As businesses begin to reopen and the weather warms up, you may be considering embarking on a long excursion by car. Road trips are common this season, and despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many people are ready to get out of the house—and keen to avoid air travel. Our Hartford car accident attorney shares some safe driving tips for summer road trips so you and your family can enjoy your travels worry-free.
How Should I Prepare for a Long Drive?
To have the best possible journey, there are some important things you should do both before leaving home as well as while you’re on the road. Though these preparations may take extra time upfront, it can save you from dealing with consequences like a breakdown or car accident later on.
Before You Go
Prior to getting behind the wheel and plugging your destination’s address into your GPS, take some time to prepare. The sooner you start the better—otherwise, you’ll be scrambling the morning of your departure.
Here are some things you should do before you start your road trip:
- Get your car serviced: Take your car into the shop, especially if it‘s been a while. Fresh oil and a tune-up will ensure your car is in the best working shape it can be, reducing the likelihood of a breakdown and other mechanical issues.
- Perform a diagnostic yourself: Do a self-check of your car’s components once more just before you head out. Check your tire pressure, make sure your headlights and blinkers function properly, and that your A/C works (a must in summer).
- Pack an emergency kit: Prepare a roadside emergency kit in case your vehicle does break down or you get lost. If you already have one, double-check that everything works and is where it needs to be. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one or put something together yourself.
Items to place in your emergency kit include:
- Basic repair tools
- Blankets, towels, and coats
- Changes of clothes for everyone
- Chargers for your electronics
- Duct tape (for quick repairs)
- First aid kit
- Food, drinking water, and medicine (nonperishable)
- Jack and ground mat (for changing a tire)
- Jumper cables
- Paper towels
- Tire pressure gauge
- Water (for drinking and your radiator)
- Windshield washer fluid
- Work gloves
During Your Trip
Now you are ready to leave, but the precautions don’t stop there. There remain some important things you should keep in mind while driving.
Here are some tips that will help you stay safe while on your road trip:
- Leave earlier than you think you have to: You never know what hurdles you’ll encounter on the way. Leaving early will keep you from arriving at your destination late just in case you have to deal with something unexpected, like a tire blowout or an extra bathroom break.
- Make sure everyone is seated properly: Check that everyone has their seatbelts on securely and correctly before starting the car, especially when traveling with children. Car seats and booster seats should always be used properly. You can read the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s child seat safety guide to find out how to select the right seat for your child’s size and age, how to set it up, and more.
- Share the road: Stay alert at all times while driving and pause to rest as often as you need to. Warmer weather tends to attract motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, so keep an eye out and maintain a safe distance between them and your vehicle at all times.
- Remove distractions: Don’t use your cell phone, look at a map, or eat while driving. Take care of any calls or meals before you start driving. If you need to navigate while moving, ask a passenger to help or pull over if you’re traveling solo.
- Don’t drive under the influence: This advice may seem obvious, but it bears repeating. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers in 2016. Drugs other than alcohol are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes annually. Even if you are sober, keep in mind that other motorists on the road may not be.
- Slow down: Another reason to leave early is to avoid the temptation to speed to get to your destination on time. The CDC reports that nearly one in three crash deaths involve speeding. Obey all posted speed limits while driving, and slow down at night and if it rains. Remember, the faster you are driving the longer it takes to stop, so the slower the safer.
By taking the extra time to prepare and plan ahead you are sure to guarantee your road trip is as fun and safe as it can be. Safe travels!