Since spring break is just around the corner, many college students and families alike will embark on road trips throughout the United States. While the journey will be filled with great bonding, good music, and pleasant scenery, safety is of utmost importance. From traffic jams and drunk drivers to poor road conditions and emergencies, there is plenty of room for error, which is why being prepared can help you avoid experiencing a serious problem during your vacation time.
The following are several tips to help you stay safe during your road trip this spring:
- Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained – Before hitting the road, you must make sure your car is in tip-top shape. Check your vehicle's fluid levels for engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid so they are not out or running low. Look at your tires and replace them if they show signs of age, wear and tear, and inflation issues. Since battery failure is a common cause of car breakdowns, check to see if your battery has got enough juice to last the trip. If your brakes need to be updated, do not hesitate to do so. Visit a local and trusted mechanic to ensure your vehicles are ready for the journey.
- Prepare an emergency kit – You never know what could happen, no matter how safe you stay. Pack some sort of emergency kit that accommodates all your passengers. Items include a first-aid kit, flares or reflective warning triangles, flashlights, jumper cables, jack, tire gauge, batteries, extra cell phone charger, rain ponchos, blankets, fire extinguisher, water, and non-perishable foods.
- Know your route – Having a plan can not only save you time but also prepare for the unexpected. When we are unfamiliar with our surroundings, we tend to become more vulnerable to the elements and the flow of traffic, which can result in a crash. Plan out your destination ahead of time by going over the directions on your cellphone or GPS device and learning food, rest-stop, and lodging options on your route. Also, check the weather to prepare for sleek and slippery road conditions.
- Be extra cautious when driving at night – Many people road trip at night to arrive at their destination in the morning and to avoid the traffic during the day. However, the darkness of night can hinder your vision, depth perception, and color recognition. Additionally, fatigued and drowsy driving could disrupt your concentration and reaction time or even cause you to lose control of your vehicle is you fall asleep. When driving at night, always drive at a slower speed than usual and provide plenty of distance to other vehicles. If you feel tired while driving, let one of your passengers take over or get some rest at a hotel or motel.
- Do not drive while distracted – From notifications on your cellphone to conversations with your passengers, there are many distractions throughout a road trip. Unfortunately, distracted driving has become one of the main causes of car accidents and death among teenagers and young adults. Make sure your complete and undivided attention is focused on the road and the primary task of operating a vehicle.