Posted On August 4, 2021 Personal Injury
If you’re trying to squeeze every last drop out of summer, an August day trip or road trip may be appealing.
There’s a lot to love about the simplicity of taking a road trip. Traveling by car lets you avoid the hassle and expense of flying, especially during a pandemic.
You can explore nearby hidden gems and still make it home in time to fall asleep in the comfort of your own bed. Or you could drive anywhere on the map, stopping along the way to visit friends, landmarks, and attractions.
Unfortunately, there are downsides to traveling by car, too—like the safety risk. The lifetime odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are 1 in 107, compared to 1 in 9,446 for air travel accidents, according to the National Safety Council.
Follow these five easy tips for a safer summer road trip.
A poorly maintained vehicle could increase the chances of an accident happening. If you haven’t gotten regular maintenance done on your car or you’ve put off taking the car in for a “check engine” indicator, take care of this before you set out on a road trip.
Getting the brakes, tires, engine, and other components of the vehicle maintained can reduce the likelihood of a situation in which you might lose control of your vehicle.
It’s not only mechanical maintenance that matters. Inspect the vehicle for any potential issues, including low tires, poorly functioning windshield wipers, and smeared, dirty windows and mirrors that impair visibility.
Now that directions are available at the touch of a button from a smartphone or built-in GPS display, hardly anyone drives around consulting paper maps. Since getting directions is so quick and effortless, drivers may be less likely to look ahead at their route before starting their journey—but that can be a mistake, especially when you’re planning a road trip rather than a quick drive across town.
Is driving on unfamiliar roads more dangerous? The answer is complicated.
Statistically, car accidents are far more likely to occur close to home than when driving across the country or even across the state. Possible explanations for this fact could include complacency behind the wheel in familiar settings and the sheer frequency of driving in your local area.
Still, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that drivers being unfamiliar with the roadways was a factor involved in 22 percent of large truck accidents. It isn’t a stretch to imagine that being unprepared for the peculiarities of individual highways and intersections (and the traffic congestion that occurs on them) could contribute to accident risks involving passenger vehicles, as well.
Taking the time to preview your route in advance can help you avoid surprises on unfamiliar roads.
What do you need for your drive? If you’re taking toll roads, put your E-ZPass or cash to pay the toll in reach of the driver’s seat.
Keep a pair of sunglasses handy to avoid being blinded by the glare of the sun. If you have trouble seeing at night, consider picking up a pair of night driving glasses that can help reduce the glare of headlights.
If you need your phone connected to the car by cable or Bluetooth to charge, stream music, or allow access to hands-free calling, set this up before you get on the road. You shouldn’t be rummaging around for cables or attempting to pair devices while driving.
Make sure your fuel tank is sufficiently filled and have a tentative plan for where and when you will refuel. You don’t want to worry about running out of gas if you get turned around, get stuck in traffic, or simply decide to take the scenic route.
Keep a car safety kit in your vehicle in case of emergencies. If you’re covered by any kind of roadside assistance service, whether through AAA, your auto insurance company, or your car manufacturer, make sure you have their contact information on hand.
Distracted driving killed 2,800 Americans and injured another 400,000 in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Every time you get behind the wheel, you have the power to choose not to put your own life and the lives of others in danger. Just put down the phone and keep your focus on the road.
You should never take your eyes and attention off the road, but many motorists do when they’re looking at a GPS, fiddling with the radio, or grabbing a bite to eat.
That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy the drive. Put on your favorite radio station or your road trip playlist, but keep the volume reasonable so you will hear sirens if an emergency occurs. Remember that the driver’s seat isn’t the place for a full-on dance party. Don’t let road trip games or conversations with your passengers take your attention off the road.
If you get into a serious car accident that leaves someone hurt, your itinerary, reservations, and schedule mean nothing. The #1 goal of any road trip should be to arrive at your destination alive and safe.
A road trip is a lot more fun, not to mention a lot safer, if you’re not stressed. Driving for too long can also lead to fatigue and highway hypnosis.
Build time into your plans for breaks. Just stopping for a few minutes to stretch your legs, use the restroom, or get a cup of coffee or a snack can help you ward off the fatigue that comes with a long drive.
Even the most attentive driver can’t avoid all hazards on the road, but taking these steps can reduce the risks associated with a summer road trip.