Our first priority on field trips always has to be safety.  If we have an accident, fast driving will prove to be a false saving of time.  Nothing is so urgent that we should risk a car crash.   Also remember that any traffic ticket you get is your own responsibility.

On rural roads:

Rural roads seem safe because they have little traffic, but the sense of safety is often deceptive.  Rural roads have their own dangers.

Don’t overdrive your comfort level on hills and curves to keep up with other drivers.  If you don’t feel safe, slow down.

Rural roads often have no painted centerline. Make sure you are driving on the proper side of the road, especially when climbing/cresting hills or going around blind curves.  You never know what animal, tractor or rock might be sitting in your lane ahead, or what might be coming toward you from the other direction.

On twisty mountain roads, when possible, it helps to pay attention if you can catch a glimpse of where the road goes beyond the curve in front of you, so you have a general idea where the road goes and you can be aware of traffic coming your way.

On gravel roads:

Loose gravel on the road surface reduces your traction and makes the road slippery for braking and cornering.  When gravel is present on the road surface take it easy and drive more defensively as if you were driving on snow.  Traction is even worse going downhill, so be especially careful driving downhill.

Clouds of dust greatly reduce your visibility, so maintain enough space between vehicles so you are not driving in a dust cloud kicked up by the car ahead of you.

On urban freeways:

When there are multiple vehicles driving in a group, it is much easier to keep the group together safely if the lead car drives slightly slower than the traffic.  Usually, going exactly the speed limit works well, even though there will be faster cars passing you.  This reduces the lane changes for passing slower cars and trucks, and makes it much easier and safer for drivers following in the group to stay with the lead car.  But don’t “camp” in the passing lane; this can contribute to road rage with worse consequences than just letting the speeders zoom by you.  It is also very useful for all the drivers to know how to get to the destination in case the cars get separated and are not able to get back together again.


Vehicles loaded with people and gear require longer stopping distances and don’t corner as well as you’re probably used to.  Take it easy!

Driving with headlights on in the daytime is a safer practice because it increases your visibility to other traffic, plus it makes it easier for the group to identify each other and stay together.