After weeks of dealing with cold temperatures, storms, ice, gloomy skies, and early sunsets throughout the winter, spring’s arrival encourages you to want to get outdoors and have fun. For many people, that means taking a road trip. Something about being out in nature on the open road during the spring season is unmatched by any other time of year. The gorgeous weather and breathtaking scenery make it an ideal time to take a drive and escape the monotony of everyday life.
If you’re among the many that enjoy taking road trips in the spring, you’ve likely given thought to the travel destination, hotel accommodations, what to pack, and the activities you’d like to try. Yet, you probably haven’t concerned yourself with the comfort and safety of your trip. Often, travelers overlook this aspect of planning an excursion and run into preventable problems that throw the entire experience off course.
Why is it important to consider safety when planning a road trip? Continue reading to learn about some of the most common hazards that could derail your vacation (and worse).
- Disabled Vehicle - An poorly maintained vehicle will ultimately result in you sitting on the side of the road waiting for assistance. In worst-case scenarios, a malfunctioning car can cause an unnecessary road accident.
- Overcrowded Cars - Jamming a bunch of luggage, your family, and pets into a vehicle (without organization and space) will create discomfort and aggravation. It will also worsen your driving experience, which could cause an accident.
- Driver Fatigue - Driving for prolonged periods without stopping will undoubtedly cause physical and emotional exhaustion. Believe it or not, driver fatigue accidentsaccount for more than 6,000 automotive deaths in the United States annually.
- Getting Lost - While smartphones and vehicle navigation systems can help you safely get where you’re going, they’re not foolproof. All it takes is a dropped signal or dead battery to leave you hopelessly lost.
- Empty Tanks - Some road trippers find themselves stranded simply because they ran out of gas.
- Hunger, Restlessness, Stress, And Body Aches - When you’re on the road for hours at a time, it won’t be long before you or your passengers are dealing with hunger, restlessness, stress, body aches, and other discomforts that quickly kill the mood.
Road Trip Safety Precautions
Road trips are supposed to be relaxing, fun, and adventurous experiences. While you can’t control everything, failing to prioritize your safety could cause your trip to end before it starts. How do you reduce the chances of something going wrong? Consider the safety checklist below.
The winter has put a lot of wear and tear on your vehicle, making it essential to have it serviced before your spring road trip. Take your car to a local mechanic for routine maintenance and necessary repairs. Ask the mechanic if your vehicle is equipped to handle a road trip. Owners of older cars may consider reserving a rental to avoid mechanical problems that could leave them stranded.
For travelers that prefer to rent a vehicle for their road trip, safety should remain a priority. Opt to reserve a car with a reliable company. Select a vehicle you feel comfortable driving that’s large enough to fit your cargo and family. The car should also have safety features like hands-free calling, a navigation system, vehicle cameras, and lane, brake, and parking assistance.
Ensure that your car insurance covers rentals or inquire about these services with the car rental company. When you arrive to pick up the vehicle, complete an internal and external inspection to ensure that everything is in working order. Report any issues, and don’t be afraid to ask for another car if you believe the one you’ve reserved isn’t ideal for driving.
Keep the same guidelines when packing for your road trip as if you were flying. Keep luggage to a minimum by limiting the number of bags each passenger can bring. Excess luggage reduces the space in the car and limits your visibility while driving. You should also load the vehicle in an organized manner. Place the bags in the trunk or secure them to the rack on the top of the car while ensuring that you keep your essentials (food, drinks, charger cords, first aid, etc.) nearby.
More than putting the address of your travel destinationinto your smartphone or GPS, you should map out your route. While this doesn’t mean you need to become a map-reading expert, it does mean that you should familiarize yourself with the main highways, gas stations, emergency services, and alternative routes. That way, you know where to go if you get lost, run out of gas, or need immediate assistance. Taking breaks during your road trip is essential to avoid hunger, restlessness, and other discomforts. You should schedule breaks at least once every two hours. However, you may need to stop more frequently if you have small children, pets, or passengers with special needs traveling with you. During your breaks, get out of the car, stretch, indulge in a snack, use the restroom, and, if necessary, take a nap.
Springtime is the best season to plan a road trip, as there is so much to see and do. If you’re planning on hitting the road this year, ensure that you’ve prioritized safety by adding the above tips to your checklist.