Long-Distance Driving: How To Avoid Risks

Long-distance driving is no picnic. For drivers, passengers, and vehicles, the entire process can put a lot of wear and tear on everyone involved. There are plenty of factors that can contribute to the risks associated with long-distance driving. Here you’ll learn what the risks are, how to avoid them, and how to have the best trip overall.

How Dangerous Is Long-Distance Driving?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a longer driving time has been associated with increased odds for smoking, insufficient physical activity, sleep disruptions, obesity, and worse physical and mental health.

These effects are typically more pronounced if drive times exceed 120 minutes per day. So, a simple road trip may not put you in peril, but you still need to take care of yourself if you’re planning a long car ride.

What Are Driving Risks To Be Mindful of?

One of the best ways to stay safe is by identifying the risks you should avoid while you’re driving. Of course, you can avoid all the risks of long-distance driving by shipping your car and just enjoying it when you both arrive at your destination. Here are some of the driving risks you should be mindful of.

Roadside Emergencies

Roadside emergencies happen.

A flat tire, engine trouble, or an empty fuel tank can leave you or other drivers around you stranded on the side of the road. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to handle a roadside emergency before a long journey. Even experienced drivers can find themselves a bit shaken when something unexpected occurs.


Accidents happen. Sometimes car accidents aren’t so bad, but other times, car accidents can change your life forever. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was a 12% increase in fatalities from car accidents in the first nine months of 2021.

As a motorist, that’s an alarming statistic that no one wants to experience firsthand.

Personal Health

It can be easy to lose track of your health with your mind on so many other things when you're traveling. Many people neglect to stay hydrated to avoid bathroom breaks. The selection of healthy foods can also make meeting your dietary needs a bit of a challenge as well, and when you’re sitting in a car for hours, you can grow stiff and miss out on your usual daily movement and activity.

Even if you’re in great physical condition, you can still experience driver fatigue from a long-distance trip. So, be sure to pay attention to your body even while you’re focusing on the road.

Getting Lost

In the world of GPS and so many devices that can assist us with directions, it’s easy to forget that it’s still possible to get lost when you’re traveling. You can lose your signal. Your battery can go dead, or the circumstances may not match the information the satellite currently has on file. You can still get lost in unfamiliar territory when you're long-distance driving.

Tips for Driving Long Distances

One easy way to avoid all the risks of driving long distances is to have your car shipped to your destination.

You can still enjoy your car upon arrival, and you spare yourself the hassle of an unnecessary road trip. However, if you’re planning to drive a long distance, you need these long-distance driving tips to make the process smoother and easier for yourself and your car.

Rest Before Driving Long Distances

If you’ll be driving long-distance, it’s wise to take some time off before your expected departure date. This can be useful in preparing for your trip, but be sure you devote some of that time to resting before your trip.

Don’t forget you’ll be spending long periods of time sitting still and on alert. Allow yourself to relax ahead of your trip and engage in restful activities such as short walks, yoga, or light stretching. Schedule a good night’s rest of eight or nine hours before your scheduled departure day as well.

Map Your Route Before Driving

When you know where you’re going, the next logical step is to figure out how you’re going to get there. Thankfully with modern advances in technology, you can chart a course for your long-distance trip quickly and easily. Often apps will even include the hurdles you may encounter, and the time a journey will take at a particular time of day.

When you’re mapping your route, keep an eye out for rest stops, gas stations, and other dining options besides fast food.

Plan Your Fuel Stops Along Your Long Route

Fueling is important if you want to make it to your destination. It is beneficial to plan your fuel stops along your route to avoid any undue strain on your wallet. You can chart the least expensive places to stop for fuel with a little homework on the internet, and you can calculate how often you need to fuel up based on your vehicle’s average gas mileage and the length of your trip.

When you stop for fuel, remember to pay attention to your surroundings and stop in well-lit areas. Before you exit your vehicle, take a moment to prepare yourself and secure your form of payment.

Don’t Speed

The last thing you want while you’re out of town is a speeding ticket you’ll have to deal with later on. Speeding is dangerous in the best circumstances, but it is even more dangerous when you are in unfamiliar areas. A speeding ticket can also cause the very delay in your arrival that you were hoping to avoid. It’s best to obey all speed limits and traffic laws as you travel.

Don’t Drive Distracted

Driving distracted is as dangerous as driving under the influence. Some might even argue that distracted driving is even more dangerous.

It is not uncommon for drivers to feel the need to stay connected even while in transit, but there is nothing more important than the task of safe driving. If something needs your immediate attention, it is best to find a safe place to pull over while you attend to the task.

Bring Water and Snacks for a Long Ride

In order to stay healthy, happy, and hydrated, it’s a good practice to bring water and snacks for a long ride. Keeping water in your car should be part of your emergency preparedness plan for your vehicle.

Bringing water is also an essential part of any road trip. Bringing healthy snacks like granola bars can help you avoid dips in your blood sugar, and can leave you more prepared for the times when it may take a while to find a place to stop to eat.

Take Breaks During Your Long Drive

When we’re driving, we often think of ourselves as just sitting, but the heightened state of alert can cause fatigue. Our bodies also really thrive on stretching and moving around. Every few hours, be sure to stop for a break. Take a walk around your car, stretch, and give your eyes some rest.

Play Verbal Games To Stay Alert

Word games are a classic way to pass the time on a road trip, but they’re also a great way to help you stay alert as you drive. Play games like “I Spy,” the license plate game, or car bingo to keep you and your occupants more alert and ease tension.

If you are traveling alone, consider listening to an engaging audiobook to help you stay alert.

Plan Sights To See During the Long Drive

So many times, we think of our road trips as the destination, but when you’re traveling a long distance, you’re passing right by other awesome opportunities to see more, do more, and experience more.

Just as you plan fuel stops, bathroom breaks, and meals, plan to see more sights during your trip. Bring back more than a souvenir. Bring back memories.

Budget for a Long Commute

Gas prices can grab you by the wallet in your regular commuting, but you can spend way more on your trip than you planned when you have a long commute. Taking the time to find the best route to spend your fuel wisely, the least expensive places to fuel, and the best times to travel can significantly impact how much you spend overall. Your wallet will thank you.

Verify Your Insurance Coverage

Car insurance is a great way to have peace of mind, but you really don’t want to find out that you aren’t covered when you need it the most. Before you take any long-distance trip, contact your insurance company to verify your coverage while you’re out of town.

Be sure you have proper documentation that shows that your vehicle is currently insured, and take a picture of your insurance card with your phone in case it is misplaced or stolen.

Ship Your Car and Avoid the Long Distances

Sometimes the road trip isn’t worth the hassle, and that’s okay. You aren’t stuck without options. You can ship your car to your destination with a trusted carrier, and you can travel in a more convenient manner. You and your car can both

arrive safely, and neither you nor your car will have any additional wear and tear from an arduous road trip.

Prepare for Hazardous Road Conditions

Remember that hazardous road conditions can happen anywhere. Check for upcoming weather conditions that could impact your travel as you prepare for your road trip. Consider learning more about handling road conditions that you may not have experienced before. If you have never driven in snow or on extremely wet roads before, learning more about how to handle those situations can help you if you should encounter them along your way.

If you don’t already have an emergency kit for your vehicle, consider getting one before your long-distance trip. You may want to pack items like:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flares
  • Reflective triangle
  • Cell phone charger
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Blankets
  • Maps
  • Ice scraper
  • First aid kit

It is better to be overly prepared than not prepared at all. You should also check your roadside assistance subscription and save the phone number into your phone.

Watch for Wildlife

The rules of the road don’t apply to wildlife. It is not uncommon in certain parts of the United States to have wildlife block your path, run across in front of your vehicle, or even hit your vehicle. Even on roads that are not overly populated with people, you may experience an encounter with wildlife. It’s best to keep an eye out for wildlife to ensure your safety and theirs.

What To Do Next

Now that you know the risks of long-distance driving, you can prepare for your trip more easily. You may need to adjust your itinerary, plan your trip a little more, or skip the road trip and opt to ship your car instead. Whatever suits your needs the best, at least you’ll know the risks and how to avoid them when you need to do some long-distance driving.

Driving: A Road to Unhealthy Lifestyles and Poor Health Outcomes - PMC | NCBI
Roadside Emergency | What to Do in a Car Breakdown - Consumer Reports
Traffic Fatalities Rise in First Nine Months of 2021 | NHTSA

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