Your plane lands. You hastily scoop up your baggage, and now it’s time to dash off and grab a rental car. For many of us, this is how a vacation or business trip begins. Before setting off to reach your final destination, you should take a moment to prepare yourself to drive an unfamiliar vehicle on new roads.
If you need to rent a car for pleasure or business travel:
- Find one similar to your own vehicle. It will make driving less stressful because you won’t have to worry about acclimating yourself to a vehicle with drastically different dimensions, which often presents a challenge for drivers.
- Get your bearings. When you hop in the driver’s seat of the rental, spend a couple minutes learning the main controls. Locate the switches for the headlights, turn signals, windshield wipers, climate controls and other things you may use. More importantly, adjust your seat and the mirrors properly while you’re parked so you don’t get distracted fiddling with them while traveling on the freeway.
If you plan to take a road trip in your own car instead, remember to:
- Plan your route in advance. Trying to program a GPS while you’re driving creates a major distraction and unnecessarily risks the well-being of other drivers and you. If you need to dial up a re-route mid-trip, pull over to take care of it. Losing five minutes is far better than getting stranded because you caused an accident from focusing too much on your GPS.
- Use turn signals well enough in advance. Not all roads stand out, and you may need to slow down a bit to find your turn for the first time. Giving other drivers extra notice certainly goes a long way.
- Avoid dangerous maneuvers. Missing an exit or a turn happens to even the best of drivers. Don’t panic and try to make a hasty U-turn or back up on the shoulder. Rather, proceed to a spot where you can safely turn around, or take the next exit and work your way back.
When you go on vacation, don’t let your mind take a vacation from safe driving.
Looking for more road trip hacks? Check out how to build the ultimate road trip playlist.
By Mike Young