Your route may be worked out for you by your vehicle operator, or you may have to plan the best route for yourself. There are lots of tools you can use to help you plan your journey to avoid congestion and get to your destination on time. Always plan your journey before you set off and, if possible, plan alternative routes in case there’s a problem with your original route.
Try to allow some extra time for your journey in case there are delays. Although it’s important to try to arrive at your destination on time, you must not allow time pressures to push you into driving illegally or dangerously.
Using a sat nav
If you’re using a satellite-navigation system (sat nav), enter the destination before you start your journey so you’re not distracted by it while driving. A sat nav can be very useful if you need to change your route but be careful not to rely too heavily on it: if you suspect that the route is wrong, use your common sense rather than following it blindly.
You’ll also need to think about whether routes are suitable for your vehicle; for example, if you’re driving a high vehicle, watch out for height restrictions such as low bridges.
Using a map
Alternatively, use a map to plan your journey. There are route planners available online. Check motoring organisation websites for information about roadworks and areas that might be congested.
It’s a good idea to keep a map in your vehicle in case you need to change your route or if there’s a problem with your sat nav.
Spotting problems or risks on your route
When you’re planning your route, make sure you know the height, width, length and weight of your vehicle so you can avoid a route that has restrictions such as
- low or weak bridges
- traffic-calming measures that make the road narrow
- tunnels or level crossings with length restrictions.
While you’re driving you’ll need to look out for road signs that show restrictions making the route unsuitable for your vehicle.
Look out for areas where there are congestion charges, charges for entering restricted areas (such as the London low emission zone) or tolls for using roads or bridges: you may want to change your route to avoid these.
How suitable a particular route is can depend on exactly when you travel. You’ll find very heavy traffic on some roads during rush hour or in the holiday season, so you may want to avoid these routes. If you’re driving a vehicle that’s affected by windy weather, such as a high-sided vehicle, you might need to change your route to avoid exposed roads when the weather is windy.
Remember to think about your driving skill and experience when you’re planning a route: if you’re not confident about a route, find an alternative rather than taking risks.
Following your route
When you’ve planned your route, print it out or write it down so you can follow it easily when you’re driving. Try to use place names as well as road numbers in case any of your route is not well signposted. If you have a passenger with you, ask them to read your directions to you so you can concentrate on driving.