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Preparing For a Car Journey

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 6 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Preparing For A Car Journey

Before you set off on your car journey, there are several things that you need to take into account. This is particularly the case if your journey will be a relatively long journey (over an hour).

Cockpit Drills and General Car Safety

Before you move off, you need to check common-sense things such as the doors, mirrors and seatbelts. General car safety includes regularly checking your petrol levels, water and oil levels, brake fluid levels, electrics and tyres. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't check their petrol levels before going on a long journey! See our article on 'Cockpit Checks and General Car Safety' for more advice on this.

Plan your Route

Make sure that you have a good idea of where you need to go before you start your journey. Looking at maps or getting directions online can help with this. Planning ahead will help to keep your journey length to a minimum, but you should factor in plenty of time in case you encounter traffic jams or roadworks that will add extra time to your journey. Finding alternative routes before you leave can also limit the stress, especially if you find that the route that you planned to take is inaccessible (for example, if the road is closed off). You can find online route planners on both the AA (The Automobile Association) and RAC (Royal Automobile Club) websites.

Clothing and Footwear

Make sure that your clothing and footwear aren't too restrictive, so that you can easily reach the pedals, steering wheel and other controls. Clothing should ideally be fairly loose (but still comfortable), and footwear should be sensible. Flat shoes are by far the best option, particularly those that have thin soles. Anything with thick soles means that you often end up applying too much pressure to the brakes or accelerator because it takes longer for you to realise how much pressure you are applying. Thin soles allow you to immediately feel the amount of pressure being applied.

Plan When Best to Drive

As your natural alertness is at its lowest late at night or early in the morning (until around 6 o'clock), it's best not to make journeys (especially long ones) during these hours unless it is otherwise unavoidable. Your body is also likely to experience a mid-afternoon 'slump' at around 3 o'clock, so this is another bad time to drive. Planning your journey to avoid the times when your perceptiveness and concentration levels are likely to be at their lowest makes driving safer and less stressful.

Try to avoid travelling during peak traffic times, such as the morning and evening rush hours, as this will undoubtedly add stress to your journey.

Most preparing is done prior to a long car journey, but many relatively short journeys can also benefit from planning. Finding alternative routes in case of unexpected delays or closed roads doesn't take long, and it can save you lots of time and stress further down the line!

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