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  1. #1

    Default How far is it safe to drive in one day?

    I'm planning a one person roadtrip from Prior Lake, MN to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to meet up with some friends to climb Long's Peak. Google Maps puts it at 997 miles one-way, 14.5 hours driving time. Is this too far in one day considering the driving would be 2 days before the full-day climb?

    I have family in Des Moines I could stay with for free making it a 2-day drive, 3.5hrs & 11.25hrs each day. Is this a better option?

    What do you think?

    Thanks for all your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,949

    Default One size

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    First of all, as we mention on the forum very often, online map programs don't do a good job of including required stops into their estimates, so that 1000 mile trip will likely take about 17.5 hours, not 14.5.

    But 1000 miles is way too far for a solo driver in a single day. Its unlikely you could travel that distance safely in that timeframe, and even if you did, you'd still be feeling the effects by the time you'd try your climb.

    There is no one size fits all rule, and age and experience will certainly play a role in your personal limits, and you can go a little bit farther on a one day sprint when compared to a multi-day trip but the following guidelines should be considered.

    500 miles is close to ideal.

    600 is a very long day and for a solo traveler, really should be pretty close to the limit. It is also roughly the limit that professional drivers are allowed to travel in a day because of safety laws.

    700 miles starts to really get into the grueling stage, and really can't be recommended for a solo driver.

    800 or more starts putting you over the 14 hour mark on the road, and really isn't recommended even if you have multiple drivers.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 10-28-2013 at 05:26 PM.

  3. #3

    Default

    Excellent, thank you. I'll definitely be making an overnight stop. I might push the stop out a bit further than Des Moines however, following those guidelines.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    1,364

    Default Wise!

    I think that's a wise decision! Speaking from personal experience, I'd push on as far as I was comfortable with on the first day, looking to get at least 600 miles completed. When you've had enough, pull into a motel and settle in for an early night. You'll sleep well for sure (!) and can awake the next day safe in the knowledge that you've broken the back of the journey and you'll have time to break up the journey by stopping at one or two roadside attractions. Works for me anyway :)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    12

    Default Stop Overnight

    I would definitely say to take your time and stop overnight. I once drove from West Palm Beach, Florida to the Delaware Water Gap (about 1200 miles) without stopping other than to use the bathroom. My boyfriend was in the car with me but fell asleep soon after we left and I felt bad waking him. He woke up when we got to the Delaware Water Gap and drove the rest of the way to Florida. I was exhausted when I got home!

  6. #6

    Default

    I think it depends on the person. My husband is an avid driver and we can clock a lot of miles in a day...but just not multiple days in a row.

  7. #7

    Default

    Back when I was 24-27 years old, I could easily drive up to 800-900 miles in one day. Now, however, I can only do about 500 before I start feeling fatigued and grouchy. (And I'm only 29 now!)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,687

    Default Night owl

    Having worked at all hours of the day and night, I consider myself quite up to the challenge of being functional at strange times of day.

    That said, I still find that driving during the night has a unique set of challenges that can make traveling difficult, and can cause stress similar to what may be experienced during heavy traffic. Somebody not used to being up at strange hours, eg 3am, would probably be more fatigued by this as well.

    Even with two people, 500-550 miles a day is still a comfortable pace. On our last long trip, the one-way distance was ~550 miles, we stopped a few times along the way, switched drivers, and generally enjoyed ourselves. It may have been the most relaxing one-day trip we've ever had.

    Sure, I'm likely to do another long solo trip where I break this rule of thumb, but I know that I would have to be in pretty good emotional and physical shape to be able to do that.

  9. #9

    Default I have driving 1100+ miles in one day before

    Last summer, I drove from Washington DC to Miami, FL in one straight shot. Mapquest showed that the distance is about 1180 miles and takes about 18 hrs. I did it in 20 hrs driving 85 mph on I95. It took me longer simply because I took break more often. I started out driving around 2 a.m. after a good sleep. I drove until it was time to fill up and rest there at well. I rest for about 1 hr during each fill up give my eyes a break and a car a chance to cool down. It was pretty easy because I like driving and I95 is very straight and easy traveling south from DC.

    Of course, I slept for 11 hrs when I arrived at the hostel, so I wouldn't call it time saving. A biggest problems many people have during long distance driving are boredom and fatigue. My wife and our 2 bestfriends were in the car with me and at least one stay up at any given time to B.S. A break every 5 hrs did help a lot. I could have asked other people to take turn driving, but I wanted to have all the fun for myself. A fun to drive vehicle was a big plus as we tooked my wife's Bimmer 328 convertible.

    One very important note: If you feel remotely tire, safely pull over to the side of the road or a store to rest. I had an accident last summer (3 weeks before the trip) when I dropped my wife off at the airport and drove back home. I worked all day that day and was already tire. By the time I go my car and headed out the airport, I felt very sleep. Dozing off a few times didn't stop me from being stupid and I ended up crashing into a side curb and messed my right tires and rims. Luckily, I didn't go into oncomming traffic as there was no left shoulder or lane divided, just 4 lanes for 2 direction of U.S. 1 in Stafford VA. That was a biggest wakeup call literally and I would never dare driving tire.

    Conclusion, if you're not tire, go for it. Otherwise, pull into a book store like Border or Barnes and Noble and sleep on their sofa. For your case though, you better off breaking it into half and half as you will be driving by yourself, which is the hardest thing to do.

    Good luck and have fun

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    land of now-here
    Posts
    78

    Default Speed smart!

    Mr. MIAccord, I don't know about that driving 85mph on the I95. The speed limit on the I95 is usually between 65-70, so you were driving way over the limit. That isn't safe for you, or other drivers on the road, especially if you're doing a long stretch. The limit is there for a reason- there's a lot more people on the road on the I95, much easier to get into an accident, and at 85mph- a serious one. You were lucky that time. learn from it. drive slower and smell the roses ;)

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