You’ve got your in-car GPS, phone GPS and a rough plan of places you want to see and food you want to eat.
You’re thinking about how fun this road trip is going to be. But have you and your fellow travelers really prepared for the journey ahead?
Here are six road trip dangers that you should be prepared for, in case you encounter them.
ROAD TRIP DANGER #1: GETTING LOST
However, many of us also take our smartphone’s GPS function for granted. We always think that we’ll always be connected.
This is not always true. If you plan on driving across mountain passes, there is a good chance that you will lose your service connection.
A decent app to try is Here Maps, which lets you download the map of the country you’ll be visiting.
Remember, when you’re in an unfamiliar area, getting lost can lead to frustration and frayed nerves. Avoid this situation by planning ahead and scheduling rest stops for driver changes.
This will give you or your designated navigator the chance to check that you’re all on the right track.
ROAD TRIP DANGER #2: BACKSEAT DISTRACTIONS
When you’re tying to navigate in an unfamiliar country, the last thing you need are unruly kids distracting you.
Ensuring that your children are properly secured is a must. You don’t want them scrambling about.
And although easier said than done, keeping your kids entertained (or better still, teaching them to sit still) is the best way of preventing backseat distractions.
ROAD TRIP DANGER #3: FALLING ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL
Some experts have argued that this is even more dangerous thank drink-driving.
When you’re physically and mentally exhausted, you can fall asleep no matter how hard you try to stay awake.
Getting a good night’s sleep, staying hydrated and eating high-energy foods will help keep you awake.
Remember to take a break every two hours if nobody else is taking over the driving duties.
Get some fresh air and stretch your limbs to keep your energy levels up.
Based on past experience, it’s not good to drive more than 400km to 500km a day without stopping to rest for the night.
ROAD TRIP DANGER #4: WILDLIFE CROSSING
There aren’t that many instances of animals crossing the road in Singapore, but this is common in many other countries.
A number of places in Australia, for instance, have signs warning drivers about kangaroos crossing the road.
Pay attention to these warnings, especially if you’re planning to drive at daybreak or dusk. It may be hard to see the animals until it is too late.
And don’t think that the car you’re in can totally protect you. There have been many cases of drivers and passengers getting injured after crashing into animals.
ROAD TRIP DANGER #5: POOR VISIBILITY
It is common to run into fog when you’re driving in mountainous areas.
The best way to prepare for this road trip danger is to do some research on the weather conditions where you’ll be driving.
When driving in fog, maintain a more moderate speed. If your car has fog lights, turn them on.
If the fog worsens, find a safe place to stop so you can let the fog clear before continuing.
ROAD TRIP DANGER #6: SLIPPERY CONDITIONS
Most Singaporean drivers have never driven in snowy (let alone blizzard) conditions.
To say that icy roads are “slippery” is a massive understatement. Even if your rented car has snow tyres, you must be prepared for long stopping distances due to the lack of traction.
Black ice is another danger. Once you run over it, chances are your car will enter into a skid until your tyres can find traction.
Never underestimate how slick these conditions are. Take it slow and easy. Observe how the locals are driving.
Once, while driving in Connecticut in January (the dead of winter), the minivan I was trying to park ended up gently skidding into the parking space I was aiming for.
The car only stopped because of the thick pile of snow in front of the parking spot. Thankfully, there was no damage.
Mind you, this happened even when I was driving under 10km/h!