How To Survive Long-Distance Road Tripping – Rules Of The Road/Emergencies

All too often I see people who are absolutely clueless on the road. Especially the ones with out-of-state plates in the state you’re currently in. This is my favorite part of my guide because I want to educate you fellow road trippers on how to be as safe as you can possibly be without pissing anybody off.

This is a complete how-to on long-distance road tripping. Check out the following topics to help better prepare yourself for the road ahead.

Alright. We’ll first learn a little bit about the German Autobahn. There are a few things I want us to take away from the German Autobahn. Though these things are somewhat observed here in the States, are very strict rules in Germany, and violators will receive a very hefty fine and a possible license suspension!

The things I want us to take away from Germany’s Autobahn will make us more courteous to other drivers, be more efficient in terms of fuel economy and traffic flow and safer by preventing bottlenecking of the Interstate.

Keep Right, Except To Pass

Germans take this rule very, very seriously. And they have to. Not only is it required by law, it’s also safer. We somewhat observe this rule in America, but this is something I feel should have built-in to our driving lives.

How things work on the German Autobahn – Drive right.

This is not a race to your destination. You’re on vacation. Kick back, relax and let your car efficiently eat the miles up. No matter how fast you’re going, there’s always somebody that’s going to be going faster than you. Instead of being a dick, just be courteous and move over to the right. Let them pass and let them be. It’s not worth getting into a road rage match on your vacation. Not only is this unsafe and inefficient, it’s also illegal in America.

This also applies to semi trucks. I’ve noticed on all my trips that if a semi is passing another semi, the passing semi always moves back over to the right. This helps prevent bottlenecking of the roads by not playing the “Whose Truck Is Slower” game. What I’ve also noticed is that when the passing semi is safe to move over in front of the other semi, the semi being passed either flashes their high-beams or flicks their lights on and off. This is a signal that it is safe for the passing semi to move back over.

I’ve been passed by semi trucks a lot of times. There are always semi trucks going faster than you. May not be this moment, but it will happen. 10, maybe 20mph over the limit. They. Will. Pass. You best let them. When the semi is safe to move back over into your lane, flash your high beams. They are usually looking for this signal by other semis and even other cars. They don’t want to be in the left lane for longer than they have to. Once they’ve moved back into your lane, they’ll thank you by flashing their trailer lights.

Sudden Traffic Jams

Ah, yes. This one is a nasty one. This has happened to me a couple times on the road where you’re driving around a corner on the Interstate, then BAM! Stopped traffic ahead. Both times I drove to California only to find myself in a sudden traffic jam where it’s a brake-slamming contest. Who stops quicker? I’ve gotten at least a few close calls of being rear-ended. Here are my top-tips when encountering sudden traffic jams on the Interstate:

  • Keep your distance. Always keep a generous distance between you and the car in front. You never know when they’ll slam on their brakes for traffic or even an animal. Don’t be the person rear ending.
  • Turn on your hazard warning lights. Some people do this, most semi trucks do. When slowing down significantly for stopped or slowed traffic, turn on your hazard flashers. It’ll help alert people behind you there’s a hazard ahead. Thus preventing you from getting rear ended.
  • Once you’ve come to a complete stop, or slowed down to the speed of traffic ahead, look in your rearview mirror and check your sides. The car/truck behind you may not notice. If you find yourself in this situation where impact is imminent, move into an empty spot beside you, if it’s available. If you are unable to find an opening, give a few honks to alert the car in front. Brace for impact.

Emergencies & Accidents

Much like the last bullet above, accidents are not fun. Inevitably with all of the driving I do, I’ve been in my fair share of accidents. On the flip side, I’ve also witnessed some pretty nasty accidents as well. You’d think that after there’s an accident, it would be common sense to move out of the driving lane or to put on your hazard flashers, or even getting out of the car and into the shoulder/ditch in a case of a disabled vehicle. Alas, some people don’t.

An accident in icy conditions disabled poor Blackberry for close to a month.

Well, I’m here to tell you that even though you’ve been in an accident, you need to think with as clear of mind as you can possibly get. Think — is your vehicle disabled? Are you in the way of traffic? Is it safe to get out of your vehicle and into the shoulder/ditch if it is disabled? There are the questions you need to clearly ask yourself if you find yourself in a collision.

Now’s the time to use that emergency kit I recommended you pack in the vehicle preparation section.

Remember: you’re out on the road with other motorists. Be smart. Be safe. Use common sense.

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