The open road ahead of you. Sun is shining overhead, and the whole world feels like it’s just around the next bend.
You may be someone that loves planning road trips, but are you making sure that every time you set off on another journey, you’re setting yourself up for safety and success?
We could all brush up on our road trip safety now and again, so we’ve put together some useful road trip safety tips that you can use to Getaway Well on your next adventure.
There are a million variables on the road that every driver needs to be constantly taking into account – and those are only the ones that we can really plan for. Did you know that there were 9,025 fatal vehicle accidents in the U.S. just between June and August 2019?
Between other motorists (and their unpredictable driving), hazards like black ice, sinkholes, sharply shifting weather patterns, and our own mistakes behind the wheel, being safe on the roads should always be the number one priority in your mind when you plan a road trip.
If you and your passengers don’t get to your destination safely, you’ll never get the opportunity to enjoy all the wonderful things that you have arranged for your trip.
With that in mind, keep these road trip safety tips in mind the next time you’re putting together the details for your next trip.
You may not always be able to plan for breakdowns with your vehicles, especially if they’ve got some substantial mileage on them already.
However, you can minimize these issues by making sure that you’re always up-to-date on all your regularly scheduled maintenance. This involves more than just making sure that your oil changes are done on time.
When was the last time you had your brakes or battery serviced? Are your winter tires still gripping properly? Have you topped up all your essential fluids recently?
These are just a few of the things that you need to think about before you set off on your road trip. Taking the time to ensure your transportation is ready to roll will make it far less likely that your vehicle will cause you unexpected headaches during your journey.
Did you know that 51%-60% of people between the ages of 20-44 that died in car crashes in 2018 weren’t wearing their seatbelts?
If that isn’t a good enough reason to get you to buckle up the next time you’re getting in the car, think about the fact that even a minor fender bender (relative to your vehicle damage) could have you slamming into your steering wheel or dashboard.
No one likes to think about car accidents when they’re planning a road trip, but they’re called accidents for a reason. We don’t get the liberty to plan for them, but as long as we take safety precautions like buckling up, we can do more to minimize the damage when those situations do occur.
An often-overlooked road trip safety tip is making sure that you give yourself enough time to get a good night’s sleep before you start on your adventure.
Between the excitement of being on a road trip, as well as our tendencies to stay up later than normal on vacation, getting up at the crack of dawn to set out on your day’s drive may not be the best plan for you.
It’s great that you want to cover lots of ground (especially if you’re planning a particularly lengthy road trip), but you won’t enjoy the journey nearly as much if you’re exhausted behind the wheel – you also won’t be as safe.
Falling asleep behind the wheel may seem like an extreme thing to worry about after getting even half a night’s rest, but when you’re tired your reaction time slows down.
This makes you much more susceptible to road hazards, and less prepared to react to other drivers around you.
If you’re traveling with multiple people in the same car (always the best choice for long road trips), be sure to swap out the driver periodically throughout the day.
This way, everyone takes a turn being in charge of the driving. Others can take turns being the navigator or playing DJ on the stereo. For van and SUV owners, there may even be enough room for someone to sit in the back and have a rest.
It may not seem like a priority to work out a rotation system for driving on long road trips, but the truth is that doing this every few hours keeps the driver much more alert. In turn, this means your group is much more likely to have a safe ride.
If you’ve never tried any of these morning exercises, we’d suggest giving them a shot. Not only are they more relaxed than a traditional gym workout, but they’re adept at helping people of all levels of experience put themselves in the right headspace to start the day.
When you’re going to be spending the day on the road, these can be a fantastic way to limber up your body to prepare for hours of sitting. It can also be a pleasant way to increase positive thinking, as well as reduce tendencies towards road rage and aggressive driving as you head out on your route.
Another problem many people have when they’re taking long road trips is forcing themselves to stop frequently to stretch their legs.
The reality is that after a certain amount of time behind the wheel, you may not be fully paying attention to your surroundings. Yes, you’re operating a vehicle, but your brain may not entirely be focused on the task at hand.
This means that the likelihood of having an accident occur, or not noticing a road hazard, increases. Taking regular breaks forces you to snap the hypnotic trance that the road can sometimes hold over a driver, especially after hours of eventless travel.
It happens to all of us, so there’s no need to feel bad. What’s important is realizing that by making more frequent pit stops, you can help avoid these types of problems before they ever become an issue.
Snacking while driving may be a pleasant way to pass the time, but eating while you’re driving is not only dangerous but also illegal in many places.
It’s one thing if your passenger is passing you something small to pop into your mouth, and it’s entirely another for you to have a sandwich in one hand, a drink in the other, and your knees at the bottom of the steering wheel.
It may not seem like a big deal for short periods, but the fact of the matter is that hundreds of accidents happen every year for this exact reason.
Not to mention, most of the food you would eat while driving isn’t the healthiest. You’ll be much more likely to snack on sugary, salty treats that come in convenient, portable packaging than to choose some pre-cut fruits or veggies you brought along in Tupperware.
There’s nothing wrong with being hungry on your trip, but stopping to eat is a much safer choice that also promotes you to make healthier dietary choices.
Who doesn’t love listening to music while they’re tooting along in their car, making their way towards the next destination in their trip?
A bit of music is great, but blaring the sound system in your vehicle (so loudly that you can’t even hear the horns of the vehicles around you), isn’t a safe driving choice.
Doing karaoke so intensely that you’re taking your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road is a recipe for disaster – even if the weather isn’t bad.
Of course, it may be hard to resist cranking the stereo when your favorite song comes on the radio, but keep those moments short and sweet.
Driving around for hours with the music on max is a great way to put yourself in precarious situations, which could have been avoided if you’d been able to hear other nearby vehicles.
This involves more than just a roadside assistance kit, although these are fantastic things to have with you.
Your Road Trip Emergency Kit should include lots of things that can benefit you, across a wide array of roadside emergencies.
This could include first aid equipment in case someone has an injury, road flares or traffic cones in case of a breakdown, or blankets to keep you warm if you become trapped in the cold.
Planning for every contingency isn’t impossible, but doing your best to think ahead and prepare yourself for all foreseeable problems on your journey is one of the best road trip safety tips we can give.
Relying on a GPS can be a crutch that many of us fall onto, which can leave us in sticky situations when they suddenly decide not to cooperate.
Whether you end up in an area with no satellite reception, you accidentally take a wrong turn, or the GPS just decides to start recalculating with no real warning, you need to be prepared to face the road ahead of you without electronic assistance.
Take some time to read about the route that you’re planning to travel throughout your road trip. You can even keep a short-form list of exits that you need to take, in case your GPS decides to take a break from being helpful at the worst times.
You should also consider bringing an old-fashioned paper map that shows the routes you’re planning to take. That way if you suddenly end up without GPS help, you can pull over to check the map and still easily find your way to your destination.
It’s important anytime we’re traveling that we tell our loved ones about the places that we’re planning to go, as well as share a copy of our planned itinerary with them before you leave.
This way, if the unthinkable happens, and you end up broken down on the side of the road somewhere with no cell reception, they will know something is amiss when you don’t check-in at your next designated time.
Planning for these situations may seem like a long-shot, worst-case scenario, but we promise you, taking this extra step is one of the best road trip safety tips. You’ll be happy you prepared for it if it does ever actually happen to you.
Otherwise, by the time it happens, it will be too late to do anything about it.
Sometimes it can be tempting to just pack a bag, get in the car, and go.
This romantic idealistic style of travel might be fun in the short term, but it leaves you woefully unprepared for the obstacles that life can throw at you.
Take some time to go through these road trip safety tips before you leave on your next adventure, and you’ll be well on your way to Getaway Well – no matter where your destination may be.