QOTD: Reaching Your Long Haul Limit?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
qotd reaching your long haul limit

There are more than a few times when travelling by car is a heckuva lot more preferable than cramming cheek-to-jowl in an aluminium sky sausage. Hitting the highway, not the sometimes-friendly skies, to reach your destination is often a better option.

Everyone has their limits for long-term driving, though. What’s yours?

Some folks are content to drive all through the day and night, stopping only if the car or their gut needs refuelling. A family member of ours, who shall remain nameless, is well known for cracking a 1,000-mile jaunt, resting for an hour or two, then carrying on for another 1,000. The man has probably driven more miles in reverse than many people have driven forward.

Most of us are likely somewhere in the middle, less extreme than that example but well beyond the need for stopping every hour. Breaking up a twelve-hour drive into four-hour stints, for example, is a good personal rule. Fatigue is a real danger.

According to studies, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates 21 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes involve driver fatigue. One third of crashes involving a drowsy driver also result in injuries. Mack in the first Cars movie had it right all along.

How about you? What’s your personal limit while long distance driving?

[Image: Garrett/ Flickr ( CC BY 2.0)]

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5 of 95 comments
  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Aug 08, 2018

    There's quite often times that I must drive to work at the last minute. Since I live in Pittsburgh and my base is Washington DC, it's quite the commute, which is not uncommon among us "aluminum sky sausage" drivers. At least I can drive to my base, many guys and gals can't. So, I can do 4-5 hours of driving on a moments notice and really, that's kind of my "up and go" limit. Stopping only for gas or bathroom usage mostly, but I've made it straight through many times. Give me music, coffee and a decent car and I can drive anywhere it seems. When I was a courier, I drove from Pittsburgh to Morristown NJ and back in one night in my 01 Focus. I don't advise doing that much driving. Gave me respect for the long haul guys out there. One challenge is a car with no cruise control. I've been stuck with rentals a few times without cruise and driving that 4-5 hours of mostly highway without cruise is extremely fatiguing. I know many people deride cruise control and it does work better in some vehicles than others ( American cruise control> Japanese cruise controls) but when you're doing a distance, it really helps with fatigue and economy. I prefer to travel in the early morning or late at night. The reduced traffic and therefore morons makes my trip more enjoyable and my pace steady.

    • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Aug 08, 2018

      I also drove from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West and back in one day. In a 2000 Sebring convertible. As a fair skinned Yankee, I was as red as the "Post Comment" button here. I didn't realize how awful I looked until I got to the hotel that night and looked in the mirror.

  • Mikeg216 Mikeg216 on Aug 08, 2018

    Bout 18-22 hours give or take. Straight through from Cleveland to Tucumcari NM is the longest.. Wanted to stop in Texas but decided to keep pushing because I set the cruise at 80 when I went over the big muddy.. By the time I got out into Iowa cruise set on 92.. Had to slow down a bit in Texas.. Their troopers mean bidness.. I'd like to thank red bull and Starbucks double shots beef jerkey and camel wides

  • Car Ramrod Car Ramrod on Aug 09, 2018

    The distance I’m willing to drive is decreasing with age. I used to be willing to drive home from college for a long weekend or thanksgiving, 690 miles. I made a game of it, and did it in a shade under 10 hours once. These days, driving to my hometown is about 720 miles, and I loathe doing it but it’s cheaper to drive than to fly with three kids. Part of the problem is that I have to go through Atlanta, which is the worst place I’ve ever driven. That drive takes a little over 11 hours and is definitely my limit. The only thing worse than being the driver after 10+ hours in the car is being the passenger.

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Aug 23, 2018

    Growing up, it was a 300 mile trip to see the relatives so that was always a yardstick for me, I got so that I could do that drive with 2-3 stops when I started driving it on my own. I'm normally good for about 8 hours of actual driving with bathroom and food breaks as needed. I agree that the topography and road type is a big factor: too much start/stop traffic or too much boring flat interstate will pull that number down. There's something about the OH and PA Turnpikes that wears me down, and both segments of rural I-88 in Illinois and New York are terrible when it comes to engaging scenery. That being said, the thing that led to being diagnosed with sleep apnea was discovering I could no longer drive more than an hour without becoming fatigued and having to stop.