After the last 2 years of restrictions, we are all starting to get out and about with friends so now is a good time to remind ourselves of the etiquette of driving in groups. If you have never driven with a group of fellow enthusiasts, then you are missing a very enjoyable driving experience. However, to be successful and safe it is important to ensure that basic convoy driving etiquette is followed.
Before you get to the meeting point fill up with fuel. This will mean the convoy gets away smoothly and without delay and you don’t know when the next opportunity to fill up will be. When you all meet up agree meeting points en route – (consider all down loading the app ‘what 3 words’ and have a way of contacting each other – maybe a ‘whats app’ group in case of emergency) . It is a good idea to find the toilet before departing, as it can be up to 2 hours to the next rest stop!.
Driving in a “chain” of cars sadly does increase the chances of a collision with other vehicles for various reasons:-
· The reduction of being able to see the hazards ahead
· Not being able to easily anticipate what other road users may do
· Relying on the reaction of the driver in the front of the group for hazards that lay ahead
· Potentially becoming ‘invisible’ to other road users, as other drivers don’t always see all the vehicles in the group
The following will help you and others keep safe although do check regulations in the country you are travelling in for example in some it is illegal to travel in groups of more than 12. Breaking up a large group into smaller groups with staggered start times is a sensible option.
Firstly, remember you are following the road in front not the driver in front – drive within your own and cars capabilities. Form your own assessment of road hazards and conditions as different cars handle differently, have different tyres etc. Reduce your speed if road conditions or the weather warrant it. It is less important to lose the group than to have an accident.
The driver in front has the responsibility to stay with the car behind and not the one in front. Sometimes the car at the back of the convoy will have their headlights on to alert the front runner of where the last car is. If you lose sight of the car behind slow down or stop as soon as it is safe to do so. Try to maintain a constant speed. It is important that the lead car resists the temptation to drive as fast as conditions allow, as the speed differential with the last car is magnified.
Do not overtake other members of the group unless they request you to pass them. Overtake other vehicles on the road only when it is legal and safe to do so. If a member of the public wants to overtake you, please let them, don’t close the gap to the vehicle in front and force the overtaking car into a dangerous manoeuvre.
If the leader decides to overtake a member of the public driving more slowly than the convoy, please try to safely overtake and re-join the convoy as quickly and as safely as possible. Remember to only overtake where safe to do so. This is important when overtaking cyclists, as most countries have legislation that requires a minimum clearance distance of 1 metre.
At traffic lights, use more than one lane if available, to maximise the number of cars getting through on each sequence. Once through the lights filter back into line.
Where possible, wait at junctions or roundabouts if it is unclear to the car behind which direction the convoy has taken. If it is unsafe to stop, wait in a safe and visible position round the corner.
Always be considerate of, and courteous to other road users and remember the road is not a race circuit and you are not exempt from the rules and law.
Follow the route and instructions given, and don’t rely on the car in front. That way if you get separated you can pick up the route. If you get separated from the group try and pick up the route or failing that proceed directly to the next meeting point. If its safe to do so – stop and alert the group using the method agreed so they are aware of what you are doing.
If you breakdown or need assistance the ‘what 3 words’ app will mean your fellow travellers can pinpoint accurately where you are.
The importance of members not getting separated or being unsupported in times when there is a problem are minimised by following these simple guidelines. Most important of all though, is that road safety is maximised, and other road users are not affected or irritated by us and our cars.