Everyone loves a good road trip, and in order to keep yourself and your family safe during a multi-hour or multi-day drive you need to know some safe driving habits that every traveler should know. Driving is certainly not risk-free, but if you take precautions and practice safe procedures you can mitigate the risk multifold. Here are some tips.
Always pack a road safety kit
You should always make sure that your vehicle is equipped with the standard road safety items before you depart on a road trip – road flares, tools to change a flat tire, jumper cables, and caution markers. But beyond that, a good road safety kit should include blankets, a flashlight, extra batteries, enough food and water to last you a night, and a first aid kit. You never know when, where, and at what time of day (or night) you’ll be forced to deal with car troubles. Better safe than sorry is always a good mantra for road trips.
The driver should always be as alert (and rested) as possible
If you’re taking a solo road trip, you should always stop for breaks every couple of hours. Getting out and stretching your legs, having a snack, or even taking a short nap as a gas station can help you stay alert. Families and friends taking road trips should alternate driving so that the most alert person in the car is always the one behind the wheel.
Know that anything other than focusing 100% on driving is distracted driving
Distracted driving can be defined as anything that takes your eyes, hands, or brain off the main task at hand – safely operating a vehicle. You may be lulled into a false sense of security on long stretches of highway – especially if you’re driving straight ahead with very little traffic on cruise control – but don’t fall for the temptation to multitask. Distracted driving isn’t just texting and driving (although that is one of the most dangerous things you can do). Eating a cheeseburger, putting on makeup, fiddling with the radio or your GPS device, or reaching into the backseat to grab a dropped toy are all examples of driving distractions. Pull over before attending to anything that’s not hands-on-the-wheel driving.
Keep safety gear worn properly at all times
It’s easy for us to wear our seat belt correctly on shorter drivers, but on road trips the temptation to bend the rules and modify how we wear our safety gear becomes stronger. For example, you may want to lie down in the backseat, forcing you to remove your seat belt or wear it improperly. Resist this urge. There is no time when driving 70+ mph is “safer” than other times. Keep your seatbelt worn correctly, your child strapped properly in their carseat, and if you’re taking a trip on a motorcycle, always keep that helmet on no matter what. A helmet is about 40% effective in preventing death in the event of a crash – which is pretty good odds considering the alternative.
Give other cars some room
There’s a good chance that on road trips you will be traveling at speeds in excess of 70 or 80 mph. This means that you need to give yourself more room in relation to other cars. Give yourself at least 5 seconds of stopping distance from the car in front of you and at least 5 car lengths between you and any car you’re attempting to pass.
Nothing will ruin a road trip like getting yourself involved in an accident or finding out that you’re woefully underprepared for an emergency when it’s already too late. Be sure to carry an emergency road kit, don’t get distracted even on long stretches of vacant road, and always wear your safety equipment properly. Take breaks if you’re tired and know that stopping and pulling over is always an option if anything should happen.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com