It’s fun to drive in a convoy of rods, customs, and classics, but like everything else in life, knowledge of the proper etiquette helps make it more enjoyable/less stressful for everyone involved. There is no definitive “Emily Post” expert for this sort of thing, but there are some common-sense guidelines …
- Choose a Leader and a Sweeper: Obviously the leader should be familiar with the route, available rest stops, limitations of the participants and of course, convoy etiquette. Someone should also be designated to bring up the rear. They should also be familiar with the route and convoy etiquette, and be in communication (via CB/FRS radio and/or cell phone) with the leader. Some groups have everyone run with headlights on. That seems a bit funeral for me, but I do like the sweep to run with headlights on to make it easier to keep track of the tail end.
- Speed: Probably the most difficult and controversial question. There will always be people who think the speed is too slow and others who think it’s too fast. If the group is small enough and the leader has a chance to reach a consensus before starting, then I would go with that. Keep in mind that (if you want to stay together) the slowest vehicle in the group will determine your maximum speed. Otherwise, the posted speed limit is the most logical target speed, especially on the freeway. On secondary roads, it’s a little more problematic. The posted speed can sometimes be dramatically slower than the prevailing speed. In that case, a 5 mile over posted speed may be the best option. In any event, you need to take every opportunity to pull over and let faster traffic pass. If you find yourself in a convoy that’s traveling faster than you feel comfortable, then you need to drop out and/or position yourself in the back. It’s inconsiderate to stay near the front or middle with the cars ahead disappearing and the ones behind stacked up on your tail.
- Safety First: This should be everyone’s number one priority. One way to promote safety is to obey the law. There are laws against speeding, following too close, distracted driving, impeding traffic and (non-emergency) stopping on the freeway. It should be obvious that obeying these laws are a good way to enhance safety on a cruise.
- Start with a full tank and an empty bladder: Enuf said.
- Regroup: The leader needs to make sure everyone is at least in their cars when he leaves the parking lot, and if practical, stop to regroup shortly after starting (but don’t just pull over on the shoulder of the freeway-that’s not legal or safe). Keep in mind that if the leader is driving just 60 mph, and it takes the last car 5 minutes to get out of the parking lot, then they will be 5 miles apart at the beginning. That means the last car would have to drive 75mph (for 20 minutes) to catch up! Driving at a slower pace for the first few miles is an alternative if pulling over is not practical.
- Lights and Signals: As mentioned, it’s a good idea for the sweep car to run with headlights on. Flash headlights to signal a mechanical or other problem and turn signals should be used generously.
- Breaks: As with speed, the limitations of your least hardy participant may determine how frequently you stop. As a rule, you never want to drive more than 2 hours without a break, and a break within 1 hour of any meal stop would be prudent.
- Breakdowns: You don’t want to scrub or unduly delay the trip because of one breakdown, so it’s something that should be planned for. You don’t want everyone pulling over on a busy highway when one car has some trouble. That’s the sweeps job and he should stay with the car until the problem is resolved or a “plan of action” (tow truck, abort and return home etc.) is developed.
- General: Everyone should start out with a well-maintained vehicle with all fluids topped off. If you leave the group before the end of trip, let the leader and/or sweep know. Keep the car behind you in sight, especially when making turns.