At some time each of us gets the that it might be fun to lead a drive. You have a great route, or destination, in mind but you are a little hesitant to volunteer. Your first thought may be one of fear. Thinking that you do not know how to lead a drive and might make a mistake. Well as long as you keep a few things in mind it is almost impossible to not do a good job.
The first thing to remember is that since you will be in front, you will be the leader and everyone else will follow you. So start by planning a route. It is important to have the final destination in mind. Part of choosing a route involves making sure the roads are not closed for construction or any other reason. Also consider the probable traffic you will encounter. Then think about the weather and the impact it could have on our ride. When thinking about the weather remember to consider the location of the sun, you and the others will not enjoy driving miles looking into the bright sun.
Another part of planning the route is to make sure it will fit the amount of time you have for the drive. Notice that I said time and not desired distance. It is the combination of distance and speed that will determine the time necessary to complete the drive. And finally, always consider the need for rest stops when you are are determining how long it will take for the entire drive.
Once you have determined the destination and route you will need to decide if you need to make maps and distribute them to the other drivers. For longer rides, those lasting several hours, it is helpful to have maps or at least a written description of the route. For shorter drives maps are usually not necessary. Additionally, if you do not make maps no one will be able to say that you missed a turn.
When the time arrives for the drive to begin your role shifts from the planning mode to the leading mode. First make sure that nothing has changed that could affect your drive. This includes the weather, last minute traffic problems, or detours. Also examine the group of drivers that has arrived. Is the group too big for the route or destination? Is the route too complex for the group? Mainly just be flexible and willing to change if will have a positive impact on the drive.
Next, call the other drivers, and their passengers, together and explain the destination and route. It is possible that someone may mention something that you have overlooked or were unaware of. Again consider an and all points and be willing to modify your route if necessary. This is also the time to make any and all announcements such a the channel being used for two way radios, your cell phone number, planned rest stops, and any regroup spots.
As the participants get into their cars and line up be sure to take notice of the how many cars are in the group and which vehicle will be last. If possible look around for the brightest colored vehicle and see if the driver would mind being last. Explain to them that their car would be easy for you to spot and know that the entire group is together. It is also handy to have some of the drivers in the middle of the group that are familiar with the route in case the group gets separated.
One point that needs to be mentioned is to put the new members in the front of the group. The last thing you want to have happen is for a new member to get lost on their first outing.
As the ride begins you, as the leader, will be faced with what is often the most difficult part of the drive. This is because most drives start in town and it is easy for the group to get separated before it can even get out and begin enjoying the route. It is often desirable to have a predetermined regroup spot selected a few miles into the route. this will allow everyone to relax a little and drive safely knowing that the leader is waiting for them just up the road.
Once the group has cleared the edge of town, and is all accounted for, it becomes important for the leader to drive with one eye on the road ahead and the other eye on their mirror. Continually make sure that the group is still back there. If everyone is watching the drivers in front and behind them, the leader just needs to keep an eye on the string of vehicles behind them. If the group is dropping back the leader needs to slow and make sure that there is not a problem.
This is a good time to talk about the pace that the leader should set. Regardless of your ego, and driving ability, this is not the time to show others how fast you can drive. Your pace should be SAFE for the slowest driver in the group. It also should be LEGAL. How you drive when you are alone, or with a few friends is one thing, but as the leader you are somewhat responsible for the safety of the group. So again I repeat lead at a SAFE and LEGAL pace.
If you follow these few points and suggestions you should be rewarded with lots of praise for doing a great job of leading a fun drive when you reach the destination. So go ahead, select a destination, plan a route, lead the drive and enjoy the sight of a string of beautiful cars in your mirror while you cruise the country side.