Health Advocate Blog

Planning a road trip? Keep these safety tips in mind

Summer is just around the corner, and many people are anxiously awaiting hitting the road to head to fun destinations near and far. Before you go, make sure you’ve prepared for a safe journey by following these important tips:

Sign up for a roadside assistance plan. You may have one already included through your insurance or other memberships, but it is important to double check and ensure you know how to reach help if needed.

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 (be sure to include a motion sickness remedy among the contents), flashlight, flares, batteries, jumper cables, reflective devices, a spare tire and tools to change it, a jug of water, and a blanket. Plus, bring a detailed map, as phone reception may not be reliable in all areas.

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.

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. 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 into a safe area and take a 20-minute nap, followed by a brief walk.

Break up the trip. Related to the previous tip, 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.

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 person is behind the wheel.

Don’t invite road rage. Don’t react to another person’s rude driving behavior. And remember to be fair and share the road.

Do not drink and drive. The fun of vacation is just beginning, and it can be tempting to start the celebrations early when stopping for meals en route. But if you are driving, it is critical to wait until you arrive at your destination to drink alcohol.

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!

Check out these additional tips to stay safe on the road so you can get to your vacation and begin the fun. Have a great, and safe, trip!