When traveling long distances, such as on a road trip, it is important to adequately prepare for the journey and drive safely on the road to avoid accidents. Accidents do commonly happen on long distance driving trips because the driver is often working outside of his comfort zone. Follow these simple tips to minimize the chance of an accident on a long trip:
- First is seat belt safety. Responsibility falls on the driver of the car to ensure that everyone has properly fastened his or her seat belt before the car is in motion. Your passengers may be excited to get going on your fun road trip, but remember to ensure they buckle up at all times.
- Fix any car defects before you head out on a long trip. Your vehicle will be under more stress when driving over the long haul, so make sure it is shipshape before you leave the driveway.
- Avoid any distractions such as phones, tablets or any other screens in the front seats. Especially avoid using a cell phone while behind the wheel. If you have to use your phone, pull over to a safe area to make the call.
- Be well rested. This may seem like common sense, but there is an unnerving amount of people driving on the road with nowhere near enough sleep. Driving tired can have as negative consequences as driving drunk. Plan sensible rest stops ahead of time.
- Drive defensively and be aware of your surroundings. For example, an unexpected danger of the road when on a long trip can be wildlife. Hitting a deer can cause severe injury or death to occupants, and smaller wildlife can cause a driver to swerve at a moment’s notice. Stay vigilant for any potential issue you don’t normally get on your daily commute.
- Respect other drivers. Far too many people are too quick to become angry with someone on the highway for driver error. Realize that no driver is perfect, and anticipate erratic driving before it happens. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and others.
- Consider the expected weather conditions before you make a long trip. Will there be heavy rain? Snow? Extreme heat? Each type of weather requires you to adjust your driving and even pack extra supplies in anticipation.
- As dusk approaches, use your headlights judiciously. Keep headlights and signals clean and free of debris. Remember to turn off your full beams when there are oncoming cars to avoid blinding the other driver.
- A common mistake, especially among young drivers on a long trip, is running out of gas. Keep a vigilant eye on fuel and fill up the car often. Be careful not to let your car run too low on gasoline before refueling, as sometimes when traveling there will be only one refueling station for hundreds of miles. Running out of gas on a dark highway in the middle of nowhere is not where you want to be.
- Carry a disaster supply kit. Packing things like high protein foods, water, flashlight, battery operated radio with backup batteries and a first aid kit can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency.
Driving safely when on a long trip comes down to common sense, but sometimes accidents are unavoidable even for the best drivers.