Preparing for a road trip? Follow these 12 safety tips
Taking a summer road trip with your loved ones is more than just an epic vacation – it’s a part of American tradition. Whether you’re heading west to California, touring historic sites in New England or hitting the open road through the Southwest, there’s an exciting road trip out there to suit every family, taste and budget. Before you pack up, fire up that RV and hit the road, here are twelve essential planning tips that will make your trip safer, smoother, and more memorable for everyone.
1. Make Sure Your Vehicle – And Family are Safe and Ready
Before you head out for a new adventure, you’ll want to make sure that you and your family are covered against those unexpected events that can really ruin a vacation. Accidents, vehicle breakdowns, and random crimes may not happen to everyone, but it’s best to be prepared. Check up on your insurance policies, making sure that they are up to date, paid up, and provide the exact type of cover you need. Don’t forget to carry the contact details of your personal injury lawyer Baton Rouge – you never know when you may need them.
2. Do a Full Mechanical Check on Your Vehicle
Some families travel across America in their RV, while others pile into sedans and people carriers to see the beautiful sights and dazzling cities that make this country great. No matter what type of vehicle you plan to travel in, there are a few essential mechanical checks that need to be done before you leave. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, your local dealer will be happy to check them professionally.
3. Keep Your Tires Pumped
You’ll need to check your tire pressure and make sure your tires are free of leaks and punctures and that their tread is still in good condition. Slippery road conditions don’t only occur in winter, and if you’re on the open road you need your tires to be in top shape.
4. Don’t Let Your Battery Go Flat
Check your battery and make sure that both terminals are working fully – or ask your local battery shop to check them for you. A car battery that fails in the middle of nowhere is a real vacation damper, and it could even result in a dangerous situation if your vehicle breaks down in the wrong place.
5. Check All Your Vehicle Fluids
Brake fluid, oil, water, and every other liquid that your vehicle uses need to be checked before you leave on your trip. You can check these at your local gas station while you’re checking your tire pressure – and top them up before you leave. As important as these are, many drivers neglect to check their fluid levels before they head out on a road trip. When you have your family on the road, you’re better off safe than sorry.
6. Service Your Wipers
A sudden rain storm can cause serious trouble on the road, especially if your wipers aren’t working properly. You’ll want to check your wipers for signs of wear and tear, and test them by using your vehicle’s wiper jets. While you’re at it, check your wiper fluid and make sure it’s topped up.
7. Don’t Forget Your Lights and Brakes
Your vehicle’s lights and brakes can be real lifesavers when there’s an emergency on the road – and if they aren’t working properly, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Check your headlamps, indicators, and brake lights and make sure that each one is working – if not, go ahead and change the bulb and you’ll rest easy on your road trip.
Brakes are absolutely essential for your safety, as well as the safety of your passengers, pedestrians and other road users. If there’s one thing you should never take a chance on, it’s servicing your brakes – and if they’ve been squeaking, grinding or just not stopping the way they used to, it’s time for a service. With fully functional brakes, you’ll be confident hitting the road and exploring America – and you’ll be able to drive safely and take evasive action when there are dangers on the road.
8. Keep an Emergency Kit in the Trunk
If you’re going to be driving long distances, you need the tools that are necessary to keep your vehicle running and deal with breakdowns and other emergencies. Every vehicle needs an emergency kit in the trunk, containing a wheel jack, an emergency triangle, a good set of socket wrenches, insulation tape, a utility knife, jumper leads, and any other tools that you may need to use to deal with minor mechanical issues. If you’re stuck on the open road without these tools, life will be a lot more difficult.
9. Put Important Numbers on Speed Dial
If you need to contact emergency services or an breakdown assistance service in a hurry, you won’t have time to go looking for their contact numbers. Save yourself time and anxiety by putting those numbers on speed dial – along with a close friend or relative who can be contacted in case of an emergency. Thousands of people who are injured or unable to take action in an emergency have been helped by good Samaritans who happened to find a contact in their speed dial list and made a crucial call. If you’re ever in that unfortunate situation, you’ll be happy you had the foresight to save those numbers when you did.
10. Plan Your Trip – But Don’t Over-plan it
It may seem like a great adventurous idea to just head out and go where the road leads you – but many times it will just lead you to a dead-end or some dreary backwoods town where not much is happening. You don’t want to plan every minute of your road trip and take the spontaneous fun out of it, but you do need to have some idea of where you’re headed and what you want to see.
While you’re planning your trip, take note of the routes you’re going to take and whether you’ll have to pay toll fees – these can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you drive far enough. Plotting your route in advance will also give you the chance to avoid congested roads, find out about roadworks and other delays, and discover interesting tourist sites that you never knew existed. If you love sightseeing, you’ll get so much more out of your trip by simply choosing scenic routes all the way.
11. Stock Up on the Essentials – And More
When you’re on a road trip, you end up spending a lot of time in your vehicle – and you’ll need to have as many creature comforts as possible within arm’s reach. From healthy snacks to CDs (you’ll need these when data streaming isn’t available), books, and DVDs for the kids to watch during long stretches of driving, there are dozens of things you can stock up on to make your trip more enjoyable.
It’s essential to bring enough drinking water so that you and your family can stay hydrated during the trip. Also, if you take any medications on a regular basis, you’ll want to have your prescriptions filled before you leave and carry extra in case you lose your tablets or leave them somewhere by accident. Over the counter medication like headache tablets, nausea relief medication and a first aid kit are also essential items to keep in your vehicle – especially if you’re planning outdoor adventures.
12. Forget Your Stress and Work on Having Fun
It’s been a long year, most of us have been working hard – and your road trip is the perfect time to relax. After months of hard work, stressful deadlines, difficult clients and the usual pressure of modern working life, you may need to actively focus on enjoying yourself until you get fully relaxed on your road trip. Take it easy, don’t let other drivers stress you out, and enjoy the beautiful sights and fascinating places that make America such a great place to live.
A stress-free road trip is a great experience to share with your family, and if everyone commits themselves to enjoying the trip fully, you’ll have no problems to deal with as you explore the open road. Driving for hours at a time can take its toll, so remember to make regular stops and enjoy some R and R with your loved ones before you hit the road again.
If you follow the tips we’ve provided in this article, your upcoming road trip should go off without a hitch – and remember, the sooner you prepare, the sooner you can relax and enjoy the trip. By getting your vehicle in top shape, packing everything you need and planning your trip like a pro, you’ll be saving yourself unnecessary hassle on the road. Drive safely and keep your eye on the road – no matter how quiet it seems – as you take in the sights of the open road. Here’s to a great road trip!