The chance to take in idyllic landscapes and sun-soaked views is a big part of what makes road trips so appealing. When travelling during certain times of the year, such as spring and fall, seasonal landscapes dotted with vivid colours can be incredibly stunning.
Travellers can’t be blamed for getting caught up in the sights they’re on the cusp of seeing. But it’s equally important that drivers take steps to prepare for unsafe driving conditions before embarking on a road trip. Even if the forecast is nothing but sunny skies, driving conditions can suddenly take a turn for the worse. The following are a handful of unsafe conditions drivers may encounter on the road and what they can do to make it through such situations safe and sound.
• Aggressive drivers: Aggressive driving or road rage is a significant issue, more so than some drivers may recognize. A 2016 survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the previous 12 months. Motorists who encounter aggressive drivers should do their best to stay away from them. Consider safely changing lanes, gradually slowing down or even exiting the highway.
• Bad weather: Bad weather can include anything from snowfall to driving rain to thick fog. Though it’s wise for drivers to consult the weather forecast before hitting the road, no forecast is 100 percent accurate, which underscores the importance of knowing what to do when conditions suddenly take a turn for the worse. If inclement weather appears unexpectedly, slow down and be sure to leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Double the cushion between your vehicle and the ones in front of you when driving in rain, snow, sleet, and other adverse weather conditions. Doing so can help to offset the slower brake time that occurs when driving in bad weather.
• Debris: Road debris can include anything from materials that get blown away from roadside worksites to falling rock to tire treads to items that fall off of other vehicles. The suddenness of and the potentially serious consequences of being hit by or hitting debris is why a proactive approach is ideal. Avoid tailgating, so you have ample room to maneuver should anything fall into the road. It’s also important to leave room on the side of your vehicle so you can swerve out of the way. On especially long road trips, share driving duties so whoever is behind the wheel is fresh and alert. Alertness improves reaction time, making it much more likely drivers can avoid debris.
The open road has its hazards. But drivers who plan ahead and know what to do when encountering adverse conditions can ensure road trips are memorable for all the right reasons.