How to beat traffic, avoid storms and stay alert on long summer drives

Former professional tour-bus driver Chip Huffman spent decades on the road before starting a company that provided tour buses for Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon and other acts. Now he runs Nashville's Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy. He offered these tips for getting from point A to point B safely and efficiently.

1. Don't rely exclusively on GPS. We advise drivers to use all navigation methods available to them. Not very often, but now and then, the GPS map is just plain wrong. I once followed directions down a four-lane highway to a gravel road to a dirt path into a cow pasture. Supplement the GPS by consulting the Rand McNally Road Atlas and looking at a map. And ask locals for directions.

2. Check the weather ahead. Go around storms if you possibly can. On a trip between Nashville and California, for example, if there's going to be snow, a lot of drivers will drop down to I-20 instead of staying on I-40. It may add an hour to their trip, but it may save them from being snowed in. The app I use is Weather Bug.

3. Take care of your ride. As the driver, you are the captain of the ship. You have to stay proactive with everything and keep your ride running. Learn to fix minor things, like light bulbs, yourself. I used to tell my drivers: If I have to pay a mechanic $80 an hour to change light bulbs in my bus, I'm going to find another driver.

4. Know the laws of the states you'll be driving through. For instance, in Tennessee, if there's an emergency vehicle on the side of the interstate, you're obligated to move over a lane.

5. Stay alert. Years ago, before the Department of Transportation regulated the industry, on long winter hauls I used to put my hand out the window until it turned blue, then put it on my face to stay awake. When you get that tired, you need to take a break. Pull over and walk around.

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