Road Trip Safety Tips

It’s spring, so you’ve got vacation time on your mind! For many, a road trip with your family or a group of friends almost seems like a requirement of the season. As the weather warms up, you pack your belongings, choose your destination and get ready to hit the road.
However, that feeling of freedom soon dissipates when you aren’t prepared for that flat tire, weather that leaves you temporarily stranded or an accident that causes damage to your vehicle. Before you leave for your trip, be sure to do the following.

  1. Put Together a Basic Emergency Kit

Think about what you would need in the event of an accident or bad weather. Create your own emergency kit with the following items:

  • A flashlight
  • Enough water bottles for the full group
  • Alcohol swabs and Band-Aids
  • A phone charger
  • An old towel, in case you need to get on the ground and under the car
  • Jumper cables
  • Multipurpose tool
  • A blanket, in case you’re stuck waiting in the cold
  1. Avoid Distracted Driving

Unfortunately, with friends talking or children asking if you’re there yet, distractions to some extent are almost inevitable. So, make sure everything’s all set before you hit the road:

  • Have your GPS already loaded with the destination.
  • Have your music ready and hooked up.
  • Never text and drive or make phone calls behind the wheel.
  • If you’re traveling with children, make sure they have enough activities to stay entertained.

Once you’re on the road, if you have to make a call or check a map, always pull over into a safe area before doing so.

  1. Be Alert

Always remain alert when you’re driving. Never stay on the road for a long time if you didn’t sleep sufficiently. In fact, once you reach the 18-hour mark, your brain starts to function like you’ve drank a bit of alcohol. If you’re tired and unfocused, your chances of getting into an accident increase significantly.
What can you do to stay awake?

  • Always make sure you’ve gotten enough sleep before starting your drive.
  • Avoid taking medication that can make you feel drowsy or sleepy.
  • Take turns behind the wheel, so each person has some time to rest.
  • Make rest stops to stretch your legs.
  • Keep the window down, so you can get some fresh air.
  • Talk to your passengers to stay engaged.
  1. Perform Basic Car Maintenance

It’s always a good idea to have an auto body shop inspect and make repairs to your car before you leave. But, that should only be part of your plan. Be ready to make minor repairs yourself:

  • Know how to check the air pressure in your tires and add air when needed.
  • Know how to change a tire and have a spare in your trunk to drive with temporarily.
  • Even if you don’t get a flat, be on the lookout for one by checking your treads.
  • Know how to check the levels of and refill your fluids, including oil and wiper solutions.
  • If you’re seeing streaks during a rainstorm, change your wiper blades when the storm passes.
  • Keep your gas tank at least one-third full. Especially when you’re driving off the highway, there could be many miles between gas stations.
  1. Have a Backup Map

You likely depend on your GPS to get you to your destination. Yet, you never know when its readings will be inaccurate – a greater possibility when you’re driving on the back roads – or if it’ll die on you. For these instances, always have an updated paper map easily accessible within your car.

  1. Pay Attention to the Weather

Know what weather conditions to expect ahead of time and have an alternative route ready, in case of a storm or flooding. To do so:

  • Before you go, research the regions you’ll pass through.
  • Download a storm-tracking app on your phone and monitor it during your trip.
  • Plan out alternative routes, just in case your main route is closed.
  • If you lose phone service, turn on the radio to listen to the forecast.

Along with these key points of preparation, make sure you’ve got proper car insurance before leaving for your trip. If you are not properly insured, unexpected damage to your vehicle may cause what is supposed to a fun trip into a big headache. To review your policy, give us a call at 203.729.5261.