So many families are heading out on their summer family vacations, and whether you’re heading to the beach or are embarking on an epic family cross-country road trip, safety should be your top concern.
After all, nothing ruins a family vacation more than a vehicle breaking down or an accident, so keeping safe is in the best interest of all!
Road trip safety begins before you’ve ever even left, so if you’ve already headed out, I hope you thought to do this – give your vehicle a good once-over.
Check the brakes, check the tire pressure, check the battery, check the engine oil, coolant, windshield wipers, windshield wiper fluid, free-on (because it’s hot and nobody wants to ride in a car with no A/C…trust me, it’s awful) – anything and everything you could possibly think of to ensure the safest and smoothest ride possible.
If anything looks out of place or strange, make sure you get it checked out before you leave…so really, doing this a few days in advance is helpful, too. Leaving later than you wanted to also kills the mood a little, so plan ahead!
Safety And Survival Kit
If you’re going on a longer road trip, it also helps to bring a medical and safety/survival kit along with you, too! Bringing supplies like this ensure that, in the event of an accident, injury, or breakdown, everyone is taken care of and comfortable while waiting for help to arrive.
This is just one way that you can pack smart, but it’s also important to remember that your vehicle has a load capacity, so don’t bog it down with too much weight bringing your entire life and home with you – consider the people riding in the car, then grab the essentials, then worry about the extra stuff you want to bring.
This will help you keep the tires in decent shape because they won’t have too much pressure on them, and also help with fuel economy – the heavier the car, the worse the gas mileage.
By the way, if you’re not sure what to bring for a safety/survival kit, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends bringing:
- Warm blankets
- Jumper cables
- Tire changing tools
- A fully charged cell phone (some vehicles have a port for a car charger too, so you can charge on the go)
- A first-aid kit
Be Well Rested – Bring A Friend!
Speaking of gearing up before you leave – get a good night’s sleep before you go!
Of course, if you’re going on a long trip, there will be some sleeping in the car, but a good night’s sleep will ensure that you have a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed start to your trip.
Remember to switch driver’s when you start to get drowsy so you never have a sleepy driver, and if you’re a single parent bringing your kid or kids on a trip, bring a friend to be your back-up driver!
They’ll help make the trip more fun and manageable for you, provide a second pair of eyes and ears for both the kids and the road, and help you drive when you’re too tired to do so safely – a little extra help never hurt anyone.
Seatbelts, Seatbelts, Seatbelts!
It’s also extremely important – and not to mention required by law – to make sure that everyone is buckled up before heading out; this includes at the start of the trip, during the trip, leaving rest areas, and heading home.
Seatbelts are required by law to be worn by everybody in the vehicle, whether you’re 1 or 92. They help to keep you safe, cut the risk of being injured in an accident by half, and though they aren’t the most comfortable, there are 100% there for your protection.
It’s an extremely easy way to keep everyone safe, so make sure you don’t even put the car into gear until every single person is buckled up.
I know, I know – getting there is half the fun. Getting lost, however, is not always fun, and can put quite a damper and a delay on your epic family trip!
Even if I’ve been somewhere a thousand times and take the same route every time, I still use GPS to get me there. What can I say – I’m bad with directions, but I also hate getting lost, and because I know I’m bad with directions, I don’t want to take any chances.
If you don’t feel like using electronics to get you somewhere, you can get a more authentic feel on your trip by mapping your trip and destination out on a map before you go.
Me, though, I’ll let technology get me there. Another smart move if you’re using tech to get you there, is printing out your directions before you go, just in case your phone or GPS system dies on the way.
This is especially important if you have children with you on the trip, but it can be helpful for adults, too! A lot of cars have built-in DVD systems nowadays, but if yours doesn’t, play a game!
Road trip games like “I Spy”, “The Quiet Game” or “20 Questions” are some of my favorite, and can keep kids entertained for hours. This will keep the energy up in the car, as well as keeping the “Are we there yet?!” inquiries down to a minimum, and are always great to have in your entertainment arsenal.
Of course, all these preparations will mean nothing if you end up getting into an accident on your way. Not here to dampen the mood, but this is a possibility that you always have to be prepared for.
That said, here are just a few safe driving tips that you must adhere to while driving during the entire road trip.
Avoid distractions. This is always my number one tip when it comes to safe driving. Most accidents happen because drivers get distracted while driving. And, most of these distractions can be avoided. Texting while driving is a no, no. You’re not alone anyway so have someone else take your call or read your text messages. Someone can be in charge of navigating the road for you, too.
At times, your companions may be having fun. As much as you want to join in, try to focus on the road no matter what. They are there to keep you awake, not to distract you in the first place.
Never, ever drink and drive. Road trips are meant to be fun, and some think alcohol makes it more fun. Fine, drinking is not prohibited on trips, but if you’re in charge of driving, you must be responsible enough to say no to drinking. If it’s unavoidable, stop somewhere first, take the night off by checking in at a hotel or something, and make sure you’ve sobered up before hitting the road again.
Better yet, have someone sober to take the driving seat. But don’t ever drive yourself after drinking. It’s not just because it’s against the law, we’re talking about your safety, and you and your companion’s lives are at stake here, too.
Always follow the speed limit. Especially if you’re traveling with friends, you may end up disregarding the speed limit to look cool. Or if you’re on schedule, you might be in a hurry enough to speed up. No matter what the reason is, always follow the speed limit. If you’re crossing state boundaries, make sure to follow the posted speed limit in the states you’re in. You don’t want to get into trouble with the law while you’re supposed to be having fun, right?
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