Do you want to know the most important rule for driving in tunnels? Simply follow the normal rules of the road. Many locations across North America are filled with short and long tunnels that pass through mountains and under rivers. Although tunnels can be stressful for a first time car rental customer, they don’t need to be. While there are some guidelines you should take into consideration, for the most part, driving in a tunnel is much like driving on the open road.
Be Aware As You Approach The Tunnel
As you approach any tunnel in your car rental, pay close attention to your vehicle, road signs, and other traffic. Signs approaching the tunnel may warn of height restrictions, speed limits within the tunnel, lane closures and tunnel length. Some of this information may also be available on local traffic radio channels, including delays in the tunnel. In particular, this is true in locations such as the Detroit Tunnel, where you’re also crossing an International border. As you enter, you should also check your car rental vehicle’s gauges to be sure your vehicle is running at a normal temperature, no warning lights are illuminated, and you have sufficient gas. Breaking down inside a tunnel is a safety risk and will cause long delays for other drivers. As you enter the tunnel in your rental car, you will also want to switch on your low beams to help light up the road, and remove sunglasses if you are wearing any.
Use Extra Caution in the Tunnel
Although the road conditions will likely be clear and dry in the tunnel, it’s important you still use extra caution. Leave extra space between your rental car and the vehicle in front of you, especially if the tunnel curves as you drive. It’s also important to obey any signs, including speed limits, and passing restrictions while you’re driving in the tunnel. Other maneuvers, including U-turns, are often illegal and dangerous in tunnels. As well, once you’ve entered the tunnel, continue moving unless the flow of traffic stops. Driving extra slow, or stopping altogether can be dangerous to you, your passengers and other drivers.
When Things Get Slow
When things get slow, or if traffic stops completely in a tunnel, don’t worry, it’s a relatively normal occurrence. With a restricted flow of traffic following a single path, any disturbance – a flat tire, a stalled engine, construction work inside or at either end of the tunnel, or a backed up toll booth – can stop traffic. When you notice traffic slowing to a near stop, it’s important to turn on your car rental’s four-way hazard lights to alert the vehicle behind you. As well, if traffic comes to a complete stop, stay in your vehicle, and be sure to leave at least one car length of space between your rental car and the vehicle in front of you.
Stay Calm in an Emergency
If you witness an accident, or any other emergency situation, stay calm. Tunnels where both ends are not visible as you enter are typically equipped with a variety of emergency features. As you drive through the tunnel, make a mental note of emergency exits, phones, and alarms. In the case of an emergency, find the nearest emergency location and take action, while remaining calm. Remember: your cellphone will likely lose reception in the tunnel, so it's important that you make note of alternative safety measures. If you are forced to leave your vehicle, be aware of oncoming traffic, as flow may have only stopped in one direction.
Driving your rental car vehicle through a tunnel is typically a stress free event. Simply follow the rules of the road, pay extra attention to signs and warnings, and exercise caution. If you are normally an anxious driver and feel uncertain about driving in a tunnel, check out these tips for relaxing and removing stress behind the wheel.