Staying safe on foreign roads calls for planning

I was troubled when I learnt of the deaths of three Singaporeans in the United States after their car crossed the painted median and collided with another vehicle (Car crash in US leaves 3 S'poreans dead; Dec 27, 2017).

Singaporeans, by and large, are not used to the long distance, weather as well as road conditions in many vast temperate countries.

We need to plan to stay alert and energised throughout our journey. There are other actions that we can take to prepare ourselves.

Before starting off, drivers must familiarise themselves with a rental car's controls.

This is especially important when driving in North America or most parts of Europe, which adopt a left-hand drive system. Having the steering wheel on the opposite side of the vehicle will appear confusing or unnerving initially.

Drivers should take a minute to observe the direction of traffic flow when approaching a busy junction. Following the vehicle directly ahead - if there is one - will also help.

While travelling on a two-way, single-carriage expressway, drivers should keep right and away from the median, since oncoming traffic always approaches from the left.

Strong cross winds may cause the car to be buffeted or shifted to another lane. Drivers should stay calm, as most vehicles are unlikely to be tipped over, except during a tornado.

While it may be impossible to get a good sleep on long-haul flights, drivers must be sure to catch as much rest as they can prior to a long drive. Getting at least seven hours of sleep for two consecutive nights before the trip helps build up one's energy reserves.

An adequate water supply also helps to maximise energy levels.

Drivers should plan for stops during long-distance drives, including meal breaks, toilet breaks, refuelling stops or photo opportunities.

Stretching one's legs every two to three hours, and taking in fresh air, snacks and water are crucial to feeling refreshed enough to continue the journey.

While nothing beats the experience of long road trips overseas, we should bear in mind these safety tips to help us stay safe on foreign roads.

Simon Owen Khoo Kim San