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Long distance driving tips for teens

Sure, you’ve spent plenty of road trips asleep in the backseat, or arguing with your siblings over who gets to pick the music. But your first adventure on the open road where you’re behind the wheel is something else.

Long distance driving is a lot different to driving to and from school or work, so preparation is important.

Use this guide to get the most out of your first road trip adventure without your parents, and ensure you arrive at your destination safe and sound.

Before you go

Check and prepare your car

Before undertaking an epic journey, make sure your car is up to the task. If your car is a bit older and showing its age, consider getting a mechanic to have a look over it.

In general, before going on a long distance trip you should:

  • check (and top up, if needed) your engine oil, coolant, and windscreen washer fluid

  • check that your tyres aren’t bald or underinflated, and are at the recommended pressure

  • make sure that your spare tyre is up to scratch, and

  • get any random repairs or noises you’ve been ignoring looked at by a professional.

Map out your route

Even if you’re planning a casual, see-where-the-wind-takes-you type road trip, it’s good to have a plan in place. In particular, be aware of potential places you can sleep, rest stops, and deadzones for mobile phone reception. 

Planning your rest stops can be fun, too. Take advantage of Australia’s many zany roadside tourist attractions and practice safe driving at the same time. From the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour (NSW) to the Big Boxing Crocodile in Humpty Doo (NT), there are plenty of insta-worthy photo opportunities to add to your road trip itinerary.

Consider buying car insurance

If you don’t already have car insurance, now might be a good time to get it. If you’re on the road more, you’re at greater risk of something happening. 

There are different options and levels of car insurance available, so it’s important to choose the one that works for you. As a quick guide:

  • Roadside assistance: A great option for roadtrips, roadside assistance offers help in an emergency. For example, if you’ve locked your keys in your car, you’ve run out of fuel, or your car won’t start, you can usually call on roadside assistance. AAMI offers roadside assistance as an extra that you can purchase on top of your Comprehensive Car Insurance.

  • Third Party Car Insurance: Different to the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance you might have already bought when registering your car, Third Party Car Insurance is a basic level of cover that usually includes damage to other people’s vehicles and property, but not your own.

  • Comprehensive Car Insurance: As the name suggests, Comprehensive Car Insurance is a more comprehensive level of cover that usually includes damage to your vehicle, as well as other people’s vehicles and property.

  • Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP): CTP Insurance is a legal requirement in every Australian state and can cover your costs if someone is injured in a car accident you cause. CTP is sometimes automatically included with your registration, but in states like NSW, where it’s called Green Slip, you’ll need to organise your own CTP Insurance.

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Put together an epic playlist

No adventure is complete without a soundtrack to go with it. Consider making a collaborative playlist you and your road trip buddies can add to. It might make for a playlist that goes from folk acoustic to heavy metal but hey, it’ll keep you entertained.  

On the road

Frequently take a break or change drivers

Take a proper break or switch drivers every two hours, at least. If you feel yourself losing concentration before that two hours is up, speak up! Even for those who aren’t driving, getting out of the car and stretching can make a huge difference to mental and physical wellbeing (being crammed in a car can get old, fast).

Look out for wildlife

In remote parts of Australia, you can encounter wildlife – especially at dawn and dusk, when kangaroos and wallabies are most active. Be careful, whether you see warning signs on the road or not. Keep scanning ahead to detect movement, especially in the greenery lining the roads.

If you do collide with an animal, and it’s safe to do so, stop to check on its welfare. Each state has their own wildlife emergency service, which you can call to report an injured or dead animal. They’ll be able to advise you further on what to do.

If you have Comprehensive Car Insurance and the collision wasn’t intentional, you may be covered for any damage caused to your car.

Keep everyone entertained

Remember those games of “I spy” and “car cricket” you used to play as a kid? Spoiler alert: they’re just as fun now! While the driver should keep their attention on the road, there’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition to make time zoom by.

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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI) trading as AAMI. Any advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before you make any decision regarding this product. The Target Market Determination is also available.