Driving on unfamiliar roads can be intimidating. You might be on a road trip by yourself in a rural area driving an unfamiliar rental car for the first time. You might be navigating your way through an unfamiliar city.
Whatever the situation, here are some driving tips to make navigating unfamiliar areas a little easier.
Pay Attention to Speed Limit Signs
Keep an eye out for all road signs. Obey stop signs and signs that tell you to yield. Pay special attention to what the speed limit is when you are driving on a road for the first time. When the speed limit changes, it may be because you are entering a residential neighborhood or school zone. Following the posted speed limit will keep the residents and school children safe.
Don’t Rely Solely on GPS
Technology is great. Inventions like GPS devices and Google Maps make driving in new places easier; however, they are not perfect. It’s always important to have a backup plan in case your device doesn’t work. Get directions from someone and consider getting a paper map if available. Remember that your GPS device won’t know about road conditions, traffic patterns, or road closures.
Learn About the Area
A little bit of research into a new place can help a lot. Some online searching will let you know about toll roads, difficult roads, and local traffic laws. For example, will you need to carry loose change to pay for a bridge toll? What are the parking options at your final destination? Can you park on the street or are there paid parking garages that you will need to bring cash for?
Drive the Right Car
If you are not able to drive your own vehicle, make sure that you rent the correct vehicle for your trip. Rent a car that you are comfortable driving. If you are driving in bad weather or on rough roads, renting an SUV may make you feel safe. If you are driving in a new city with limited parking, a smaller car might be a smart idea.
Engage in Safe Driving Practices
While it is important to follow all traffic laws and local road rules, it’s also important to remember to use common sense. The posted speed limit is a maximum. If there are poor road conditions or you don’t know where you are going, you should slow down. If you are driving slowly, stay in the right lane. If you miss your turn off, don’t slam on your brakes or try to make a sharp turn. This increases your risk of an accident. It’s much safer to wait for the next turn or next exit. Make sure to use your turn signals when you are changing lanes.
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