When it comes time for vacation, there’s nothing better than loading up the family or jumping in the car with your significant other and taking off on a road trip. Whether you’ve got a final destination in mind or you just plan on driving and making impromptu stops along the way, a road trip is a great way to have fun and make a lot of lasting memories.
But in order to have a safe road trip, you need to be prepared. If you think about it, your car is essentially your mobile command center during a road trip and you need to make sure that it’s ready for the job. With that in mind, here are some important steps you can take to ensure your family has a fun and safe road trip:
Get Your Car Checked Out
How many times have you had an issue with your car at an inopportune time? Where there any warning signs? During those times, did you think to yourself about how you should have gone to get your car checked out?
If you’ve been in that situation then you know that one of the most important things you need to do to have a safe road trip is to go in for a tune-up before you leave. It’s as simple as visiting a local automotive service and maintenance center in your area and letting the experts go to work. Have your tires checked and rotated. Have your battery tested. Have a mechanic check your fluid levels and top them off if necessary. Have the center check that your air conditioner is working. If you’re traveling during the summer or driving to a hot climate, you’re going to be thankful you have it.
If you don’t want to take your own vehicle on a trip, many companies offer a variety of trucks for rent that offer plenty of space for you and your family. But take time to get your rental vehicle checked out too. You want to make sure you get there and back safely.
When you think about all the things you need to have a safe road trip, you might think of having plenty of food or having the right camping gear or having a vehicle in tip-top shape.
But one of the biggest tools in your arsenal when it comes to staying safe is getting a good night’s sleep before you leave. Driving drowsy is a big contributing factor in car accidents every year. So rest up and make sure that you’re clear-headed and awake when it’s time to leave. If you feel tired during the drive, find roadside parks or rest areas to stop at for breaks. This will give you a chance to clear your head, use the bathroom and stretch your legs.
If you’ve got a schedule to keep on your road trip and you’re doing the driving, pay attention to your posture. If you find yourself slouching as you drive, try and remember to adjust and sit up straight as often as you can. Slouching behind the wheel can leave you drowsy. Sitting up straight also allows you to bend your legs and keep good pressure on both the brake and the accelerator and on a road trip, you absolutely want to stay in control of your car.
Assuming you’re not the only person of driving age on your trip, don’t be afraid to switch drivers if you need to. You can easily find a rest area, switch drivers, and give yourself a little bit of a break. Drinking water can help keep you alert and, as an added bonus, it will probably force a few more bathroom breaks, which gives you a few more chances to rest.
Have a Safety Kit Handy
Emergency situations often happen quickly and without warning. Take a flat tire for instance; one minute you’re driving down the road with a car in the world, the next minute you’re stuck on the side of the road. In cases like this, roadside assistance for your car or truck or RV roadside assistance, if you’ve rented an RV, can be invaluable.
But to have a safe road trip, you need to have an emergency kit handy too. If you’re not sure what to put in it, stock up on these items for starters:
- A basic first-aid kit
- A phone charger
- Jumper cables and tire-changing tools
- Extra clothes and blankets
As an extra precaution, check your auto insurance plan. Most insurance companies offer roadside assistance as an add-on to an insurance plan and if you have that, double-check to see what kind of services your insurance covers.
Be Smart About the Sun
Part of any fun road trip is likely going to include some trips to the beach and lots of time spent by the water. There’s nothing wrong with soaking up some rays, but you need to be smart about sun exposure when it comes to you and your family.
An important step in your quest to have a safe road trip is to make sure you and your family are equipped with plenty of sun protection. That means everyone should be wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, and even hats. If you’ve got little ones traveling with you, make sure you’ve got sunblock with a high enough SPF to protect them. Most doctors and dermatologists recommend sunblock with at least 30 SPF.
Staying safe in the heat also means protected what’s inside your car if you’re at the beach. It might be a wise move to get a sunshade for the backseat of your vehicle so that car seats aren’t scalding hot when everyone gets back to the car.
Be Aware of the Road
Many reputable car accident lawyers will tell you that a large percentage of car accidents happen because drivers don’t take the long view when they’re driving. To put it another way, they don’t look far enough down the road to see potential dangers ahead of them.
If part of your road trip includes driving in some dense city traffic, you need to be aware of what’s going on at least five cars ahead of you. You can increase that length to 10 on less busy roads, but the bottom line is that you need to pay attention.
Paying attention also means ignoring your cell phone to have a safe road trip. Even taking hands-free calls can take your attention off the road. Think of it like this: talking on the phone while you’re driving is likely watching TV while you’re on the phone. As much as you might try to pay attention to both, your attention is divided and you’re going to miss something on at least one end. If you get in an accident and wreck your truck, you can find a great truck repair expert to fix your ride. But you don’t want to end up there because you got distracted by your phone while driving.
Smart driving also means looking away from lights if you’re driving at night. An accident injury attorney will tell you that it’s easy to be blinded by the light of bright headlights, especially in big cities. You may not know it, by your eyes are extremely sensitive at night and it can be easy to become disoriented by lights. The best thing you can do when there’s an oncoming car is to avert your gaze to the road shoulder on your right side.
Be Smart About Gas
Another key to have a safe road trip is to be smart with your gas mileage as you drive. Depending on where you’re headed, gas can get expensive and you might end up spending more on fuel than you intended. Here’s how you can save on gas mileage:
- Try not to drive on rough roads.
- Keep a consistent speed.
- If you need to slow down, give yourself plenty of time to do so.
- If you’re flying down the road, keep your windows rolled up.
- If you buy gas, try and do it when it’s cool out since gas is denser then.
- Before you leave, find an online fuel calculator and estimate the cost of your trip.
Not only will you save more on gas mileage by following these tips, but you’ll also maintain the health of your car. Constantly starting and stopping if you’re in heavy traffic or suddenly jamming on your brakes to avoid an obstacle in the road, puts a lot of wear and tear on your brakes. If your road trip is going to be a long one—like say from Wisconsin to California—it may be a good idea to get your brakes checked out before you head back. Doing this will let you know if you need an auto brake repair and will save you from any surprises on your journey home.
Be Smart About Eating
If you’re road tripping during the summer, one way to ensure you have a safe road trip is to pack plenty of water. You might feel more hungry than thirsty on your trip, but you’ll want to stay hydrated. Rather than paying for a new bottle of water at each rest stop or gas station you stop at, throw a case of water in the car and a small cooler, which you can easily refill with ice and bottles of water.
Eating on your road trip also means trying to keep snacks to a minimum. It’s easy to stock up on snacks at a gas station, but all the pretzels, chips, peanuts and soda pop you stock up on can leave you bloated and feeling sluggish, which isn’t good if you’re the driver.
Notify Your Bank
If you want to have a safe road trip, it helps to notify your bank of your travel plans. The last thing you want is to have your credit card declined if you’re stopping for a bite to eat or trying to check in to a hotel. You can avoid having issues by visiting your bank or logging into mobile banking and submitting your travel plans. This way the bank doesn’t think someone else is using your card.
Be Smart If You Get In an Accident
No one wants to get into a car accident, but they happen all the time. No one wants them to be part of a road trip either, but if they do happen, it’s important to know what to do.
Once you’ve checked to make sure that everyone is alright, you need to gather as much information as possible for when you file a claim to your insurance company.
If you’re in an accident and end up in jail, it’s hard to see any positives out of the situation. But if you need to make bail, bail bond services can be very beneficial. Bail bond services save money, save time, convenience and security.
If you’re not at fault in the accident and you’re injured as a result, you can seek the legal representation of personal injury lawyers to help you get compensation for any medical exams or bills you have as well as any time you might miss off from work.
You want to have a safe road trip no matter where you’re traveling, but don’t forget to have fun too. If you’re going camping—something 40 million Americans do annually—take time and enjoy the peacefulness of nature and getting away from the city.
If you’re road tripping as part of a cross-country move, make sure you find moving services that will help you get your stuff from Point A to Point B. But also be sure to take in your surroundings. You may never get a chance to see so much of the country again, so don’t miss out.
If you’re taking a family road trip two states over or across the country, make it your most memorable family trip yet. Try new foods. Stop at notable landmarks. Take plenty of pictures and cherish the time you get to spend having fun with your family.