Fright face of woman sitting in car

Tips For Unfamiliar Driving Situations

Your plane lands. You hastily scoop up your baggage, and now it’s time to dash off and grab a rental car. For many of us, this is how a vacation or business trip begins. Before setting off to reach your final destination, you should take a moment to prepare yourself to drive an unfamiliar vehicle on new roads.

If you need to rent a car for pleasure or business travel:

  • Find one similar to your own vehicle. It will make driving less stressful because you won’t have to worry about acclimating yourself to a vehicle with drastically different dimensions, which often presents a challenge for drivers.
  • Get your bearings. When you hop in the driver’s seat of the rental, spend a couple minutes learning the main controls. Locate the switches for the headlights, turn signals, windshield wipers, climate controls and other things you may use. More importantly, adjust your seat and the mirrors properly while you’re parked so you don’t get distracted fiddling with them while traveling on the freeway.

If you plan to take a road trip in your own car instead, remember to:

  • Plan your route in advance. Trying to program a GPS while you’re driving creates a major distraction and unnecessarily risks the well-being of other drivers and you. If you need to dial up a re-route mid-trip, pull over to take care of it. Losing five minutes is far better than getting stranded because you caused an accident from focusing too much on your GPS.
  • Use turn signals well enough in advance. Not all roads stand out, and you may need to slow down a bit to find your turn for the first time. Giving other drivers extra notice certainly goes a long way.
  • Avoid dangerous maneuvers. Missing an exit or a turn happens to even the best of drivers. Don’t panic and try to make a hasty U-turn or back up on the shoulder. Rather, proceed to a spot where you can safely turn around, or take the next exit and work your way back.

When you go on vacation, don’t let your mind take a vacation from safe driving.

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By Mike Young

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  1. Barbara Christian says,

    Why don’t you have tips about driving with cmv’s? I drive a Semi and from what I have observed car drivers have no clue when it comes to driving safely in high traffic situations with or without large vehicles being there.
    They create needless emergency braking situations. They treat the tractor trailers as if they are stationary objects instead of vehicles that can take 2 end zones and a football field to stop at 60 mph.
    Total disregard of blind spots is another factor that leads to needless harm to everyone.
    Zero patience, ducking and diving around a commercial vehicle, tailgating and cutting one off are just not necessary.
    I was told a long time ago if you don’t get close to it you can’t hit it. But if a car gets in my safety zone because they perceive it as available so they can be a micro second faster they are not doing themselves a favour.

    • Editor says,

      Hi Barbara!
      Thanks for the suggestion. Great minds think alike! As it happens, we’re currently working on a piece about how to properly share the road with a variety of vehicles, including semis. Stay tuned in the new year! 🙂
      I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a happy holiday season!

  2. martin machorro says,

    On your tips for a safety and enjoyable vacation I did plan mine everything was ok when the GPS said go we took off, down the road about 2hrs drive,I remember one thing forgot who to call for for roadservice if needed, anyway no problem.

  3. Sheila Duffy says,

    Thanks for being so concern, your comments are really helpful often times these ideas are
    not thought of when renting a car.

  4. Efrain sanchez says,

    I like very much the tips that you’re recommending when we are going out to vacation road trip .

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