Roadtrip is funny!Windows down singing along to the oldies as you wind through cornfields and over mountains. Some families make it an annual event, others enjoy the Lampoon’s vacation from the comfort of their living room instead.
For you adventurous folks, you might want stop and think before you hop in the car and take off for your next trip. Vacations can be a lot of fun, but remember to be SMART about your travels and use these tips to stay safe on your Great American RoadTrip.
1. Stock up!
Make sure you’re fully equipped with everything you’ll need for the long haul. First and foremost: an emergency kit. This should include items such as jumper cables, first aid kit and tools to change a tire. Here’s a full list of emergency items you’ll need.
In addition to emergency items, make sure you bring a car charger for your cell phones and other electronic devices . And, of course, make sure you have good tunes for the necessary roadtrip sing-alongs.
2.Map Your Route
You might have a general idea of what highways you plan on taking, but make sure you know the route and have detailed directions to guide you to avoid getting lost. Plan out where you’re taking a break ahead of time so you know what is coming up and an approximate timeline of your traveling.
“Construction season” will likely be in full-swing by the time you’re packed-up and headed out, so be aware of those delays and route your map to avoid them if possible. If unavoidable, make sure you break before heading in to those congested areas as delay times could get long.
Stay alert and actively pay attention to where you are and your surroundings. If something happens, you’ll need to be able to tell roadside assistance or emergency responders where you’re located, including what mile-markers you’re between and where the nearest exit is. Knowing your surroundings is also helpful for safety reasons. If you need to make an unplanned stop or overnight stay, lodge at a more populated area or stop at a secure rest area to ensure you and your family are in a safe situation.
Another part of being alert is eliminating distractions. As the driver, focus on the road and driving safely while the passengers can take care of music, getting snacks out, double-checking the map and, most importantly, texting and/or calling. Lastly, make sure you check the weather forecast along your route as that plays a crucial part in the safety of your trip. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, weather-related crashes account for 23% of all crashes each year totaling over 1 million. If you’re driving in bad weather, don’t use cruise control and leave plenty of space between yourself and the vehicles around you.
Keep an eye on your car to assure all levels are where they should be. Your gas tank should never dip lower than ¼ tank in the case of unforeseen accidents, traffic delays, car problems, etc. Know how many miles per gallon your vehicle gets and consider how many stops you’ll have to make and when.
Most importantly, re-charge yourself. Driving drowsy is dangerous – like alcohol, it delays your reaction time, affects your awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of crashing. Always rotate drivers (if possible) to assure the driver can stay awake and alert the entire time – it’s a good idea to pull over and sleep (or nap!) at a hotel if needed.
Before you even pull out of the driveway, there is preparation you can take to ensure safe driving. Your car is obviously one of the most important parts of the roadtrip so give it the attention it needs and deserves. A professional inspection and maintenance would check the car for all faults and ensure it is ready for the road.
After you’re on the road, pay close attention to your car and check a few times throughout the roadtrip that everything under the hood is still in good repair. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to take your car to a mechanic to check and make repairs as needed. In addition to a tune-up, make sure your car insurance is ready to go too. Know your policy, what’s covered and how to make a claim out-of-state. Don’t forget to have important numbers, such as your insurance agent or roadside assistance, saved in your phone or written down for quick access if you need them.
Whether it’s just one state over or you’re traveling coast to coast, remember to be SMART about your road tripping this summer, and most importantly, have fun!