Exploring a new area can be an exciting adventure—or it can be terrifying and stressful. The Charleston car accident attorneys from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC talk tips for safe road travel in unfamiliar territory.
Tips for Safe Driving in Unfamiliar Places
By learning how to drive safely on unfamiliar roads, you can avoid getting lost, minimize your risk of a dangerous car accident, and get to your destination safely and on time.
Take It Slow
One of the best ways to ensure a safe and stress-free journey is to keep your speed slow and steady. Not only does this give you a chance to enjoy the trip more, but it reduces your risk of an accident. Speeding is never acceptable driving behavior. It’s even worse in an area where you aren’t familiar with the roads, aren’t accustomed to traffic patterns, and may not know the posted speed limits.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Unfamiliar roads present unfamiliar challenges. Slow down and give yourself the time needed to react safely to any situation you meet on the road. Defensive driving is all the more essential in a place where you’re not entirely sure how other drivers behave. Take it slow, keep a safe distance between your own and other vehicles, and be alert to any potential hazards as you drive.
Give Yourself Extra Time
It’s easy to miss a turn or exit when driving on unfamiliar roads. Don’t put yourself in a time crunch that might encourage you to speed or pull a dangerous maneuver (like a U-turn or last-minute lane change). Expect that your drive will take longer than the time indicated on your global positioning system (GPS)—and prepare to enjoy the extra scenery you may experience along the way.
Be Aware of Local Traffic Rules
In addition to staying aware of local speed limits, you’ll also need to quickly internalize—and follow—the other signs and signals that regulate the flow of traffic. Although many cities and towns adhere to similar traffic laws, there will inevitably be a few differences. Pay attention to the rules regarding:
- Turns at intersections
- Roundabouts (traffic circles)
- One-way streets
- Where to stop at a red light or stop sign
- Extended green lights for opposing traffic
- High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on a highway
- Bicycle lanes
- Where parking is or is not allowed
- Yielding to oncoming traffic
- Where it’s safe to pass another vehicle
- Railroad crossings
- School speed limit zones
Think Outside the GPS
You’ll be an all-around safer and smarter driver when you pay more attention to the road than your GPS. A Global Positioning System is undoubtedly a great assistant on a road trip in unfamiliar territory. But it should be just that—an assistant. Some drivers make the mistake of relying too heavily on GPS directions. This can cause a motorist to make dangerous last-minute maneuvers or ignore the actual conditions of the road when making driving decisions.
Familiarize yourself with the route before you set out on your journey. Take the time to briefly memorize landmarks, street names, and the relation of your destination to your surroundings. This simple practice also increases your engagement with the local area and makes the trip more enjoyable and memorable. Next time you’re in the area, you’ll be more likely to remember how to get around.
Research Your Route
When planning your route, take a little extra time to research the areas you’ll be traveling into. Spending the extra time to read about the area can alert you to things like:
- Local rush hours
- Roads closed for construction
- Recent vehicle accidents that may affect traffic patterns
- Weather conditions at the time of your travel
- Roads closed due to flooding
- Toll roads
- Locations of gas or electrical charge stations
- Locations of restaurants or other places of interest
- Areas of high pedestrian or bicycle traffic
- Any wildlife hazards in the area
- The safety of the places you plan to drive
- Uneven, poorly maintained, or gravel roads that may not be suitable for your vehicle
If you’re using a motorcycle for transportation in an unfamiliar area, it’s even more important that you are aware of road hazards that can cause an accident. Plan a route that sticks to the roads safest for bike travel.
Consider Alternate Transportation Options
Remember, driving yourself around is not the only transportation option in an unfamiliar place. While your first instinct may be to rely on your own or a rented car, taking advantage of local transportation offers a number of benefits. Whether you take the bus, subway, or a local rideshare service, you don’t need to worry about getting lost, finding a fuel station, or looking for parking.
The advantages of public transportation are numerous, as are the benefits of walking or biking in a new area. If walking or biking is a feasible option, this can be a healthy, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly way to get to know a town or city better.
Find Help You Can Trust After a Car Accident
Sometimes accidents happen, no matter how safely you drive or how well you plan your trip. It can be frustrating—to say the least—to be involved in an accident when you have taken every precaution against it.
In those situations, an auto accident attorney can step in to protect your rights. Personal injury car accident law works to protect people who are harmed through the negligent actions of others. If your collision happened because someone else didn’t follow safe driving practices, give us a call.
We have extensive experience winning compensation for accident victims injured by negligence. The Charleston car accident lawyers at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC are available to discuss your case and provide experienced legal guidance. We invite you to contact us to set up a free consultation. An initial case evaluation is a no-obligation opportunity to learn more about your options for financial recovery.