You’ve made the reservations for your family vacation spot, stocked up on healthy road trip snacks, and even signed up for a roadside assistance plan. But your preparation for a safe journey isn’t complete until you follow these important measures:
Take your car for a tune-up. Check that the tires are properly inflated, hoses and belts work, and fluids are at proper levels.
Pack emergency supplies. Bring a first aid kit (include a motion sickness remedy among the contents), flashlight, flares, batteries, jumper cables, reflective devices, spare tire and tools to change it, a jug of water and a blanket. Also, bring a detailed map! Cell phone reception may not be reliable, especially in remote locations.
Get a full night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to unintentional “micro-sleeps” of 4-5 seconds. In that time, at 55 mph, you can travel 100 feet, according to AAA. Only sleep will remedy the situation. Remember that while driving, if you can’t stop yawning or don’t remember driving the last few miles, switch drivers. Or, if you can, pull off the road and take a 20-minute nap, followed by a brief walk.
Give your car a last-minute safety check. Secure any loose items in the backseat or open cargo area so they don’t become hazardous projectiles during a sudden stop.
Buckle everyone up! This is the most important safety measure every time you get in the car! And make sure that the child safety locks are activated on windows and doors.
Turn off your phone. If you’re driving, talking on the phone (even hands-free) or just glancing at a text message momentarily can be dangerously distracting. Catch up with any calls, texts and emails only during a pit stop or when another member of your family is behind the wheel.
Break up the trip. Every few hours, pull completely off the road (not on the shoulder) and switch drivers, even if you don’t feel sleepy. Get out and stretch, grab a snack, and drink some water. If possible, don’t drive through the night to get to your destination. Plan to stay overnight at a motel or campsite and get an early start the next day.
Don’t invite road rage. Don’t react to another person’s rude driving behavior. Be fair and share the road.
At night, avert your eyes from oncoming headlights. Look slightly to the right shoulder of the road to avoid being temporarily blinded by the lights.
Never leave children alone in an unattended car. Not even for a minute, and not even with a window cracked open!
For Health Advocate members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate who can help you with healthcare issues while you are traveling, including helping you find the nearest urgent care center, fill a prescription, explain what your health benefits cover, and more.