As the weather warms up, many people start planning road trips. There are so many things to do and see around the country and a road trip helps hit up a lot of things that are on the way to a final location. The best way to have a great trip is to be safe. Here are some basic safety tips to help you have a safe road trip no matter where you are going.
Prepare for Emergencies
The best way to avoid a vehicle emergency or break down is to have the car checked out before leaving. Prevention is a great place to start. There are some basic things you can check to give your vehicle the best chance to run well on the trip, including:
- Oil and fluid levels
- Belts, caps, hoses, and filters
- All lights including headlights and blinkers
- Tire pressure
While preparing the basics, include other items that may be necessary on a road trip, like blankets, and everything to change a flat tire (including a spare tire). Keeping a little bit of money in cash, water bottles, and maybe even extra snacks are all good things to put in the trunk too.
Let Someone Know Your Plans
Arrange to have someone be your check-in contact. Give them a rough idea on the route you will be taking, stop you may take, and check in each night when arriving at the hotel. Service can be spotty on road trips because of long lengths of undeveloped road between cities. If something were to happen like a problem with the car or you get lost, you may not be able to call for help. Having someone who is expecting a check in call and knows your approximate location gives helpful information when looking for you.
Road trips are often known for unexpected detours and fun, random stops. Having a route mapped out doesn’t have to kill that feeling. You can still have a rough plan while adding in extra fun stops that come up. If something bad were to happen, the possible locations you could be would still be narrowed down.
Avoid Drowsy Driving
Being well rested is essential for a road trip. When the brain is tired, cognition and performance are impaired, much like being drunk. In 2017, drowsy driving claimed 795 lives. While many people will try to push through their fatigue, it is better to address it before it gets serious. Some ideas to avoid drowsy driving are:
- Keep a caffeinated drink in the car. That way you have something if in between cities with no gas station around.
- Talk to a passenger in the car to stay active and alert.
- Roll down the window or blast some music. Having cold wind hit your face or music filling your ears can help provide cognitive stimulation.
If none of these strategies are working, switch drivers or pull off the road in a safe location to take a quick nap. Usually only 15 to 30 minutes is needed to get a good enough rest to get back on the road safely. This is important to keeping yourself and others on the road, even if it makes you reach your destination for the night a little bit later than planned.
Be Extra Vigilant
While roads are generally the same throughout the country, there are subtle changes to watch. Changing speed limits, different types of interchanges, and varying road hazards are all differences you may see on your trip. Not paying close enough attention to these small differences can lead to a car crash. While every driver should be paying attention to the road, it is especially important in a new and unknown area.
Small Steps Create Big Differences
Whether you are a new driver heading out on your first road trip or a road trip veteran, taking some simple steps for safety can help a lot. You can even brush up on your knowledge on our driving resources page.
Everyone wants their road trip to be memorable because it was fun, not full of problems. While the preparations may seem like a pain, they will pay off in the end.