Time
Running late can lead to excessive risk-taking on the road, and when you’re driving in an unfamiliar city, it’s easy to get lost and wind up behind schedule – that’s why it’s so important to leave extra time in your schedule. Schedule events further apart than you might at home and leave your hotel earlier than necessary to be on time. Cities are infamous for their unpredictable traffic, while you may find yourself stuck behind a tractor on rural roads. Regardless of your location, you can’t allow timing to cause extra stress.
Know The Local Laws
Every city and town has its own quirks when it comes to the rules of the road, so before you travel to a new city, it’s important to look into some common differences. For example, can you turn right on red in your destination? In New York City, drivers aren’t permitted to turn right on red at the majority of intersections, while most other cities allow such turns unless otherwise marked. And, when in doubt, take the more cautious approach. Always drive in the right lane and follow other drivers’ cues. Other drivers may honk at you occasionally, but just stay calm.
Beware Blind Drives And Wildlife
Most business travel won’t take you to rural areas, but in the event that you find yourself in a small town or passing through a thinly populated area, it’s important to stay alert. Look out for “blind” drives – driveways where exiting drivers can’t easily see oncoming traffic, as well as any wildlife. One of the worst things you can do when driving in a rural area is to get into a collision with a deer or moose, and using your lights isn’t enough. If you’re in a wooded area at night, consider driving slightly below the speed limit so that you can stop easily if an animal crosses your path.
Driving in unfamiliar areas is stressful, but if you undertake it cautiously, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. The key is to be prepared and to drive cautiously, and if all else fails, grab an Uber or hop on the bus. It may not be as convenient, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when you’re on the road.