Customers that hire a van from Cole Hire can be assured that it will be superbly serviced and maintained and that all the necessary checks such as tyre tread/pressures, oil, batteries and anti-freeze will have been rigorously carried out.  At Cole Hire’s rental fleet depot at Osterley, close to London Heathrow airport, our friendly and professional team will also ensure that you are fully familiarised with the vehicle before you set off for your destination.

Knowing that your vehicle is completely fit for purpose is immensely reassuring and there are a number of other actions you can take to make your long distance driving experience as safe, stress-free and pleasurable as possible.

Plan your journey

Whether driving for business or personal reasons, there are likely to be time constraints. It is therefore sensible to allow for plenty of time to reach your destination, taking into account possible points of congestion such as busy towns and also giving yourself time for regular breaks on route. It is also important to:

  • Study route maps and not rely totally on GPS
  • Take warm clothing and snacks/drinks with you if travelling in cold weather or overnight in case of hold-ups
  • Keep abreast of broadcast travel and weather updates

Mitigate stress and fatigue

It is important to rid your mind of any stressful preoccupations and, if you are driving with company, avoid arguments or conversations that could take your mind off the road. 

Tiredness can be exceptionally hazardous for road safety, and RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) suggests:

  • Planning your journey with sufficient breaks, with a break of at least 15 minutes every two hours
  • To counter sleepiness, drinking two cups of caffeinated coffee and having a short nap of up to 15 minutes

On the question of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea, RoSPA comments that:

“This type of medical condition is often undiagnosed, and some drivers may be unwilling to seek help because they fear losing their driving licence. However, there are established treatments for sleep apnoea which allow drivers to retain their licence, and therefore, their livelihood. Anyone suspecting that they have a sleep disorder is strongly advised to contact their GP.”<

Avoid taking anything that impairs driving

  • It is important to remember that even the legally permitted level of alcohol when driving can be a particular hazard over long distances. It is therefore strongly advised that responsible drivers should avoid alcohol altogether.
  • A number of medications that can be bought over the counter, such as for colds or hay fever, carry the warning that they “may cause drowsiness.” In such a case, it is best to assume that they will and choose an alternative.

Don’t get distracted

  • Using a handheld mobile device while driving is against the law, whether for conversations, texting or any other purpose. Tragic accidents have occurred through drivers ignoring this legal obligation which is essential to road safety.
  •  The BBC has reported that research by the University of Sussex showed how hands-free devices were also a cause of dangerous distraction, because the driver would start to picture events in their mind which would take attention away from the road. Talk radio or music in the vehicle can also distract so that should also be kept in mind. 

Use methods to stay focused

If you have a passenger or passengers with you, this can help to alleviate the boredom and stress of a long journey, especially if the driving can be shared. Listening to the radio or singing along to your favourite music can help too.

Take regular breaks

The official advice from the Department of Transport is that drivers should take a 15 minute break every two hours on a long journey. We feel this is especially important when driving on motorways which, let’s face it, can be a tad monotonous. The danger of falling asleep can also increase during the summer months when traffic can be heavier, it is warmer and when drowsiness is brought on by hay fever medication. Most motorway routes have service areas regularly spaced apart where you can park up, have a coffee or something to eat and a comfort break.

Take regular breaks

The official advice from the Department of Transport is that drivers should take a 15 minute break every two hours on a long journey. We feel this is especially important when driving on motorways which, let’s face it, can be a tad monotonous. The danger of falling asleep can also increase during the summer months when traffic can be heavier, it is warmer and when drowsiness is brought on by hay fever medication. Most motorway routes have service areas regularly spaced apart where you can park up, have a coffee or something to eat and a comfort break.

Keep your distanceTypical Stopping Distances

Certain motorways have chevrons marked on the road surface to warn drivers to keep at least the length of two vehicles between them and the vehicle in front. This can be a useful reminder.

Rule 126 of the Highway Code shows a range of typical stopping distances under normal weather conditions.

Highway Code advice continues:
“Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear. You should

  • Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly slows down or stops. The safe rule is never to get closer than the overall stopping distance (see Typical Stopping Distances diagram, shown above)
  • Allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced. The gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads
  • Remember, large vehicles and motorcycles need a greater distance to stop. If driving a large vehicle in a tunnel, you should allow a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front.

If you have to stop in a tunnel, leave at least a 5-metre gap between you and the vehicle in front.”

Have an enjoyable, successful trip and stay safe!