Road Trip Basics: Tips for a Smooth Drive

Road Trip Basics: Tips for a Smooth Drive
Driving holidays can be great fun, if you drive responsibly Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Planning a road trip? Here are some useful tips and tricks to ensure a safe and smooth driving experience

Karan Kaushik
September 22 , 2020
06 Min Read

With the elimination of e-passes for inter-state travel, and relaxation of quarantine rules, the apprehension around travelling around has somewhat subsided, if not completely disappeared.

Travellers are tip-toeing their way across borders with all the necessary precautions like regular sanitisation and face masks in place. Ever since lockdown restrictions were put in place, there has been an upsurge in driving holidays. In one of our earlier stories, we had shared some tips and tricks on prepping your car for a drive.


Managing Dirt Tracks
Monsoon is on its last leg, so you can expect roads to be in various states of damage. You may also encounter dirt tracks and flooded roads. The best way to cross these would be to lower your speed. Cars tend to kick up dust on dirt tracks. It’s better to maintain a healthy distance from the vehicle ahead as following it in a cloud of dust could spell danger. 

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If you come across gravel, please avoid driving on the corners at high speed as there’s a risk of skidding. If you are forced to cross a flooded road at any point during the drive, you can gauge the depth of water by observing the cars ahead.

Read: Taking the High Road

Mind Bad Patches
Although Indian highways are at par with international roads, there may be some bad patches here and there. While driving on highways, we often tend to over speed. But, hitting a deep pothole or a bad patch at high speed can lead to burst tyres and may even damage the rims. Please look out for such patches when you find yourself driving on a broken stretch.

Driving in the MountainsYou must take utmost precaution while driving in the hills

It's highly probable that you will be choosing a destination that's somewhere in the mountains for a workation or staycation, or for a short weekend trip. While driving on a mountainous terrain, it’s always advisable to keep to the left of the road, especially around corners. Make sure to press the horn while making your way through these corners. Don’t lose patience if you are stuck behind slow-moving trucks and buses, and don’t overtake around a corner because of this.

You may have observed that while starting on slopes, our cars tend to roll behind a few inches, which is why you must keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead, in case of a traffic jam. Avoid stopping at landslide-prone areas. If you come across an oncoming vehicle on a narrow road, wait at a wide stretch and let it pass comfortably. Follow signs that guide you about speed limit and signs that state 'one vehicle at a time', especially on bridges.

Read: New Wheels, Old City

Be a Responsible Night Rider
One advantage that night driving has is that you can zip through towns and villages, since streets are mostly deserted. This reduces driving time. But then, it has its own demerits too. For instance, visibility is not so great, or oncoming traffic could dazzle you with high beams. You may also find a lot of vehicles with no rear illumination. Hence it’s best that you avoid driving at night. Drive slow and lookout for strays like cows and dogs that may surprise you in the middle of the road. Also, if you are feeling sleepy, just pull up and take a nap or smell some coffee. But please, don’t try to fight sleep or fatigue.

Tackling Weather Conditions
A good driver is someone who can handle varied weather conditions.The first rain of the season or rain after a very long dry spell renders the road as slippery as oil, and extreme care has to be taken while navigating the road. Standing water can also be dangerous as there’s a chance of the car aquaplaning, so drive through cautiously. Come winter and you will encounter fog in the morning. Remember to drive slowly so that you can stop easily within the limit of your visibility.

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Low beams offer better illumination during fog. In the mountains, where the sun is strong, you’ll cross from bright sunlight into shadowed areas during your drive. Your eyes can take some time to adjust to these contrasting situations. Wearing sunglasses helps. Use sun visors to reduce glare, if driving with the sun in your face. If you’re driving to a place where you might encounter snow, try and carry snow chains that you can strap onto your wheels. These provide better traction.

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