Road Trip Safety TipsWhether you’re headed out on a road trip on your own or you’re taking the entire family, you want to make sure that you stay safe along the way. While you cannot predict every potential disaster, preparing for some of the most common road trip emergencies can greatly increase your overall safety. Staying as safe as possible can help prevent crashes on your road trip. However, in some situations, you may be in an accident no matter how careful you are because of the negligent acts of others. If another driver caused a crash and you or your family members are injured, that driver should be held liable for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses. Try some of these tips to keep you and your family safer before you enjoy your time on the open road.
1. Have your car checked over before the trip.Getting stranded at the side of the road can definitely complicate your road trip, especially when you have traveled far from home and have no one nearby to come riding to the rescue. Take your car in for an inspection before the trip to identify any potential problems. If you do not have time to schedule an appointment, at least go over your car yourself. Check:
- Headlights, including high beams and tail lights
- Wiper blades
- Your horn
- Your tires
2. Leave a copy of your itinerary behind.Someone should always know where you intend to go and when you intend to arrive. Some road trips may have relatively open plans, including your arrival and departure times from each location and even where, specifically, you intend to go. To help keep you and others with you on the trip safer, plan regular check-ins with a friend or family member back home so that someone always has a decent idea of your last location and when to expect to hear from you again. Do NOT, however, post details about your trip online. This could signal to criminals that you are not home and leave you vulnerable to a residential burglary.
3. Pack your vehicle with the right supplies.Consider the time of year and the conditions you must travel through to reach your destination. At any time of year, you want to keep an emergency supply of water in your vehicle during long road trips, especially if your path takes you through long stretches of empty roads. If you need to travel through Arizona in the middle of summer, you might want to pack additional water and coolant for your vehicle—whereas if you’re planning a winter drive through Illinois, you may want to make sure you have full winter gear and plenty of blankets to keep warm in an emergency. Also pack:
- A spare tire
- Jumper cables
- A jack
- A car charger for your phone
- An extra change of clothes for everyone in the vehicle
- Granola bars or some other easy source of food
- A sharp knife or scissors that you can use to cut car seat straps and seat belts in an emergency
- A multitool or small tool kit
- A tool that will break out windows if needed
- A flashlight
- Duct tape
- A basic first aid kit
- Emergency medications or supplies for everyone traveling in the vehicle with you
4. Follow the rules of the road.Do not grow tempted to speed while out on your road trip. If you notice your speed creeping up, consider using cruise control or pull over to the side of the road and get out for awhile to shake off the road haze. Avoid symptoms of road rage and aggressive driving. Simply following the rules of the road can keep you and everyone in your vehicle safer.
5. Institute a seat belt policy before you start out.Many people complain about seat belts growing uncomfortable, especially on long road trips. Establish a seat belt policy before you set out: All belts must buckle before the car goes in motion. Seat belts can decrease the rate of severe injury by as much as half for drivers and passengers in the front seat in an accident. By setting your policy before your trip begins, you can reduce arguments and increase safety at the same time.
6. Research hotels ahead of time.You may not know for sure where you want to stop while on your road trip. Before heading out, however, take the time to research likely end points each night, and check out hotels and rates in the area. Choose a couple of different potential stopping points, allowing for the possibility that you will get tired earlier in the day than anticipated.
7. Do not drive drowsy.You may have a lot of fun on your road trip—or a lot of work to accomplish, depending on the reason for the drive. You could spend a great deal of time behind the wheel each day or find yourself staying up late, either to catch up on needed work responsibilities or to have a little more fun with your companions before heading to your next location. While you can certainly enjoy yourself, all of that enjoyment can lead to a hefty penalty the next day as you find yourself getting increasingly tired. Avoid driving drowsy. That may mean changing your plans or pulling off the road and taking a quick nap, especially if you notice yourself starting to drift off. Those simple measures, however, can provide vital protections that may keep you from causing an accident.
8. Keep some cash stashed in different locations.You stopped for gas and somehow managed to leave your wallet on top of the pump, or a pickpocket managed to get their hands in your purse in a rest stop bathroom, and you did not realize it until you had already traveled a couple hundred more miles down the road. Now what? Keep some cash in more than one location in your vehicle. Tuck it in a place not obvious to thieves, but where you can access it easily if needed. A little stockpile of cash can provide you with vitally needed financial protections if you find yourself without your wallet while out on your trip. Road trips can provide incredible fun and a great bonding experience for your family. With these tips, you can help increase the odds of a safe, successful trip for everyone involved.
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