Now that the summer is officially here (even if the weather has not caught up quite yet!), many of you are bound to be setting of on holiday in the near future, driving into the distance with your home comforts safely loaded into your caravan or motorhome. Those of us who tow caravans will be more than aware of the need to make sure everything is properly loaded, hitched and triple-checked before setting off, but do you remember to look after yourself during the journey too? Tiredness and fatigue are major contributors to road accidents, and near misses, but are easily avoided. Taking regular rest stops won’t only make you more comfortable when driving and towing over long distances, it will also go a long way towards reducing your chances of being involved in, or causing, an accident.
According to the government’s THINK! campaign, fatigue and tiredness can be cited as the cause of approximately 20% of all road accidents. Not only that, sleep-related accidents tend to be more likely to result in serious injury to one or more parties involved, or even fatalities. If you’re male and under 30, you may not be too happy to learn that, statistically, you fall into the category most likely to be involved in a sleep or tiredness-related collision.
THINK! official driving advice
The official guidelines provided by the THINK! campaign may seem to be obvious and simply common sense, but the fact remains that complying with them while driving is likely to drastically reduce the risk of an accident. The guidelines are as follows:
- When planning your journey, factor in a 15-minute rest stop every two hours
- If you are already tired, don’t set off on your journey. Delay your start temporarily until you have had a chance to rest.
- If you have to get up particularly early to embark on a long journey, bear in mind that the early hours of the morning are one of the peak times for accidents (along with just after lunch) and ensure you are appropriately vigilant
- Don’t drive during the night when you would normally be sleeping. Even if you have slept at another time instead, you will be sleepy during the hours of around 12pm to 6am. If it is at all possible, stick to your usual waking hours for driving, particularly when long distances are involved.
- In between scheduled stops on route to your destination, be aware of how you are feeling. If you notice tiredness or a lack of concentration, pull over at the next services and have a rest and a coffee or other caffeinated drink. Allow approximately 15 minutes to pass before resuming your drive – this is how long it will take for the caffeine to kick in and boost your alertness.
- In addition to the above, don’t forget that caffeine and short rest breaks will only go so far in preventing tiredness – there is no substitute for a good night’s sleep. Prior to your planned journey, and your trip home, do your absolute best to get enough sleep. It is recommended that adults aim for around eight hours’ sleep per night.
- Share the driving with another adult wherever possible. As well as meaning you have more opportunity to rest, the break from driving will also allow you to avoid boredom-related loss of concentration.
While we do occasionally hear about drivers “unexpectedly” falling asleep at the wheel, it is very rare for people to reach this stage without feeling noticeably tired, with the exception of tiredness caused by health conditions. If you do have a medical condition which could affect your alertness, you must notify the DVLA immediately.
Don’t forget that a number of service stations have rest areas for caravans and motorhomes and some allow overnight stops. If your trip does involve motorways, have a look at our previous article that lists the overnight stop areas.
If you are travelling overseas, there are also a number of caravan sites close to the ports that regularly welcome people before they catch their ferry. This is especially useful if you have an early one to catch! Some of the ports that have convenient sites are listed below and some you may wish to stay at for more than one night –
- Dover – Hawthorn Farm Caravan and Camping Site
- Folkestone – Little Satmar
- Newhaven – Buckle Holiday Park
- Portsmouth – Sunnydale Farm Camping and Caravan Site
- Poole – South Lytchett Manor
- Plymouth – Riverside Caravan Park
- Harwich – The Castle Inn and Campsite
- Hull – Burton Constable Holiday Park and Arboretum
- Pembroke – Windmill Hill Caravan Park
- Fishguard – Tregoes Caravan and Touring Park
- Holyhead – Blackthorn Farm
- Heysham – Red Bank Farm and Campsite
- Liverpool – Delamere Forest
- Cairnryan – Aird Donald Caravan Park
- Troon – Prestwick Holiday Park
- Rosyth – Witches Craig
- Aberdeen – Deeside Holiday Park
- Scrabster and Gills Bay – Thurso Bay Caravan and Camping Park
If you have any suggestions for places to stay near ports, please let us know in the comments below.