X-Copper’s Survival Guide for Long Weekend Driving

weekend driving

Ah, long weekends. Family, friends, and an extra day off work…it all seems so nice. Until you remember that you first have to get there; to the same general area that everyone else is going and at the same time that everyone else wants to get there. It’s the perfect storm for congestion, frustration, traffic stops, and tickets. To help you get the most out of your long weekend we have compiled not one but two lists for surviving the long weekend drive! The first list is 3 quick tips to help you get there and the second one is more of a how-to if you’re pulled over by police. Hopefully, this will help you get to where you need to go as quickly and safely as possible.

To begin, here are:

3 Long Weekend Trip Tips

  1. Be strategic about departure time – Though your instinct may be to leave a) early morning Saturday or b) take a half day and leave around 1pm Friday or c) leave immediately after work on Friday, consider these suggestions. Cam Wooley of the OPP says that traffic is typically beginning early morning at 7 a.m. and gets progressively worse through to mid-afternoon on Saturday. If you are travelling for the weekend and want to get the most out of it by leaving Friday night, he suggests leaving a little later than you might think. Wooley says, “Traffic on the 400-series highways starts getting (back) up to the speed limit by 7 p.m.” (Globe and Mail).
  2. Come up with an Alternative Route – This may be the perfect time to get the old map out and try to assemble a reasonable plan B. Knowing this ahead of time and making a game-plan that includes detours if need be will save you a lot of stress on the day of. Just because your GPS tells you to go the same route as everyone else, doesn’t mean that you have to listen to it. Just make sure that you have an updated map with you and have at least some form of navigational means, whether in your car, phone or a good old fashioned compass will do.
  3. Fuel for everyone! – One of the most important things to making this trip as successful and painless as possible is to remember fuel; for your car and you. Let’s be honest, we just want to get to where we’re going and sometimes the easiest (We’re looking at you Highway 400) is just the safest bet to knowing that you will – at some point – arrive at your destination. For your car, try to fill up one or two days before so that you avoid the long lines and possibly a little bit of a break on your wallet. For you, make the trip more enjoyable by making sure that everyone in the car has some kind of food and drink if the need arises. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a car, anxious to get to your destination and not being able to do anything as hunger pains set in.

If while on your mission this long weekend, despite being as prepared as possible, you see those flashing red lights in your rear-view window, here are:

6 Things to Do and Not Do When Pulled Over

  1. DO show the officer that you acknowledge them by turning on your 4-way flashers and pull over to a safe area as soon as possible.
  2. DO remember that because of the long drive, you may be feeling stressed and tired. Check yourself and make sure that you keep as calm and friendly as possible when speaking with the officer who has pulled you over.
  3. DO roll your window down after pulling over and wait for the officer to approach your car and if it’s dark outside, turn the above head light on to illuminate the front cabin of the car (they’re probably going to shine a flashlight in there anyways).
  4. DO NOT make moves until the officer has instructed you to do so. You may think that getting all of your information ready is a good thing, but the officer has no idea what you may or may not have in your car. Sudden movements or unrequested behaviour could be cause for concern of an officer approaching a vehicle. Being proactive will not help you in this situation.
  5. DO remember that more than likely, you were stopped for either a routine spot check or for speeding (clearly you didn’t get caught in the long weekend traffic – kudos to you, but you shouldn’t have been speeding). If you plan on fighting any ticket, make sure to not say anything that would indicate an admission of guilt and definitely don’t inform the officer that you are going to fight the ticket as they will make sure that their notes are in tip-top shape, making a defense more difficult.
  6. DO get back on the road. Once everything has been handled and you can get back on your way, put any paperwork or belonging back where they were taken from, turn-on your signal, and merge safely back into traffic.

Long weekend driving is a time-honoured tradition in Ontario. Hopefully these tips will help you survive the trip and ease any stress about the heightened police presence on the roads. This is just the first of many long weekends this summer, and we’re sure that you have had some interesting experiences out there so let us know if you have any interesting long weekend drive or traffic stop stories. We’d love to hear them!

What’s your worst experience driving on a long weekend? What are some of the things that you do to avoid the bad traffic? Is it all worth it once you get to where you’re going? Or have you had such a bad experience that you no longer even try to go anywhere on long weekends?

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