Don’t Forget the Driver - Ten Tips to Keep Drivers Alert and Families Safe on Summer Driving Trips

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Parents today often put their children’s needs first. But on family road trips, the needs of the driver – whether it is Mom or Dad – need to take priority. Insurance Hunter’s Neglected Driver survey reveals many families are driving dangerously fatigued because parents have designed the road trip to be as easy as possible on the children. Insurance Hunter has provided the following tips for family drivers to ensure they always remain alert behind the wheel and bring their family safely to their destination.

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1.    Get a good night sleep before hitting the road
Leaving for a long family road trip after a day of work – particularly if you have been scrambling to clear off extra work before the holiday – is not a good plan. Forget about battling the after work rush. Get a full night sleep and start fresh in the morning.

2.    Tell your kids what to expect before you leave
Let your children know before you get in the car that a great holiday is coming, but they have to be patient on the drive as the family will be stopping when the driver needs a break – not when the children are bored or grumpy. Setting expectations about driver breaks before departure will reduce the complaints if you pull over when the kids are mid-movie or book.

3.    Add some buffer time
Holidays should be enjoyed at a leisurely pace so get into holiday mode before you hit the road. Start by allowing some extra time for the drive. This will eliminate stress if you hit traffic, construction, or other unanticipated delays and will also allow for extra or longer rest breaks if you need them.

4.    Plan one extended stop along the way
If you have a full day of driving, plan at least one longer rest stop. This will give both you and your children time to unwind, stretch and refresh before continuing your journey.

5.    Stop for breaks even if you are not tired
Drivers should take a break before they feel tired. Every few hours plan a short break to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Driving for an extended period of time without breaking is dangerous for everyone in your car and surrounding cars.

6.    Switch drivers frequently
If you are travelling with another driver, switch off every couple of hours. This will make sure the driver is always alert and also allows the vehicle to cover a greater distance safely. If Mom doesn’t want to drive as much, make her shift shorter – it will still give Dad an important rest.

7.    Eat healthy and often
Although it is tempting to make a quick stop for fast food while on the road, a heavy burger and greasy fries will quickly make you feel tired and lethargic. Healthy snacks every few hours will give you more energy and help keep you alert longer.

8.    Listen to your body
If your mind and body are telling you it is time for a rest, then pull over immediately. Don’t try and fight through it just to cut a few minutes off of your trip or because the children are sleeping. Turning up the music or opening the window is not an effective strategy to keep you alert. Don’t risk falling asleep behind the wheel.

9.    Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you alert
It is tempting to drink a large coffee or a caffeinated pop when you begin to feel drowsy but this is not a wise choice. Although caffeine provides a temporary spike in energy, it actually reduces your energy level. A short rest break may be all you require to help you feel alert.

10.    Let your spouse handle the children
If the children become restless during the trip or frustrated by having to make an extra stop or two for the driver, let your non-driving partner deal with it. You need to focus on the road – there is plenty of time to take care of the kids’ needs when you arrive safely at your destination.

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Gavin Lobo
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