Sav­ing money and stay­ing safe

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

Be­fore be­gin­ning a long drive, al­ways get enough sleep and eat some­thing be­fore you go. Highly caf­feinated beverages are not nec­es­sar­ily the best way to stay awake while driv­ing. While ini­tially you will feel more alert, the ef­fects can re­cede with time, and your at­ten­tion may wan­der al­though you re­main awake.

Pull over and take breaks ev­ery cou­ple of hours, even if you don’t feel sleepy. Grab a snack, get some fresh air, and stretch your legs by walk­ing around. If you need to, take a quick nap.

If you can, share the driv­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with some­one else. This will al­low you to keep an eye on each other while driv­ing and also en­able you to nap with­out los­ing time. If you’re driv­ing alone, turn on the ra­dio or put on some mu­sic, and keep your win­dow cracked open. You may also want to re­frain from us­ing your cruise con­trol if you’re driv­ing alone at night -- hav­ing to con­cen­trate on main­tain­ing your speed can help you stay awake.

If you do have to pull over, move your ve­hi­cle off the road. Never park on the shoul­der or in the breakdown lane for any rea­son ex­cept an emer­gency.

If you don’t know this one, shame on you. Never drink any al­co­hol be­fore your trip. While you may not be­come in­tox­i­cated from one beer, you will be­come sleepy.

Keep an eye on the skies, and if you can, plan a route around in­clement weather. a mi­nor de­tour could ac­tu­ally wind up sav­ing you ma­jor time.

Search the Web for traf­fic up­date sites and lis­ten to ra­dio traf­fic alerts, es­pe­cially when ap­proach­ing ma­jor ci­ties.

Not even a GPS unit is in­fal­li­ble, so we rec­om­mend bring­ing a de­tailed map or road at­las as a backup just in case. a map­ping app on your smart­phone is an­other must-have for long road trips.

If you are driv­ing a rental ve­hi­cle, fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with the car and all of its equip­ment (horn, brakes, hazard lights).

Lock all of your valu­ables (es­pe­cially items that are clearly gifts) in the trunk or glove com­part­ment and stow all lug­gage in the trunk.

fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with lo­cal traf­fic laws, which vary from state to state and es­pe­cially over­seas. Is it le­gal to make a right turn at a red light? What are the rules on yield­ing to pedes­tri­ans?

Be­fore set­ting off on a long car trip, be sure your ve­hi­cle is in prime con­di­tion — that tires are prop­erly in­flated, all flu­ids are at their proper lev­els and you have a full tank of gas. (for par­tic­u­larly long road trips, you may want to have your me­chanic do a more thor­ough check.)

Con­sider be­com­ing a mem­ber of aaa or sign­ing up for your car in­sur- er’s road­side as­sis­tance pro­gramme. You won’t re­gret it when your car breaks down on a lonely back road.

Keep costs down by con­serv­ing gas as you drive. Min­i­mize sud­den starts and stops, empty your car of all un­nec­es­sary weight, and slow down — it takes much less fuel to drive 55 miles an hour than it does to drive 70.

don’t wait un­til your gas gauge is sit­ting on E to re­fuel. on an un­fa­mil­iar road, you never know when the next gas sta­tion will ap­pear. as soon as you hit a quar­ter of a tank, start look­ing for a place to fill up.

When trav­el­ing with kids, be sure to stop of­ten — not just for snacks and potty breaks, but also for fun. See a cool play­ground along the way? Pull over and throw a fris­bee around. You’ll also want to pack toys, books and mu­sic for the car -not to men­tion your mo­tion sick­ness rem­edy of choice.

feel­ing munchy? Stock up on snacks and drinks at gro­cery stores rather than gas sta­tions or con­ve­nience stores — you’ll get a wider and health­ier se­lec­tion, as well as bet­ter prices.

on longer trips, keep nap­kins, plas­ticware and a small cooler handy for meals on the go. You’ll also want some spare change for tolls, as well as a first-aid kit, flash­light, pil­low and blan­ket. Keep a set of jumper ca­bles, a spare tire or donut, and ex­tra flu­ids for the car (such as wind­shield wiper fluid) in your trunk.

This last tip should go with­out say­ing, but it’s im­por­tant enough that we’ll say it any­way: Make sure ev­ery­one in the car buck­les his or her seat­belt. Not only will it keep you safe, but in many places it’s also the law. —

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