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Tips on Driving Long Distances on the Open Road, Part One

by Aaron Tanner

· Driving,Road Maps,Interstate

In my last post, I mentioned I would give tips to help an Aspie drive long distances by themselves. Although this is not a comprehensive list of everything an Aspie should do before driving a long distance alone, or driving with someone else in a vehicle with someone that is not their parent, the tips given are from what I have learned and want to share with other Aspies who have never driven long distances by themselves. To avoid the blog from being too long, I broke this blog into two parts.

Since I am a roadgeek, I loved looking out the window to see where the car was in relation to the destination. If your Aspie child is able to drive, be sure to include explicit directions on how to drive to the destination. Although directions can be programmed into a GPS, do caution your child that a GPS is not 100% reliable as they have been known to get drivers way off course. This is why it is important to have a backup plan of knowing how to read a paper road map along with Google Maps on a smartphone to see the surrounding cities and towns along the planned route.

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Why is it important to learn to read a road map and more importantly, know the surroundings of the area you are driving through? Let’s say your child has car trouble, could they tell you what town they are in or what road they were on in case someone needs to pick them up? What if there is a major accident or road construction on the interstate, would your child know how to find alternative roads around the accident to avoid being stuck in traffic for several hours? If they are driving during a day where there is a risk for severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, would they know which county they passing through?

Even if you have a GPS, it is important for parents or another trusted adult to sit down and with a road atlas and plan the route that will be taken. Be sure to point out which cities they will pass through. Throughout the trip, have the Aspie call or text a parent or trusted adult to let them know where they are in relation to their destination.

On a long road trip, it is easy to get distracted. If your car does not have an XM Satellite Radio, the next best thing is to bring CDs of their favorite musicians, audio books, which can be rented at your local public library or bought at Cracker Barrel, or listen to the radio. There is a helpful website called, in which you type in a city or state and it will give you the radio stations, format, and maps of the signal’s coverage area within a certain distance of the location you typed in. With newer model cars, one can plug in their IPod and listen to music from that device on your car stereo.

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Be sure to tell them to take their time driving to their destination. They will probably be nervous and the last thing that needs to happen is they get in a wreck or get pulled over for speeding. So what if you can make a trip to say grandma’s house in 6 hours? It might take your Aspie child 8 or 9 hours to get there. The important thing is that they get there safe.

Another good tip is to encourage them to take as many breaks as needed. Many states have rest areas beside interstates where one can use the restroom and stretch their legs. If they start getting sleepy, tell them to stop and get a caffeinated drink or pull over at a rest area parking lot to get a short nap or take a walk. Never drive when drowsy.

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Speaking of interstates, if your child plans on taking freeways, encourage them to download the I-Exit app on Android or IPhone. The app will tell you which services are available at which freeway exit. Another great app to have is Waze, which gives you traffic information from the help of local drivers. Of course, tell them to look at the app only when the car is stopped.

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Encourage them to bring snacks and a non-alcoholic drink with them that can be easily used by one hand for a brief moment with the steering wheel in the other hand. Some Aspies may have to be pulled over in order to eat but at least encourage them to get a cup with a straw or a Yeti that has a lid with a place to sip drinks. This will prevent them from getting hungry or dehydrated, especially if stuck in traffic.

Now you or your Aspie child has somewhat of an idea on how to prepare to drive the open road. Rather than overload people with a lot of information, I will share the 2nd part of tips to help an Aspie drive long distances by themselves later this week. That particular blog post will deal with speed limits and other safety tips. To be the first to receive part 2 of this important blog, subscribe to my blog below by entering your e-mail address. Happy Motoring.

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