The open road can be a fun place to bond with your family and friends, however since you are driving for long stretches of time in unfamiliar places there can be many risks.
So it is important to understand how to be safe when taking a road trip.
However, there are some road trip-specific tips to keep in mind before heading out:
Plan Your Trip Wisely
The best thing you can do when taking a road trip is to plan your trip. If you know the best times to drive and the details of your route, you’ll be able to reduce your risk of accident.
There are several things to keep in mind when planning your trip, here are a few of them:
- Prepare your car. Simple car maintenance can help prevent accidents. Make sure your lights and brakes work correctly. Check your air pressure and tire tread. Check that your windshield wipers, windshield washer fluid, and your defrost are all in good working order. Also while on the road, make sure to routinely check these things to make sure everything on your car works as it should.
- Look at the weather for everywhere you are going to be driving. If there are any dangerous weather conditions, plan to avoid those routes or give yourself time to pull over.
- Check into the road construction delays along your route. There are several websites and apps that can help you understand where any road construction is happening on your route, so you can plan accordingly.
- Give yourself plenty of time. Impaired driving is one of the main causes of accidents. Give yourself a break at least every two to four hours to stretch your legs and get some exercise. Do not drive when you are tired or at night when fatigue and highway hypnosis can cause you to become impaired. Also make sure that you schedule eight hours of sleep for every night.
- Do not rush to your destination, this will lead to speeding which can put you at risk of an accident.
- If you are traveling through cities, keep in mind rush hour times. Rush hour is a dangerous time to drive and can be incredibly stressful if you are in an unfamiliar city. If possible, plan your route so you are not in the city during rush hour.
- Plan for the sun. Sun glare can cause accidents, so try to plan your trip so you are not driving into the sun.
- Get roadside assistance and prepare a road kit. So in case you do get into an accident or your car breaks down, you can get help when you need it.
Interstate Driving Tips
Most road trips take advantage of our interstate system. However because of the high speeds and long stretches, many accidents happen on the interstate. So it is important to exercise safety on the interstate with these tips:
- Follow the posted speed limit. It’s easy to go too fast on the highway. If you can, set your cruise control so that you can just focus on the road.
- Watch for other drivers. Be mindful of where they are, be especially aware of any vehicles in your blindspot. Be aware of the drivers in front of you, beside you, and behind you, so you can react accordingly to any situation.
- Always stay in the right lane unless passing.
- Do not tailgate other drivers. If they are going to slow pass them.
- If a driver is tailgating you, do not speed up. Instead change lanes and let them pass you.
- When passing, always use your turning signal. Check your blindspot then slowly move over.
- Watch the road for debris and potholes. Watch for any road signs for crossing animals, falling rocks, or other warning about conditions.
- Use caution around semi-trucks and large vehicles. Always assume that the driver of a truck has not seen you. Stay out of the blindspots of large vehicles. If they begin changing lanes without seeing you, move out of their way.
Driving In Unfamiliar Cities
Your route may take you through a large city. Driving in large cities is a challenge, especially if you are unfamiliar with the roads. So you want to be prepared and use extra caution in cities by following these tips:
- Make sure you have your route through the city well planned. If possible, use GPS navigation to keep you on the right path.
- Check traffic reports before entering a city. Even if it is not rush hour, there still may be some stoppage because of construction.
- Take notice of all street signs. You do not want to turn down a one way street or make an illegal turn on red. Follow posted speed limits.
- Keep your lights on and signal your turns. You want to communicate with other drivers as much as possible.
- If you need to merge or make a turn, try to get into the turning lane as soon as possible. If you take a wrong turn or miss a turn, don’t try to correct by driving illegally. Just turn around and go back.
- Have a backup plan in case your route does not work out. Make sure that you do not end up driving somewhere that is not safe.
Road trips can be a great adventure if you plan accordingly. Since there is so much driving involved, it is important that your driving skills are at their very best. A course at an Illinois adult online driving school can help you hone these skills so that when you hit the road, you’ll have a safe and memorable trip.
The Things You Should Never Do on a Road Trip
So you’re all set and you’re all having fun, but in one way or another, someone is bound to make a mistake, right? Here are some of the things you shouldn’t do to avoid being that someone.
- Don’t forget to bring your share of snacks and drinks. No matter what you agreed on with the rest of the guys, never leave home without preparing something you can share with them when, say, the delivery option is suddenly unavailable, or if you fail to find any place to dine. Trust me when I say that things can look ugly even when only one of you is hungry. You should always have some snacks or drinks to offer to avoid ruining the entire trip just because there’s nothing to eat.
- Don’t plan everything out. It’s good to know you have a plan, but leave some room for spontaneous adventures. Having to stick to a tight schedule can end up not meeting everyone’s expectations, which can dampen the mood. It doesn’t hurt to veer away from your plans instead of a more exciting one, right? Just go with the flow and see how things can end up being better than you have in mind.
- Don’t forget your road trip emergency kit. When I say emergency kit, this does not only include your usual “emergency kit”, this also includes your car emergency kit. You know, spare tires, jack and lug wrench, as well as jumper cables, car fluids, and emergency gas. You don’t want to be stuck on the road and spend all your precious hours waiting for some rescue after simply getting a flat tire. That will surely kill all the excitement you have reserved for your trip!