If you are going on vacation or a business trip and must drive on unfamiliar roads, it is important to take precautions to avoid accidents. Between watching the road for landmarks and reading road signs while navigating through unfamiliar territory, there is a high chance of getting into an accident.
In this article, we look at how you can avoid causing accidents and give you tips to stay safe on unfamiliar roads.
Observe the Speed Limit
Speed limits are enforced for a reason. The speed limit may indicate that you are approaching a school or residential area or that many pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are on the road. It may also indicate a hazard on the road.
If you are driving on an unfamiliar road, drive at the recommended speed limit or a little below it and ensure you are in the right lane.
Some cars have GPS that will tell you the speed limit, but you should also carefully look out for road signs indicating the speed limit.
Carefully observe other cars to avoid driving against the traffic on one-way streets.
Do Not Rely Solely on Your GPS
GPS makes it easy to get to different places and is an especially helpful tool on unfamiliar roads. Unfortunately, in some areas, the GPS might not be accurate. If you are driving on a new road, plan your route in advance.
Write down the directions on a card and purchase a local or state map. You can also get directions from someone familiar with the area before you start the drive.
Take note of any landmarks, unmarked locations, and hidden turnoffs. Should you need to refer to your map or directions, pull to the side of the road to avoid accidents.
If you must rely on GPS, form a mental map of the route to help you in case the GPS stops working. Do not blindly follow the GPS. Take note of any road closures, road conditions, and changes in traffic patterns to stay safe.
Familiarize Yourself with The Area
When planning a trip, a quick online search will tell you a lot about your destination. You can also learn about the roads in an area through online research.
For instance, if your destination is known for wildlife, you are likely to encounter deer or other animals on the road. You will need to drive carefully, reduce your speed, and keep a close eye on the road.
Researching the area also lets you know whether there are steep hills, curvy roads, or toll roads, allowing you to adjust your driving habits. Do not forget to look up parking options in advance.
This will help you plan for cash to pay for parking space, so you are not stranded and stressed, which may increase the chance of getting into an accident.
If you are leaving your home state, consider looking up traffic laws for your destination. Some states have different laws, and unfortunately, you are not exempt simply for being a visitor.
Stay calm even if you drive past your exit or miss a turn. Braking suddenly or swerving into another lane to make a last-minute turn can cause an accident and injure other innocent road users.
Do not reach for your phone as it may also distract you from the road, increasing the risk of getting into an accident. If you are using GPS, it will recalculate the route to your destination. If you are relying on a map, look for a safe place to turn around.
If you cannot turn around, pull to the side of the road and consult your map to find another route to your destination.
Use the Right Car
Choosing the right car can make all the difference when you are using a rental car. Rent a car that you are comfortable driving and operating. Do not choose a car with too many fancy features that you cannot drive out of the parking lot.
If you are going to be driving in tight city streets, consider choosing a smaller car, as it may be easier to maneuver on busy roads. Choose an SUV if you are headed for rough roads or if there might be poor weather.
Always ensure the car is in good working condition by quickly checking the lights, brakes, engine, turn signal, and other important components.
You do not want to hire a car that will break down in the middle of the road and possibly cause traffic and accidents.
Use Your Turn Signal
Using your turn signal is a good driving habit. It lets other drivers know your intentions and adjust accordingly.
When driving on unfamiliar roads, the turn signal is even more important. Brake slowly to avoid abrupt stops that do not give the cars around you enough time to react, causing serious accidents.
It can be difficult to navigate new roads while driving at high speeds. If you find yourself struggling to find your way, slow down.
Even if the road has a speed limit, drop your speed, and keep your car in the right lane to avoid accidents with faster-moving vehicles.
You Do Not Have to Dive Everywhere
Once you have arrived at your destination, you do not need to use your car everywhere. Consider taking advantage of the public transport system, if it is available, to explore the city.
This will prevent the hassle of driving and getting lost as you explore your destination, possibly causing accidents.
Use Lyft or Uber services and talk to the driver to learn more about your destination. Using public transport is also a great way to learn about the local area directly from the residents. If you are within walking distance, consider going on foot.
What To Do If You Are in An Accident in an Unfamiliar Place
Should you be involved in an accident, call the police. Collect relevant information from the other drivers involved such as license plate number, insurance, contact information, VIN, and make and model of their car.
Seek medical attention immediately. Do not wait until you get home from your destination to go to the hospital, even if you feel fine. You may suffer from serious internal injuries. Remember to document all treatments.
Whether you are using a rental car or your personal vehicle, you must contact insurance to file a claim. If you need another car due to extensive damage to the vehicle, ask your insurance company or the driver at fault’s insurance about replacement.
In some cases, insurance may cover it, however, if you need to pay out of pocket, keep all your receipts for reimbursement when your claim is settled.
If you or a loved one are involved in an accident while driving in an unfamiliar place, it is important to contact a lawyer immediately. You may be eligible for compensation even if you are partially responsible for the accident.
An experienced attorney can help you navigate the differing laws and negotiate a favorable outcome.
Most attorneys offer a free consultation so get in touch with a personal injury lawyer to find out what to do if you are involved in an accident in unfamiliar territory.