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Caravanning or Driving in a Convoy

November 10, 2009

Throughout the years I have travelled in a caravan or convoy of cars on many occasions.  Through family and car club activities I have learned some simple strategies for success:

*Each vehicle should be given a complete set of driving instructions, including a map and turn by turn directions with milage for each segment;

*Each driver should know the other vehicles in the caravan/convoy, if possible make a list for distribution.  If carrying multiple passengers in each vehicle make a list of passengers per vehicle;

*If possible each vehicle should be given a walkie-talkie, if walkie-talkies are not available exchange cell phone numbers.  The walkie-talkies should be set to the same channel before departure, with a planned set of alternate channels in the event of communication traffic on the channel selected.  There should be clear directions given for the operation and protocol for walkie-talkie communications. All radios should be tested for transmission and reception before departure.  Make certain the batteries are fresh/charged and spares are available.  If possible, have a spare walkie-talkie available in the event of a unit failure;

*If there is a ‘co-pilot’ in the vehicle, this person should act as navigator and communicator, allowing the driver to concentrate on driving;

*Determine signal protocols before departure: i.e. blinking headlights in sets of two to ask the driver ahead to slow, constant blinking denotes a need to pull over at first available safe spot.  These signals can be used in lieu of or in addition to radio/telephone communication;

*All vehicles should have their headlights on low beam, even in daylight;

*Make certain all vehicles are working properly, signals and brake lights are operational;

*All passengers should be properly fastened in seat belts;

*Maintain a safe following distance.  If another driver tries to break the caravan line, allow them to do so;

*Follow all laws, obey traffic signals;

*Do not allow the convoy to impede the flow of traffic;

*If separated by a traffic light the leader should pull over at the first available safe spot to allow others to catch up;

*If route calls for a number of traffic lights, designate on the directions a location for the group to pull over to reassemble (shopping center or business parking lot);

*If the car behind you slows, you should slow down as well;

*When traveling on roads with two lanes in your direction of travel stay in the right lane, unless preparing to turn left;

*When traveling on roads with three or more lanes in your direction of travel stay in the second lane from the right (this allows others to enter and exit the highway more easily);

*Signal early for all changes of lanes or direction of travel;

*When traveling in heavy highway traffic the tail car can change lanes first, holding back/controlling traffic to allow the cars in front to move into the lane in preparation for an exit (prepare early for the exit);

*If traveling in a small group with less experienced drivers, have the more experienced driver as the tail vehicle.  This driver can then create room for lane changes in heavier traffic;

Traveling in a caravan or convoy is often more fun than getting to a destination as a single car.  There are many aspects to be thought through in advance and communication before and during the drive are essential for success.  Many clubs/organizations have a set policy for caravans/convoys, make certain to review the policies when planning your event.  An example which seems to duplicate many organizations guidelines can be found at RovingRoadsters.com

Girl Scouts of the USA and Boy Scouts of America both have policies against driving in a convoy or caravan of vehicles.

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