If you’re about to set off on a long car journey – and we’re talking more than a trip to the out of town shopping centre here – there are a few routine checks you need to make to your car before you set off.

So either get a mechanic to give your car a quick going over or just carry out a few simple checks yourself, including: making sure the tyres are in good condition and inflated properly, all of the car’s lights and electrics are working properly, and all fluids are topped up, including engine oil.

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And once you finally hit the road, there are five must do’s to keep you going…

  1. Take regular breaks

If you’re trying to get to your destination as quickly as possible, you might try to do the trip in one go and put off any pit stops along the way – and you wouldn’t be alone in that as a study from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found almost two-thirds (65%) of drivers don’t stop to take a rest break on the motorway when taking long journeys – saying that they don’t feel the need to.

The fact is though, regular pit stops are really important on long journeys as tiredness can impair your driving ability as much as drink driving – a 2010 study from Cardiff University found driving for more than three hours without a break at night is the equivalent of being drunk behind the wheel.

For those involved in commercial travel such as van or lorry drivers, this message isn’t always easy to obey, especially when there are such high delivery demands. To help with this conundrum, webuyanycar.com teamed up with Costa Coffee providing vouchers for those who contributed to their competition in an attempt to increase alertness and reduce fatigue.

So when planning your journey, make sure you factor in regular breaks and if you’re feeling really tired it may be worth bedding down for the night.

  1. Stay topped up with foods and fluids

It’s also important to keep yourself fed and watered as driving without enough fluids on board can also impair driving as much as drinking alcohol.

A recent study from Loughborough University tested drivers who had just 25ml of water an hour and found they made double the number of errors compared to those who kept themselves properly hydrated. And more worrying still, the number of mistakes made were roughly the same as someone who had 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (the legal limit in England and Wales).

So when you take that pit stop, make sure you top up with water, perhaps coffee or a caffeinated drink if you’re feeling a little lethargic.

  1. Keep your car topped up with fuel

And it’s not just yourself that needs regular top ups, it’s obviously vitally important to keep your car topped up with fuel.

Empty fuel tanks are in the AA’s list of the top ten causes of breakdowns, so make sure you fill the tank at the start of your journey and try not to let it drop below the halfway mark, that way you can be sure you’ll never be caught short.

  1. Keep your passengers entertained

According to Brake, the road safety charity, a study of in-vehicle video footage suggested almost a quarter (22%) of crashes could be caused, at least in part, by driver distraction. And while we’re all aware of the dangers of driving while using a mobile phone or eating, an Australian study found having children in the back is 12 times more distracting to a driver than talking on a mobile phone while at the wheel.

So make sure you take enough books, DVDs, game consoles or whatever you need to keep the kids, or any other passengers, occupied.

  1. Have fun

If you’re heading off on a road trip then the journey is just as much a part of the holiday as your destination is – so make sure you leave plenty of time for the journey so you can take regular breaks and stop-off at points of interest. If you rush your road trip, you’ve done it all wrong. Sit back, relax and have a smooth ride!

Comment below with any helpful tips and let us know your absolute must-do’s before taking on a long car journey!

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