When someone kindly lets you drive their car or campervan for a trip away, you’re probably going to want to be extra sure nothing is going to go wrong. There are a few maintenance, safety and emergency planning issues you need to sort before you set off on your adventures.
Preparing for the adventure
Firstly, work out between yourselves whether you’re going to do all the driving or if you’re going to rotate between two or three people. If you’re taking turns, decide how long each of you will drive, to make it fair.
The Highway Code recommends that you take a 15-minute break in a safe place every 2 hours, so this could be the way you plan turn-taking. If someone feels drowsy before this though, it may be time to switch around sooner.
As long as you’ve squared everything up with insurance, it should be alright to do this.
Essential pre-departure checks
Before any long journey, you must check the vehicle is ready. This can save you a lot of hassle. You’ll also want to have route planning mapped out before leaving on your adventure.
- Inspect the tires, ensuring they have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm. Also, go to your local petrol station and inflate them to the correct tyre pressure. You should check this regularly to prevent a tyre blow-out, something which can be very dangerous.
- Check the brake fluid (usually in a white reservoir). Top it up to just below the maximum marker. If there are air bubbles or debris, do a complete fluid change and check the state of the brakes themselves.
- Switch the car on and have someone stand and tell you if the headlights and brake lights are working properly. If the lights are dirty, wipe them with a damp cloth. If the lights need replacing, see to it ASAP. Visibility on the road is essential.
Only drive if you have the correct insurance. Not only would it be illegal not to, but it will also be an enormous hassle if something goes wrong and you can’t make a claim. Repair costs can be steep!
If you’re only going to be driving this vehicle for the purposes of the trip, there’s no need to become a named driver on the main policy. If you do so but then don’t drive it at any other point, you could be guilty of fronting. Thankfully, there’s an easier solution: temporary car insurance! You’ll only pay for the hours, days or weeks that you’re actually going to drive.
Communication and agreement
Always communicate clearly with the vehicle owner. Keep them in the loop about the temporary insurance cover you’re interested in and any other preparatory measures you want to take.
Road trip safety
If you don’t already have one, pick up a first aid kit designed for road users. If you’re going to be responsible for the safety of several passengers, you need to be prepared.
Make sure all adults who will be road-tripping have also read and digested a few vital first-aid procedures for the road.
Returning the vehicle
You should leave the vehicle in the same state you found it. You want to take away positive memories from your trip, not the memory of some squabble you had about the state of the car. Make sure it’s been thoroughly cleaned out. Restoring the petrol to its original level is also considerate, especially if the vehicle owner didn’t come on the trip with you.
Once you’re all ready to go, you should be all set to have the stress-free road trip of your dreams!