Accepting Rides from Others
Your transport options may be limited during your gap year, so finding ways to cut costs and travel with friends may lead you to accepting rides from others. While catching a lift could help you on your way, it could also become quite a hindrance.
Unless you look after your personal safety, the vehicle safety and check the background of the driver and his or her insurance you might just find out that accepting a ride from someone else leaves you vulnerable to accident and injury. If you can’t be sure about the safety of catching a lift then play it safe and stick with public transport.
Personal SafetyAccepting a ride in a private car may seem like a luxury compared to having to take public transport but this isn’t the case if you can’t look after your personal safety. Before accepting a lift, find out if there is a seat for everyone and if there is a corresponding seat belt with each seat.
Also observe the weather and road conditions for the day and find out who knows how to get to the destination. All of these factors can influence your personal safety in the event of accident or emergency so don’t be shy about keeping yourself safe.
Vehicle SafetyIf you know little about cars then it might seem hard to find out more about vehicle safety, but even a quick check can alert you to potential problems. Is the windshield clear? Are the tires in good condition? Is there an emergency kit in the boot? Do you have a spare tire on hand? Do the indicators work? Do the lights work? Are all requisite mirrors in place?
Also factor in what you will be adding to the car. Is there enough room for all of the passengers and the luggage? Will the driver still have a clear view out all windows with everything loaded in? If the answer to any of these questions is no then you’d be smart to turn down the ride and look for public transport instead.
Driver’s Experience and InsuranceNo one wants to interrogate their friends, especially new friends, when they are trying to do a favour but you won’t be doing yourself any favours if you fail to find out about the driver’s experience and insurance before catching a lift with him or her.
The most basic questions you can ask are if the driver has a full, clean driving licence, if the driver is eligible to drive in that particular country and if the car is insured.
You may also want to find out where the car came from – does the driver own it, is it borrowed or rented? If any of the answers give you reason to pause then it may be best to forget the lift and find the nearest bus or train instead.
A gap year is often about finding more freedom, but with freedom comes responsibility. Never accept a lift from friends without finding out as much as you can about your personal safety, vehicle safety and the driver’s experience and insurance. If you do not find suitable answers to your questions then opt for public transport instead.